Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture is located
at the south end of Yunnan Province. It shares a boundary of 966
kilometers (619 miles) with Burma and Laos in the east, south and
west, being a vital pass from China to indo-China Peninsular by
To the Dai people, Xishuangbanna was known as 'Mengbanaxi' in
ancient times, a name that means a miraculous and nice utopia. It
had been a settlement where 13 ethnic minorities have lived in
tight-knit communities for generations. The Jino ethnic minority is
peculiar to the prefecture.
Located in the south extension of the Hengduan Mountains,
Xishuangbanna has over ninety-five percent of its territory occupied
by mountainous and hilly areas. Most of the prefecture is below the
altitude of 1,500 meters (4921 feet). Jinghong City is only 550
meters (1804 feet) above the sea level. The Lancang River runs
through the prefecture and when it passes through Laos, Thailand,
Cambodia and Vietnam, it is known as the Mekong River.
The weather in this region is a combination of continental and
oceanic climates with an annual average temperature of 18
degrees Celsius. The coldest November is similar to the middle of
summer in the lower reaches of the Yangtze River; thereby, Xishuangbanna is reputed as a happy land without winter. Generally,
there are only two seasons. May to October is the rainy season and
November to April is the dry season.
Although it is an all-year-round tourist destination, the weather is
most favourable from November to April. However since the roads
conditions are excellent, Xishuangbanna is also a popular
destination during the rainy season. Local products that are made in
abundance in Xishuangbanna are tea, coffee, tropical fruit, herbs,
and Yunan tobacco.
The Water Sprinkling Festival is New Year's Day for the Dai, and is
the most important and grandest festival of the year. It lasts three
days from 13th to 15th, April (the sixth month of the Dai Calendar).
Dai people dip branches into the river and sprinkle the water onto
others as a way to express their best wishes. In addition, the
festivals of the Hani, Jino and Yao ethnic minorities are also
delightful part of Xishuangbanna's ethnic customs.
only tropical rain forest nature reserve in China, the area has
surprising biological diversity in the virgin forest, particularly
because Xishuangbanna is so far away from central China and
In religion, it is greatly influenced by Hinayana Buddhism of
Southeast Asia. The enticing white masonry structure, Manfeilong
Buddhist Pagoda, is the quintessence of Hinayana Buddhist
architecture. The main pagoda is comprised of eight small pagodas,
like a cluster of bamboo shoots.
A tree does not make a forest. But a nine hundred year old banyan in
Daluo Town of Xishuangbanna is the exception. It covers an area of
120 square meters (143.6 square yards) with over thirty stand roots.
This 70-meter-high (230-feet-tall) banyan is an attractive and
marvelous forest in itself.
Wild Elephant Valley:
Chinese wild elephants are only found in the virgin forest of the
Wild Elephant Valley, located in the Mengyang Nature Reserve, 45
kilometers (28 miles) from Jinghong. There are hostels in the
elephant park. Cabins in trees on riverbank are the most perfect
localities to admire the elephants.
Manfeilong Buddhist Pagoda:
The Manfeilong Pagoda is situated on the top of a hill near
Manfeilong Village, 70 kilometers (43 miles) away from Jinghong
City. It was built in the year 1024 and is a famed stupa complex in
Xishuangbanna. It is also known by two other names: White Pagoda and
Bamboo Shoot Pagoda. These descriptive names are derived from the
fact that the pagoda is, of course, white while its overall shape
resembles a bamboo shoot. The pagoda is dedicated to Hinayana
Buddhism (a small, conservative branch of Buddhism).
The Manfeilong Pagoda consists of nine stupas. Seen from the
distance, they look very like bamboo shoots that have emerged from
the soil after the spring rain. They are made of bricks, with
typical club-like bases topped by calabash shaped bodies. The
principle and central stupa, which is 16.29 meters (53 feet) high,
is surrounded by eight smaller stupas, each being 9.1 meters (30
feet) high. In each stupa, there is a niche wherein a statue of
Buddha is laid. The bells hung at the top of the pagoda make a
tinkling sound when the wind blows. Just to the south of the pagoda,
there is a footprint on the rock. According to legend, this is the
left footprint of Sakyamuni, the founder of Buddhism.
Tropical Plant Research Institute:
Lying at the western suburb of Jinghong, the institute exerts a
strong pull on tourists although it opens to public just a few
years. In additional rubber plantation, the institute plants over
1,000 plants with economical or medicinal value. The large variety
needs a botanist to figure out what they are. In the plantation,
visitors get access to Zhou Enlai Memorial, which was built to
commemorate the China's beloved premier's 1961 visit.
It is an institute combining research, education and preservation of
animal species into one. Characterized by tropical plants, strong
ethnic flavor and beautiful tropical ambience, it can be mainly
divided into tropical fruit trees garden, aquatic plants garden,
palm trees garden, banyan trees garden, medicinal plants zone,
bamboo plants zone, aromatic plants zone and Endangered plant
species protection zone.
Visitors to the institute will be attracted by many rare plants,
such as the Dancing Grass which can dance with the music rhythm, the
Raining Tree which can 'rain', the Clock Flower which is able to
flower on time and also the flowers able to change colors. Pitcher
plants eat worms and a kind of deciduous trees that yields poisonous
juice are real eye-openers. Moreover, visitors will have
opportunities to enjoy the plant wonders such as plants
strangulation, old stems blooming and hanging gardens.
Olive Dam is the lowest and hottest place in Xishuangbanna. However,
its torrid climate brings rich tropical fruits and products. It
consists of two stockaded villages, each of which is highlighted by
an eyeful of typical Burma styled Buddhist pagodas and bamboo
building of the Dai minority.