Located on the border with Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar, the Xishuangbanna region (access via Jinghong) is the most tropical region for any trip to China. With its forests, lush jungle, sugarcane fields, bamboo trees and pretty minority villages, one could imagine oneself in any country in South East Asia. But it is still China, Han here account for 30% of the local population. The remaining 70% is made up of the many minorities present, such as the majority Bai, or the Hani, Lahu, Yi, Bulang, Jinuo or Yao. Jinghong is by the most interesting site. Upon your arrival in the capital of Xishuangbanna, head to the surrounding countryside, to discover during a hike or a day-long exploration of these formidable minorities, and their beautiful villages and colorful markets. The Xishuangbanna region is also known for its Pu’er tea, one of the best teas in the world. There are many tea fields in the area, including UNESCO’s Jing Mai Shan, and of course, a tasting at one of Jinghong’s many tea rooms. Find more information about the best travel period to Jinghong and the Xishuangbanna region on the Jinghong Weather page.
Temples and pagodas
The majority of Xishuangbanna villages are of Buddhist confession, so there is invariably, often at the top of the village, a temple or pagoda, usually of Theravada faith. Impressions of Cambodia, Laos or Burma, these golden pagodas adorn many villages, playing with the lights of beginnings or end of days, through the lush vegetation. Access to places of worship is usually free, be sure to take off your shoes before entering the temples, you will find mats for shoes at the entrance. Inside the atmosphere is calm and serene, different Buddhas with the smiles of deep compassion accompanying the prayers of the faithful. The ceremonies are sung and often danced, large metal gongs and gigantic wood percussions accompany the prayers, songs and legends. You will often find a donation box for the temple, it is fashionable to slip some tickets in leaving. Some pagodas are quite exceptional, the carved woods are thousands of years old, the entanglements of the carpentry are incredible, these buildings are real works of art. Small, local language schools teach traditional culture to minority youth who at school learn Mandarin first. Do not miss the discovery of these pleasant places, full of beautiful surprises, as you walk through the different villages.
Ancient tea plants of Xishuangbanna
When one gets lost in the vastness of the tea mountains in the Xishuangbanna region, there are many villages and very large forests where grow Camelia Sinensis, tea trees of often a few hundred years. The ecosystem is very old and perfectly balanced, the oldest trees as the youngest are treated and harvested throughout the seasons. The walk through this forest, on the small paved road, is a happiness of the senses for any lover of lush nature.
Access to this preserved natural area of 730 hectares is from one of the two ends of the road closed to traffic, and the walk is either downhill or uphill, depending on your sense of visit for the day. This forest is collective, that is to say that each member of the community is allowed to come to reap the fruits. Many tea trees have here over a thousand years.
When the harvest comes from the youngest tea plants, about 200 years old, the kilo sells 600 RMB while the leaves of older trees can sell more than 1,000 yuan per kilo, depending on the area of growth and the season. The tea harvests take place in the spring and autumn each year, if you stay in the area at this time, you can participate in picking, drying and even make your own authentic Pu’er slice to ripen with the age !