Top 5 places to do and to stay in Xishuangbanna
Xishuangbanna is a prefecture located in the southernmost part of Yunnan province, located in Southwest China. It’s a province with a very strong Thai influence and very popular with Chinese tourists, but not very frequented by foreigner travelers.
As is it the center of Dai culture it has a few very interesting things to do, and plenty of great food to eat.
Like I say, this prefecture belongs to the Dai autonomous prefecture, and this is a key piece of information, because Dai cuisine is absolutely godly, and something to be enjoyed for anyone visiting this area. Awesome BBQ everywhere in this town.
My experience in Xishuangbanna
The capital of Xishuangbanna is Jinhong town, which has an airport with frequent flights from Kunming airport. Indeed the best way to reach this town. Bear also in mind that Jinghong is sometimes also referred to as Xishuangbanna.
Once I arrived a taxi driver offered me a Taxi ride at a fixed price. I agreed to the price, but it was actually was a shared ride. 2 other Chinese tourists going to town hopped in as we all were heading to the same town. To be honest I didn’t mind and it’s not so weird of a custom. I shared rides before.
Now, Jinghong is very rural. It’s more like a developed town, rather than a city. Buildings are not very tall, English is not widely spoken at all. In fact, if you guys do not speak Chinese you might struggle a bit here.
Do not be shocked also if you see a lot of street hookers at night standing in the streets. It happens in this town, but it is still an extremely safe place.
Things to do in Xishuangbanna:
- Buddhist temples in Xishuangbanna. Which actually look like Thai temples.
- Mengle Dafo Temple.
- Gaozhuang Night Market.
- Manfeilong Pagoda.
- Mengle Cultural Park.
- Dai Newyear. Basically is like the Thai new year. Yes, lots of water fighting too.
- Riverfront Walks. The town is on the Lancang River, to most Westerners better known as the Mekong. There is excellent walking along the riverfront.
- Eat at Banna Cafe located in 1 Manting Roadtheyhe have Dai food.
- San Guo Wei Restaurant. They also have Thai and Myanmar dishes.
- Mannongkuang Village (next to Xishuangbanna Buddhist Temple behind Manting Park). Here are several restaurants in a Dai village in Jinghong. Owned and operated real Dai people. Food is to die for, and it’s not a wordplay.
Best hotels to stay in Xishuangbanna:
Hotels in Xishuangbanna are some of the cheapest I found in anywhere in China. Incredibly low prices even for luxury hotels.
- Empark Grand Hotel Xishuangbanna. 5* 44$. 40 bucks for a real 5-star hotel. I see that hard to beat.
- Hermit BanNa. 5* 40$. If you guys can book this hotel, BOOK IT. But often rooms are sold out.
- Mekong at home homestay. 3,5* 30$. Well-known hotel in Jinghong.
- Sheraton Grand Xishuangbanna Hotel. 5* 80$.
- Xishuangbanna Zouyi International Youth Hostel. 15$. Price is for a stand-alone beautiful room. Awesome.
- Xishuangbanna Elephanthome Hotel. 16$.
Or you guys can check the full list of Xishuangbanna hotels at Agoda here.
Agoda works fine and has cheap prices. Ctrip works well too. Showing up in Jinghong without a booking is doable, but it’s a poor idea.
Verdict, Is Xishuangbanna a good trip?
For me, yes. Because I was already present in Yunnan with time to spend.
It was a simple trip, fun, and very dirt cheap. Saw some cool things. Eat some great Dai food. Eat some seriously great street barbeques (the town is packed with BBQ shops). And had a good time.
It is also worth to mention there are trains going to Laos from here.