We were not supposed to be there, but that’s the exciting thing about travel- flexibility is a must when rollin this lady!
Finding warm places to escape during the Wintertime has been somewhat difficult as we have been limited to destinations within China. After being to Sanya 4-to 5 times, we were determined to find a change of scenery- that was equally tropical. Xishuangbanna became that refuge and turned out to be what we needed.
We arrived (long story short), felt very lucky to be there, and took it easy for the rest of the trip.
Xishuangbanna is known as Chinese Thailand and borders Laos and Myanmar. This autonomous province of the Dai people is located in the South of Yunnan province, and the culture and religion of the locals are very similar to neighboring Southeast Asian countries. The tropical lifestyle that resembles their neighbors makes it an attractive spot for tourists. Its mountainous regions are also filled with some of the best-producing tea plantations in China, making it an ultimate destination for tea lovers.
Just like Yangshuo, it is easy to escape and find peace and more natural environments on the outskirts of Xishuangbanna. Jinghong, the city center, is crazy and touristy- a big trap, so naturally, we gravitated to accommodations outside the bustle.
We stayed at Nanshanyin Guesthouse, located on a mountain tea plantation. This mountain, called Nannoushan in Chinese, is famous for its old tea Pu'er trees (that could be up to 500 years old) which produce high-quality tea. Our hosts were the actual owners of the property and made our stay comfortable, welcoming and meaningful. Staying here for a few nights made it easy to take scenic hikes directly from our little lodge.
Venturing out into Jinghong to experience the famous night market was one of our most memorable and fun experiences on this trip. We had an incredible time indulging in dishes from the endless food stalls, many of which were native to Southeast Asian countries. There was a hectic, fun and positive energy at the market creating even more excitement. What a great feeling to travel through food and share the experience with great friends.
At the end of our trip, we decided to venture closer to the Burmese border to visit the traditional dwellings of the Blang people in the Jingmai Mountain region. Getting there meant enduring many checkpoints, covid test checks, police questioning, and lots of patience…it was a long drive. Along the way, I kept asking myself if all the hassle was worth it.
Upon arriving at Wenji village, I learned that it indeed was! We walked around the village, tasted tea, and observed village life. It was fascinating to see how the locals (with the assistance of the government) turned their customs around tea cultivation into a booming tea business. Every home seemed to have a tea shop and a small tea processing workshop. Many of the villagers dressed in traditional clothing but drove modern cars. There were however no restaurants. We eventually found a family selling noodle soup out of their home to locals. We joined in the fun, said a prayer, and enjoyed our meal.
We left Wenji village during the sunset, which was a heartwarming end to our impromptu time in this area. A bit more so because I had felt in my heart that it would have been one of the last places I would be visiting in China.
Until Next Time,