An ever-popular tourist spot in China, Xishuangbanna seems to have always impressed its tourists with an endless vista of natural scenic attractions. For many tourists, visiting Xishuangbanna means a chance to contact a great variety of ethnic groups with colorful customs and costumes, stroll through spacious rain forest inhabited by rare animals and plants, and immerse themselves in a water—splashing ritual, which is believed to bring good luck. Known as the Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture, the region of Yunnan Province takes its name from the Dai words, which roughly mean “Twelve Rice-Growing Regions.” It became an autonomous prefecture in 1953, with Jinghong as its capital. A Dai autonomous district, makes up one-third of the prefecture’s population of 840,000.
Another 12 ethnic groups, including Blang, Kino, Yao, and Hani, also live in harmony with each other in the prefecture. Nowadays, a journey to any part of Xishuangbanna is a feast for the senses. The Xishuangbanna scenic zone is roughly divided into two parts: the tourist spots centred in Jinghong City proper and those along the east, west, south, and north lines within an area of nearly 20,000 square kilometers. East or west, Xishuangbanna seems to always have the best to offer.
For example, trekkers in Jinghong – which was chosen as one of the most outstanding tourism destinations in China in 1998 – has a panorama of tropical scenes in this “city within a jungle.” With palm trees lining Jinghong’s avenues providing shade to pedestrians, and the Manting Park and the Garden of Nationality Folk Customs displaying ethnic tradition and arts, tourists will feel like they were walking in a gorgeous tropical forest. For a deeper insight into the region’s flora, tourists can go to the Botanical Garden in Menglun, a two-hour drive from Jinghong. The 866.6-hectare garden contains one of the largest concentrations of tropical trees introduced from within China and abroad.
The innumerable trees, unusual and unique, each has its own story to tell. For instance, a 34-meter-high tea tree, which experts gauged to be 1,700 years old, is believed to be the oldest tea tree in the world. A dancing tree is reputed to dance when a person sings a love song to it. But the heart of Xishuangbanna seems to be located in Ganlanba – better known as the Olive Plain – on the bank of the Lancang River. Local people call the area Menghan, which is also the name of its main market town – Ganlanba Market, where vendors sell all kinds of handicrafts, fresh vegetables and fruits and household goods. It is the very place where the tinkle of temple bells and the sounding of Dai drums are heard, and the fragrance of flowers and tropical fruits fills the air.
The district, known for its beautiful and rare and fauna and for its proximity to Laos, Myanmar and Thailand, will make good use of its abundant natural resources and advantageous location to catapult itself into the statues of economic powers in the southwestern province. The prefecture government is set to substantially improve the living standards of the people in Xishuangbanna, which is home to 12 ethnic groups – predominantly composed of the Dai – and numerous bizarre tropical creatures. The prefecture already boasts air, water, and land channels leading to the Southeast Asian countries, with the Xishuangbanna Airport linking the region to a host of cities both in China and Thailand. The prefecture is upgrading the China Highway 213 in order to increase the speed and safety of road travel to Kunming. By improving tourism infrastructure, the tourism sector, which is the pillar industry of Xishuangbanna, will continue to boost local economic expansion.
The tourist can have a bird's eye view of a dense tropical rain forest at Xishuangbanna, a tourist attraction in Yunnan Province, from a suspension bridge between trees. The 700-meter-long wood-plank bridge supported by steel cables sits between Wangtian trees, the tallest arbor in the forest. The 50-meter suspension bridge above the ground is said to be the highest of its kind in the world. Wangtian trees in Xishuangbanna’s tropical rain forest can grow to 80 meters. They are some 20 meters taller than other trees in the forest. A suspension bridge, which enables the tourist to see the forest on the ground. The Dai Ethnic Autonomous Prefecture of Xishuangbanna in Yunnan Province boasts 70,000 hectares of primitive forests.
Since many ethnic groups, such as the Dai, Hani, and Blang, are followers of Buddhism, Buddhist culture has a deep influence on the architectures in Xishuangbanna.