A Tour to Yunnan

The Xishuangbanna Tropical Rain Forest & Dai Ethnic Folklore Tour

The major scenic spots on the route are Dai stockades, the Manfeilong Buddhist Pagoda and the Mengla Tropical Botanical Garden.

Xishuangbanna lies in southern Yunnan. In the thick forest on both sides of the Lancang River live dozens of ethnic groups including the Dai, Hani and Jino. The ancient folk customs and beautiful tropical landscape will give you a new experience. It takes 50 minutes to fly from Kunming to Jinghong, capital of Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture. The major scenic areas include the Ethnic Folklore Garden, the Manjinglan Dai Stockade, the Menghan Dai Stockade, the Menghan Dai Stockade, the Luosuo River Rafting, the Lushi Forest Park, the Wild Elephant Valley and the Tree-Top Hotel.

In Manting, a Dai stockade, tourists can visit the local people’s home freely. Whenever there are visitors, the hospitable hosts and hostesses will make a fire and serve their guests a cup of hot tea. There are tropical fruit trees and flowers in each courtyard. Wandering  in Manting is like touring a marvelous garden. The chant of scriptures coming out, now and then, from the monastery, adds more charm to the Dai stockade.

The Manfeilong Pagoda was built in 1204 and was said to be designed by an Indian monk. It looks magnificent with eight small towers clustering around the 20 meter high major tower. It’s also a remarkable construction worth visiting.

The Mengla Tropical Botanical Garden occupies an area of 1000 ha. It has precious plants under state protection such as the wangtian tree and dawang tree, one leaf of which can hold a child.

The Stone Forest and Karst Cave Tour

Along this route tourists can visit the strange karst landforms centered around Shilin in southeastern Yunnan, and get a general idea of the customs and practices of the local minority groups such as the Yi, Zhuang, Miao, Bouyei and Yao. The major scenic areas along the route are the stone forest scenic area, the Jiuxiang scenic area and the A’lu ancient cave.

The Jiuxiang scenic area is located in Yiliang County, about 90 km from Kunming. The scenic area is composed of more than 100 karst caves. It is one of the largest karst cave groups on the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau. The Yincui Gorge outside the cave is about 600 meters long and the local people also call it the “lovers valley”.

The A’lu ancient cave lies 169 km east of Kunming. It extends about 3000 meters in length. Inside the cave, there are beautiful stalagmites, stone flowers, stalactites and stone waterfalls with various shapes. A small stream runs through the cave all year round and people can even row a boat on it.

Tips for Traveling in Yunnan

Customs and Taboos of the major minority groups in Yunnan:

Yi:    Touching a man’s hair is regarded as an insult. Some Yi people don’t eat the meat of the horse, donkey or mule. Refuse to drink the proposed wine by the host is regarded as an insult.

Bai:    Bai people don’t visit friends, relatives or patients in the morning. When drinking tea, they only fill half of the cup, then refill it. Otherwise, it is considered rude.

Hani:    People can’t drape their clothes on their shoulders when entering the village. The triangular frame on the fire can’t be used to parch wet shoes. The falling of dragon tree is forbidden.

Dai:    Leave your shoes outside the door when entering a Dai bamboo building. Sitting over or stepping over the fire stove is not allowed. Guests can’t enter the host’s private room. When visiting a temple, leave your shoes outside the door and never touch a young monk’s head.

Naxi:    People don’t kill farm cattle, pack horses and roosters which announce the arrival of dawn.

Tibet:    People don’t eat the meat of odd-hoof animals, especially donkeys and dogs. Some people don’t eat fish.

Shopping List

Yunnan weiqi ( go ), also called yunzi, is of top grade. It feels cold in summer and warm in winter.

Bornite handicrafts look simple and vigorous.

Tie-dyed cloth, a traditional dyed fabric of the Bai ethnic group in Dali. It doesn’t fade easily.

Lunan cross-stitch work, a traditional product of the Sani people in Lunan County (now called Shilin County). It looks beautiful and exquisite.

Dai bamboo weaving. It is both beautiful and practical.

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