In Yunnan province in the southwest of China, one can find a small, fertile and mysterious piece of land, which is called Xishuangbanna. In the Dai language, "xishuang" is "twelve" and "banna" is "one thousand pieces of land", thus "Xishuangbanna" can be directly translated into "twelve thousand pieces of land". It refers to the twelve areas that are under its administration.
The capital here is Jinghong, also known as the City of Dawn. It is located 709 kilometer from Kunming. Some nice things to visit here are Peacock Lake, Manting Park, the Dai Nationality Culture and Customs Garden, Manjinglan Nationality Flavor Food City, and the Tropical Botany Institute.
In Xishuangbanna grow and live over 5,000 species of plants and many rare birds and animals in its 20,000 square kilometer tropical virgin forest, thus Xishuangbanna is noted as "the Kingdom of Plants and Animals" and "An Emerald on the Tropic of Cancer".
The Dai people love to sing and dance and their religion is Buddhism. The many Buddhist temples are popular destinations and are scattered over every village. Two of the most beautiful ones are near Jinghong, namely the White Pagoda of Menglong and Black Pagoda of Damenglong. The villages are mostly build near water, surrounded with bamboo fences and covered with fruit trees. The Water-Splashing Festival will be celebrated every year in the 6th month of Dai calendar (on April 13 - 15 by the solar calendar). The rich and colorful activities attract numerous tourists from home and abroad.
This village is located next to the Liusha River 1.5 kilometer southwest of Jinghong. The village is divided into the southern and the northern gardens, combining the typical tropical scenery and ethnic cultures into one. It can be regarded as a miniature of Xishuangbanna. It has exhibition halls for different ethnic groups, such as the Dai Hall and each one itself is a small ethnic village.
When you're heading to Xishuangbanna you definetely need to go and see the Ganlan Sandbar. A trip is not complete without it. It is located 37 kilometer from Jinghong down the Lancang River and covers an area of 50 square kilometer.
The name is derived from the fact that it's always green and that the area looks like an olive. On the sandbar are 64 Dai villages and you'll find lots of bamboo and coconut trees with water flowing past them and flowers blooming all year round.
This park is a tropical garden and used to be the property of the Dai king. In the park live over 2,000 blue peacocks and when flying this is a beautiful sight. At night ethnic dances are performed at the main gate, which is quite nice to attend, though tickets can be pretty expensive.
This is a small park and pond used for early morning exercises in Jinghong city.
The Wild Elephant's Valley or Yexianggu is located 50 kilometer north from Jinghong and covers an area of 369 hectares by the Sancha River in Mengyang Town.
It is a nature reserve with tropical rainforest and wild animals. Here live about 70 wild Asian elephants. They usually come out at night, so a small hotel has been built on tops of trees in the forest for tourists who want to observe wild elephants closely. Also other endangered animals can be seen here, such as the wild oxen, green peacocks and monkeys, and as well an elephant training school, a butterfly breeding centre and a caged bird paradise. A 2-kilometer long cable way in the park enables people to enjoy the rainforest from the air.
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