Seriously perfect trip! Every detail was covered, pacing of places was ideal.
A unique destination on the Thai-Chinese border, Xishuangbanna is a Chinese approximation of its Thai name Sip Sawng Pan Na, or Twelve Thousand Rice Fields. Indeed, this border prefecture seems more Thai than Chinese; most of its inhabitants are members of hill tribes and ethnic minorities, such as the Dai, the Yao, and the Zhuang.
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Our co-founder & CEO Catherine Heald lived in China for 7 years and returns often. She loves trekking in the rice terraces of Ping An, and hugging baby pandas in Chengdu!
Trek to villages inhabited by the Dai and Bulan ethnic minorities in southern Yunnan, whose food, stories and culture are entirely distinct and separate from the rest of China. The trek is a moderate one, crossing hills and slopes, but no mountains.
Wild Elephant Valley
The last primeval rainforest remaining in China, the forest of Xishuangbanna is a biodiverse habitat home to China’s last remaining population of wild elephants. The best time to spot elephants is at dusk or dawn; park authorities have built a series of viewing towers and treehouses from which to spot the elephants.
Take a ferry across the Mekong River, the lifeblood of the local area. You will pass tea fields, rainforests, and endless fields of rice – glimpses of a quieter, slower life.
The Black Pagoda is a Dai monastery. Visitors will be able to speak with the resident monks and discuss their views and philosophy, as well as take in the lovely views of the surrounding area.
Perhaps the most popular site in all of Xishuangbanna, the Olive Dam is named for its distinct shape. Home to the Dai ethnic minority, Olive Dam is a quaint village of wooden houses built on stilts, and features an agricultural bounty of tropical fruits. Nearby, the landscape is dotted with ornate, multi-tiered Burmese-style Buddhist pagodas.
Follow the scenic, one-time trade route of tea traders past, Yunnan, China’s Tea Horse Road. You’ll make your way from Xishuangbanna to Shangri-La on the Tibetan Plateau, taking in the Luosuo River and the Jianchuan Shibaoshan Grottoes, spending time in Lijiang’s Old Town, and sleeping in luxury at Banyan Tree.
Nestled in the spectacular, surreal forests of China’s southwestern Yunnan Province, Anantara Xishuangbanna offers first-class comfort and five-star luxury in one of China’s most remote areas. Anantara offers a series of charming villas and guestrooms, all of which feature immaculate bathrooms, plush beds, floor-to-ceiling windows (some with views of the pool, others with views of the gardens and the nearby Luosuo River), dark, wooden furniture, Internet access, mini bar, air-conditioning, and a flat-screen television with satellite channels. In-house restaurants include Manfeilong, an all-day eatery serving breakfast buffets, and Chinese and Western a la carte dishes; Mekong, which offers Thai/Dai and Chinese cuisines; Dai Lounge, a tea and snack space; and Luosuo, a poolside grill. Amenities include a comprehensive spa offering a wide range of treatments, baths, and rooms; a cooking school with lessons in Southeast Asian, Thai, and Chinese cuisines; a central swimming pool, an insightful tea program that immerses guests in the subtleties of tea; and a club for younger guests. The Anantara Xishuangbanna is a scenic, 45-minute drive from Jinghong International Airport.