Jinghong (景洪; Jǐnghóng) is the capital of Xishuangbanna in southern Yunnan.
Jinghong's tiny airport (IATA: JHG) fields daily flights from Kunming and a few other cities in China. The only international flight of Bangkok Airways previously from Bangkok and Chiang Mai has stopped flying there in 2008. Note that when booking a plane ticket to Jinghong, if it is not listed as "Jinghong" it may be listed as "Xishuangbanna".
There are over a dozen sleeper buses from Kunming daily. They cost ¥150-180, depending on the coach quality. The bus takes around 8 hours.
This is the first big city for travelers coming from Laos. This is the first place with banks that accept foreign cards, but most travelers will have to change buses in Mengla to get here.
Ferry trips run along the Mekong to Chiang Saen (on Thailand's side of the Golden Triangle) for ¥800, no Laos/Myanmar visa necessary. They leave early and take a full day, slower 3-4 day cruise style trips are also available. (slower 3-4 day cruise trips are unavailable now, atleast for my travels in 2009) Also normal cruise departs once a week, with sometimes cancellations due to low demand.
The interesting parts of town are definitely walkable.
Jinghong has plenty of tuk-tuks or auto-ricksaws about. Hire these as a slightly cheaper way to get between places, but more than a kilometer or two and your butt might be sore all day.
Taxis run about ¥5-15 to places in town.
Down by the Nancang it may be possible to hire a boat for a bit of river cruising.
Minority villages. Scattered outside town are both minority villages and "minority villages". The ones in quotes are stylized reconstructions featuring song-and-dance numbers for Chinese package tourists. Approach with caution.
Mengle Temple. The biggest temple in Xishuangbanna. In the southern area in Jionghong, you can hire bicycle to go there.
Dai Newyear. If one is in the town during the Thai (Dai in that area) New year there is a massive celebration with Dragon boating and capped off with a massive city wide water fight on the final day of celebration.
Riverfront Walks. The town is on the Nancang River, a wide tributary of the Mekong. There is excellent walking along the riverfront.
The usual Chinese tourist gimmicks. Local Dai produced items also available.
Mekong Cafe, F1-104 Menglong Road, ☎ +86 691 2162395. Nice cafe that serves Dai food along other backpacker favorites. It is a good place to meet guides who can take you on multi-day treks to southern Xishuangbanna.
Mantingxiaozhai BBQ, Manting Road. There are many BBQ restaurant here. Special food, very delicious.
Banna Cafe, 1 Manting Road.
Mountain Cafe, (It is next door to Mei Mei cafe and Mekong Cafe). Best place for coffee, and other western food. Desserts are very good and the staff are very friendly. Most of them speak english as well.
Forest Cafe (drinks trek info), 23 Yaoyuanxiaoqu, 7 Shop Mengla, ☎ +86 691 8985122, . It is a very small cafe for drinks, home-made bread and Yunnan coffee and offers small individual trekking tours to jungle villages, hill tribes and special sights.
Mei Mei Cafe, F1-102 Menglong Road, ☎ +86 691 13988109372. This cafe has a large outdoor terrace where you can enjoy local Dai or a large variety of western foods. They desserts are delicious. They also provide guides for treks and tours.
There are a number of O.K. options near the bus station, with the cheapest starting at ¥15 a night. For other, more expensive options, try the reservation booth at the bus station. They'll steer you to the city's four and five star options at a discount.
Traveler's Hotel. Just south of the bus station is a great option. Rooms here start at ¥60 for a double with air conditioning and attached bathroom.
Anonymous Hotel. This place does not have an English name at all, but it is located opposite to Mei Mei Cafe on Manting Lu. They have nice doubles for ¥60 a night. All rooms have air-con, TV, hot water, bathrooms and you can also do your washing free of charge with their washing-machine. Nobody here speaks English, but they are really friendly.
Green Light Youth Hotel (Also known as Banna College Hotel), 93 Xuanwei Road (Stands in Xishuangbanna Vocational and Technology College). checkout: 12:00. All rooms have single toilet and solar water heater. There is also check-room, laundry and so on. The manager speaks English, she can tell you some useful information about the local food and charming places to visit. You can hire bicycles here, ¥20/day. Wireless is available.Luxury Double ¥70, Doubles ¥60, Dorms ¥15/20/25.
Villages - Jinghong is the getway to Yunnan's Xishuangbanna Region. This is China's part of Southeast Asia, with several minority groups that are many respects more Thai or Lao than Chinese. The city is quite close to a number of Dai Villages, which can be reached by local bus or through myriad tours available here or in Kunming.
Mengla - the second last town (Mohan is the last, right on the border) before Laos, is five hours away. Buses leave from the Banna Bus Station two times an hour for ¥33. The station is across the street and about 100 meters south of the long-distance station. From Mengla there is one bus daily at 9 a.m. to Luang Man Tha, the first town in Laos.
Vietnam - getting from Jinghong to Vietnam can prove to be a bit of a problem, with two imperfect solutions. The obvious one is to go back to Kunming and start from there. This can cause problems in that you may have to wait for a day or two to get a train or bus ticket to the border. The second, marginally preferable option is to take a sleeper bus from the North bus station to Mengzi. These leave every day at 2pm, cost ¥170 and arrive at Mengzi at 6am the following day. A taxi will be ready to take you to the town's second bus station where a minibus leaves for the border town of Hekou at 6:50AM and gets there at 11A. From there you can cross over the bridge into the Vietnamese town of Lao Cai.
Luang Namtha: there is now (nov 2009) a direct bus to Luang Namtha. From busstation nr 1 at 10.40. Cost is 70 RMB. It took 8 hours, arriving in Luang Namtha just before dark.