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Benzilan (奔子栏) is a small town in extreme northwestern Yunnan Province. It lies along a stretch of the Jin Sha River (a major headwater stream of the Yangtze River) that forms the border with Sichuan Province, roughly halfway along the road from Zhongdian to Deqin.


The town, as seen out the window of a bus passing along the Zhongdian-Deqin route, might not seem different from many other small Chinese towns one merely passes through, but get off here and you will be well rewarded. For one, given that it lies on the bank of the Jin Sha River, it's at the lowest altitude in the area and is considerably warmer than Deqin or Zhongdian in winter. Stray from the typical modern Chinese architecture of the main road and head down the hill to the river and you will pass many charming traditional houses, friendly locals and yapping guard dogs.

Get in

By bus

All of the buses from Zhongdian to Deqin pass though the town. In fact the mid-point lunch stop is often taken a mere five minutes south of Benzilan. Tickets can be bought at Zhongdian bus station for ¥15. For some reason no tickets to Benzilan are sold in Deqin, though if you get on a bus headed to Zhongdian you should be able to get there for ¥30 or so.

Get around

The town has one main road with a fork down towards the river.


  • The town. The many different routes down to the river provide a pleasant walk among traditional houses, orchards, and cultivated fields. Getting to the bank of the river can be a bit tricky as there is a steep drop-off as you approach the bank, but if you persist you will come across one of the purpose-built stairways. It is possible to get boat across to the Sichuanese side, though there is not much to see within walking distance.
  • East Bamboo Forest Temple (东竹林寺; Dong Zhu Lin Si; Tibetan: Dhon-Drupling Gompa). is a wonderful temple built on the side of the gorge around 15 km (20 minutes) northwest along the main road to Deqin. The monastic village that surrounds it is also quite lovely. Dhon-Drupling Gompa was founded in 1667 by Kusho Dondrub and received its name by the Fifth Dalai Lama in 1670. It has many beautifully intricate paintings inside and houses several precious statues. Getting there by hitch-hiking or hiring a mian bao che (microvan) presents no problems. Entrance to the temple: ¥30
  • The first bend of the Jin Sha River (金沙江第一湾; Jin Sha Jiang Da Guai Wan). is about 8 km (10 minutes) northwest of Benzilan along the same road. There is a viewing platform along with the customary ticket office (to reflect the capitalist nature of modern China) but it is not necessary to pay the fee to see the bend. Platform ticket: ¥?



There are several shops along the main road selling the same silverware and materials that are found elsewhere in the region.


Most of the restaurants along the main road serve good food. The dishes on offer are the same as can be found in most places in the Northwest Yunnan.



There are a whole bunch of hotels along the main road. A double en-suite should set you back ¥60-80.

Get out

There is a bus (though it might be a microvan) that leaves for Zhongdian at 7.30am. If that doesn't take your fancy stand by the side of the road and flag down any of the buses that pass from morning to mid-afternoon.

This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!