A tropical city on the Mekong's shores
Jinghong is the capital of Xishuangbanna (Xi Shuang Banna) Dai Autonomous Prefecture. It is located on the southwest bank of the Lancang Jiang. The Lancang Jiang flows past Jinghong in a southerly direction towards Laos, Thailand and Vietnam. Once across the border to Laos, the Lancang Jiang changes its name and becomes the Mekong River.
Jinghong was not spared from major changes in the recent past but managed to keep a certain relaxed and exotic atmosphere. The Manting Temple and the adjoining Chunhuan Park (also called Manting Park) are worth a visit. Chunhuan Park (Manting Park) is said to have a 1300 year old history and served once as the imperial park for the Dai Kings. Within the park are a small zoo with peacocks, monkeys and two bears, a temple school and a replica of the Manfeilong Bei Ta Pagoda at Damenglong.
At the entrance of the park are a statue and a memorial hall dedicated to Zhou Enlai, the former Foreign Minister of China, who visited Jinghong for the Waterfestival (water splashing festival) in 1961. There is a hefty 40 Yuan entrance fee to the park. Right before the entrance of the park is the Manting Buddhist Temple (Theravada) with is said to date back to the 8th century.
For plant lovers, the Jinghong Botanical Garden is another interesting place to visit. Over 600 species of tropical plants can be found within the Jinghong Botanical Garden, located on the outskirts of the town. Jinghong Botanical Garden is best visited in the early morning or late afternoon. The surrounding hills provide interesting walks to various nearby minority villages.