Hey guys, a fellow from (chilly) Chengdu here...
I am planning on going to Kunming this Wednesday, most likely arriving in the morning. I was thinking of going to Yuanyang and then go to Xishuangbanna afterwards. I have around 7 to 9 days. I have several questions about this journey that I hope you can answer:
1) Do you think I have enough time to visit both Yuanyang and Xishuangbanna? (my purpose of going to Xishuangbanna is not neccesarily to see all the major attractions, rather to just be in warm climate and to just relax :))
2) Arriving in the morning (9AM/10AM) at Kunming Airport and then heading my way to Kunming South Busstation to catch a bus to Yuanyang (Xinjie), will that be possible?
3) How is the ride from Yuanyang to Xishuangbanna (Jinghong), can I do it in one day? (read mixed things and outdated info on this)
4) Any recommendations for hotels in both Yuanyang and Xishuangbanna? I would like to avoid big touristy hotels, and sleep in rather cozy, relaxed and tranquil places with preferably nice natural surroundings.
I hope you guys can share some tips and some of your experiences! Thanks :)
@amnesia: 1 yes if you have 9 days, but how do you want to get back to Chengdu from Jinghong? the return to Kunming by bus will take either a day or a night.
2 yes, 3 yes, 4 I don't know.
I was thinking:
Day 1: Chengdu to Kunming to Yuanyang
Day 2: Stay yuanyang for 2 whole days (maybe 3)
Day 4(or 5): leave to Jinghong
Day 5 - 8: stay for 4 days in Jinghong
Day 9: Jinghong to Kunming (plane to Chengdu leaves at night 10/11PM-ish.
Should be reasonable right?
Possible, yes, though you may miss the bus to Yuanyang and need to spend one night in Kunming. Yuanyang has lots of little hostels/small family hotels. Beware though - it is very spread out and there is no actual official public transport, just guys with mini-vans and cars. It's basically a road that does a circuit around a mountain with little villages (and nice views of the terraces) all the way around the road. There aren't proper hiking trails though you can explore the little paths the villagers use to make their way around the terraces. Beware, Yuanyang is cold at night because it is high up, but warm in the day when it is sunny, which is usually.
You don't need 3 days in Yuanyang. It's a beautiful place, but there's only so much to see. For Yuanyang you can take the train to Mengzi then transfer to bus and shorten the trip a little, or direct bus Kunming to Yuanyang- about 7 hours.
1. 7-9 Days are enough for both cities.
2. Kunming airport has shuttle bus(Line 4, 25 Yuan/person, from9am to 24pm) to Kunming South Busstation
3. I don't think you can do the ride in one day(from morning to evening) because those two cities are far from each other. Many people say there is no straight bus from Yuan Yang to Jinghong(Xishuangbanna).
4. No idea about hotel in Yuan Yang since I have never been there. In Jinghong you can stay with Sheraton or Ramada Plaza Xishuangbanna( quiet and close to 大Da佛Fo寺Si, a temple you can see from the hotel). Jinghong is warm so I suggest you to stay longer. The local famous dishes are Lemon Grass Roast Chicken(香茅草烤鸡) and Roast Fish(烤鱼). Their breakfast is delicious too if you like noodle soup.
Just a note of warning.
The Hani Rice Terraces are near Xinjie some 20 Km further south then Yuanyang (They are called Yuanyang because that is the name of the district and the Yuanyang is the district capital. Yuanyang is just a boring town with nothing to see)
1. if you go straight to Yuanyang I think you will have enough time.
2. Buses from the south bus station to Yuanyang are scheduled at 10:20, 12:30 and 19:00 (this last one probably a sleeper, I guess. I noted this down a few months ago,I hope they haven't changed!). If you are lucky, you can catch the 12.30 one. Otherwise I suggest you come back to town or go to Chenggong for a meal - there is not much to do around the station. The bus trip should take 6/7 hours at least, depending on traffic. The bus will stop at the 'new town' (Nansha) first, then go up to Xinjie. From there you will have to take a minivan (or ask your hotel to pick you up)
3. I have never done the trip myself, so I don't have any detailed info. But a friend of mine recently did it, and said it only took 8 hours. roads might have improved!
4. Yuanyang Timeless Hostel(www.agoda.com/[...] is a good place to stay. Friendly owners and employees, good food and good view. They can arrange tours and pick you up from the bus station (a 40-minute ride if I remember correctly).
xishuangbanna is a tourist attraction
Strongly advise against Sheraton or Ramada in Jinghong, or anywhere else. I've gone to Jinghong many times, spend Y60 for an okay room with computer and internet in room, in pleasant and convenient area of town. You might ask Gregoire at Mekong Cafe or Orchid or her sister at Meimei Cafe, who know town and nearby accommodations well, at various prices. Also have good to quite good western food, fellow foreign (mostly western) travelers, etc., if you want to meet some. And a Thai restaurant in that area which is good to quite good too.
I agree with lemonlover about Yuanyang town being uninteresting - the rice terraces are quite a way up in the mountains from there, stay up there (in Xinjie), there are small hotels, not expensive.