I live in Ruili right now.
The main function of the city itself is a trade point between Myanmar and China. It has a lot of hotels, but as for recommendations I don't really have many.
Ruili the town mostly has a lot of jade, food, and clothing stores, but is a cool smaller city with a kind of busy night life with some (Chinese style) clubs and a LOT of arcades in various stages of decay. It seems fairly safe to me so far. Burmese workers here speak a fair amount of English, and though they are kind of pushy seem generally nice. I wouldn't recommend buying any jade without doing a lot of research or knowing someone who does, though.
Jiegao is the special economic zone across the river. You can find more jade stores, a duty free shop for cigarettes and such, and a lot of toy and other shops. If you go along the fence, you can see Myanmar locals hopping over illegally, and sneak through the fence for a border shot if you're feeling particularly headstrong. Just don't get caught. Chinese and Burmese can cross easily, but anyone else needs a permit and a guide to cross the border.
Red taxis that drive around all through Jiegao and Ruili will take you across the river to the other city for 5 yuan, but won't head there until they've picked up other folks. Also, they won't pick you up without a specific destination(Jiegao is not enough). Regular taxis charge 10 yuan from any of the bus stations to as far as S321, but you need to agree on a price before you leave. Anywhere farther is at least 15.
There is a cool park next to the river that most locals say is their favorite place to go. They also have some great kebab places there, and it's a nice place to spend the day. Next to it is a Dai village center, where the Dai people have gatherings on a semi-regular basis. They had a stage set up and were dancing for the Water Splashing Festival, which is probably the best time to visit this city.
I hope that's enough. Drop me an email if you have any other specific questions and I'll do my best.
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