South Yunnan Xishuangbanna
South Yunnan Xishuangbanna (also spelled as Xishuangbanna) is a great area to cycle in. However, to get there is another thing.
If you have limited time, you may consider taking a bus or flight from Kunming to Jing Hong. But if you have the time, the main old National Highway between Kunming and Jing Hong is still a great (minimum) 8-10 days ride. Be prepared for serious mountains and in some areas some bad road conditions.
I have cycled this road three times, up and down, the last time in march 2006. By now the expressway that connects Kunming with Jing Hong is almost finished. There's a short piece before Simao which will be finished early 2006.
After Simao, until Meng Yang you will cycle on the national highway which in fact is the express way. It's no problem. After Meng Yang you will have the choice to follow the busy express way to Jing Hong or take the old road which is virtually abandoned these days.
There are two other roads leading into South Yunnan Xishuangbanna.
The first one is probably the easier of the two. It leads all the way from Dali to Lancang and Jing Hong. It's mostly a quite busy but in reasonable good condition road. There's lots of mountains and great scenery but little traveled except by bicyclists.
The other road is even more remote. It's a dirt road which goes south out of Jianshui and goes Yuanyang following more or less the Lao border. It goes all the way through the mountains and ends in Mengxing. The report of this road, I have only one, is that the road is in very bad state and very difficult. There's a few villages but be prepared for hard work.
There are not many cyclists on the road. Most of the cyclist choose to cycle the loop Kunming-Dali-Lijiang-Zhongdian. It's a bit a shame since there are so many other places to visit. It's understandable if you have limited time. Once in a while you will meet other cyclist. Here's one of my favorite meetings, just north of Simao I met a Chinese guy. Here's my story.
Accommodation in Xishuangbanna
Like most areas in China, there are plenty of good hotels in Xishuangbanna. Especially Jinghong has a good range of 3 and 4 star hotels and resorts. See our hotels in Jinghong page for more about the hotels in Jinghong.
In other cities and towns I usually followed this trick which works well for the non tourist areas. Find the most expensive looking hotel in town and ask for the room rate. Usually they will come with the most expensive room, say Y800-1000.
If this is not what you are willing to pay, tell them friendly you will search for another hotel. Usually they'll tell you they have cheaper rooms for around Y100. Those rooms can be bargained down to about Y50-70. Keep in mind this trick does not work in tourist areas.
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Located in the south west corner of Yunnan, the Baoshan province is overlooked by mainstream tourists but it's worth a visit. The cities of Baoshan, Tengchong and Ruili are worth the effort and a very pleasant cycling journey.
Cycling in China visiting tourist sites means collecting entrance tickets. It seem the Chinese do want to give you value for your money. And I admit ... many are very nice:
Map of Yunnan