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South Yunnan Baoshan


There are not many roads leading into the south Yunnan Baoshan area. Some people would argue Baoshan is not really south Yunnan, more west Yunnan, which is probably true too. It doesn't matter much.

To travel/cycle to Baoshan, you need to take road number 320. It leads from Kunming (actually it goes all the way to Guangxi province) to Xiagian (also named New Dali). This road is a rather busy road.

Street view in Tengchong

The only other road goes straight south to Yun Xian from where you must go west About 220 km) to south Yunnan Baoshan. If you are not interested going into Xishuangbanna, this may be a good alternative.

Going to Baoshan therefore means you first have to visit Xiagian. Unfortunately there are no other roads available so you may decide either to take the bus or first go to Lijiang by leaving Kunming north.

How long would you need to to visit Baoshan? That depends really what you want. If you prefer to cycle all the way from Kunming to Ruili and back to Kunming, you have to calculate about 3 weeks.

You may consider to continue from Baoshan to Xishuangbanna. That cuts the journey to about 2 weeks and another 10 days to reach Jinghong.

Tengchong

It takes at least 4-5 days cycling from Kunming to Xiagian. After Xiagian, it's about 200 km passing Yong Ping and Wa Yao before arriving in Baoshan. Yong Ping and Wa Yao have places to stay.

There is an alternative route to cycle, starting in either Yong Ping or Wa Yao. Both towns have a junction with a road going north. I have never done this but I am told you can cycle as far as Ying Pan and then go to Dali and Lijiang. You basically follow the river with on the west side the Nu Shan mountains. This road is on my program next year.

Going south to Baoshan is from Wa Yao another 100 km. Baoshan is the center of Baoshan area. The town used to be very traditional but much has changed in the last years.

There is a good 1-2 weeks loop to cycle here. It goes from Baoshan south Luxi and then Ruili which is the border town with Myanmar. Although in principle you will go mostly down, you will have to climb quite some kilometers. Fortunately most of the road is in good condition.

Typical Buddhist temple in Baoshan near RuiliTree temple in Ruili, Baoshan

When you come closer to the Myanmar border, you may experience more road controls. The Chinese police is active in trying to find smugglers. As far as I could find out, they're mostly hunting for weapons and drugs.

You may find Ruili dull at day time but the little town starts to live at night. It is a typical border town with all the smuggle ware and prostitution that comes with it. Don't be surprised to see young children going around with big packs of money, either Burmese or Chinese.

Around Ruili you find already the typical Burmese stupa's and Buddhist temples. The river is the official border. From here there's a straight road to Lasio, the first big city in Myanmar. Have no hope you can cross and bribe the Burmese customs.

From Ruili you can go north, direction Zhangfeng. It's a minimum 3 day journey to Tengchong. The landscape here is very different from other parts of China, in fact more Burmese then Chinese. Mountains are volcanic and there are geysers to be found.

Tengchong

Tengchong is the center of this area. I was told even Burmese people cross illegal the border to shop in Tengchong. It wouldn't surprise me. Tengchong used to be a very traditional town with beautiful old houses. Unfortunately the modern world also has reached Tengchong. Many of the old houses have disappeared from the town center but you may find still some of the old grandeur back in the areas outside the center.

It's not an easy ride back to Baoshan. The minimum you need is three days but don't be surprised if it will take four. There's a serious mountain range to cross.

Tengchong Town Center

If you decide to cycle to Xishuangbanna, you don't have to go further then Xinjie, a few kilometers away from Baoshan town.

The road is a serious problem. You may be able to cycle in two days to Yun Xian but the road isn't in the best condition. That said, the scenery is very spectacular. You have to follow road 323 to Lincang, about 75 km further on.

View on Myanmar from the Chinese town of Ruili
View from Ruili to Myanmar, just across the river.

You may go back to the north by taking the 214 back to Xiagian. It'll take you about 5-6 days. Again, I have never cycled this road myself but I am told it looks ok enough and at least more quiet then the road from Baoshan to Xiagan.

The road south to Lincang (a forgettable city) is scenic as the continuation further south and east to Pu'er. Now you have reached the area of the famous Pu'er tea. There's places to stay in Pu'er though the town itself is not of much interest.

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