ocated in the deep east of Yunnan Province, Xishuangbanna is famous for its mysterious tropical rainforests and minority customs. Close to the Burmese and Lao borders, this is an area of China that few travelers afford themselves the time to see. A trip down here, while time consuming and at times, difficult, is well worth the effort however and it is not hard to see why this area in the local language, is known as "an ideal and mysterious paradise".
Xishuangbanna is the only tropical rainforest nature reserve zone in China. The climate is warm and wet here, ideal for nurturing some wonderful plants and flora and home to unusual wildlife. Old trees reach into the skies here, vines twist and gnarl together and in the evening, a thick fog spreads across the region, bringing with it an air of mystery and intrigue.
Since the Qing Dynasty, western adventurers have journeyed here seeking rich biological treasures and for a while, the region's fame as a natural paradise was as well known as that of the Amazon. In the long term however, the disadvantages of this reputation have become clear. Many rare species of plant and animal have been plundered, destroyed or made extinct, as adventurers seek to take away a little piece of Xishuangbanna.
What remains exciting and fascinating however, are the people here. Daizu people have lived on this strangely habitable land for generations. The distinctive natural environment here renders unusual customs and traditions. All over the region, even today, Dai houses can be seen.
These bamboo structures raised on stilts keep away floods and dangerous animals, allowing many people to inhabit one house safely, and often house all their animals too! Hunting is still the main income, in conjunction with farming. In terms of culture, the Dai people dress in spectacular colors and furs, and dance and song are popular ways to pass the time.
Due largely to the region's proximity to Burma and Thailand, Buddhism is the predominant religion here. Temples and pagodas with a Southeast Asian flavor are dotted about the countryside and towns, and monks, especially young male trainee boys, are a common sight, clothed in traditional orange costume, often riding motorbikes to the temple!