3 Days China and Laos Border Cycling Tour from Jinghong to Mengla and Boten

Biking route from Jinghong (景洪) in Xishuangbanna (西双版纳) to Laos (老挝) and Thailand (泰国) — Jinghong (景洪) to Boten (磨憨)
To ride across the south of Yunnan province and through tropical rain forest can be a green way to visit the village of Dai nationality locating in southeast Asia. The cycling route starts from Jinghong, which functions as the political and economic central city of Xishuangbanna, to Boten that is the bridgehead for the southeast Asia.

Biking route:
Jinghong in Xishuangbanna to Boten of Mengla County (勐腊县), the bridgehead for the southeast Asia
Regional Climate:
Xishuangbanna is in the south of the Tropic of Cancer, and belongs to the tropical humid climate. With enough sunshine, it’s warm and green all the year round. There is no winter but long summer, and a rain will turn the the summer into autumn, which have long been a feature of this area. The year is divided into two seasons, the rainy season and the dry season. The rainy season lasts near 5 month from mid and end of May to the end of October; the dry season lasts 7 months. From October to the mid and end of May of next year. Therefore, it is a rare winter resort in China.
Best biking season:
The best season of cycling is from the October to the April of next year, since it is warm, dry and foggy. The traditional Water-Sprinkling Festival in the mid April is the New Year of the Dai nationality in Xishuangbanna. Dai people in Jinghong generally celebrate the Water-Sprinkling Festival from 12th April to 15th April, and the largest scale activity will be celebrated on 15th April. After 15th April, you can celebrate the festival with local people in villages as well, and the celebration will last until late April or early May. The “Gatangpa” Festival from 2th April to 4th April is the New Year of the Hani nationality; The “TeMaoKe” Festival on 6th February to 4th April is the New Year of the Hani nationality. You can enjoy the magnificent sight of the clouds on the Ancient Tea Mountains (古茶山) from January to March.
Staging post: Kunming (昆明) or Dali (大理)
Duration of biking:
It takes three days to arrive at the destination Boten of its normal speed. Four to six days will be needed if you wants to have more enjoyments during the tour.
Travel content: Primeval forest and Chinese minority custom
Comments on the biking route:
Distance: About 250 Kilometers
Duration: Three days
Difficulty: Medium difficulty; relaxation
Notice: Elevation of more than 2,625 feet; pay attention to sun protection
Biking tour level: five stages in total
Physical strength: ★★★
Technicality: ★★
Excitement: ★★★
History and culture: ★★★
Natural scenery: ★★★★★
Number of people: 1 – 20 persons
The best itinerary:
Jinghong (景洪) – Menghan (勐罕) – Wuxiang (五乡) – Menglun (勐仑) – Longlin (龙林) – Mengla (勐腊) – Manlongdai (曼龙代) – Mengla (勐腊) – Manzhuang (曼庄) – Shangyong (尚勇) – Moten (磨憨)
Necessary equipment: If go camping, bring bunting, moisture-proof pad, headlight, compass, burner, match etc. For light packs, you can find a lodging in a local family. Living in the stockaded village of the Dai nationality is one of the spotlights of biking tour.

Itinerary Strategy:
Day 1: Jinghong (景洪) – Menghan (勐罕); 77KM
Depart from Jinghong in the morning. After crossing the bridge of Lancang River (澜沧江), straight go down south along the highway by the river. There will be a stretch of bumpy road about 3KM, after another 20KM, you will reach Menghan which is also known as “Ganlan Dam” (橄榄坝). Menghan is entitled as the “Tail of Peacock”, which means that it is the most beautiful place in Xishaungbanna because tail is the most gorgeous part for a peacock. With rich custom of Dai nationality, it is a good choice to look around the stockaded villages if you like leisure travel (there is a ring highway that is extremely suitable for biking). Besides, considering the time and physical strength, I suggest that you would better stay the night in the house of stockaded village or hotel of the town. It will cost you nothing if you can find one of the footpaths to enter the scenic spot “Dai Ethnicity Park” (傣族园), otherwise, you need to pay for the expensive admission ticket (100 RMB per person). As for the board and lodging in the “Dai Ethnicity Park”, I prefer to recommend the “Manzha” stockaded village (曼乍寨) along the river (you can ask help from others and will find it easily). Almost every accommodation in the “Manzha” stockaded village well reflect the local characteristics of Dai nationality. In general, the standard room is 60 RMB per night, and Dai people’s wide bed for a number of people is 30 RMB one person one night. Local dinner for 8 costs about 300 RMB.

After a stretch of flat road about 15KM across the “Ganlan Dam” (橄榄坝), go uphill about 6KM (pay attention to the cars on the slope). There is a stockaded village of Dai nationality named “Manbangsha” (曼邦沙) which produce the best-quality pineapples in China. These pineapples are sold in the roadside stalls, small one is 1 RMB, and bigger one is 3 to 5 RMB. Another 3KM’s rough road, you will get to Wuxiang (五乡), a nice supply station with many economical restaurants and a small market. Go down a gentle slope about 4KM, you will find a big stockaded village of Hani nationality named “Manme” (曼么寨). In front of it, there is a unmanned mountain village which is a developed scenic spot previously. If have time, you can go into the mountain village and visit the old-growth forest there. Then, go down the slope and reach the Menglun Town (勐仑镇). The artificial scenic spot Tropical Plants Garden (热带植物园) in the town worth your visiting, because you can learn more scientific knowledge while visiting. Ticket price of this spot is 80 yuan per person. If you live in the town, you can visit it free after 6:30pm since the suspension bridge of Luosuo River (罗梭江) will be free of charge at that time. It is highly cost-effective choice to live in the Chunlin hotel (春林宾馆), 60 RMB for a standard room.

Day 2: Menglun (勐仑) – Mengla (勐腊); take the National Road 213 (213老国道), 95KM.
In the morning, cover the rough road around 18KM, of which the section of Cuiping peak (翠屏峰) canyon about 2KM is very beautiful. When get to the Mengxing Town (勐醒镇), you would better buy some food. Mengxing Town is also the road to Yiwu Ancient Town (易武古镇), so please not to go wrong. After crossing the Mengxing Bridge (勐醒桥), there are many uphills to ride. The first mountain pass is the best point to enjoy the extraordinary sight of clouds. It is very energy-consuming to get to the PaoZhuQing Stockaded Village (泡竹箐寨), about 25KM away. Next to the stockaded village, there is a beautiful waterfall by the highway. After crossing the stockaded village, go downhill along the way, then arrive at Mengyuan Stockaded Village of Dai Nationality (勐远傣寨), which is surrounded by mountains and rivers. Standing in the Buddhist temple, you can appreciate the panorama of the stockaded village. A restaurant of Dai nationality named Wangjing tower (望景楼) beside highway is well recommended. The boss is called Yan wujiao (岩五叫), a strong handsome man of Dai nationality.

Drive away from the Mengyuan Stockaded Village of Dai Nationality (勐远傣寨) about 7KM, then ride uphill 11KM, and get over the Nangong Mountain (南贡山). You can enjoy the scenery of Old-growth forest on the way to up. Ride downhill 9KM,you will reach Longlin Stockaded Village (龙林寨). There is a secondary road named Kunming-Bangkok Road (昆曼公路), which is newly built on the junction of three roads. If you are short of time and want to save energy, you can take the new road (nearly 40 minutes will be saved). If take the National Road 213, you will have another uphill (2KM) and downhill (over 10KM) to ride.

After entering Mengla Town (勐腊县), ride about 7KM to get to the fourth factory headquarter of Mengla’s farm. At the stone tablet, there is a fork road, then ride into the the Man Longdai Stockaded Village of Dai Nationality (曼龙代傣寨) next to the Nanla riverside (南腊河). For the board and lodging, I recommend the “Miwenxian” (咪温仙), the traditional building of Dai nationality near the Nanla riverside (南腊河), and is well known for its dishes of Dai nationality. Boss and servants there are all warm and thoughtful, and the food is less expensive. The Dai people’s wide bed for a number of people is 30 RMB one person one night.

Day 3: Manlongdai (曼龙代)- Shangyong (尚勇), 60KM.
First walk back to Mengla County (勐腊县城), then drive on the National Road 213 (or the newly built Kunming-Bangkok Road, which will take less time. The two lines are almost parallel). If you take the National Road, you can find an stockaded village called Wangsilong (王四龙寨) of Khmus (an unrecognized ethnic group). The stockaded village is just by the road. If you are interested, just take a deeper look at it. Shanggang Stockaded Village of the Dai Nationality (尚岗傣寨) is very big. Along the main road in the village is a supernatural spring with excellent water quality. Then it is about 8 kilometers to Shangyong Town.

Shangyong Town is newly developing. From the junction of the State Road 213 and the Kunming-Bangkok Road, drive along a small slope of over 200 meters on the Kunming-Bangkok Road, then you can see the intersection leading to the town. There is a lot of food in the market! The thatched restaurant is recommended, which has a special architecture, favorable food and prices. Lage Hotel (拉哥宾馆) as well as several nearby hotels is pretty good. What is the reason for choosing Shangyong Town? It is 9 kilometers from Shangyong Town to Boten Town, and the road between this two places is flat and mostly downhill. The accommodation in Shangyong is more economical than that in Boten (Boten is called “Little Shenzhen”, a new town where many businessmen gather). If you stay there on weekend, it is also a good idea to hang out in the border trade market of China, Laos and Thailand, 7 kilometers from Boten. It’s just in time to get through the customs at 9 after an hour’s ride. Lage Hotel and other hotels are just at the entrance to the Shangyong Town, whose standard rooms cost 40-50 yuan. The market is nearby and is a good place to get daily needs.

Travel Tips:
Despite the beautiful scenery along the road, remember to watch the road while riding. Control the speed when there are many slopes and bends on the way. If you come across cattle or dogs while riding, please go around or stop to let them pass first. If you come across dogs in a village, please slow down, do not run. Remember to take your suntan lotion!

Taboos for Some Ethnic Groups:
1.Take off your shoes when entering buildings of Dai nationality or the hall of Buddhist temples.
2.Do not visit the bedroom of the Dai people’s house.
3.Do not touch the head of children (especially the little monks) or Zhaixin (the central mark of a village).
4.Do not touch the big gate of the village of the Hani nationality.
Chinese Version: http://bbs.biketo.com/thread-231183-1-1.html