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Explore Dehong, Yunnan: A Hidden Gem in China’s Southwest

Guide to Dehong, Yunnan

Dehong (德宏) is a border region primarily inhabited by the Dai, Jingpo, and De’ang ethnic groups. The area, with 62% of its territory blanketed by lush tropical forests, offers a breathtaking natural landscape.

In the Dai language, ‘Dehong’ translates to ‘a place on the lower course of the Nu River.’ Indeed, after traversing the confined valleys of Nujiang, Dehong emerges as a refreshing retreat. Visitors can relax under the shade of ancient banyan trees or explore the numerous local parks and gardens that dot the area.

Dehong Dai and Jingpo Autonomous Prefecture

Dehong map, Yunnan province, China

The Beautiful Hometown of Peafowls

Dehong Dai and Jingbo Autonomous prefecture are on the western frontier of Yunan, including 2 cities and 3 towns: Luxi city, Ruili city, Yingjiang town, Longchuan town, and Lianghe town. It has a population of 1,067,800, a boundary line of 503,800 m, 2 grade 1 port: Ruili and Wanding, and 2 grade 2 ports: Yingjiang and Zhangfeng. The existing ethnic groups here include Dai, Jingbo, A’cang, De’ang, Lisu, and Han. The prefecture government seats in Luxi city, 700 km from Kunming, and 472 km by air from Kunming. The Daying River and Ruili River National Scenic Park stretches across the prefecture. With 62% of the land covered by forestry, here is a semi-tropical monsoon climate, i.e., not cold in winter, nor hot in summer, and the difference between dry and wet seasons is obvious.

Ruili river

In the Dai language, Dehong means “a place on the lower reaches of the Nujiang River”. It features the Mengbanaxi rare plants garden, the adumbral tropical forest, the flourishing banyan trees, the garden-like Dadenghan Dai Village, the passionate Guangshan mountain Jingbo garden, the Nandian ancient government building regarded as “Dai’s palace museum”, the magic tower in a tree, the Chinese mother tree of rubber, the endless ruby in the Nangu lake, the magic view of people of two countries living in a village, a street, a yard, drinking from the same well, and living aside the same river. The best Myanmar ruby, emerald, and jade, your eyes can never see them all. You will never be disappointed by Ruili, the Oriental jewelry city with rich resources of jewelry, jade, tree fossils, and tree fossil jade. Dehong, the magic, a beautiful and fertile hometown of peafowls has become a tourist attraction in the southwest frontier.

King banyan

Unique Jingpo Bamboo-storied Houses 独具一格的景颇族竹楼

Built on slopes, the upstairs of Jingpo bamboo-storied houses are for people while live stocks are kept downstairs and big cattle are in the sheds beside the house. In the house, there is a corridor in which it is a pillar whose degree of thickness symbolizes the power of the host. Apart from the pillar, there are pestles and firewoods for grinding the grains in the corridor. In the center of the house, there is a fireplace for warmth, around which are places for sleeping. Jingpo bamboo-storied houses are rich in ethnic and local characteristics.

Jingpo Bamboo-storied Houses
Jingpo Bamboo-storied Houses

Twistable Knives—Husa Knives 可以弯曲的刀——户撒刀

Almost all men of the Achang minority wear Husa knives that not only are the need for producing and living but also can be used for decoration and protection. Having been produced for generations, Husa knives are thin, durable, twistable, exquisite in craftsmanship, and masterly in refinement. Patterns of 12 symbolic animals are carved on the sheath of Husa knives that are renowned for being delicate, soft, and sharp.

husa knives

Best Tour Time

Affected by the monsoon from the Indian Ocean, Dehong Prefecture is characterized by the subtropical rainforest climate. It is warm all year round with plentiful rain, charming scenes, and tropical fruits.

On Tour

Luxi city is 700 km away from Kunming.
Airway: Luxi, which owns an airport, is named Mangshi by local people. There are one or two flights from Kunming to Mangshi every day. The journey needs about 45 minutes and costs 530 yuan.
Highway: Kunming—Luxi, couchette ticket: 155 yuan; journey: 14 hours;
Express ticket: 180 yuan; journey: 12 hours

Local Food

Dai-flavored rice noodle, bamboo shoots, hand-made rice noodles、pickled vegetables, a banquet of green vegetables, Zhefang rice, lemon, jujube, shaddock.

Local products

Jewelry and jade handicrafts, trees fossil, jade-like tree fossil, teak handicrafts, Husa swords,ethnic brocades.

Jingpo Munaozongge Festival


The Sino-Burma brotherhood Carnival

Time: May 2nd-5th yearly
Place: The Ruili Square, Ruili city

Program: Sino-Burma ethnic performances; the contest of decorated bull carts; the beautiful selection of Miss. Ruili; the ethnic costumes contest as well as other cultural and artistic activities with deep ethnic features and exotic atmosphere.

Mengbanaxi Custom Festival and the Water Splashing Festival

Time: April 12th-14th yearly
Place: Mangshi square, Luxi

Program: Activities of the Water Splashing and Munaozongge festivals, showing ethnic customs of the Dai、Jingpo、De’ang、Lisu and Achang; as well as a fair for business exchanges.

Jingpo Munaozongge Festival

Time: 2-4 days during the Golden Weeks yearly
Place: The Ethnic and Cultural Square, Longchuang, and the Jingpo Eco-village, Guangshan

Program: Munaozongge in Jingpo language means getting together to sing and dance, which is held to celebrate the victory, harvest, and wedding. Munaozongge held during the Golden Week every year is especially the Jingpos’ most important and greatest event, during which the beautifully dressed male and female, old and young all gather together to celebrate it for several days.

What to see

Yunyan Buddhist Pagoda 允燕佛塔

Yunyan means a lucky, cheerful and attractive place in the Dai language. The Yunyan Buddhist Pagoda located on the Yunyan Mountain 1 km east to Yinjiang County is of the Burmese style, consisting of the main pagoda and 40 smaller ones. The cone-shaped pagoda stands on a four floored square base is a national historical reservation, a mix of Buddhist culture and the Dai traditional architecture.
Neighboring to the Yunyan Buddhist Pagoda are ethnic festival landmarks such as the Munao Building and the Water-splashing Pagoda. The “Munao Zongge Festival” of the Jingbo minority lasts from the 15th to the 7th of the first lunar month, while the “Water-splashing Festival” lasts 3 days from the 7th day after the “Tomb Sweeping Festival”. On such occasions, people of every ethnic group dressed in their holiday best enjoy themselves by singing and dancing.
Walking or taxi is available from downtown of Yingjiang. Fare: 10 yuan. Gate ticket: free.

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Images: Oliver Huang

Topics: Dehong travel guide, Dehong guide, Dehong trips

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