Jinghong and the Xishuangbanna Region
Jinghong is the capital of southern Yunnan's Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Region, which borders Laos and Myanmar. Xishuangbanna is home to the Dai, a people related to Thais and Laotians, who, like their cousins to the south, love very spicy food.
The city sits on the banks of the muddy Mekong, although this stretch of the legendary river is known locally as the Lancang. This is where China meets Southeast Asia; it looks and feels more and more like Laos or Thailand the farther you travel from Jinghong. Even inside the city the architecture, the clothing, and even the barbecue seem much more like what you'd find in Vientiane or Chiang Mai.
Jinghong has experienced a tourism explosion, with the city completely filling up with visitors from all over China and hotel prices skyrocketing during the holidays. It has its own international airport, connecting it to Kunming and other major cities. But despite the increase in economic activity, the pace of life in Jinghong still moves at about the same speed as the Mekong.