Off The Beaten Path: China’s Jianshui In The Yunnan Province


Jonny Blair in Jianshui Old Town China

Places like Jianshui in the Yunnan Province of China will stick in my memory for one reason. You’ve never heard of them before you arrive and you’ll never forget them after you leave.

How to get to Jianshui

By now you’ll have noticed that my girlfriend plays a big part in my Chinese adventures and helps organize my more obscure and remote Chinese experiences such as Taxia Village and Danxiashan. If you’re travelling on your own and not Chinese, you can still easily get a bus to Jianshui. Buses leave from Kunming South every half an hour during the day, Yuangyang (Nansha in fact) more regularly and from Jinghong, which offers a 17 hour sleeper bus. You’ll need to have the Chinese written down before you show up and book your bus at the station.

I’d recommend the Linan Inn in Jianshui where you can get a family room for only 268 RMB.

Things to See & Do in Jianshui

For a small town with a very small number of foreign tourists, taking in what Jiangshui has to offer is an absolute joy. Friendly locals, fabulous food and a range of sights all typical of this part of China’s Yunnan Province.

Even just walking through the main streets is easy on the eye – superb architecture, endless shops, street side barbecues (at night), Chinese history and a load of fashion shops. This could well be the trendy town of Yunnan Province. Here’s a top 5 things to do while in Jianshui…

1. Zhu’s Family Garden

The Chinese style outdoor gardens are a work of art onto themselves. The Zhu’s Family Garden is a 20,000 square metre garden and patio complex from the Qing era. You have to pay for a ticket to go inside and you can walk around at your leisure. It’s never that busy. You can relax by the pond, visit the museum or chill out in the shade from the top viewing platform. Elegant and preserved. Entry is 50 RMB (Chinese Yuan).

zhu's garden jianshui china

2. Chaoyang Gate

This splendid gate sits at the end of the main street through Jianshui and is well worth a visit with great views, rooms to relax in, locals to meet and towers down over the city.

backpacking in jianshui china

3. Confucian Temple

I’d had my fair share of Confucian Temples in Taiwan in 2009 so we didn’t bother going however I’d recommend it. Apparently this is the third largest Confucian Temple in China, so give it a try.

backpacker in jianshui

4. Spicy Barbecued Tofu Restaurant

Spicy barbecued tofu is a speciality in parts of Yunnan and Jianshui offers a great chance to try the best barbecued tofu. We went to a local restaurant that was recommended by a local, but you can see this tofu in many of the street stalls on your walk around.

spicy barbecue tofu jianshui yunnan china

5. Zhilin Si Buddhist Temple

Of course you’ll find a Buddhist Temple here and it’s well worth a stop.

arch in jianshui china yunnan

Jianshui Old Town at Night:

Zhu’s Garden in Jianshui:

Chaoyang Gate in Jianshui, China:


Jonny Scott Blair
Jonny Blair is a self confessed traveling nomad who founded and blogs at Don't Stop Living. He sees every day as an adventure. Since leaving behind his home town of Bangor in Northern Ireland ten years ago he has traveled to all seven continents, working his way through various jobs and funding it all with hard work and an appetite for travel. Don’t Stop Living, a lifestyle of travel' contains over 1,000 stories and tips from his journeys round the globe. He wants to show others how easy it is to travel the world, give them some ideas and encourage them to do the same but most of all he aims to constantly live a lifestyle of travel. He is currently based in Hong Kong and on Twitter @jonnyblair.
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