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China Travel Itinerary: Jianshui Ancient Town in Yunnan Province - 10 Highlights

Friday, September 21, 2018 , 0 Comments

bowdywanders.com Singapore Travel Blog Philippines Photo :: Singapore :: China Travel Itinerary: 10 Highlights of Jianshui Ancient Town in Yunnan Province
10 Highlights of Jianshui Ancient Town in Yunnan Province
With nothing but an imaginary EDM music playing inside my head and an exploding excitement that could be felt via my shivering fingers, I downed the local Yunnanese tea I bought from a nearby Kunming (春城) gas station. No sugar. It tasted like green tea, except that it’s colored sunny yellow, much like the weather that day. It was twenty minutes past two in the afternoon, and our local driver started the car’s engine. We were on our way to Jianshui (建水; Jiànshuǐ Xiàn; Jeifsyu).

We drove away for another two and a half hours to reach this scenic county. Do you know where it is? Are you planning to go there? Who’s excited for a roadtrip made of Mandarin-written signages, insane lengthy tunnels, and two Chinese crazies, whom I literally just met a few hours ago? Well, nihao to new adventures! Story of my life, yes!

bowdywanders.com Singapore Travel Blog Philippines Photo :: Singapore :: China Travel Itinerary: 10 Highlights of Jianshui Ancient Town in Yunnan Province

I am letting you in this experiential adventure in Jianshui, and, while I am at it, let me insist that you should include Jianshui as one of your extraordinary travel destinations in your Yunnan itineraries, should you decide to visit this side of China. Coming to Jianshui, I did not do extensive geeky research. Instead, I allowed Zomya.co to reveal the hidden local-preferred, off the beaten kind of worth it travel chronicles that can only be done in Jianshui. Great work! Are you ready to experience it for yourself?

bowdywanders.com Singapore Travel Blog Philippines Photo :: Singapore :: China Travel Itinerary: 10 Highlights of Jianshui Ancient Town in Yunnan Province

Jianshui – Mesmerizing mix of Modern-day and Old-style
Long been regarded as a center for Confucian studies for nearly eight hundred years, Jianshui is that charmingly traditional Chinese old town that you will probably daydream about. A historical center of the Yunnan province, this is a perfect depiction of a quaint city, an ancient town, and a famous cultural place. Part of the Honghe Prefecture (红河州), Jianshui is also known as Lin'an (临安) or Huili ().

bowdywanders.com Singapore Travel Blog Philippines Photo :: Singapore :: China Travel Itinerary: 10 Highlights of Jianshui Ancient Town in Yunnan Province

Geographically, it is around 200+ kilometers south of Yunnan’s capital, Kunming city, and it is surrounded by places like Jijie to its east, Shiping to its west, Gejiu and Yuanyang to its southeast, and Tonghai to its north. Likewise, this town is located in the fertile valley of the Lin'an River.

It's still considered near and drivable from Kunming to Jianshui, and can be included as part of the drive route to reach the Yuanyang rice terraces, a.k.a. your gateway to Yuanyang. Jianshui has a lot of must-see historical and cultural buildings, neighborhoods, temples, wells, gardens, bridges, and scenic spots to check out. 

Fun fact: Did you know that Jianshui has China's second largest Confucian temple complex? Yes. They even have a Confucius Cultural Festival for it! Another fun fact: Did you know that I was the only brave scared Southeast Asian traveler when I visited Jianshui? Everyone was confused that I could not speak a single Chinese dialect, even if my face looks like a mainstream Chinese local. Haha yes, fun fact!

bowdywanders.com Singapore Travel Blog Philippines Photo :: Singapore :: China Travel Itinerary: 10 Highlights of Jianshui Ancient Town in Yunnan Province

Jianshui Itinerary – Best Experiences to Include
Time to explore the DIY itinerary traveler in you, and go for experiential travel that is both unique and doable. So how do we maximize it? Consider these often free and rather easy recommendations below.

bowdywanders.com Singapore Travel Blog Philippines Photo :: Singapore :: China Travel Itinerary: 10 Highlights of Jianshui Ancient Town in Yunnan Province

Try the Iconic Food Finds in Jianshui
Jianshui is the perfect place to enjoy authentic and deliciously diverse local food specialties. I have always been a fan of Chinese food, but the food fares in Jianshui are some of the most delightful that have ever tried in my life. The qi guo ji (锅鸡) is steam-boiled chicken cooked to pottery-perfection.  Did you know that this steam pot chicken was even served to distinguished state guests on many occasions, winning acclaims from former U.S. President Richard Nixon! Yes, that good!

Perhaps you may want to try their rubing (), fresh goat milk farmer cheese, which is made by the Bai and Sani people of the Chinese ethnic minorities. It has that distinctive mouthwatering salty-peppery taste without the cheesy smell, best eaten with several local wild mountain vegetable dishes, while enjoying some Chinese herbal tea drinks. Yum, yum.

bowdywanders.com Singapore Travel Blog Philippines Photo :: Singapore :: China Travel Itinerary: 10 Highlights of Jianshui Ancient Town in Yunnan Province
bowdywanders.com Singapore Travel Blog Philippines Photo :: Singapore :: China Travel Itinerary: 10 Highlights of Jianshui Ancient Town in Yunnan Province
bowdywanders.com Singapore Travel Blog Philippines Photo :: Singapore :: China Travel Itinerary: 10 Highlights of Jianshui Ancient Town in Yunnan Province
bowdywanders.com Singapore Travel Blog Philippines Photo :: Singapore :: China Travel Itinerary: 10 Highlights of Jianshui Ancient Town in Yunnan Province

Invest in stylistic Chinese Purple Pottery in Jianshui
Nowhere in this world will you ever find a country that gives so much regard for their pottery other than in China. Chinese ceramics, pottery, and earthenware are so valued in China, and the stylistic yet simplistic (think minimalistic) designs and usage of the ones you’ll find Jianshui is something worth bringing home as a souvenir or as something to be used at home. You can see the high-grade pottery quality because of its fineness, glossiness, and thickness.

For instance, the massive jars, hand-built pottery vessels fired in bonfires, are molded so well. Obviously, their craft took thousands of years to perfect, and it can be felt by how smooth, substantial, uniquely designed they are. You can also find kettles, tea sets, vases, and boilers, to name a few. According to my Zomya.Co friend, the Jianshui purple pottery products are durable, and if you use one, you can preserve tea using Jianshui hand-made tea pots longer. Jianshui pottery for the win, yes?

bowdywanders.com Singapore Travel Blog Philippines Photo :: Singapore :: China Travel Itinerary: 10 Highlights of Jianshui Ancient Town in Yunnan Province
bowdywanders.com Singapore Travel Blog Philippines Photo :: Singapore :: China Travel Itinerary: 10 Highlights of Jianshui Ancient Town in Yunnan Province
bowdywanders.com Singapore Travel Blog Philippines Photo :: Singapore :: China Travel Itinerary: 10 Highlights of Jianshui Ancient Town in Yunnan Province

Consider Souvenir Hunting in Jianshui
Instead of buying souvenirs at the Kunming city center, I recommend that you buy the souvenirs available in Jianshui. For a not so touristy ancient city, you’ll be surprised to find good souvenirs that are inexpensive. Most of the keepsakes you can see here are hand-crafted, hand-made, and wooden type products that will not only amuse your thoughts, but it will also make you appreciate their craftsmanship.

Wooden toys, key chains, necklaces, and Chinese wooden art displays are the ones that are very popular, but you can also find interesting stuffs like fans, masks, and wooden dice toys for adults! I would discourage you to buy food as a souvenir, because the ones you’ll find in Jianshui are particularly too good to eat right away.

bowdywanders.com Singapore Travel Blog Philippines Photo :: Singapore :: China Travel Itinerary: 10 Highlights of Jianshui Ancient Town in Yunnan Province
bowdywanders.com Singapore Travel Blog Philippines Photo :: Singapore :: China Travel Itinerary: 10 Highlights of Jianshui Ancient Town in Yunnan Province
bowdywanders.com Singapore Travel Blog Philippines Photo :: Singapore :: China Travel Itinerary: 10 Highlights of Jianshui Ancient Town in Yunnan Province
bowdywanders.com Singapore Travel Blog Philippines Photo :: Singapore :: China Travel Itinerary: 10 Highlights of Jianshui Ancient Town in Yunnan Province

Get wowed by the architectural heritages in Jianshui
Leading the list of temples to visit in Jianshui is the key national historical highlight known as the Jianshui Confucius Temple, (second largest in China, after the one in Confucius' birthplace!) which has more than 700 years of history and culture preserved. You shouldn’t be surprised, since this is a city that used to be their main trading link between Kunming city and everything south. So, there was sort of an abundance in notable temples and structures in this side of Honghe, and it is nothing short of amazing.

The Jianshui’s Zhu Family Garden is the “Grand View Garden at Southwest Border of China” is the most legendary tourist attraction in Jianshui. You should not miss this place that’s an accommodation, sightseeing, and historical heritage of Jianshui. You’ll be amazed to see the cinematic-looking gardens, and the abounding Chinese bonsai plants everywhere! Let's all go here soon, ok?

bowdywanders.com Singapore Travel Blog Philippines Photo :: Singapore :: China Travel Itinerary: 10 Highlights of Jianshui Ancient Town in Yunnan Province
bowdywanders.com Singapore Travel Blog Philippines Photo :: Singapore :: China Travel Itinerary: 10 Highlights of Jianshui Ancient Town in Yunnan Province
bowdywanders.com Singapore Travel Blog Philippines Photo :: Singapore :: China Travel Itinerary: 10 Highlights of Jianshui Ancient Town in Yunnan Province
bowdywanders.com Singapore Travel Blog Philippines Photo :: Singapore :: China Travel Itinerary: 10 Highlights of Jianshui Ancient Town in Yunnan Province

Better to walk around in Jianshui
See if you can guess what is my forever favorite free activity to do when visiting a new city? Walking around like a local, yes you guessed it right. Jianshui old town is so special, because you can walk around without being too scared of getting lost in translation. There are funny English signages here and there, and people are genuinely helpful, should you decide to ask for directions.

No worries though, it’s easy to walk around the scenic city, which can remind you of quaint little towns in Europe. The feeling is very laid back, and the backdrop buildings, streets, and alleys are peaceful when the sun starts to set. The light transition from bright to sundown-lit, is incredible. It’s so picturesque, I tell you. Even if it is considered a city center, it is away from the tourist crowd and locals here are unobtrusive to travelers – though, it’s better to have a local friend to talk too, to get to know more about the city.

bowdywanders.com Singapore Travel Blog Philippines Photo :: Singapore :: China Travel Itinerary: 10 Highlights of Jianshui Ancient Town in Yunnan Province
bowdywanders.com Singapore Travel Blog Philippines Photo :: Singapore :: China Travel Itinerary: 10 Highlights of Jianshui Ancient Town in Yunnan Province
bowdywanders.com Singapore Travel Blog Philippines Photo :: Singapore :: China Travel Itinerary: 10 Highlights of Jianshui Ancient Town in Yunnan Province
bowdywanders.com Singapore Travel Blog Philippines Photo :: Singapore :: China Travel Itinerary: 10 Highlights of Jianshui Ancient Town in Yunnan Province

Experiential Adventure Highlights in Jianshui
If you are feeling adventurous, but still don’t want to be all out, then Jianshui is the city for you. There are signature special places in Jianshui that are worth discovering, experiencing, and understanding more, especially if you happen to know a local. Zomya.Co is packed with hidden travel gems and itinerary-worthy necessities that I am surprised are not readily available if you do a quick google search or even if you read travel blogs and forums. In the name of secreted must-do travel gems in Jianshui that are not popular to the outside-China worldview. Here are five of the absolute experiential adventures you must try when in Jianshui.

bowdywanders.com Singapore Travel Blog Philippines Photo :: Singapore :: China Travel Itinerary: 10 Highlights of Jianshui Ancient Town in Yunnan Province

Frog Noodles for Breakfast
If you wake up one morning, feeling so sleepy, and in dire need to be SHOCKED, please don’t grab coffee! Instead, head to a local Chinese food place and fall madly in love with their Jianshui frog noodle soup for breakfast. Its visual is more like a Fear Factor kind of challenge, seeing all the nasty bits of the local frog, with its exotic black eyes and sizzling skinned body. The taste is delicious, no coffee needed, instantly awake!

Mixed with local Jianshui vegetables, quail eggs, and some seasoning, the giant-sized Chinese noodle bowl of goodness is entertaining to eat. I did not take to examine my first (and last) frog meal of that day, but I should admit, I enjoyed the soup and noodle’s taste – it didn’t taste like a water from a pond, and the frog did not resurrect from the dead. Sitting with the locals early in the morning, anticipating the silky frog taste in the broth soup, and enjoying the unpretentious view from the restaurant is nourishing to the senses, as it is to the stomach.

bowdywanders.com Singapore Travel Blog Philippines Photo :: Singapore :: China Travel Itinerary: 10 Highlights of Jianshui Ancient Town in Yunnan Province
bowdywanders.com Singapore Travel Blog Philippines Photo :: Singapore :: China Travel Itinerary: 10 Highlights of Jianshui Ancient Town in Yunnan Province
bowdywanders.com Singapore Travel Blog Philippines Photo :: Singapore :: China Travel Itinerary: 10 Highlights of Jianshui Ancient Town in Yunnan Province
bowdywanders.com Singapore Travel Blog Philippines Photo :: Singapore :: China Travel Itinerary: 10 Highlights of Jianshui Ancient Town in Yunnan Province
bowdywanders.com Singapore Travel Blog Philippines Photo :: Singapore :: China Travel Itinerary: 10 Highlights of Jianshui Ancient Town in Yunnan Province
bowdywanders.com Singapore Travel Blog Philippines Photo :: Singapore :: China Travel Itinerary: 10 Highlights of Jianshui Ancient Town in Yunnan Province
bowdywanders.com Singapore Travel Blog Philippines Photo :: Singapore :: China Travel Itinerary: 10 Highlights of Jianshui Ancient Town in Yunnan Province

Heavenly home-cooked Chinese food for Lunch
Craving for a home-cooked meal? Consider having a Chinese family meal with an actual ethnic minority family in some far-flung authentic Chinese village in Jianshui – talk about extra special experiential adventure in China. I am still shuddering with amazement by the hospitality and generosity of these locals who welcomed us in their homes, prepared family favorite cuisines, and treated us like family, despite not being able to say a single Chinese word. Xie xie to infinity for sure!

It was a few hours past lunch time, when we arrived at this old tousled house near the entry point of isolated village in Jianshui. No address, no signage, no English. Food was not bizarre, but more like your next go-to comfort food. Unlimited serving, complete from go, glow, grow types of food. They had a memorable kaupu family who diligently prepared Every. Single. Dish. to distinctive mouth-watering flavors. Could have sworn it tasted like a legit restaurant dish from a well-acclaimed chef!

bowdywanders.com Singapore Travel Blog Philippines Photo :: Singapore :: China Travel Itinerary: 10 Highlights of Jianshui Ancient Town in Yunnan Province
bowdywanders.com Singapore Travel Blog Philippines Photo :: Singapore :: China Travel Itinerary: 10 Highlights of Jianshui Ancient Town in Yunnan Province
bowdywanders.com Singapore Travel Blog Philippines Photo :: Singapore :: China Travel Itinerary: 10 Highlights of Jianshui Ancient Town in Yunnan Province
bowdywanders.com Singapore Travel Blog Philippines Photo :: Singapore :: China Travel Itinerary: 10 Highlights of Jianshui Ancient Town in Yunnan Province
bowdywanders.com Singapore Travel Blog Philippines Photo :: Singapore :: China Travel Itinerary: 10 Highlights of Jianshui Ancient Town in Yunnan Province
bowdywanders.com Singapore Travel Blog Philippines Photo :: Singapore :: China Travel Itinerary: 10 Highlights of Jianshui Ancient Town in Yunnan Province

Jianshui Tofu Making Workshop
Even if you aren’t a fan of bean curd or tofu (豆腐), the coagulating soy milk dishes made in Jianshui are fit for a king. There’s a tofu making workshop in Jianshui that shows you the pure art and science to making traditional Chinese tofu. Yes, you should visit it and experience the process of preparing fresh tofu, extra soft / firm, or processed tofu. You’ll start from the magical water well (East Well () from the Yuan Dynasty and the West Well (西门大板井) from the Ming Dynasty) that adds to that signature tofu taste, and probably end up wanting to be a tofu-nitarian.

After walking around empty alleys, you’ll reach a corner bend near an ancient water well. Inside it, aunties, sitting down on small chairs, carefully craft tofu squares with so much speed and accuracy. It’s amazing to see how to make tofu from scratch using Chinese soybeans, including its secret recipe, via the traditional way. It’s cultural immersion at its tofu finest.

bowdywanders.com Singapore Travel Blog Philippines Photo :: Singapore :: China Travel Itinerary: 10 Highlights of Jianshui Ancient Town in Yunnan Province
bowdywanders.com Singapore Travel Blog Philippines Photo :: Singapore :: China Travel Itinerary: 10 Highlights of Jianshui Ancient Town in Yunnan Provincebowdywanders.com Singapore Travel Blog Philippines Photo :: Singapore :: China Travel Itinerary: 10 Highlights of Jianshui Ancient Town in Yunnan Province
bowdywanders.com Singapore Travel Blog Philippines Photo :: Singapore :: China Travel Itinerary: 10 Highlights of Jianshui Ancient Town in Yunnan Province
bowdywanders.com Singapore Travel Blog Philippines Photo :: Singapore :: China Travel Itinerary: 10 Highlights of Jianshui Ancient Town in Yunnan Province
bowdywanders.com Singapore Travel Blog Philippines Photo :: Singapore :: China Travel Itinerary: 10 Highlights of Jianshui Ancient Town in Yunnan Provincebowdywanders.com Singapore Travel Blog Philippines Photo :: Singapore :: China Travel Itinerary: 10 Highlights of Jianshui Ancient Town in Yunnan Province

Epic Roadtrip to and from Jianshui
Country road, take me home to a place… like Jianshui. Hahaha! John Denver will be happy to do a road trip to and from Jianshui, because I sure did, just saying! Starting our epic road trip going to Jianshui, passing by tunnels upon tunnels, bridges, highways, old streets, uninhabited buildings, and isolated villages, with snake roads and zigzags from mountains, a Jianshui road trip is one for the books kind of experiential travel.

Driving as part of a tour (bus) is not the greatest option in this case. Better to veer away from that, stir away from the masses, and just enjoy some good local style road trip adventure – be it with family, friends, or loved ones. Jianshui is an unusually good stop over, knowing how history of this ancient town can be dated back to Nanzhao State.

bowdywanders.com Singapore Travel Blog Philippines Photo :: Singapore :: China Travel Itinerary: 10 Highlights of Jianshui Ancient Town in Yunnan Province
bowdywanders.com Singapore Travel Blog Philippines Photo :: Singapore :: China Travel Itinerary: 10 Highlights of Jianshui Ancient Town in Yunnan Province
bowdywanders.com Singapore Travel Blog Philippines Photo :: Singapore :: China Travel Itinerary: 10 Highlights of Jianshui Ancient Town in Yunnan Province
bowdywanders.com Singapore Travel Blog Philippines Photo :: Singapore :: China Travel Itinerary: 10 Highlights of Jianshui Ancient Town in Yunnan Province
bowdywanders.com Singapore Travel Blog Philippines Photo :: Singapore :: China Travel Itinerary: 10 Highlights of Jianshui Ancient Town in Yunnan Provincebowdywanders.com Singapore Travel Blog Philippines Photo :: Singapore :: China Travel Itinerary: 10 Highlights of Jianshui Ancient Town in Yunnan Province
bowdywanders.com Singapore Travel Blog Philippines Photo :: Singapore :: China Travel Itinerary: 10 Highlights of Jianshui Ancient Town in Yunnan Province
bowdywanders.com Singapore Travel Blog Philippines Photo :: Singapore :: China Travel Itinerary: 10 Highlights of Jianshui Ancient Town in Yunnan Province

Secret Villages in Jianshui
Once upon a time in a land far far away, a new fairy tale is told. And truth is, it’s your story. You get transported into this extraordinarily isolated village that looks like another realm of China, looking completely raw, mystic, and deserted. The houses, structures, and streets are shy and underprivileged. If you look closely, you’ll notice that the signages have local ethnic minority characters that look enigmatic and downright mind-blowing. It exudes a transcendent touch to it that you can never see elsewhere in the different cities across Asia.

One early afternoon, we decided to stop and take some time to know the culture of this simple secret village in Jianshui (want to know the name? let Zomya.co know!). With not much hesitation, we have been greeted by the locals and invited us to their homes with open arms. Every face we saw had a genuine smile offered, with no holds barred. Every neighborhood pets we encountered had a playful stance towards people, with no holds barred. It’s an experiential peak full of good vibes and grateful acts of generosity. If you want to save the best for last in your Jianshui visit, one that will shake up your travel experience in an Enlighted way, visit an out-of-the-way village in Jianshui. You won’t forget it.

bowdywanders.com Singapore Travel Blog Philippines Photo :: Singapore :: China Travel Itinerary: 10 Highlights of Jianshui Ancient Town in Yunnan Province

ZOMYA.CO: Experiential Adventures in China
Providing one of a kind travel experiences, through the off the beaten path adventures in China’s Yunnan and Eastern Tibet. Building bridges between local people and authentic cultures, like traditional villages, ethnic markets, and local cuisines. Tailor-made itineraries to give you a different perspective on traveling in China.
Website: http://www.zomya.co/

bowdywanders.com Singapore Travel Blog Philippines Photo :: Singapore :: China Travel Itinerary: 10 Highlights of Jianshui Ancient Town in Yunnan Province
bowdywanders.com Singapore Travel Blog Philippines Photo :: Singapore :: China Travel Itinerary: 10 Highlights of Jianshui Ancient Town in Yunnan Provincebowdywanders.com Singapore Travel Blog Philippines Photo :: Singapore :: China Travel Itinerary: 10 Highlights of Jianshui Ancient Town in Yunnan Province
bowdywanders.com Singapore Travel Blog Philippines Photo :: Singapore :: China Travel Itinerary: 10 Highlights of Jianshui Ancient Town in Yunnan Province
bowdywanders.com Singapore Travel Blog Philippines Photo :: Singapore :: China Travel Itinerary: 10 Highlights of Jianshui Ancient Town in Yunnan Province
bowdywanders.com Singapore Travel Blog Philippines Photo :: Singapore :: China Travel Itinerary: 10 Highlights of Jianshui Ancient Town in Yunnan Provincebowdywanders.com Singapore Travel Blog Philippines Photo :: Singapore :: China Travel Itinerary: 10 Highlights of Jianshui Ancient Town in Yunnan Province
bowdywanders.com Singapore Travel Blog Philippines Photo :: Singapore :: China Travel Itinerary: 10 Highlights of Jianshui Ancient Town in Yunnan Province
bowdywanders.com Singapore Travel Blog Philippines Photo :: Singapore :: China Travel Itinerary: 10 Highlights of Jianshui Ancient Town in Yunnan Provincebowdywanders.com Singapore Travel Blog Philippines Photo :: Singapore :: China Travel Itinerary: 10 Highlights of Jianshui Ancient Town in Yunnan Province
bowdywanders.com Singapore Travel Blog Philippines Photo :: Singapore :: China Travel Itinerary: 10 Highlights of Jianshui Ancient Town in Yunnan Provincebowdywanders.com Singapore Travel Blog Philippines Photo :: Singapore :: China Travel Itinerary: 10 Highlights of Jianshui Ancient Town in Yunnan Province
bowdywanders.com Singapore Travel Blog Philippines Photo :: Singapore :: China Travel Itinerary: 10 Highlights of Jianshui Ancient Town in Yunnan Province





Bowdy is an amateur adventurer, a coffee sleepyhead, and a start-up rooter, with a penchant for classic-looking photos. At last count, he has visited some 55 countries, and is now living in Singapore. He's always in search of fascinating routines to exploit, within the edges of after-office hours and (un)limited holidays.

For collaboration ideas, email bowdywanders@gmail.com.

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