Jianshui is just 136 miles southeast of Kunmíng, it is one of the earliest developed cities in south Yunnan. It is part of Honghe Prefecture and is an ancient town with historical importance as a center of trade with a history dating back over 1,200 years. It is sometimes referred to as the "the Museum of Ancient Constructions". Jianshui’s population is 474,00 and has a moderate climate through out the year. Jianshui county consists of two parts, the historic city Jianshui and the famous Swallow Cave. Jianshui still retains important architectural remnants that visitors find fascinating; including the Chaoyang Gateway Arch, the Jianshui Confucious Temple, the Zhilin Temple, Shuanglong Bridge, the Private Garden of the Zhu Family and the Ancient Nalou Building. Jianshui is still a relatively undiscovered attraction where you can stroll on old streets and see ancient homes without being overwhelmed by hordes of tourists.
Long Distance Buses
The bus station in Jianshui is located across from the Yang Yang Hotel (telephone is 0873-7653538). Buses from Kunming to Jianshui leave frequently (more than 10 per day) and cost 55 Yuan for the 3-½ hour ride. You can find buses to Shiping, Yuanyang, Swallow Cave Gejiu, and Tonghai from Jianshui.
The town itself is small enough to cover on foot. Public buses, minibuses, horse-carts and taxis are available for sightseeing or attractions outside of town. To reach places outside the city catch a bus, minibus, or taxi. If you hire a taxi, you should be able to get as far as Tuanshan for 20 Yuan.
The Ancient City
Enjoy the city’s cobbled streets, ancient architecture, 100 ancient temples and 50 ancient bridges. Stop at one of the over 100, thousand year old artesian wells. Join locals at the West Gate Well for some of the purest water in China. Visit China’s second largest Confucian temple Wen Miao, located near the north gate. The temple dates back to the Yuan Dynasty and has a history over 700 years old. It covers an area of 760,000 square feet. The central building is Xian Shi Miao (Great Master Hall), Visit the market at the 700 year-old Chaoyang Gate, built in 1389 and located in the city center.
The Private Garden Of the Zhu Family
This grand complex (over 200,000 square feet) shows the ancient architecture of the area in its perfect original form. It was built by the Zhu brothers in the late Qing Dynasty. Admission is 50 Yuan.
Located in the western part of the city, the temple was built in 1296. It is considered the earliest Buddhist Temple in south Yunnan.
The Swallow Cave
Only 18 miles east of Jianshui, Swallow Cave is one of the biggest caves on the Asian continent. There is a dry cave, a water cave and over 7 million acres of forest. In the spring and summer, thousands of swallows migrate from Malaysia, building nests and givie birth to their baby swallows. There are tour trips departing from Jianshui daily for 8 Yuan. Admission at the cave is 30 Yuan and hours are 9:00-5:00
(Seventeen Span Bridge)
Less than 2 miles west of Jianshui is the 17-Arch Bridge. The bridge arches cross Lujiang River and the Tachong Rivers. There are three story pavilions sitting in the middle and at both ends of the bridge. Built during the Ming Dynasty, it is considered one of the most beautiful ancient bridges in China.
Just 8 miles west of Jianshui City and built in the Qing Dynasty, Tuanshan Village offers timeless art and architecture. A taxi should cost about 20 Yuan or take a minibus.
Home to perhaps the most beautiful terraced rice fields in China. Built by hand by the Hani people over 1,000 years ago. The paddies are flooded from December to April which creates a reflecting pool effect that draws photographers from around the world. They are particularly spectacular at sunrise and sunset. Occasionally patience is necessary in order to out wait the shrouds of fog. Popular rice terraces to visit include the Bada, Laohuzui and Duoyicun rice fields. In summer, the paddies are green with growing rice plants. After the fall harvest, the paddies become bare earth. The scenery on the drive from Jianshui to Yuanyang is also beautiful. If you want to go directly to Yuanyang there are 3 direct buses from Kunming’s Nanyao Bus Station to Yuanyang Xinjiezhen everyday. The Express departs at 10:40am and takes 6-7hours. For those overnighting there is the Yunti Hotel in the Old Town portion of Yuanyang.
If your seeking something truly off the beaten path you may want to visit Niujiaozhai about a 45 minute car ride from Yuanyang. The ride takes you past beautiful rice fields, including Laohuzui and then up a small country road that cuts through several smaller villages before reaching Niujiaozhai. Niujiaozhai has a wonderful market every Tiger, Horse and Dog day of the Chinese calendar. There is much to see of the Yi and Hani local foods, clothing and way of life.
Samaba (in Baohua)
Said to be even more beautiful than Yuányáng you will find an almost total absence of tourists. If you care to take a bus direct from Kunming, head to Shiphing (4 1/2 hours) and change buses for Baohua (2 ½ hours). Baohua has some simple guesthouses, the best one is Samaba Zhaodaisuo.
Jianshui has a good selection of hotels by the bus station west of the old city gate. The Zhu Family Garden Hotel is one of the more desirable places to stay, though occasionally it receives a negative review. It is a former Qin Dynasty estate set inside beautiful gardens with an exquisite atmosphere. The Jinniu Kezhan near the Chaoyang Gateway Arch is a nice budget hostel, double rooms with attached bath cost only 40 Yuan though rates may double during holiday periods.
Barbecue dishes are popular in Jianshui and with a substantial Muslim population you can find a nice variety of Muslim noodle dishes, breads and sweets.
If you are shopping in Jianshui you will find a good selection of local handicrafts as well as their exceptional pottery.