Jianshui, 220 kilometers south of Kunming, is a state historic and cultural county. It located in southeast Yunnan in the Honghe Hani and Yi Autonomous Prefecturesi. Once an important center of Yunnan and an obligatory stop on route from Kunming to Vietnam, the Dai kingdom of Xishuangbanna and the edge of the Chinese empire. Jianshui grew on the profits of its lucrative position as a center of trade. The town's extensive architectural legacy bears witness to this former glory, and charms those few visitors it does receive.
Since the Yuan Dynasty, it was the political, cultural and communication center in south Yunnan. Jianshui got the name because the basin was flooded every summer and autumn. In Mandarin, it was called Jianshui. From the establishment of the city in the Tang Dynasty (618-907AD) to now, Jianshui County has had a history of over 1,180 years. It is one of the areas that have been deeply influenced by the Central Plains culture. The long history of Jianshui has produced its splendid culture. Due to its early development, Jianshui produced thousands of scholars. Moreover, with the influence of the grand Jianshui Confucius Temple, it was rightfully called "the Cultural City" since the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).
The age-old history, splendid culture and glorious tradition have produced many historic sites in Jianshui. With more than 100 ancient temples, 50 ancient bridges and 56 state-protection cultural relics, Jianshui enjoys the fame "the Museum of Ancient Constructions", which highlights the ancient Chinese culture and art. Jianshui is also rich in natural resources, including manganese, iron, lead -zinc, copper and others. The reserve of discharge manganese accounts for one-third of the national total. Besides, Jianshui is devoted to developing local handicrafts, among which Jianshui earthenware is the most well known as it is one of the four celebrated potteries in China.Jianshui is still reaping the rewards of its ancient position as a regional trade center.
Between Jianshui and other touristy destinations, daily buses available, west to Shiping, south to Yuanyang (3hrs), east to the Swallow Cave and Gejiu, northward to Tonghai and onward to Kunming.The town itself is small enough to walk around. But public buses, minibuses, horse-carts and taxis do run.
Accessing sites outside the city will require either catching a bus or minibus, or hiring a taxi. If you hire a taxi, you should be able to get as far as Tuanshan for around Y20. If you want the vehicle to wait for you, be prepared to pay a little extra. But taxi meters are not adaptable in Jianshui, price negotiable. You can also take a 3-wheel motorcycle around.
A selection of cleaner, brighter hotels can be found by the bus station, west of the old city gate. (Though most guidebooks mention the Zhu Garden Hotel, it's a bit overpriced for budget, and not so clean.)Jinniu Kezhan near the Chaoyang Gateway Arch is a nice budget hostel to stay, a clean dbl. room with attached bath costs only Y40, but the price may go up to Y70-100 during Chinese vacations.
Jianshui is quite famous for its muslim population, so be sure to try some of their famed noodles. You might even see some muslim vendors pushing carts around the street laden with huge cakes. Patterned with preserved fruit, these are near solid sugar and a small slice is usually enough to placate even the sweetest of teeth.Barbecue is very popular in Jianshui. Stalls are centralized in a narrow lane facing the first memorial gate,food are alomst the same in each stall. The best restaurant we found out is an inconspicuous one in the depth of the lane facing the 2nd memorial gate, cheap and tasty. Another well-decorated one in the same lane should be avoided.
The touristy area are consisted of one gate, one street, 3 memorial gates("Paifang" in Chinese), the confucian temple and the Zhu Family's Garden. Besides its traditional mansions, old wells and famous Confucius Temple, Jiànshui is also an optional gateway to Yuányáng, which has arguably the most beautiful terrace fields in the country.
Jianshui is still reaping the rewards of its ancient position as a regional trade center.