Jingxi (广西靖西) in Guangxi Province in the deep South of China is one of those places you really only get to see if you are invited there by Chinese friends. It’s remote, hard to get to, but very worthwhile making the effort to see and experience. I think it’s a lot like Yangshuo was before the tourists took over. The Chinese have a saying that “Guilin is the most beautiful place in the world, Yangshuo is even more beautiful than Guilin”. Well I can tell you that Jingxi is even more beautiful than Yangshuo! So do yourself a favour and get in there before the tourists take over!
How to get to Jingxi
You can get to Jingxi most easily from Nanning, the capital of Guangxi province. It’s about a five hour drive from Nanning, which has an international airport and rail connections from Guilin and Kunming. From Nanning, you can take a bus from the Beida bus station on the west side of the city for about 100 RMB. You have to go to the back of the bus terminal to get your tickets. Buses leave six times a day at 1:20 pm, 2:20 pm, 3:20 pm, 4:40 pm, 6:00 pm and 8:00 pm. If you want a comfortable ride, take the first bus! If you are heading for Nanning from Kunming on the overnight train, get off at Baise in Guangxi and and go to the main Baise bus station where you can catch the bus to Jingxi, about three hours away.
Things to see and do in Jingxi, Guangxi
While Jingxi county town is nothing special, just a little further out is the small village of Jiuzhou (广西九洲) which is said to be the “silk ball capital of the world”. It’s also one of the ancient traditional villages of the local Zhuang people, who are the largest minority in Guangxi province. It’s a nice place to wander around and there are a couple of attractions here worth spending some time on, like the Jiuzhou Eco-Museum and the beautiful Wenchang Pagoda towards the rear of the village. Depending on the time of year, these may or may not have a small admission fee.
There are some very beautiful lakes around the Jingxi area, but one of the most popular is the Equan (or Goose) Spring where Chinese tourists like to swim and have picnics by the lake. Equan Spring is only about 15 minutes from Jiuzhou Village and has a 10 RMB entry feee. It has some good local Zhuang minority food including the Shuicao Chaodan (or river grass omelette) which is well worth trying. You can also feed the fish from the bridge and just spend a day wandering around the lake taking in the beautiful scenery and the calm of the place.
One of the most popular attractions in Jingxi is the Tongling Canyon, with its very spectacular waterfall. You need to spend a full day here as there is a hiking route up through the canyon that takes you through a cave where you come out beside the waterfall. If you hike in behind the waterfall there is yet another waterfall and a hidden cave. The hike will take you about 2-3 hours in total, depending on your fitness level. You will need to pay an admission fee of about 60 RMB.
Gulong Mountain is another full day outing from Jiuzhou or Jingxi and is another “must do” activity. While it costs a lot more than Tongling Canyon (138 RMB), it’s well worth the price. Book a tour from Jingxi so you get the full package experience. You start out by hiking down into the spectacular canyon to the river, where you can take a river raft through three amazing caves and experience some of the most stunning scenery you’ll ever see. Your tour bus will be waiting for you at the end of the rafting stretch. Prepare to get wet along the way (so take protective gear for cameras and some clothes you can swim in).
Sanya Mountain (also known as three-tooth mountain) is an easy activity to do from Jingxi town or Jiuzhou Village as it’s only a short ride out of town. You will be dropped at the bottom of the mountain where you can hike up the steep paths to the summit to enjoy a spectular view of never-ending mountains stretching all the way into Vietnam. You might also be lucky enough to stumble onto a traditional Zhuang concert performance. There is an admission fee of 25 RMB.
Places to stay in Jingxi
TripAdvisor lists a handful of hotels in Jingxi but it’s not well developed for tourism yet so the only reviewers are writing in Chinese.
One of the best places to stay if you can get into it is the Budui Zhaodaisuo or military guest house. The Chinese military have these guest houses in lots of popular places and they have good rooms and nice surrounds. They charge around 60-160 RMB per night. We have not figured out how to book them though…
There are also the usual spread of Chinese business and tourist hotels with hard beds and little or no English spoken. Room rates range from 100-300 RMB per night, but be aware they will probably take one look at you and offer a room for 500-1000 RMB! You need to be prepared to haggle hard to get the real room rate.
One of the more comfortable hotels in Jingxi is the Jingxi Dajiudian (0776-621-7888) at the western end of the town near the outdoor food market, with room rates around 70-120 RMB.
If you prefer something a little grander, you can try the Huaxi Guoji Dajiudian (0776-886-6606), with its tall tower, nice views and a fancy restaurant for around 180-280 RMB.