Introduction

Jǐnghóng (景洪) – the ‘City of Dawn’ in local Dai language – is experiencing some serious investment. The once-sleepy capital of Xīshuāngbǎnnà Prefecture is expanding fast, with new apartment blocks sprawling down both sides of the Mekong River (known as the Láncāng in China) which bisects the city and ambitious developments sprouting on the city's outskirts.

The once underpopulated left bank of the Mekong is at the heart of the boom, meaning the city's axis is beginning to shift from its traditional centre on the right bank. Nevertheless, Jǐnghóng sees relatively few Western visitors and it remains laid-back despite the increasingly snarled traffic. And everything from the food to the weather has more in common with Southeast Asia than China.