The old town in a volcanic landscape.
The old town in a volcanic landscape.
Tengchong was the main town west of the Nujiang River and across the Gaoligongshan Mountains in western Yunnan in an area with a geological park, volcanoes and hot springs.
The town was of major importance as a trading town on the Southern Silk road between Burma And China.
As the major trading town and a gateway into China the town even boosted a British Consulate for some time.
The Burma Road did not pass through Tengchong because a more southern route was chosen to meet up with the railhead at Lashio in Burma also it was considered to build the road to the port of Bhamo on the Irrawaddy River.
There were plans for the American constructed Ledo Road to go more north to avoid Japanese strongholds further south but the collapse of the Japanese forces in Burma changed this again and the Ledo Road connected with the Burma Road at the 105-Mile Junction just before Wanting at the border.
To reach Tengchong one not only has to pass the Lancangjiang and Nujiang rivers but as well the Gaoligongshan Mountains.
Tengchong was therefore more connected to Burma then to China and this gave the city a special atmosphere. Some years ago a new modern motorway was build with an enormous suspension bridge across the Longjiang River. This together with the new airport has opened up Tengchong and the isolation is broken.
Nowadays Tengchong is a popular tourist destination because of its mild climate and abundance of hot springs and jade.
The area of Tengchong has been inhabited since Neolithic times.
For hundreds of years the Southern Silk Road, the road linking China and the Indian sub-continent, passed the town with convoys of silk coming from Sichuan, going west and precious stones going east. Because of this the town became the most important jade trading town in China. Marco Polo passed the town when he returned to China from his visit to the Burmese court in Mandalay.
The former British Consulate in Tengchong underlines the importance of the town that was located on the Southern Silk Road.
Work was started in 1921 when Tengchong was easier to reach from Burma then from central China.
Restoration is now nearly completed and the building will be a central part in a new city park that will replace the market and storage area that now surrounds the building.
In 2011 restoration work started on the building (See pictures) and the building is back in its original state. There is however for the moment no new function for the building and development work of the area around it is still ongoing.
In 1921 work was started on a British Consulate in Tengchong. It took some ten years to build this rather Scottish looking building. A lot of time was spent to train local craftsman in western style building techniques. The building only functioned for ten years as consulate, in 1942 the British had to flee for the Japanese army.
During WW-II the building was used by the Japanese forces occupying Tengchong and the building got damaged during the 51 day long siege of the town. The walled city could only be taken after a massive air bombardment that breached the city wall and allowed the Chinese forces to enter the old town.
The recapture of Tengchong in 1944 cost the life of 3346 Chinese and 19 American soldiers and nearly all the Japanese troops that had occupied Tengchong since 1942.
The allied soldiers are buried at a hill in Songyuan (Pine tree park) just at the edge of Tengchong.
The cemetery was completed in 1945 but soon got neglected after the communist takeover. The cemetery has been restored and even extended in recent years and now functions as well to educate the visitors.
This is one of the better museums in Yunnan and has a large collection of real items from the WW-II period such as an original American inflatable raft used to cross the Nujiang during the Salween campaign.
The geothermic park includes volcanoes, hot springs and even a wetland. Various volcanic rock types are found in the area including basalt and pumice stone.
The park is a nature reserve as well and one can find monkeys and deer in the park.
The Tengchong area is dotted with hot-spring resorts. These hot-springs and the jade attract a lot of Chinese visitors. The mild climate makes it possible to visit the area year round.
With the opening of the Tengchong airport in 2007 tourism has gone up in the Tengchong area but there are still lots of quiet spots to be found.
Tengchong county has a selection of special old bridges.
See our bridges page for more information.
Heshun village lays just next to Tengchong. The village is a major tourist attraction with newly build jade shops forming the first facade. But behind them there is still a charming village and after the hordes of day-trippers have gone the place is quite nice.
Heshun is very suitable to stay overnight and has several local guest houses.
See our Heshun page for more information.
Location: 25°01' N. 98°29' E.
Altitude: 1667 meters / 5469 feet.
Location: 25°00'50" N. 98°27'27" E.
Altitude: 1580 meters / 5183 feet.
British consulate in Tengchong on the GoKunming website.
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