Tucked away in southwestern Yunnan near the border with Myanmar/Burma, Baoshan refers both to the prefecture and the modest-sized city that governs it. Home to a key stretch of the Southern Silk Road during the 4th and 5th centuries, Baoshan is often overlooked by travelers on their way to the border town of Ruili or Tengchong. This is too bad, because Baoshan is not without its charms.
Though Baoshan's old Ming Dynasty-era city walls have been completely demolished, leaving a largely dreary half-modernized town behind, the scene is redeemed by the surrounding mountains, valleys and fields of sugar cane and rice. And once you get outside of Baoshan City, there's much of interest to see.
Most of Baoshan's 120,000-some inhabitants are ethnic minorities within China, including Burmese, Jingpo and Dai peoples, making for a fascinating cultural mix both in the city and srrounding countryside.
Worthwhile Baoshan attractions in and around the area include the picturesque village of Heshun en route to Tengchong with its volcanic hotsprings, the Pavilion of the Jade Emperor at the foot of Taibo Shan and the Temple of the Reclining Buddha.
As a point of interest, Marco Polo observed fashions for tattoos and gold-toothed-capping when passing through in the 14th century: a fashion trend that has remained to the present day among several minority groups. Baoshan has an airport with daily flights out of Kunming for those who wish to forgo the adventure of Yunnan buses. Flight time is only about 20 minutes, cutting overland travel time significantly.