Cizhong, a large village on the floor of the Mekong Valley, was where a party of French missionaries settled in the 1860s. Rising from its midst is the tower of a Catholic church, bearing witness to their lingering influence here. The vines striating local hillsides are another legacy. You can sample the best local vintages at Songtsam’s stone-built lodge on the outskirts. Swathed in groves of orange marigolds, it faces south down the valley and catches the morning sunshine. A newly built road bridge, connecting Cizhong to the highway on the far side of the river, suggests development may not be too far off, but for the time being this remains a tranquil spot that’s well placed for walks and treks, and serves as a convenient stopover between Meili and Tacheng.
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