In the 16th and 17th centuries, China's foreign trade relations crossed Eurasia to the kingdoms of Southeast Asia, as well as the empires and Khanates of Central, South and West Asia. Local growers started planting shortly after the introduction of tobacco. Traders operating on the China-Myanmar border brought tobacco from eastern India to southwest China, while others smuggled tobacco to Russia or shipped to India and Persia to Siberia. East, Mongolia, and later Xinjiang. Yunnan and Gansu are connected by road to Southeast Asia and central Eurasia. These two western provinces of China have become border crossing centers. Many of the subjects of the Ming and Qing dynasties first learned how to smoke tobacco grown in Asia with a hookah.
The practice of shisha is endemic to some parts of Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, which are commercially linked by Indian Ocean routes and culturally by diasporas. Hookahs of various constructions, including Hookah, Hookah, Persian Hookah, spread through Mecca pilgrims, Indian merchants, and African, Persian, Arab, or Central Asian traders, widely used in India, Iran, Ottoman Empire, Madagascar, East Africa and much of Southeast Asia and western China. Although the exact origin of the hookah is unknown, southern India is likely to be the starting point. The earliest hookahs consisted of hollowed out coconut rafters and straight reed bamboo that served as a tobacco rod. This simple design, which is not difficult to reach even the poor, was used on the southeast coast of India in the 16th century and may be adopted by other pioneer smokers throughout the Indian Ocean. By the early 17th century, both Western India and Persia used more complex forms.
The earliest existing Chinese hookah originated from the 18th century. They have an integrated container and a slender gooseneck. They are smaller and more portable 19th-century Chinese pipes than pipes found elsewhere, closer to the simple pot-shaped design of the original Indian hookah. Hookahs are still widespread today in western Yunnan, as well as in Myanmar, northern Thailand, Malaysia, and Borneo, which also reminds China and Southeast Asia of the original Indian style improvements. The sojourning Chinese may have encountered the practice of filtering smoke with water at the Nanyang harbour frequented by Indian traders. Several Chinese literature indicates that early smokers on the eastern coast used water to filter smoke, although it is still unclear how they actually operated. However, this type of smoking in South Asia is likely to have spread to western China along long-standing land routes that link Yunnan and Gansu with newly established tobacco growing areas in other parts of Asia.