china edition
 

 

Kunming

Yunnan

Kunming is the capital of Yunnan in the southwest of China. Being close to provinces such as Guizhou, Sichuan, and Tibet as well as its shared border with Myanmar, Laos, and Vietnam make it one of the most popular holiday destinations in China. It has an estimated population of 3,740,000 and is located atop of the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau and is protected on three sides by mountains and to the south by Lake Dianchi.

Kunming is also known as the "Spring City" as it has some of the best weather conditions in China with a temperate climate. Flowers bloom in many different colors and plants flourish all year round.

Kunming is very famous all over the world for its many beautiful plants, like orchids and azaleas, which can be found in the Kunming Botanical Garden, where 4,000 varieties of tropical and subtropical plants are grown. It is also a renowned historical and cultural city in southwest China. In the past it was used as a gateway to the Silk Road. The city's highland scenery is amazing and its people are known for their varied and exotic habits and customs.

You'll not get bored in Kunming, as it has a mouthwatering cuisine and perfect shopping possibilities in the modern department stores. Furthermore you can spend your time visiting one or more of the many historical and cultural attractions and gardens. Among the major scenic spots of Kunming are the Dianchi Lake, the Cuihu Lake, the Village of Ethnic Culture, the Jindian (Golden Temple) Park, the Western Hills, the Stone Forest, the Jiuxiang Scenic spot, the Yuantong Mountain, the Daguan Park and the Qiongzhu Temple.


Black Dragon Pool

This pool is located at the foot of Longquan Hill in the Wulao Hills north of Kunming, 17 kilometers from the city centre. Surrounded by old trees and bamboo, the pool has never got dry even in the years of drought. It is known for 4 of its attractions, namely, the Han Temple, the Tang Plum Tree, the Sung Cypress and the Ming Tomb.

A story goes around which says that in the past, there were ten dragons harming the people. Lu Dong-bin, one of the Eight Deities, killed nine of them and buried them under an ancient pagoda. A small black dragon was left here and was commanded to do good to the people. Hence the name of the pool. Near the Dragon Pool is the famous Yunnan Botanical Garden, also a wonderful place for sight-seeing.


Cuihu Lake

Cuihu Lake or Green Lake in Kunming lies northwest of the city. It was created in the 17th century and is divided by two long dikes into four parts, all linked to eachother by traditional style bridges. Lined with willows, the lake is beautiful and covered with lotus plants. Two long dikes divide the lake into four parts.

Sunday is the best day to visit the lake. It's a social gathering of families and friends and all year round many exhibitions and opera performances are held. In winter and spring, people come here to feed the many red-beaked gulls, which migrate to Cuihu Lake from Siberia to enjoy the nice weather. People love seeing the birds swoop and dive across the lake. This feeding scene between man and bird has been going on for the last ten years and has added to the charms of the City of Spring.

 

Daguan Park

Daguan Park, also known as Grand View Park, is located 7 kilometers west of Kunming and is known for its longest antithetical couplet in China. The park provides a spectacular view across Dianchi Lake to the Western Hills. Worth while a visit is the Daguan Tower, which is decorated with flying eaves and beautiful paintings.

On the pavilion's lakeside facade hang tablets on which a couplet was written by Sun Ranweng, a famous poet. This couplet is reputed as the longest couplet throughout China. Personal feelings and beautiful sceneries mix together in this couplet, adding more charm to the park. Standing on the pavilion, You'll have great views of the park and surroundings.

On every Mid-Autumn Festival (Moon Cake Festival), as custom, Kunming locals normally go to Daguan Park to enjoy flowers and the full moon.


Dianchi Lake

Dianchi Lake is the largest lake in Yunnan Province and the 6th largest fresh water lake in China. The lake is located at the foot of the Western Hills and occupies an area of 370 square kilometers and the average depth is 44 meter. It is over 40 kilometers in length and stretches magnificently from the southwest of Kunming into the Yunnan countryside.

In fine weather, fishing boats and small cargo carrying vessels sail across the lakes between villages, but the lake can become as stormy as the sea with high waves. It is especially beautiful during dusk and dawn. The shoreline is dotted with with small fishing hamlets surrounded by fertile fields.

Also it's one of the Chinese government's key lake restoration priorities. The lake is very polluted with industrial and domestic waste, which has led to extensive algal blooms. People hope that in the very near future, a clean Dianchi Lake will appear again. Dianchi Lake is the main water source for industry and agriculture in Kunming. Although water from Lake Dianchi at one point made up 40% of the drinking water for Kunming City, the city had to change to other sources due to the lake's severe pollution.

The lake is still being used for fishing and is also a nice destination for people who would like to get out of town for some relaxation. Its nickname is "Sparkling Pearl Imbedded in a Highland", and it was the model for the Kunming Lake in the Summer Palace in Beijing. The best views of Dianchi are from Western Hills along its northwest shore.


Golden Temple Park

The park, located on the Mingfeng Mountain seven kilometers northeast of Kunming, is a national forest reserve.

The park has a beautiful natural scenery and together with sites of historical interest and gardens, it became a large scenic resort. The park is often visited by Kunming residents as a beautiful getaway from the city.

On Mingfeng Mountain stands the Golden Temple. 6.7 meters tall and 7.8 meters wide, the temple was cast from 250 tons of solid bronze. It is the largest bronze hall in China. It is also known as Taihe Palace (Hall of Supreme Harmony) and Tongwa Temple (the Bronze Tile Temple).


Jiuxiang Scenic Spot

Jiuxiang Dcenic Spot is 90 kilometers away from the city center of Kunming. This scenic spot has over 100 limestone caves. It is a national-level scenic spot famous for its limestone caves, mountains, rivers and valleys.

The region has six major scenic spots: the Green Shady Valley, the White Elephant Cave, the Goddess Cave, the Lying Dragon, the Bat Cave and the Tourist Cableway. The entire trip is about four kilometers long and will take you about three hours.


Qiongzhu Temple

The Qiongzhu Temple (Bamboo Temple) lies to the northwest of Kunming, about 12 kilometers from the city center. Around the temple are mountains covered with trees creating lots of fresh air, providing people a nice getaway from the hustle in town.

There is a great story going around about the name of the temple. It is said that in the Tang Dynasty two brothers were hunting a rhinoceros in the Western Hills. After they had chased the beast into the Yu An Hills where the temple now stands, it suddenly disappeared. They tried finding the animal, but couldn't. Instead they found a monk leaning on a bamboo stick. They wanted to greet the monk, but lost sight of him in the next moment. What they found was the bamboo stick, firmly stuck in the ground, which soon started to begin sprouting and a thick bamboo grove was created. The next day, the two brothers went again to the site and found that there was bamboo everywhere. So they thought it was an important sign from the Buddha. They decided to build a temple in the place to show their gratitude for this miraculous encounter. Hence the name, Qiongzhu Temple, that is, Bamboo Temple.

Of course this is only a legend.... In fact, the Bamboo Temple was first built in the Song Dynasty, and was burnt down in 1419 in the Ming Dynasty. Later, the temple was rebuilt and renovated several times.


Stone Forest

The Stone Forest is located in Lunan County, 126 km southeast of Kunming, which is about a two hour drive. A typical karst formation, the Stone Forest covers an area of more than three hundred square kilometres and is known as the "First Wonder of the World".

Research has shown that 270 million years ago the area was an immense expanse of water with a vast stretch of limestone sediment formed over the years on the seafloor. As a result of the crustal movement, the seabed rose gradually and a large piece of land thus came into being. Exposed to rains and winds, eroded by the elements, the thrist-up limestone ranges were shaped by time. About 200 million years ago numerous stone peaks, pillars, and stalagmites rose from the ground and towered into the sky, extending now as far as the eye can see, looking like a vast forest of stone, hence the name "the Stone Forest".


Western Hills

Western Hills, located 15 kilometers from Kunming are actually a range consisting of four mountains namely Biji, Luohan, Huating and Taiping.

The Western Hills stretch along more than 40 kilometers of Dianchi Lake. The panoramic views from these hills are unforgettably beautiful and you will certainly want to bring your camera to capture these glorious scenes. As well as having some of the best temples in the area, the Western Hills are also home to remarkable steles, sculptures, corridors, grottoes, pavilions and pathways. These are all art works, hand carved from the rocky cliffs. They form the best of the marvelous craftsmanship, ingenious ideas, and dedicated work created by artists, craftsperson and laborers of the past. The most famous four places on the Western Hills are: Huanting Temple, Taihua Temple, Sanqing Pavilion and Dragon Gate.


Village of Ethnic Culture

Yunnan Ethnic Villages, situated six kilometers south of Kunming, is a theme park situated on the south shore of Dianchi Lake and to the west of the famous Western Hills. It's covering about 133 hectares.

In China live 56 ethnic minorities and 52 of them live in Yunnan. Each of them has its own language, religion, culture, etc. In order to show the culture and architecture of 26 of the minorities in Yunnan, 26 natural villages will be build.

There will be a square built which will symbolize the unity between the ethnic groups, a theatre for the performance of ethnic songs and dances, a folklore museum, and a museum of ethnic waxworks. When done, the Yunnan Ethnic Villages will serve to represent Yunnan as a culturally rich and ethnically diverse province. The park will also feature an immense garden in the tradition of ancient Chinese horticultural and landscaping.

Haigeng Park, a National Sport Training Base, is only two kilometers away from the park.


Yuantong Temple

This temple is more than 1,000 years old and is Kunming's largest Buddhist temple. It has undergone many renovations. Located on the south side of Yuantong Hill, it is a destination of pilgrimage for pilgrims worldwide.

Yuantong Temple is one of the most important sites in the region for Buddhist ceremonies. On the 1st and 15th of each lunar month, people gather here to take part in all kinds of Buddhist services. There is also a good vegetarian restaurant.