Kunming Things to Do

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    Golden Temple Scenic Area - Bell Tower

    by Willettsworld Written Nov 6, 2008

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    Behind the Golden Temple, there is a three-storey high Bell Tower that was built in 1984 to house a large, 580-year-old copper bell which is 3.5 meters (16.4 feet) high and weighs an incredible 14 tons. It was cast in 1424 and is known as the "Great Bell of the Ming Yongle Era" and is the biggest ancient bell in Yunnan. Originally the bell was hung in Xuanhua Tower in the southern city gate of Kunming, but it was moved several times over the years. In 1953, it had to be moved into Guzhuang Park outside Zhuangyuan Tower, for Xuanhua Tower was to be demolished. And finally the bell was moved to the Golden Temple in 1983.

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    Golden Temple

    by Willettsworld Written Nov 6, 2008

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    The Golden Temple is located in the Mingfeng Mountains about 7km (4 miles) north-east of the city centre. The temple is the largest Taoist Tongwa (bronze-tiled) temple in China, even though it looks rather black from the centuries of dirt. It was first built in the 30th year of Emperor Wanli's rule (1602) in the Ming Dynasty. Yunnan was ordered to send bronze ore from Dongchuan to central China in order to make coins. But a war blocked the road. The governor of Yunnan, Chen Yongbing, and Qianguogong, the Duke of Guizhou Province, Mu Changzuo, ordered that the bronze be used to build a temple in imitation of the Taihe Palace and the Golden Temple on Tianzhu Peak in the Wudang Mountains, Hubei Province. The temple was later moved to the Jizu Mountains in western Yunnan. During the reign of the Qing Emperor Kangxi (1662-1722), Wu Sangui, a military general, the temple was rebuilt, keeping the original Hubei design. The bronze used weighed over 200 tons and the temple walls were made with cast panels covered with exquisite and diverse designs.

    Open: 7am-7pm. Admission: RMB20.

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    Golden Temple Scenic Area

    by Willettsworld Written Nov 6, 2008

    Situated on Mingfeng Shan (Hill of Singing Phoenixes) in the north-eastern outskirts of Kunming, the Golden Temple Scenic Area is 7km (4 miles) away from the city centre and covers an area of 118 hectares. It was dubbed as Ying Wu chun shen (Spring is very much in the air on the Yingwushan) in the Ming dynasty and acclaimed as the Fairyland of Mingfeng in the Qing dynasty. The area is named after the Golden Temple which is actually made out of bronze in the 17th century. There is a Botanical Garden at the bottom of the hill where you can ascend up the hill via a cable car from.

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    Huating Temple

    by Willettsworld Written Nov 6, 2008

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    Huating Temple is one of the temples located on Xi Shan, about 15km (9 miles) south of the city centre. The original location of the temple was the villa of a Dali nobleman of the Song dynasty. The temple was first built in the Yuan dynasty (1206-1368) with the name "Great Yuanjue Temple". In 1462, the temple was named by Emperor Yingzong as "Great Yuanjue Temple of Huating Peak" while it was then renamed to its present name in 1552.

    The main cultural relics kept in the temple include two jade Buddha statues, a gold-plated Buddha statue presented by Thai Buddhists, a copper statue of the Zhunti Buddha with 3 eyes and 18 arms and steles carved with Lin Zexu's and Guo Muoruo's poems.

    Admission: RMB6.

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    Tai Hua ancient mountain track

    by Willettsworld Written Nov 6, 2008

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    From Taihua Temple there is an ancient track which brings you to Huating Temple. The track is 1.6km (1 mile) in length and first takes you downhill through woods with lots of steps before taking you back up again. I walked along it from Taihua Temple to Huating Temple whilst a whole load of other people were walking the other way which was a more harder trek as it was more uphill so there was a lot of huffing and puffing going on.

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    Taihua Temple

    by Willettsworld Written Nov 6, 2008

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    Taihua Temple is one of the temples located on Xi Shan, about 15km (9 miles) south of the city centre. It was originally built in the Yuan dynasty (1206-1368) and is the oldest in the Western Hills Scenic Area. The temple isn't very large but, as well as some nice hall buildings, it features some beautiful gardens and trees, some of which were out in pink blossom when I visited. More photos can be found in one of my travelogues.

    Admission: RMB6.

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    Xi Shan

    by Willettsworld Written Nov 6, 2008

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    The Western Mountains (Xi Shan), which rise to over 2300m/7500ft, lie along the west shore of Lake Dian, about 15km/9miles from Kunming, from where they can be reached by bus. Between the highest summit, Taihuashan, and the lake there is a difference in altitude of 470m/1542ft. Hidden away in the mountain valleys are several Buddhist and Taoist temples such as Huating Temple and Taihua Temple. The best way to reach the top of the mountain is by taking the cable car which first crosses over the lake before ascending the hill. From here you can then take a chair-lift to the Dragon Gate - a group of grottoes, sculptures, corridors and pavilions built between 1781 and 1835 by a Taoist monk.

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    Xi Shan Cable Car

    by Willettsworld Written Nov 6, 2008

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    The best way to get to the top of Xi Shan (Western Hills) is by taking the cable car from the opposite side of Lake Dian. The cable car first crosses over the lake from the eastern shore to the western shore before ascending up Xi Shan. The cable car brings you to central tourist area on Xi Shan where it's then a walk to a chairlift in order to reach the Dragon Gate. The cable costs RMB70 for a return journey while it costs RMB25 for a single trip on the chairlift.

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    Lake Dian

    by Willettsworld Written Nov 6, 2008

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    The Dian Lake Scenic Area is located in the southwest part of Kunming City and is, probably, the top tourist attraction. The crescent-shaped lake is about 300 square kilometres (74,132 acres), about 39 kilometres (24 miles) in length and 13 kilometres (8 miles) at its widest point. It is the largest freshwater lake in Yunnan Province and the sixth largest one in China. With picturesque scenery and its location on the Yungui Plateau, the lake has a reputation as being 'A Pearl on the Plateau'. The best views of the lake can be seen from the hill that borders the lakes western side known as Xi Shan.

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    Green Lake Park

    by Willettsworld Written Nov 6, 2008

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    This lovely lake park is located in the north-west of the city and is well worth a visit. It was created in the 17th century and is divided into four parts with small islands linked by bridges in traditional Chinese style. It also features a few pavilions and palaces and some nice willow trees and cherry tress which were out in pink blossom when I visited in early April. More photos can be found in one of my travelogues.

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    City Gate

    by Willettsworld Written Nov 6, 2008

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    This large city gate lies in between the West and East pagodas where there is a pedestrian street of old looking but modern buildings and modern bronze statues. The city gate was once part of the old city walls that once surrounded the old city of Kunming but, as in most cities across China, the walls no longer remain.

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    East Pagoda

    by Willettsworld Written Nov 6, 2008

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    Kunming has two Tang dynasty (618-907) pagodas that lies to the south of Jinma Biji square, a couple of hundred meters apart from each other. The east pagoda (Dong Si Ta) is in a far worse condition than its more famous western cousin as it was believed to have been destroyed in an earthquake although some suggest that it was destroyed by a Muslim revolt in 1868 and then rebuilt towards the end of the 19th century. It is, however, not really possible to walk right up to it.

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    Muslim Quarter

    by Willettsworld Written Nov 6, 2008

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    Yunnan's Muslims date back to the 13th century when Mongol forces swooped into the province to outflank the ruling Song dynasty troops. The main Muslim area in Kunming lies just to the north of the main shopping area. If you walk north up Zhengyi Lu from the roundabout you'll pass by Nancheng Mosque on your left. The Muslim quarter features a series of old rather crumbling looking wooden two storey houses that have either been walled off in front or still being used as shops.

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    Flower & Bird Market

    by Willettsworld Written Nov 6, 2008

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    This small market is located on the corner of Dongfeng Xilu and Chongyun Jie (the main street through the Muslim quarter), across the road from the Yunnan Provincial Museum. As well as birds, other animals were being sold such as turtles, mice, beetles and other bugs. If you walk east along Chongyun Jie you'll pass by small shops selling souvenirs and musical instruments. Couldn't see any flowers being sold, though.

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    Yunnan Provincial Museum

    by Willettsworld Written Nov 6, 2008

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    The Yunnan Provincial Museum was set up in 1951 and exhibits over 150,000 pieces such as an amazing collection of Dian bronze wares dating back more than 2,000 years to the Warring States Period and excavated from tombs on the shores of Dian, south of Kunming. Other exhibits include Buddhist cultural relics, folk dresses and jewellery, ancient potteries and porcelains, paintings and calligraphies.

    Open: 9.30am-5pm. Admission: RMB10.

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