Western Hills is called 西山(Xishan) in Chinese, and it’s a scenic forest park located in the west suburb of Kunming, 15km to the city center, with the beautiful Dian Lake sitting on the east of it. Western Hill has always been reputed as the “top scenery in central Yunnan”. The whole scenic spot is made of several mountains, including Biji Mountain, Huating Mountain, Taihua Mountain, Luohan Mountain, etc. and they are reach out for over 40km, and the highest altitude is 2500m. Western Hill is a large forest park, and also a national scenic spot which perfectly combines the natural scenery with the cultural relics. Historic sites are surrounded by quiet and peaceful green forests, including the most famous Dragon Gate, and Huating Temple, Taihua Temple, San Qing Pavilion, etc. It’s a perfect place for walking and relaxing.
Dragon Gate is the essence of Western Hill forest park. The scenic spot is located at the end of the whole scenic spot of Western Hill which is sitting next to Dian Lake – the largest freshwater in Yunnan and is famed as the “Pearl on the Plateau”. Standing on the Dragon Gate, travelers can overlook the panoramic view of Dian Lake, which is magnificent and gorgeous and attracts many people to Western Hill. There is an old saying about the Dragon Gate – once enter into the dragon gate, you will become famous and successful, and it’s a symbol of good luck.
Dragon Gate can be divided into two parts –Dragon Gate Grottoes and San Qing Pavilion.
Dragon Gate Grottoes is located at the end of Dragon Gate scenic spot. From Jiushibao to Datian Pavilion, the 66.5m Dragon Gate Grottoes is carved on the cliff of Western Hill. The grottoes were carved between 1781 ~ 1853, and it includes Jiushibao, Luoxuandao, Ciyun Temple, Yunhua Temple and Datian Pavilion. As the largest and most beautiful Taoism grottoes in Yunnan, Dragon Grottoes ranks as the top attraction in Western Hill, and it’s a must-go in Kunming.
San Qing Pavilion is also located on the steep cliffs. Among the green trees, travelers can find a set of pavilions. San Qing Pavilion has 11 wooden architectures in total. According to the legend, it was a summer palace for Prince Liang in Yuan Dynasty, and now it’s a tea house and travelers can take a rest here.
First built from 1320, Huating Temple was built on the mountainside of Western Hill. Situated in a tranquil environment, Huating Temple is the largest Buddhism temple in Kunming. The Wanghailou in the temple is a great place to view the sunrise on the Dian Lake.
Located in Taihua Mountain, which is the highest mountain in Western Hill, Taihua Temple was built in Yuan Dynasty (1271 ~ 1368). It was extended and repaired several times in Ming Dynasty and Qing Dynasty, however, the main hall of the temple still reserve the architecture style of Yuan Dynasty. Surrounded by green trees and bamboo forest, the temple shows its tranquil charms together with the quiet and stunning environment.
Western Hill is located at the west suburb Kunming City, and it’s very convenient to get there from the city center. There are many public buses driving from the city center to Western Hill, and public bus will take about 1.5 hours to get there. A better way is taking taxi or private car to there, and it will need about half hour.
To get to Dragon Gate, traveler can take cable car or travel bus to get Dragon Gate.
Cable Car: in Haigeng Park which is next to Yunnan Nationalities Village, tourists can take the “Dian Lake – Dragon Gate” cable car to get to the lower cableway station of Dragon Gate (Park Service Center is here), and this is ¥35/person. This will take about half hour and tourists can enjoy the beautiful scenery of Dian Lake on the cable car. Then tourists can take cable car from there to get to the entrance of Dragon Gate – the upper cableway station, this is ¥25/person; or tourists can take battery car to the entrance, this will take ¥8/person. Travelers who love hiking can also walk to the entrance, and it’s only about 2km.
Travel Bus: after arriving at the parking lot of Western Hill, tourists can take the travel bus commuting between the entrance of Western Hill to the lower cableway station, and the ticket for the travel bus is ¥25/person, and the travel bus will make stops at Huating Temple and Taihua Temple. After getting to the lower cableway station, tourists can choose to take cable car, or battery car or walk to the Dragon Gate entrance.
Travel Route: tourists can take cable car or travel bus to the Park Service Center (the lower cableway station), then take cable car to the upper cableway station, and walk down the mountain and visit the Dragon Gate and San Qing Pavilion on the way. After arriving at the Dragon Gate Entrance, take battery car to the Park Service Center, then take travel bus to get back and visit Taihua Temple and Huating Temple on the way. This is the most popular and relaxing way. For hike lovers, they can walk most of the journey.
There is no ticket for Western Hill, however, the attractions on the Western hill are charged. The ticket for Dragon Gate scenic spot is ¥40/person, and this includes Dragon Gate Grottoes and San Qing Pavilion. The joint ticket for Taihua Temple and Huating Temple is ¥20/person. Cable ticket from Dian Lake to lower cableway station of Dragon Gate is ¥35/person; cable ticket from lower cableway station to upper cable way station of Dragon Gate is ¥25/person; battery car ticket on the mountain is ¥8/person.
The best seasons to visit Western Hill are spring, summer and autumn (from March to October). The scenery in winter is not good as the other seasons. During March to October, the Western Hill is covered with green trees and colorful flowers, and the scenery at this time is very beautiful and tranquil.
There are many stairs in Dragon Gate Scenic Spot, so it’s suggested to wear comfortable shoes to walk.
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