Xiling Mountain (Xilǐng Xuěshān, 西岭雪山)—also referred to as "Xiling Snow Mountain," "Xiling Snow-Capped Mountain" or just "Xiling Xueshan"—is a pleasant get-away just about two hours by car from downtown Chengdu. In spring, summer and fall, it offers hikers alpine wildflowers, waterfalls and colorful autumn foliage. By mid-November, the upper slopes see substantial snowfall, and aided by snow machines are ski-able until around February. The ski area—not quite a "resort" in an Alps or Rockies sense of the..
Dian Lake (Diānchí, 滇池) is the sixth largest lake in China at 300 sq km (116 sq mi) and dominates the landscape southwest of Kunming. The lake is surrounded by mountains, flatlands and some industrial sites, and its shore is dotted with small villages, parks and fishing endeavors. The best views of the lake are from above, either from the mountains or Daguan Tower (Dàguān Tǎ, 大观塔). Western Hills Park provides access to the water and facilities for renting paddle boats and the like. Out on the lake..
Like an elegant jade ornament gracing a handsome personage who, under pressure from all the harrying demands of modern life, is a little worse for wear, Green Lake Park (Cuìhú Gōngyuán, 翠湖公园) instantly reminds one of the essential beauty that persists beneath the occasional grime of modernity as Kunming barrels, along with the rest of urban China, deeper into the 21st century. With a history than stretches back to the 17th century, the present lake is a remnant of the Kunming region's much larger and more..
Of the many famous China's classical poets, Du Fu (712-70 AD) is up there with Tang Dynasty master Li Bai as the best known and one of the most well loved. After travels around eastern China and his home province of Henan, Du Fu arrived in the conflict-torn Tang capital of Chang'an (today's Xi'an) where he worked to establish himself as a civil servant at the behest of the Tang emperor. But the emperor was much too busy clashing with the forces of rebellious general An Lushan. And so Du Fu's official career never was. The An Lushan..
Replicas of Qing Dynasty mansions line Jinli Old Street (Jǐnlǐ Gǔjiē, 锦里古街) selling local souvenirs as well as tea, books, musical instruments and caricatures. While several large restaurants can be found here, the real charm lies in the small snack alley between Wuhou Temple and Jinli. Here the overpowering odor of stinky tofu is softened by sweet caramel, spicy beef, rice cakes, noodles and sesame buns—made to order amidst the din of hawkers and touts shouting their products. Locals fill the street nightly—especially on..
The Jinsha archaeological site is one of the most important finds of the last 30 years and yielded extraordinary jade, gold and ivory figurines closely linked with the Sanxingdui site. The Jinsha Museum (Jīnshā Bówùgun, 金沙博物馆) houses artifacts pulled from pits on the west side of Chengdu. As seen in the many ceremonial artifacts found on site, most notably the Golden Phoenix which is now on display in the museum, the society traded with other cultures as far away as Southeast Asia and had a very sophisticated religion. The..
Chengdu's oldest and largest temple is the Wenshu Monastery (Wénshū Yuàn, 文殊院). The temple that stands today is a Qing Dynasty (1644-1911 AD) reconstruction of a Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD) temple from centuries earlier. Dedicated to the incarnation of Wenshu, you'll see his image associated with a lion throughout the grounds—these are representations of his symbolic animal. The soaring, red-walled halls are beautiful examples of classic architecture with their inverted eaves and sky-high ceilings. The space buzzes with..
One of China's largest freshwater lakes, the Chinese name for Erhai Lake (Erhǎi, 洱海) literally translates to "Ear Sea," a nod to its vast size (250 sq km or 96 sq mi) and long, narrow crescent shape, said to resemble an ear—though when you're looking at a map, you may need a bit of imagination. Sitting at 1,972 m (6,470 ft) above sea level, Erhai is an alpine fault lake, and its clear jade waters are bordered by stunning scenery, with the majestic peaks of Cang Shan rising up to the west. The lake shore is easily accessible..
Erhai Park (ěrhǎi Gōngyuán, 洱海公园) sits on the southern tip of Erhai Lake on the slopes of Tuan Hill (Tuán Shān, 团山) just to the east of Xiaguan (Xiàguān, 下关—sometimes called Dali City or New Dali and not to be confused with Dali a few kilometers away). An attractive, landscaped green space featuring walkways, rockeries and shady pagodas, the Erhai Park is also home to an arboretum, playground, public swimming pool and even a zoo. Starting at the lake edge, it's a steady climb up with 270 stone steps leading..
Perched up on high in the Cang Shan mountain range, Zhonghe Temple (Zhōnghé Sì, 中和寺) is a modest temple with a panoramic view of Er Hai lake and the lowlands around it. A common stop for those hiking up Cang Shan, Zhonghe Temple is a good place to stop and get your bearings, plus there's a restaurant nearby to fuel up. It's also possible to stay the night in the temple. Yunnan guide | Dali guide | Dali attractions | Dali flights Dali hotels | Dali tours & activities | Dali on the China Travel Blog
The large, serene River View Pavilion Park (Wàngjiānglóu Gōngyuán, 望江楼公园) overlooks the Jin River. Dedicated to Xue Tao, a famous female Tang Dynasty poet known to have an affinity for bamboo, the park features some 150 varieties of the plant. The elaborately decorated pavilion that gives the park its name is the focal point, however. The 39 m (128 ft), four-story structure dates back to 1889, and is sometimes referred to as the Chongli Pavilion (Chónglì Gé, 崇丽阁) by the locals. The park is dotted..
People's Park (Rénmín Gōngyuán, 人民公园) is the most popular park in Sichuan's capital city and is host to a colorful mix of Chengdu residents who are always out enjoying themselves in the open air. The park is not only an enjoyable place to relax and mingle; it also has great historical significance. It was the site of the 1911 protests against the Qing government's policy of handing over railway construction to foreigners. These Chengdu protests and strikes set off a chain reaction that helped topple the Qing dynasty...