The Jiuxiang Caves and Scenic Area, Kunming
You might have visited karst caves in Guilin or in Halong Bay, but you might not have seen such a large cluster of karst caves combining rivers, waterfalls, gorges, forests, and ethnic minority cultures. Jiuxiang Scenic Area is such an attraction.
Basic Facts about Jiuxiang Caves and Scenic Area
- Chinese: 九乡 Jiŭxiāng 'Nine Villages'
- Area: 20 sq km (8 square miles)
- Popular activities: exploring karst caves, enjoying a boat ride, taking the chairlift for scenic views
- Must-see attractions: Terrifying Gorge, Green Shady Valley, Bat Cave
- Suited to: anyone with good physical health, especially nature lovers and geological enthusiasts
- Open: 9am–6pm
- Time needed: 3 to 4 hours
Why Visit Jiuxiang Caves and Scenic Area
Jiuxiang Scenic Area is densely forested and rich in animals and plants, with magnificent mountains, valleys, and underground caves — basically the quintessential karst landscape.
Known as the "museum of karst caves", Jiuxiang caves boasts more than 100 karst caves and is the largest cave group system in China. The cave formations are very varied, and the rivers, waterfalls, and natural rock bridges are very enchanting.
Lion Hall, one of the most impressive caves, has a total area of more than 15,000 square meters (3 football pitches). The roof of the cave is a huge rock without any support. In the movie "The Myth", the scene where Jackie Chan and Kim Hee Sun fly around in the mausoleum was filmed in this underground hall.
Best Times to Visit
Jiuxiang presents different landscapes in different seasons. It is suitable for travel all year round, but summer is the best season, when you can take a boat through the valley and enjoy pleasant weather.
It is recommended that you don't go during Chinese holiday peak periods, such as Labor Day (May 1st to 3rd) and National Day (October 1st to 7th), otherwise you will experience a "people river".
5 Top Places to Visit at Jiuxiang Caves and Scenic Area
Jiuxiang has six scenic areas, among which only Diehong Bridge is fully developed and now open to the public.
1. Terrifying Gorge (Jīnghún Xiá 惊魂峡)
Terrifying Gorge is believed to be the most magnificent underground canyon in China with a length of about 700 meters and a depth of nearly 100 meters. It got its name in honor of the pioneers who opened up the tourist path with extreme care (terror), so as not to fall into the abyss.
2. Green Shady Valley (Yìncuì Xiá 荫翠峡)
Green Shady Valley stretches for about 1 kilometer (half a mile), flanked with verdant trees. You can take a boat ride through the canyon and hear your voices echoing off the cliffs. It has another name — 'Love Valley' — because it was a place for young men and women to sing songs in order to court lovers.
3. Bat Cave (Biānfú Dòng 蝙蝠洞)
There were thousands of bats living in Bat Cave, hence the name. It is impressive due to its stalactites. It looks like an upside-down stone forest.
4. Lying Dragon Cave (Wòlóng Dòng 卧龙洞)
A dragon-shaped underground river passes through the cave, so it is called Lying Dragon Cave. In the cave, two waterfalls cascade down from the rock at a height of 30 meters (100 feet) and meet in a 10-meter-deep pool.
They look like two loyal lovers jumping from the cliff hand in hand to die for love (with the right imagination), hence they were named the 'Female and Male Flying Waterfalls' (Cíxióng Fēi Pù 雌雄飞瀑).
5. Male Lion Hall (Xióngshī Tīng 雄狮厅)
Male Lion Hall, an oval underground hall, got its name due to the lion-like stalactite at the entrance. It covers 15,000 square meters (the area of three football pitches) but hasn’t got any supporting pillars.
It was reputed as being the largest underground hall in the world, but Miao Room in Getu near Guiyang is largest by volume, and Sarawak Chamber is largest by area at over 10 times the size, of caves discovered so far.
Attractions near the Jiuxiang Caves
The Stone Forest: Known as the "Stone Forest Museum", it is the only karst stone forest in a subtropical plateau region in the world.
Xishan (Western Hills) Forest Park: You will have a bird's-eye view of Dianchi Lake and be able to appreciate the groups of Taoist sculptures in the grottoes on the cliff in this scenic area.
Yuantong Temple: It is the oldest Buddhist temple in Kunming, and it houses the 3.5-meter (11.5-foot) -tall statue of Sakyamuni.
Getting to Jiuxiang Scenic Area from Kunming
Jiuxiang Caves Scenic Area is located in Jiuxiang Yi and Hui Autonomous District, Yiliang County, 90 kilometers (50 miles) from Kunming and 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the Stone Forest Scenic Area. There are two ways to reach the Jiuxiang Caves from Kunming:
By Public Bus
Take a minibus from Kunming North Bus Station / East Bus Station to Yiliang Town, then catch another minibus to Jiuxiang Scenic Area.
Or take a bus from the square in front of Kunming Railway Station, which drives directly to Jiuxiang Scenic Area.
English-speaking service is not available as the coaches are mainly run for locals.
By Private Vehicle
The Stone Forest is only 20 kilometers from Jiuxiang and it is worth starting early in the day to combine Jiuxiang and the Stone Forest in a day tour. Private vehicle service would make the tour more convenient and better use your limited time. Contact our Kunming experts to design the best day tour for you including these two places.
Travel Tips for the Jiuxiang Caves
- 1. You can ascend/descend using a chairlift and enjoy the breathtaking scenes of the surroundings you, or you can ride a horse.
- 2. Be prepared to climb steps. Climbing up the 336 steps that lead to the Bat Cave could be a challenge for some. Sedan chairs are available and cost about 60 yuan.
- 3. You should wear comfortable shoes as you will be walking for about 3 hours inside the caves.
- 4. The path is narrow and uneven in some places and there may be overhanging rock, so watch where you step.
Tour Jiuxiang Scenic Area with China Highlights
Jiuxiang Scenic Area boasts more than 100 caves. It is advisable to travel with a professional guide who will select the most magnificent spots for you and explain their history and sights. Contact us to create a tour including Jiuxiang.
Here are our most popular Kunming tours, which can be amended based on your requirements:
- 3-Day Stone Forest and City Essence Tour — including historical sites and unique natural scenery at Naigu Stone Forest
- 8-Day Yunnan Exploration Highlights Tour — taking you to visit the highlights in Kunming, Dali, Lijiang, and Shangri-La
We provide flexible private tours. You are free to alter the itinerary and extend or shorten your tour to suit your budget, interests, and schedule. Feel free to tell us your requirements.