Western Hills Forest Park

Western Hills Forest Park

By Sunny XieUpdated Mar. 18, 2021

Western Hills (Xishan) is a forest park blending beautiful natural scenery, Taoist temples, and grottoes. Stretching along the bank of Dianchi Lake, this mountain range looks like a “sleeping beauty” lying on the lake with her hair flowing on the water.

Highlights of Western Hills Forest Park

Spectacular Panoramic Views

Western Hills offer spectacular panoramic viewsWestern Hills offer spectacular panoramic views 

The Western Hills are 2,350 meters above sea level on the shore of Dianchi Lake. The deep blue sky, limpid lake water, and grand mountain peak create a magnificent picture. Standing on top of the mountain, you will enjoy spectacular panoramic views of Dianchi Lake and Kunming City.

The tranquil surroundings, lush vegetation, clear streams, and numerous historic sites make it a wonderful place for local people and tourists to go.

The Dragon Gate Grottoes

The Dragon Gate (Longmen) Grottoes are the most important part of Western Hills Forest Park. The grottoes were carved out of the steep cliffs, featuring danger, tranquility, and uniqueness. The construction spanned 72 years during the Qing Dynasty, more than 200 years ago.

You can hike up to Dragon Gate using the flight of steps. There is quite a lot to see as you climb uphill, such as grottoes, sculptures, corridors, and pavilions, as well as a good view of the lake and Kunming City.

The steps to the Dragon Gate are uneven and narrow. You are recommended to wear comfortable shoes. The plank road leading to the Dragon Gate only allows two people walking abreast so be careful when there are too many tourists.

Alternatively, to save time and energy, you can take a chairlift up to the top of the mountain (20–30 minutes) and walk down the Dragon Gate plank road (1–2 hours).

Taoist/Buddhist Temples

Dragon GateThe Dragon Gate

Huating Temple: Located at the middle of the Western Hills, this 900-year-old temple is one of the largest temples in Yunnan Province. It is famous for its colorful statues that combine styles of both Buddhism and Taoism. In the temple you will see Buddha figures with kindly expressions and vivid lifelike arhats, which are different from the solemn Buddha figures in other temples.

Taihua Temple: This temple is located on Taihua Hill, the highest hill in the scenic area. It is the oldest temple in Western Hills and known for its architecture, tranquil setting, and rare species of flowers. Spring is the best season for visitors who love flowers.

Sanqing Pavilion: Perched on the cliff of Luohan Hill, Sanqing Pavilion is a Taoist temple with unique architecture. From there, you can hike up to the Dragon Gate and enjoy the panoramic view of Dianchi Lake.

The Best Time for a Visit

It is suitable for travel from March to October when the weather is pleasant and the mountain is covered by verdant forests and blooming flowers.

March 3rd is a festive time in the Western Hills. Local people flock to climb the mountains, and gather there to sing folk songs and perform a dragon show. It is a good opportunity to admire the beautiful scenery and experience the local culture; but be prepared to experience the huge crowds.

Travel Essentials

The Dragon Gate GrottoesThe Dragon Gate Grottoes

What to Bring

Nearby Attractions

Tour Western Hills Forest Park with China Highlights

The Western Hills Forest Park is huge, without any clear route signs. It is advisable to have a professional guide who will show you the highlights in the park and show you the best positions to take pictures from. Please contact us if you need any assistance on your Kunming tour. We are more than happy to create a unique tour for you.

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