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Saturday October 5, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Saturday October 5, 2013 MYT 7:46:29 AM
by photos by travel photo world
Stunning view inside a karst cave in Jiuxiang Scenic Area.
China’s natural beauty has mesmerised tens of thousands of visitors.
SOME have called Yunnan the “Shangri-la of China” for its beautiful and natural scenery; and its capital city Kunming, the “City of Eternal Spring”, for its pleasant climate which allows flowers to bloom all year long.
Both labels truly encapsulate the essence of this province which has a sizeable Muslim population.
With a rich history that spans over 2,400 years, Kunming was part of the Silk Road gateway that facilitated trade with Tibet, Myanmar and India. Today, it is a thoroughly modern city with impressive skyscrapers and wide palm-lined roads.
Amid the modernity, though, the picturesque beauty of Kunming still captivates. Tens of thousands of visitors visit the city every day, making Yunnan a top tourist destination in south-west China.
Kunming’s popularity as a vacation destination could partly be attributed to its relatively mild climate. Afternoon day-time temperatures in December and January are similar to spring-time temperatures while winters are short, sunny and dry. During summer (June to August), the weather is pleasantly cool.
If sightseeing is your top priority, the Shilin or Stone Forest – located in Shilin Yi Autonomous County – is a must-visit. It contains peculiar stone peaks and stalagmites.
Visitors who wander through the various paths and structures in Shilin will chance upon many tall rocks that resemble petrified trees, thus creating the illusion of a stone forest.
Another noteworthy location is the Jiaozi snow-capped mountain. The unique thing about the mountain is that its landscape changes colour with each season — green in spring, blue in the summer, golden in the autumn and silver in the winter.
Two hours drive away from the mountain is Dongchuan Red Land. True to its name, the area is the most concentrated, typical and unique red earth on the Yunnan red tableland. With a breathtaking view of the bright–coloured terrain, the place is a visual heaven for photography.
For more sights of Kunming’s natural wonders, Jiuxiang Scenic Area provides a unique geological characteristic that’s not to be missed. The region’s major attraction are its karst caves, but outside the caves, a mix of natural scenery, rich cultural landscape and ethnic customs beckon.
Jiuxiang houses 66 karst caves that include various magnificent caves such as the Sanjiao Cavern and Laoku Hole, which contain interesting formations caused by vertical and horizontal corrosion. The Twin Waterfalls and Fairy Field are also not to be missed.
The outdoor adventure continues at the Dianchi Lake Scenic Area which is located at the south-west part of Kunming.
Dianchi Lake is, without a doubt, the focal point of the resort. Its natural banks are formed by rolling hills that contribute to the beautiful landscape dominated by blooming lotus flowers.
Along the lake are numerous captivating attractions. Among these are the temples at Western Hills and Yunnan Ethnic Village.
Western Hills provide an excellent environment to enjoy the tranquillity of a marvellous highland view. Many scenic spots such as Huating Temple, Taihua Temple, Sanqing Pavilion and Dragon Gate are found here. The Dragon Gate, for instance, is an exquisite stone carved edifice that’s also the highest temple located at Western Hills.
Kunming is home to some 26 ethnic minorities. The Yunnan Ethnic Village showcases just that. Visitors can enjoy a diverse cultural experience through the displays and re-creations of the various groups’ architecture, lifestyle and religious beliefs.
If you’d like to soak in more of Kunming’s rich culture, then make your way to the historical town of Guandu. It is one of the cradles of Yunnan culture as well as the birthplace of Dian culture.
Closer to Kunming are Green Lane Park and Daguan Park, both of which are worth visiting. These urban parks provide the perfect venue to observe the locals’ laid-back lifestyle.
When in Kunming, it’s imperative to try out some of the region’s delectable cuisines. These include the Guo qiao mi xian noodles, Hongshao Jizong mushrooms and erkuai (rice cakes). For a taste of halal cuisine, the Yi Tian Yuan Restaurant is the largest Muslim restaurant chain in Kunming.
It’s interesting to note that Kunming serves as a gateway to Dali and the ancient town of Lijiang. With a plethora of sights to explore, Kunming will definitely make for a memorable visit. – Sources: www.greatwallvacation.com/destinations/kunming/; www.wondersofyunnan.com; www.chinatravel.com; www.chinatouronline.com; www.travelchinaguide.com; en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stone_Forest.
AirAsia flies from Kuala Lumpur to Kunming daily, with an all-in fare starting from RM279.
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Kunming, Yunnan, Air Asia, China, Travel
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