The Western Hills and Dragon Gate, Kunming

Why is West Hill so special?

Western Hills boasts an excellent environment with flourishing flowers and dense forest, providing tourists an excellent environment to enjoy the tranquility and marvelous scenery. They have also been given another name – ‘Sleeping Beauty Hills’ for the hills because its skyline looks like a beautiful young lady laying beside Dianchi Lake with her face upward and her hair trailling into water.

In the Western Hills, Huating Temple, Taihua Temple, and Sanqing Pavillion are shaded by flourishing woods and tall bamboo bushes. The exquisite Gragon Gate Grotto is built along the precipice cliff. The grand and magnificent beauty of lakes and mountains, and the rich cultural deposits make the Western Hills charming and mysterious.

Introduction 

Western Hills Overview

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.

Main Attractions in Western Hills

In Western Hills, there are wonderful scenic spots such as Huating Temple, Taihua Temple, Sanqing Pavilion, and Dragon Gate. The undulating hills, verdant trees and melodious bird singing together with the magnificent ancient building make you feel peaceful in the modern city.

At the altitude of 2025 meters, Huating Temple was first built in 14 century. It had been destroyed and rebuilt several times most recently in 1923. As one of the largest Buddhist temples in Yunnan Province, the buildings inside the temple are imposing and spectacular.

● Taihua Temple(太华寺)

Taihua Temple gained its name for it is located on Taihua Hill. Originally built in the Yuan Dynasty (1206 – 1368), the temple is the oldest one in Western Hills. Daxiong Baodian Hall, Piaomiao Pavilion, Sizhao Hall are in the temple. The temple is famous for the beautiful rare flowers on the grounds. It is also a good place to watch the grand spectacle of the rising sun.

● Sanqing Pavillion(三清阁)

Sanqing Pavilion is built on the cliff at Luohan Hill. Being over 300 meters (approximately 984 feet) above Dianchi Lake, the pavilion looks like a ‘castle in the air’. This temple has a Taoist influence, and ‘Sanqing’ in Taoism refers to the loftiest stature. The pavilion is a good place where you can not only visit the temples, but also enjoy a panoramic view of Dianchi Lake.

There is a saying – ‘If you do not visit Western Hills, you haven’t visited Kunming; if you do not come to Dragon Gate, you haven’t been to Western Hills.’ Being the outstanding scenic place in Western Hills, Dragon Gate is a big exquisite stone carved edifice. The stone paths, stone rooms, stone grottos, and stone Buddhist figures are all carved with excellent craftsmanship on a large natural rock. Like Sanqing Pavilion, Dragon Gate was also built on cliff. You can stand on the edge of the cliff holding the railing, looking downward to experience the steepness of the hill and enjoy the spectacle of Dianchi Lake.

Best time to travel Western Hills

The best time is from March to October -spring, summer and autumn is the suitable time to visit Western Hill and Dragon Gate.

How to Get There

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.

How to Get Around West Hills

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.

Useful Tips

1. Ticket

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.

2. Best seasons

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.

3. Walking Notice

There are many stairs in Dragon Gate Scenic Spot, so it’s suggested to wear comfortable shoes to walk.

Recommended West Hills Tours

Top 3 West Hills tours chosen by most customers to explore West Hills in the best way. Check the detailed itinerary, or tailor your own trip now with us. We provide some tour routes for tourists to choose.

1 Day Kunming City Highlights Tour with Yunnan Ethnic Villages and Western Hills

11 Days Western Yunnan and Myanmar Border Cycling Tour