Kunming Day Trips – Grand View Park Posted by sasha on Jun 13, 2017 in architecture, architecture and landscaping, Culture, environment, festivals, history, Leisure, sightseeing, travel
There are tons of great options for day trips in China’s Spring City. You can hike to the top of the Western Hills, admire the beautiful World Expo Gardens, and visit plenty of incredible temples. Our final day trip destination is the Grand View Park (大观公园 – dà guān gōng yuán) – a great place to spend a relaxing afternoon.
This huge park is located just 6 km southwest of the city center and is easily reachable by public bus or taxi. Tickets cost just 20 RMB and the park is open from 8:30-6 every day. It’s on the shores of Dianchi Lake (滇池 – diān chí), facing the Western Hills.
The focal point of the park is the Grand View Tower (大观塔 – dà guān tǎ), a 3-story pavilion that lives up to its name. Climb to the top and you really will get a grand view of the lake and mountains. It was built way back in 1690 and was destroyed and rebuilt several times over the centuries. The pavilion has remained in tact since 1883. In addition to the amazing view, the tower also houses a cultural treasure in Yunnan – a couplet of 180 characters written by the Qing Dynasty-era poet Sun Ranweng (孙髯翁). It’s said to be the longest antithetical couplet in the world. The first part describes the park and its natural beauty which you see when looking out from the tower. Part two details the long history of the province, and it ends with a contemplation of the Buddhist concept of Nirvana.
Grand View Park is incredibly colorful, as it’s decorated a few times a year in seasonal flowers. The whole park is very well-maintained, with several gardens, paths, sculptures, and ponds. It really is a green oasis inside the ever-developing concrete jungle that surrounds.
A lot of hard work goes into setting up and maintaining this lovely park, and there are a few funny Chinglish signs reminding you not to trample it. We spotted “Green grass is beautiful, hope your foot give mercy” and “The grass smile to you, please go around.”
As with most parks in China, it’s a popular place to gather on the weekends and holidays. On big holidays such as National Day, over 100,000 people visit throughout the day! Regardless of when you visit, you’ll always find groups of people doing tai chi, singing, having band practice, or just playing some cards or chess.
If you need a bit more excitement than that, you can rent little paddle boats to cruise around this section of the lake. There are also various options for boat cruises on the lake. You can even find a small amusement park here, which features a massive 90-meter Ferris wheel (摩天轮 – mó tiān lún). It goes nice and slow – 30 minutes to make one rotation – and provides yet another grand view from the top.
If you’re brave enough, you can take a ride on the roller coaster (过山车 – guò shān chē). You’ll also find some smaller carnival rides and games here, as well as plenty of snack vendors. You’ll have to buy extra tickets for all the rides, which range from 10-50 RMB.
Perhaps the best time to visit the park is around Chinese New Year, when it hosts an amazing Lantern Festival (元宵节 – yuán xiāo jié). After celebrating Spring Festival in our friend’s village, this was the perfect way to wind down the holiday. Check out some highlights in this short video:
Lantern Festival at Grand View Park.
Whether you’re just passing through Kunming or you live there, Grand View Park is one of the best things about the city. It’s close enough to make it a very easy day trip, but it feels far away enough from the constant traffic and construction of the city to make you feel like you’ve truly escaped.