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After exploring the tranquil and scenic Golden Temple Park in Kunming, you can catch a cable car over to our next great day trip destination. Here, you’ll be able to enjoy nature, stop to smell the flowers, and take a world tour all while remaining in the Spring City.
This massive botanical garden hosted the 1999 International Horticulture Exposition. The theme of the expo that year was “Man and Nature, Marching into the 21st Century.” It’s said to have been built in perfect harmony with its natural surroundings – mountains (山 – shān), water (水 – shuǐ), and forest (森林 – sēn lín). It covers 218 hectares (around 540 acres) and it cultivates over 2,500 species of plants. The expo is long gone, but the grounds remain well-maintained and make for an excellent place to spend a few hours.
There’s lot to see here – five exhibition halls, seven theme gardens, and three outdoor showplaces for starters. The theme gardens include bamboo (竹 – zhú), tea (茶 – chá), bonsai (盆栽 – pén zāi) , medicinal herbs (药草 – yào cǎo), and a few more.
Rather than run around the park in a desperate attempt to see everything, simply enjoy your visit here and explore at a leisurely pace. You may not see it all in one visit, but that’s not the point. Enjoy the tranquility of such a beautiful green space in the middle of a bustling Chinese metropolis and take it easy.
There are plenty of places to still back and relax throughout the grounds. You’ll see locals chatting, sipping tea, or napping in a hammock strung up in the forest. If there’s one thing Kunming folks know how to do well, it’s chill out.
A highlight of a visit here is exploring the many different styles of gardens from across the vast country. Here you’ll see 34 examples of Chinese gardens, from Xinjiang (新疆 – xīn jiāng) to Hong Kong (香港 – xiāng gǎng) and all points in between.
It’s really an impressive sight, and you’ll want to make sure you have at least a few hours to take them all in. In addition to all of the various plant species, you can admire different styles of architecture and plenty of amazing works of art.
Once you’ve done your tour of China and its many gardens, there’s more of the world to see here.
While these clearly aren’t given as much attention as the Chinese gardens, there are quite a few international examples here as well. We particularly enjoyed the Southeast Asian gardens from Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar, and Indonesia.
With a full day at your disposal, you can easily check out both the Golden Temple and the gardens. Just make sure you have a good meal before going, bring plenty of water, and wear some comfortable shoes. If you’re going to do them both, it makes sense to go ahead and buy a combination ticket that includes a ride on the cable car. Alternatively, you could visit them both on separate days and spend more time at each if you’re able to do so. There’s still more to see and do around Kunming, so check back next month for our next Spring City day trip.