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One of my favorite things about living in Kunming is that there are so many great day and weekend trips from the Spring City. Day trips include hiking in the Western Hills, exploring Grand View Park, and doing some temple hopping. With a weekend at your disposal, you can visit the beautiful Fuxian Lake or the historic town of Jianshui. Today we’ll take a look at another excellent overnight trip in Yunnan. Visiting Luoping (罗平 – luō píng) is very popular in the spring due to its sea of golden flowers.
Luoping is a county located about 230 km east of the provincial capital of Kunming. It’s on the border where Yunnan meets both Guizhou and Guangxi. The area is famous for its rapeseed flowers (油菜花 – yóu cài huā), which are also known as canola. They are are typically in full bloom around February-March, creating a sea of yellow in between the majestic karst mountain peaks.
The blooming flowers are a major draw for photographers, who flock here every spring to snap pictures of the incredible landscape. It’s not just people who the flowers attract, though. Beekeepers set up tents across town to harvest the honey from the bees who feed on the flowers. After the flowers wither away, their seeds are used to make cooking oil.
There are several places around Luoping where you can take in the views of the blooming flowers. Some of the most popular choices are the Golden Rooster Hill (金鸡岭 – jīn jī lǐng), the Hundred Thousand Hills (十万大山 – shí wàn dà shān), and the Snail Field (螺蛳田 – luó sī tián). When you see these landscapes, you’ll understand where the poetic names come from. While there probably aren’t 100,000 hills in the one, the other two definitely resemble a rooster and a group of snails.
While the main draw for visitors to Luoping is to see the rapeseed flowers in bloom, there’s more to do here to warrant sticking around for a few days. Be sure to spend at least half a day exploring the stunning Nine Dragons Waterfall (九龙瀑 – jiǔ lóng pù). Here you can admire the 10-tiered waterfalls set in a scenic valley. The biggest waterfall here is 56 meters high and 110 meters wide.
You can also walk along a rocky path to get up close to the Lover’s Waterfall (情人瀑 – qíng rén pù). If you’re so inclined, you can pay a bit extra to take a little cruise on a bamboo raft to get a bit closer to the waterfalls.
There are several paths throughout the scenic area that will bring you to elevated viewpoints. The scenery is absolutely breathtaking here, so be sure to dedicate at least a few hours to fully explore the place. Plus, you’ll want to get your money’s worth as an entrance ticket costs 60 RMB.
Luoping is very easy to visit from Kunming. There are five trains per day from the capital to Luoping, but you’ll probably want to skip the earliest one as it’s also the slowest (7 hours) and only has hard seats. The other four trains all take only 3.5 hours and have sleeper tickets available. Tickets range in price from just 38 RMB for a hard seat to 170 for a soft sleeper. Be sure to keep an eye out for some hilarious Chinglish signs in the station.
There aren’t any youth hostels in Luoping, but there are plenty of cheap hotels and guest houses where you can find a decent room. You can choose to stay near the train station for convenience or find a place near one of the viewpoints if you’re hoping to snap some photos at sunrise. The best way to get around town is to hire a driver for the day. It worked out alright for us until our driver’s car broke down. Eventually he had a friend come and pick us up as they pushed his car up the road in search of help.
If you find yourself in Kunming in February or March, it’s well worth it to budget a couple of days for visiting Luoping. Taking in the amazing sight of the blooming flowers with the karts mountains as their backdrop will surely be one of the highlights of your trip in Yunnan.