In this travel guide, you’ll find all the information you need to arrange a trip to the Jiuxiang (九乡) caves in Yunnan, some of the most spectacular in China.
Jiuxiang includes more than 100 caves, but only 60 have been explored. Besides the incredible number of caves, there is also a river, a deep gorge, forests, and a species of fish that live only in this area.
This place is well known among Chinese tourists but not so much among foreigners. It is located in the south-eastern part of China, in Yiliang County (宜良县), in Yunnan province. If you want to visit Yiliang, don’t miss my travel guide and this article where I talk about the colorful rice paddies in Maidichong.
How to get to the Jiuxiang Caves Scenic Ares
- The best way to get there is to first get to Shilin Stone Forest (you can now take the fast train from Kunming) and then take a taxi or a minivan to Jiuxiang. Jiuxiang is about 30 km from Shilin. Here you can book the train ticket.
- Another option would be to get a bus from the Kunming East Bus Station to Yiliang. Then take bus 21 from the Yiliang Bus Passenger to Jiuxiang Scenic Area (but don’t get off in Jiuxiang Town).
- An easier but more expensive solution would be organizing a tour with a local travel agency.
Right after the entrance (after you paid the 90RMB fee for the park), you can walk down some stairs and, if you want, ride a boat for about 1 km.
The ride is quite short, but the view is breathtaking. It reminds me of the first part of the Underground River in the Philippines. The official name of this place is Green Shady Valley (Yìncuì Xiá 荫翠峡).
After the short boat ride, a small path leads into the first cave. The path has been carved on one side of a very deep gorge. It is truly spectacular. The gorge is called Terrifying Gorge (Jīnghún Xiá 惊魂峡), and it got its name in honor of those who tried to open this trail.
According to some people, it is the most magnificent underground canyon in China, with a length of about 700 meters and a depth of nearly 100 meters.
The river flows through most of the caves, and several bridges have been built to access all the main caves.
After a while, you’ll get to a huge cave with a permanent photography exposition and a gift shop.
The cave is called Male Lion Hall (Xióngshī Tīng 雄狮厅). It covers 15,000 square meters but has no pillars in the hall. Some say that it’s the largest underground hall in the world, but I couldn’t verify this claim.
Right after the Male Lion Hall, you’ll get to another cave filled with amazing stalactites and stalagmites. They are illuminated with multicolored neon light. I say obviously because, for some reason, Chinese people love this kind of illumination (I don’t).
After this cave, you can keep walking towards the river. You’ll get to a place with some interesting rock formations, somehow similar to the ones in Pamukkale, Turkey. Another bridge connects the two sides of the cave, and then the river forms a beautiful twin waterfall.
These are other pictures of the most famous rock formations of all Jiuxiang:
Jiuxiang: useful tips
- The Internet is censored in China. If you want to access Gmail, Google, and all other blocked websites, you must use a VPN. The free VPNs won’t work. I use this VPN.
- Jiuxiang caves are the only ones, so far, where I could bring my tripod. If you like photography, it is a great place to take good pictures.
- It takes about 3 hours to visit Jiuxiang. Keep it in mind if you have other plans. If you also want to visit the Stone Forest, spending a night in Shilin is a good idea. This is the only hotel in the area.
- Read my travel guide to China here.
Here are other pictures I took in Yunnan. Here is a post about Heqing, another place off the beaten track in China. On this page, I told the stories of the women with the “Lotus Feet.” Don’t miss my Yunnan travel guide.