Jiuxiang (九乡) caves are among the most spectacular in China: waterfalls, an underground river, forests, huge caves, and a unique fauna are all part of this big complex. Obviously, like any other cave open to tourists in China, you’ll find some neon lights.
Jiuxiang includes more that 100 caves but only 60 of them have been explored. Beside 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 quite known among Chinese tourists but not 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
There are no direct buses to Jiuxiang from Kunming.
- 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 30Km from Shilin.
- Another option would be to get a bus from the Kunming East Bus Station to Yiliang. Then take the 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 such as Wonders Of Yunnan Travel or booking this tour from Kunming.
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 really beautiful. 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, there is a small path leading 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). It got its name in honor of the people who tried to open up this trail.
According to some people, 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 where there is 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 hasn’t got any 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 obviously 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.
The river than forms a beautiful twin waterfall.
These are the most famous rock formation 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 personally use ExpressVPN.
- Jiuxiang caves are the only ones, so far, where I could bring my tripod. If you like photography 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 it’s a good idea to spend a night in Shilin. You can find some good deals on Booking.com.
- Read my travel guide to China here.
Here other pictures I took in Yunnan. Here a post about Heqing, another place off the beaten track in China. In this page I told the story of the women with the “Lotus Feet”.