Introducing Xī Shān
Spread out across a long wedge of parkland on the western side of Diān Chí, Xī Shān (Western Hills) is full of walking trails (some very steep), and dotted with temples and other cultural relics, all just waiting to be explored. Its hills are also called the Sleeping Beauty Hills, a reference to the undulating contours, which are thought to resemble a reclining woman with tresses of hair flowing into the sea. The path up to the summit passes a series of famous temples – it’s a steep approach from the north side. The hike from Gāoyāo bus station, at the foot of the hills, to Dragon Gate takes 2½ hours, though most people take a connecting bus from Gāoyāo to the top section, or take a minibus direct to the Tomb of Nie Er. Alternatively, it is also possible to cycle to the hills from the city centre in about an hour – to vary the trip, try doing the return route across the dikes of upper Diān Chí.
At the foot of the climb, about 15km from Kūnmíng, is Huating Temple (Huátíng Sì; admission Y4;
The road from Huating Temple winds 2km from here up to the Ming dynasty Taihua Temple (Tàihuá Sì; admission Y3;
Further along the road, near the minibus and cable car terminus, is the Tomb of Nie Er (Nièěr Zhīmù; admission Y1;
Sānqīng Gé, near the top of the mountain, was a country villa of a Yuan dynasty prince, and was later turned into a temple dedicated to the three main Taoist deities.
From the tomb you can catch a chairlift (one way/return Y15/30;
Further up, near the top of the mountain, is Dragon Gate (Lóng Mén; admission Y30;