Must see attractions in Jilin

  • Top ChoiceSights in Changchun

    Changchun World Sculpture Park

    Nature and art blend stylishly on the edge of Changchun in this peaceful, tree-lined parkland dotted with mostly surrealist sculptures. The 90-hectare space is relatively under-visited; the huge stone and brass pieces peeking through the foliage take around two hours to circle. Entrance to the museum costs another ¥30, but is worth it for the impressive African pieces in particular. A taxi from People's Sq will cost about ¥30.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Changchun

    Imperial Palace of the Manchu State

    Recently renovated to an impeccable standard, this is the former residence of Puyi, the Qing dynasty’s final emperor, famously depicted in Bernardo Bertolucci's film The Last Emperor (1987). His study, bedrooms, temple, his wife’s quarters and opium den, as well as his concubine’s rooms, are all on show, but it’s the exhibition on his extraordinary life, told in part with a fantastic collection of photos, that is most enthralling. An English audio guide is well worth the extra ¥40.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Ji'an

    Wandu Mountain City

    Wandu Mountain City is an inspiring site of ancient civilisation where visitors can walk freely, often alone in nature, among rock pyramids, reassembled artifices and giant stone cairns. Erected after the destruction of Wandu, this vast cemetery for the city’s noblemen is so far unaffected by mass tourism. The sight of the massive rock piles in fields of Spanish needle (Bidens pilosa) is probably the most photogenic in all Ji'an.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Yanji

    Mao'er Mountain

    The clear favourite of Yanji families, especially on weekends, this relatively small mountaintop is dotted with young people lounging in the woods in tents or hammocks (¥40 to buy, or ¥10 per day) or walking the 60- to 90-minute return loop to the peak. The whole way is boardwalked, and the locals in all-white outfits and high heels reflect what an easy ascent it is, though the last section is quite steep.

  • Sights in Baihe

    Heaven Lake

    The jewel of the area, this heavenly blue lake seems impossibly elevated by a ring of 16 mountainous peaks. The dormant crater lake, 13km in circumference, was formed around AD 969. A fixed route takes you around part of the crater lip with panoramic views of its glorious mirrored surface, at such an altitude (2194m) that it feels other-worldly. Legend has it that the lake is home to a large, but shy, beastie with the magical power to blur any photo taken of him.

  • Sights in Baihe

    Changbai Waterfall

    From the bus stop, walk up to a small hot spring where you can soak your feet or buy delicious boiled eggs (cooked in the spring). Past that a 1km trail leads to the viewpoint for the magnificent 68m Changbai Waterfall.

  • Sights in Baihe

    Green Deep Pool

    This large, aptly named pool of water, fed by Changbai Waterfall, is 450m ahead of the Small Heaven Lake. The beautiful milky-green pool is great for photos, but not for swimming in. Cross the bus parking lot and head up the stairs to reach it. Buses run from the waterfall down to the main junction and the Underground Forest.

  • Sights in Ji'an

    Cemetery of Noblemen at Yushan

    Scattered about a small gated park lie the stone crypts of various Koguryo-kingdom noblemen. You can enter and explore Tomb No 5 (wait for the guide) via a creepy descent underground. As your eyes adjust to the light in the chilly stone chamber, look for paintings of dragons, white tigers, black tortoises and lotus flowers on the walls and ceilings.

  • Sights in Changchun

    Banruo Temple

    Built in 1931, Banruo is a very active and engaging temple, acting as a spiritual meeting place for local Buddhists, and pilgrims both devout and curious. Its back alleys brim with merchants peddling all manner of charms, statues, shrines and incense to the faithful; beggars gather outside the entrance on Changchun Lu.

  • Sights in Songjianghe

    Changbai Shan Canyon

    Filled with dramatic rock formations, the 70km-long, 200m-wide and 100m-deep canyon really deserves more fame, but it's tough to measure up against Heaven Lake. There's an easy 40-minute route along a boardwalk that follows the canyon rim through the forest.

  • Sights in Changchun

    Jìngyuetan National Forest Park

    This massive lakeside park on the southeast outskirts of Changchun encompasses more than 90 sq km and is a welcome break from the city. Established in 1934, it features well tended gardens, pavilions, lookouts and a 20km round-the-lake bike path. Shuttle buses (¥10) take you to the dam, where you can take boat rides. At the front gate there are bike rentals (¥30 per hour). Take the light rail, which starts from Changchun Station (¥5, 50 minutes) at the main train station, to Jingyue Gongyuan light rail station.

  • Sights in Baihe

    Small Heaven Lake

    Grab a bus from the Changbai Waterfall to Small Heaven Lake. Nowhere near the size or majesty of the main crater lake, this is instead a placid lake (or large pond) worth circling. You could venture off into the surrounding forests for a short hike, but don't get lost and be careful not to cross into North Korea! A boardwalk takes you along a fissure stream to the Green Deep Pool.

  • Sights in Ji'an

    Haotaiwang Stele

    Inscribed with 1775 Chinese characters, the Haotaiwang Stele, a 6m-tall stone slab that dates from AD 415, records the accomplishments of Koguryo king Tan De (374–412), known as Haotaiwang. The surface is blackened from a botched restoration effort when it was rediscovered in 1877: to remove the moss covering the surface, locals smeared it with cow dung and set it alight. Tan De’s tomb (labelled ‘Taiwang Tomb’) is on the same site.

  • Sights in Ji'an

    Ji'an Museum

    The sleek museum sports a brown stone base and a glass top with sails that open up like leaves. It features a small display of artefacts from the Koguryo era with good English captions. A lovely park with stone fountains, landscaped gardens, cobbled walkways, lotus ponds and statues is located just next to the museum.

  • Sights in Baihe

    Underground Forest

    Lying between the park entrance and transport junction, this verdant woodland area, also known as the Dell Forest (谷底森林, Gǔdǐ Sēnlín), has a 3km boardwalk through the woods to the forest base and back. Allow at least 1½ hours for the walk. Buses run from here back to the junction and north gate.

  • Sights in Ji'an

    Jiangjunfen

    One of the largest pyramid-like structures in the region, the 12m-tall Jiangjunfen was built during the 4th century for a Koguryo ruler. The nearby smaller tomb is the resting place of a family member. The site is set among the hills 4km northeast of town.

  • Sights in Ji'an

    Riverside Plaza

    This lively modern waterfront park features riverside decks where you can view North Korea across the Yalu River. You can also take a boat ride along the river (¥50, 40 minutes). The park is stretched out along Yanjiang Lu, south of the main Shengli Lu.