Jiǔ Xiāng Dòng - Jiuxiang Dong

Useful Information

Location: Yi Hui Township, Jiuxiang, Yiliang County, Kunming City, Yunnan Province.
Jiuxiang village, 70 km from Kunming, 47 km from Yiliang. Kunming Prefecture.
(25.0708159, 103.3820471)
Open: All year daily 8-22.
Fee: Adults CNY 90, Students CNY 45.
Cable Car: Adults CNY 30.
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave Speleologyriver cave. KarstDoline KarstPonor TopicDragon Cave GeoparkYiliang Jiuxiang Canyon Caves National Geopark Sinian Epoch, Dolomite
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System LightColoured Light
Guided tours: self guided, L=5 km, D=4 h. V=250,000/a [2000]
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography: Yuhui Li, Maocheng Li, Zhiqiang Ding (2022): Study on methodology of assessing synergy between conservation and development of karst protected area in the case of the Diehong Bridge Scenic Area of Jiuxiang Gorge Cave Geopark, Yunnan, China Environment, Development and Sustainability. 24. DOI pdf researchgate
Address: Jiuxiang Scenic Resort, Yi Hui Township, Nine Townships, Yiliang County, Kunming City, Yunnan Province.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


1989 opened as a show cave.
1994 included in the third batch of Chinese national-level scenic spots.
2001 Jiuxiang Scenic Area rated as a national AAAA tourist attraction.
AUG-2009 part of the new Yunnan Jiuxiang Canyon Caves National Geopark.


九乡溶洞群 (Jiǔ xiāng róngdòng qún, Nine Villages Cave) or 九乡风景区 (Jiǔ xiàng fēng jǐngqū, Nine Villages Scenic Area) is a karst area at Jiuxiang (Nine Villages). Limestone ridges with heights around 1,900 m asl are separated by deep valleys, around 1,750 m asl. On a total area of about 200 km² more than one hundred karst caves are known. This is the most important karst area in China, with the highest density of caves. The whole area is divided into various regions which are named after their most important sight. The site is also known as 叠虹桥景区 (Diehong Bridge Scenic Area), but this name is not used any more. Sometime the name 九乡洞 (Jiuxiang Cave) is used, but that's a misnomer, because there is actually no cave of that name. This is the name given to a series of several caves, natural bridges and other karst-related features.

Starting at the car park it's a 300 m walk through souvenir shops to the ticket office. The first sight is right here, the 九乡地质公园博物馆 (Jiuxiang Geological Park Museum). The small museum explains the development of the karst, the specifics of south Chinas tower karst, and other geological topics. There are models of the area, of specific speleothems like the rimstone pools, and more. The museum also has a sort of cave replica, with stalactites at the ceiling, which seems a bit kitschy, as the real deal is right nearby. The explanatory signs are bilingual, Chinese and English. Many websites call the scenic area "Museum", as if it was a sort of natural museum, but actually they just mixed up the fact that there is this museum which is operated by the Geopark.

From here a trail and alternatively, an elevator leads down to the Maitian River . The KarstYincuixia (Green Shady Valley) to the north is a separate tour, and so we have given it a separate page. Downstream, the river vanishes in a huge cave to reappear 800 m to the south as the crow flies. This is the Grand Underground Valley, also known as the 惊魂峡 (Terrifying Gorge). The tour starts following the gorge downstream, then into the cave, which is a 100 m high underground gorge. This gorge is quite narrow at places, the narrowest point is only 3 to 4 m wide.

The trail continues to the Baixiang dong (White Elephant Cave), another part of the cave system at a higher level. The first chamber is called 雄狮厅 (Xióng shī tīng, Lions Hall) named after a huge stalagmite formation at the entrance, which looks like a sitting lion from inside the chamber. On some pages it is called the largest underground chamber in the world. The surface area is 10,000 m², which is not enough for this hall to be listed in the official "World Largest Chamber By Area" page, which lists 37 chambers, the smallest being three times as big. It's once more a reminder to be careful with the lore which is told. Nevertheless, the chamber is definitely impressive, with a flat ceiling which is formed by a (hopefully) quite stable layer of limestone. Also, the floor was leveled on an area of 2,000 m², to organize functions or concerts, and as a subterranean ballroom. The namesake formation of stalagmites in one corner was spared though. The cavern is regularly used for concerts, which is obviously a good way to promote the caves. There are classical concerts with the Kunming Symphony Orchestra. There are also some displays with a rock exhibition and a fossil exhibition and with ethnic handicrafts.

The chamber was used as a filming location for the movie The Myth. The scene where Jackie Chan and Kim Hee Sun fly around in the mausoleum was filmed here.

Leaving the cave, a huge doline is reached, which is generally dubbed a tiankeng. With a length of 200 m, a width of 100 m and a depth of 100 m it is actually at the lower end of tiankengs. Nevertheless, it is quite spectacular. It's only a short walk to the next cave entrance.

The next stop is the 神女宫 (神女宫, Goddess Palace), which is generally translated as Fairy Palace, a result of the complex Chinese heritage about immortals and gods. We actually guess that both translations are wrong and the original meaning only becomes clear if you read some of the ancient Chinese legends about immortals. However, the name was given to this chamber, because unlike the last one its floor is covered by thousands of stalagmites.

Back from the Fairy Palace the trail continues through the tiankeng to the 叠虹桥 (Dié hóngqiáo, Stacked Rainbow Bridge, also Overlapping Rainbow Bridge). It is called a natural bridge, but actually it's just a cave portal with a horizontal rock bar which splits the portal in two parts. It is the entrance to Wolongdong (Sleeping Dragon Cave, Lying Dragon Cave) and was formerly known as Terrestrial Gate. From the entrance the cave floor lies 120 m below and is reached by a spiral staircase which goes down in nine turns. The cave was named after the cave river Maitian River, which is said to wind its way through the cave like a sleeping dragon.

Then the 雌雄飞瀑 (Cíxióng fēi pù, Male and female waterfalls) are reached, two parallel waterfalls of Maitian river, which are 30 m high and quite loud. The name is generally translated Twin Waterfalls, we were not able to find out the cultural background of the original name. It was formerly known as Lovers' Waterfalls, which might be another possible translation. According to local lore it was named so by the locals, as it resembles two loyal and faithful lovers coming from a distance hand in hand and jumping from the cliff together to die for love. It's a sad fact, that it is quite difficult to understand the many facets of several thousand years of Chinese culture, and to understand how much is lost by uninspired translations. The pool below the waterfalls is 10 m deep, and at high water levels the 320 m³/s of water make a deafening sound. During flood season the river rises and the two waterfalls converge and become one.

The next chamber is called 神田 (Shéntián, Fairy Field), but actually it is just a wider section of the cave passage and the speleothems are rimstone pools. In Chinese, they are named fairy wings, because the bowed rims resemble wings. Other names we read were Mysterious Land and Saint Terraced Fields, obviously less inspired variations. This formation of rimstone pools is definitely one of the biggest in the World. The formation is like a 10 m high pyramid and covers an area of 100 m². Rimstone pools seem to be quite rare in China, and these are the only rimstone pools in a Yunnan show cave.

The end of the cave is called 蝙蝠洞 (Biānfú dòng, Bat Cave). Here it gets again weird, the cave is noted for its Upside Down Stone Forest or Underground Downturned Stone Forest, we are actually not sure if it is an error or a joke. Actually, there are stalactites at the ceiling which are twisted in all directions by changing airflow in the huge passage. This is not uncommon, but the comparison with a stone forest was new to us. And as far as we are concerned, there is no similarity at all.

At the cave exit is a village of the Yi Minority. Obviously not a real village, it's a sort of ethnographic open-air museum with young people performing traditional dances for the tourists.

There is also a cable car station, so visitors have the possibility to take the cable car back to the entrance or walk the 700 m on a trail through the tiankeng. And a third alternative is to ride a horse to the exit. The cable car and horses cost an additional fee. We are not sure which alternative is better, as all offer breathtaking views. However, the tour is quite strenuous and long, so many people are exhausted and happy to use the cable car on the way back. It's also 15 minutes faster.

The karst area is also famous for a true troglobiont, the largest cave fish known in China. This mackerel has adapted to the dark environment, it has a full transparent body, and the organs in the body are clearly visible. The eyes have gradually degenerated, and today only tiny white spots remained.

The whole area was recently developed for tourism, numerous names were changed and the route was reorganized. As a result, there are conflicting descriptions with a mix of names on the web. We tried to give the current name, and if available former names of the sites.