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Getting Away: Yu'an Shan Public Cemetery

By in Travel on

Fresh air, trees, the sound of birds and spectacular views of Kunming: Yu'an Shan Public Cemetery is one of the nearest and most pleasant escapes from the city for a walk, run or ride.

The cemetery is perched on a bluff on Yu'an Shan, overlooking Kunming from the northwest, and is reached by a paved road that branches off from the road to Bamboo Temple. A GoKunming reader recommended the route to us earlier this year and it's since become one of our favorite places to go for a quick bike ride.

One of the best things about the road to the cemetary is that it's a dead end (no pun intended). This means that there is a relatively small amount of vehicle traffic—other than at times such as Tomb Sweeping Festival (清明节), when people flock there to pay tribute to the departed, tidy up their graves and leave them offerings to be used in the afterlife.

The road branches off the Bamboo Temple road near the bottom when it crosses a small bridge over a valley and doubles back on itself. Instead of following the Bamboo Temple road as it doubles back, one takes a right turn just after the bridge and heads off in the opposite direction up the floor of the attractive valley.

The distance from the turnoff to the cemetery is about 3.5 kilometers. After leaving the valley floor, the road follows a series of wooded switchbacks to the top. It is one of the more challenging paved climbs around Kunming. As is common in these parts, there are steep walking paths that cut through many of the switchbacks.

Whatever method one uses to get to the top, the views on a clear day make the climb well worth it.

To the the east, Kunming spreads outward from the downtown business district into the new residential high-rises sprouting in the north and west and, finally, the power plants, brick kilns and other industrial facilities in the little-visited valley northwest of the city.

To the south is Dianchi and a profile view of Xishan's severe cliffs.

The cemetery itself also contains a small temple, a smattering of intriguing statues and, of course, thousands of gravestones.

To extend an excursion to Yu'an Shan cemetery, one could visit pleasant Jiaoye Park, which lies in the valley between the cemetery and Bamboo Temple.

It is also possible to walk downhill from Bamboo Temple via a small path on the opposite side of the road from the parking lot and join in with the road to the cemetery.

Getting there
First, get onto the road to Bamboo Temple: from the Huangtupo traffic interchange at the western end of Xuefu Lu go directly west, heading away from the second ring road on Kunrui Lu/Dianmian Dadao (昆瑞路/滇缅大道) and crossing Haiyuan Lu (海源路) and then Changyuan Lu (昌源路).

Turn right at the pharmacy
Turn right at the pharmacy

At Heilinpu Zhen (黑林铺镇), after about 1.8 kilometers, the road sweeps left and a smaller road named Heilinpu Qian Jie (黑林铺前街) branches to the right, next to a Yixintang (一心堂) pharmacy (turnoff photo above). Follow Heilinpu Qian jie for about a kilometer, then go over some train tracks and onto the auxiliary road of a new highway that is nearing completion.

Turn right after passing this road sign
Turn right after passing this road sign

To cross the highway, turn right onto the auxiliary road and cross on a bridge about 50 meters distant. Turn left off of the bridge and head uphill a few hundred meters. The Bamboo Temple road is the first entrance on right (turnoff photo above).

Turn right here
Turn right here

The turnoff for the cemetery is about 1.2 kilometers from the turnoff onto the Bamboo Temple road (route X001) and is marked by a blue sign that says "玉案山公墓," or Yu'an Shan Public Cemetery.

Note: Most of the photos in this post were taken in June. It's not quite as green on Yu'an Shan at this time of year, but it is nevertheless a pleasant excursion.

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dude, that's my cemetery, don't wear it out!

i first discovered it while cycling randomly about the west of town in 2001. in those days, it was much less developed out that way.

in summer, you sometimes get a good view of a forest fire on the neighbouring mountains from up there ;) you can also skip to bamboo temple through the funky little park, but you're supposed to pay (not always necessary)

i went up to the cemetery last week but failed to find the way over to Jiaoye Park (and on to the bamboo temple). any advice? nice ride anyway though...

It's not really a rideable route, got some steep stone stairs leading up to Bamboo Temple. The entrance to the park is on the left side about halfway through the ride where it flattens out a bit and you pass around the side of a Chinese-style archway.

There's also a path that runs up from earlier in the climb when you see a small temple up on the hill on your left side. Follow the stone stairs up past the temple and into the woods and keep walking.


the way across is NOT up the stone steps: that is not possible to ride up. when you get almost to the top, where the large chinese-style gate is visible and the road is about to begin to turn right and climb up the final hill to the cemetery, there is a sometimes-staffed ticket gate to jiaoye park on your left. simply cycle through there stealthily (or quickly!), follow the road through the park, and at the top end of the park take the bridge across to bamboo temple.

The bridge is closed and locked, as it has been for some time now.


I went through the cemetary and found that a track leads up towards the top of the hill and gives some nice tame riding in a lovely setting. I didn't have time to explore further so went back down the way I came but I'd like to know if anyone else has ridden this bit and where it might go...

Failing that I'll be checking it out soon as all the other good trails near kunming are being bulldozed.

Today I discovered you can get to/frow Yu'anshan cemetery from Haiyuan temple down in Kunming proper. Behind Haiyuan si, up the mountain, is an enormous boarding school complex; follow the serpentine roads up to the top of this complex, until they end in a high mountainside platform with gorgeous views over Kunming. From this platform, a small, really steep path leads up the mountainside and to the remote gravesites at the slopes of the cemetary; from there you can find various trails that go up to the cemetary proper. This is a slightly difficult and steep climb, though, so one easier way to go about it would be to start at the Bamboo temple or the cemetary, and then walk -down- the mountain to Haiyuan (this is also a good option because the buses back to the city center from Haiyuan doesn't stop going until 10 PM, unlike the C61 and such up in the mountains; also, those buses are cheaper than the C61).

This discovery means it would actually be possible to combine Haiyuan street market, Haiyuan temple, Yu'anshan cemetery, the small temple along the way to the bamboo temple, the Jiaoye park, and the grand Bamboo temple itself, as a pleasant one day über-excursion.

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