Qianling Mountain Park: Wild Monkeys in Downtown Guiyang
Qianling Park is probably Guiyang’s most famous attraction. It lies within the city itself, making for an easy afternoon of sightseeing. The park is home to a large population of macaques, the main draw for tourists. The monkeys roam free inside the park, and are concentrated on the rear of the mountain. With its proximity to the city, the low price of entry, and beautiful lake, river and mountain greenery, Qianling Park is a must-see for any visitor to Guiyang.
The park also contains a small zoo, which in the past had reprehensible conditions, but has recently been renovated. I haven’t been back to the zoo since I first saw it, though I’ve heard it’s greatly improved, so I can’t report on the current status of habitats there.
The entrance to the park lies at the top of Zaoshan Lu, at the intersection with Beijing Lu. Taxis drop you off at the entrance to a vendor-filled street, which stretches just a few hundred meters to the gate of the park. When you reach the park entrance, tickets can be purchased from a wooden building to the left of the large gate. It costs 5 RMB per person to get into the park. From the gate, follow the droves of people up the mountain.
There is a cable car that runs up the mountain, which can be found by turning left and heading up the stairs after the gate. It’s a bit confusing to find, but just head toward the general direction where the cables originate, and you’ll get there. There is an additional fee of 20 RMB up and the same down, but I’d recommend skipping the return trip as it’s an easy walk down the mountain.
Upon entering the park, if you’ve chosen to walk instead of hopping on the cable car, walk along the path of the small river at the entrance and follow the people up the mountain. The path up the mountain is an easy walk punctuated by a few flights of low stairs. Near the peak of the mountain lies Hongfu Temple, a delightful oasis of (relative) calm. There are goldfish and turtle filled water features, places to burn incense and quiet prayer rooms. There is a small fee for entry, which funds the temple. Pay it through the tiny windows before entering.
There are also temple gift shops with jewelry and knickknacks. Visitors to the temple often purchase stacks of coins (Chinese one-cent pieces) to throw into submerged vases for good luck. Despite its multiple income streams, the temple is a genuinely nice spot to visit.
From the temple entrance, you can see a road working its way down toward the lake at the rear of the mountain. This is where the greater part of the macaques live. There are vendors selling bags of peanuts for around 5 RMB. The monkeys are very used to people, but don’t take this as an invitation to touch them. They are wild animals, and can become aggressive if you try to treat them like domesticated animals. The macaques are also known for grabbing the snacks and drinks you brought for yourself, so don’t put up a fight if they decide they want what you’re having. It’s a good idea to leave any food you’re saving for yourself inside your bag once you’ve reached the temple area, before you meet the wildlife. Overall, they greatly enrich any visit to Qianling Park. Being in such close proximity with the macaques is a real treat if you behave responsibly.
At the base of the mountain, on the side facing away from the city, is a large lake with many boats available for rent. It’s a good way to relax after walking the park. There is also a bathroom nearby, in case you haven’t found one elsewhere in the park. The lake area is surrounded by low mountains, and makes for some great photo-ops, especially if you’re lucky enough to be there one one of Guiyang’s rare clear days.
From here, there’s a tunnel to return to the other side of the mountain, and head back out to the entrance of the park. It’s a convenient end to a nice walk, and you get to finish your tour of the park without hiking up the mountain for the second time. The tunnel comes out by the river where you started the climb.