Dinghushan: a Tropical Paradise

Dinghushan 鼎湖山; a Tropical Paradise on the Edge of Urbanization

Zhaoqing / Guangdong Province

Dinghu Shan
Dinghushan 鼎湖山

Dinghushan 鼎湖山, just an hour away from the centre of Zhaoqing, was China’s first National Park, established in 1956. Nowadays it’s also a UNESCO “Man and Natural Biosphere Reserve” for the research of ecosystems in tropical and subtropical forests.

Another Waterfall in Dinghu Shan

Dinghushan: a Tropical Paradise on the Edge of Urbanization: An Urban escape

It’s a beautiful place of towering green hills, gushing waterfalls and clear streams, laced with a sprinkling of peaceful Buddhist temples and home to numerous plant and animal species. However, apart from the awe-inspiring, lush, tropical scenery, one memory will always stick in our minds: that of pigging out on tasty, deep- purple potatoes…

The Purple Potato
The Purple Potato

We got to the park by local bus, leaving from downtown Zhaoqing. Though the park’s only 18 km away, the ride took quite a while, as the bus meandered from one densely populated suburb to the next. Even when it finally dropped us off in a quiet, dead-end street, lined with hotels, restaurants and souvenir shops, we still found it hard to believe there could be an important natural reserve near here.

Map of Dinghushan

Dinghushan: a Tropical Paradise on the Edge of Urbanization: First Impressions

Our first impressions of China’s “green gem on the Tropic of Cancer” weren’t great: it seemed not so much a tropical biosphere as a tame, suburban tourist trap! Before crossing the turn-style, we had to fork out a hefty 60 Yuan for the entrance tickets.  After acquiring an additional 20 Yuan ticket, we hopped on one of the electric carts headed for the Tianhu area. To our dismay, we were charged another 30 Yuan for a very short boat trip across the lake, and access to the main park area.

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