Qingyuan, also known as Phoenix City, is located in the most northern area of the Guangdong province. Qingyuan literally translates to “clear and far”. It is a mountainous area with a river called the Beijiang River flowing through the southeastern part of the city. It is known for its numerous breathtaking caves and beautiful natural scenery that one can take in from the tops of its mountains or by braving the exhilarating rapids that bring its passengers on a thrilling descent down the mountains. Qingyuan can bring out the daredevil in you, but if you are looking for an escape for the hecticness of city life, Qingyuan can offer you serene solace as well.
There is an ancient legend behind the name Phoenix City. A long time ago, there was an old monk living in a temple on a small mountain in Qingyuan. Under the mountain was a Chinese parasol tree that was home to a nest of golden phoenixes. On the southern bank of the Beijiang River, there was a little villager, where the elderly lived peaceful lives. One day, however, the Beijiang overflowed and there was a flash flood. All the elderly rushed up into the mountains to seek refuge from the flood, which slowly surrounded the small mountain and the Chinese parasol tree.
At that time, a mother and father phoenix were out hunting, and they had left their baby in their nest, who had yet to learn how to fly. Seeing that the baby phoenix was in danger, the old monk risks his life by using a big wooden bucket to carry him across the waters to the nest to save it. However, he tragically drowned as a result of heroism.
When the phoenix parents realized what the old monk had done for them, the mother vowed to return the favor. While the father and her baby fled to safety, she went up to the mountain to save the villagers. The mother phoenix tired herself out so much that she passed away as well. To show their thanks to the phoenix, they named the place where they were saved by her as Yujin Street, built a shrine near the tree to worship the phoenix, and built a temple on the mountain called Feilai Temple in her honor.
Huangteng Gorge Glass Skywalk (黃騰峽天門懸廊)
The Huangteng Gorge Glass Skywalk is a must-see, or rather, something you must experience when you are in Qingyuan. Located 500m above a canyon by the mountains, this skywalk looks like a giant tennis racket suspended in the air. This skywalk also has a spectacular light and sound show at night and produces a curved waterfall which is 168m in length. This is the only glass corridor of this scale in the Guangdong province and certainly not for the faint-hearted! From way up there, we can observe the people on ground level who are now reduced to mere ants. The glass is clear as day since it is protected from any scuffing from shoes because all visitors are required to wear protective shoe coverings. It is a terrifying yet exhilarating experience to defy your instincts. It feels like you are walking on thin ice–very clear, thin ice!
Huanglongxia Drifting (黃騰峽勇士漂流)
Huanglongxia Drifting is located in the same area as the skywalk. There are two routes available–a beginners’ route and a challengers’ route. Perhaps after the skywalk, you will be so filled with adrenaline that you might opt for the challengers’ route which speeding down rapid waters from the steep mountains. The route is also a scenic route that stretches for two miles and takes 70-80 minutes to complete. There are occasionally brief lulls in the streams which allow you to take in the natural scenery around you.
Remember to bring a swimsuit and something to change into because you will get drenched. Look forward to the playful water fights with your fellow adventurers that occur spontaneously from the contagious atmosphere of giddiness that settles upon those who take part in the rapids!
Qingyuan Huangtengxia Ecological Tourism Area 171乡道, Qingcheng District, Qingyuan, Guangdong Province, China
Baojing Palace Cave (寶晶宮)
Baojing Palace Cave is a limestone cave that was discovered in 1981 up in the mountains by chance by The Second Guangdong Hydrogeology Team while they were looking for hydraulic resources. They tested its safety by lowering a chicken down, and when the chicken was still alive when they retrieved it, they decided to send people down to explore. In May 1996, archaeologists found an ancient river with manmade stone tools and deduced that they have been there for 100,000 years!
Turns out the cave covers an area of more than 16,000 square meters, which is the largest limestone cave in southern China and is known as “the first cave in Lingnan”. The cave has been paved with accessible paths throughout so it is easier for visitors to navigate. The cave is also lit up by colorful spotlights so the awe and beauty of the place are further highlighted. It has four levels–three are open to visitors. Tour guides will point out what the limestone resembles–there are mythical creatures that grace the walls, gigantic structures that resemble vegetables and fruits and you will even see the spine of a dragon at the heart of the cave. Feel free to let your imagination run wild!
Baojing Palace Cave is within a small-scale amusement park where you can also partake in bungee jumping over a lake, challenge yourself on their own glass bridge, play classic fairground games, and go go-karting. You can also rent a duck-shaped boat to enjoy the large lake at your own leisure.
Baojing Palace Cave 宝晶宫风景区 Yingde, Qingyuan, Guangdong Province, China, +86 763 221 9999
Dongtian Cave Fairyland (洞天仙境)
If you want to be transported from the mortal world to fairyland, Dongtian Cave Fairyland is the place to be. After buying a ticket and entering a park, you follow the path which allows you to admire the beautiful green scenery at your own leisure. Eventually, you arrive at the mouth of a dim cave with green waters lapping at the edge of the path. There are several small boats that await inside the cave. Someone ferries you across the dim cave, where you can admire the awe-inspiring natural phenomenon.
Eventually, you emerge into the sunlight onto a slow, winding river framed by weeping willows that sway peacefully in the breeze. The scene is so picturesque and serene that you will feel like you have been transported to fairyland! At the end of the boat journey, you can also get to explore an old village and try local products such as Qingyuan chicken.
Dongtian Cave Fairyland Jiulongzhen, Yingde, Qingyuan, Guangdong Province
Try Qingyuan chicken
Qingyuan chicken is famed across the Guangdong province and in Macau and Hong Kong as well. The location of Qingyuan gives it the ideal conditions for its animals and agriculture to thrive. Warm weather and the abundance of water are some of the factors that play into this. You tend to have the chicken as the dish “white cut chicken” where the chicken is boiled with hot water or chicken broth and cut into pieces before being served. This dish allows you to appreciate and enjoy the flavor that the chicken inherently has. This dish tends to come with a sauce consisting of ginger, minced garlic, green onion, salt, and hot oil mixed together which you can dip the chicken pieces in.
How to get there from Macau
If you depart from Macau, you can take the light rail from Gongbei Port of Entry to Guangzhounan Station. Then, you can travel from Guangzhounan Station to Qingyuan station.