It’s raining yellow flowers everywhere in Luoping, China! Every year in February and March, the rapeseed flowers in Luoping are in full bloom. Luoping County is home to the largest plantations of rapeseed flowers in Southwest China. The golden rape stretches for as far as the eyes can see and together with the karst landscape among the mountain ranges, it is no wonder it attracted many photography enthusiasts there. Yes, never have I seen so many people with the longest or biggest lens they can find, the most expensive camera, the most high-end tripod all decked out at any possible places they can to get a good angle of the scenery.
Luoping is easily accessible from Kunming. There are 4 daily train services from Kunming railway station to Luoping railway station and the train fare is about CNY 16-38 per person per way dependant on the class of seats you buy. The journey took between 3+hrs to 6+hrs depending whether it is a high-speed train or slow train.
As our flight only reach Kunming airport at around 12 noon, we decided to take the bus instead. The bus departs every 40 minutes from Kunming East Bus Terminal and it takes about 4.5 hours to reach Luoping. The fare is about CNY 72. It’s a more luxury tourist bus so the whole journey was quite comfortable.
We reached Luoping bus station at around 4+ in the afternoon. When the bus reached Quqing city, we saw the rapeseed flowers, almost anywhere which allows them to grow. Luoping town, however, is a yawn. Nothing interesting and there’s construction everywhere. I was quite surprised to see many high-rise buildings. The overall impression I had of the town is that it’s grey, no greenery and rundown despite the many high rise buildings around. We could not find any hostel in the town and interesting boutique hotels were either too expensive (prices usually tripled during this period), sold out (do book early, the influx of visitors can be quite terrible during this period) or very far out from town (better for self-drive). So we settled with a normal tourist hotel.
Jin Ji Ling aka Golden Rooster Hill (金鸡岭)
The place to see the sun rises from the mountain range and the golden light shines on the sea of rapeseed flowers till it sparkles and blinds your eyes. Go early, real early else you will be like us to be really put off by the so call photography enthusiasts. The scene reminded me of the time when we went up Mt Bromo where it was equally crowded, just to see the sunrise. Something different here was other than fighting with the photographers for a good place to take a decent, unblock photo, you will be fighting with their big and heavy tripod, the big camera with a humongous telephoto lens as well.
We were also not quite sure if we went to the “official” area or not, as the scenery from where we saw seem different from what we saw in the guidebook. Our driver also seem not sure where to go and this random lady just open the car door sit inside and direct our driver to this place to park the car and lead us to an entrance to a rundown temple (have to pay CNY 20 per person), walked up several steep stairs to reach a platform with many paparazzi. You can climb further up for a better view of sunrise. Seeing that her job is done, she requested like CNY 30 from us. *Duh*
Jiulong Waterfall aka Nine Dragons Waterfall (九龙瀑布)
Listed as one of China’s biggest and most beautiful waterfalls, Jiulong Waterfall scenic area is about an hour drive from Luoping town. Entrance fee is CNY 95. Due to the terrain and the effects of many years of erosion, ten waterfalls of various sizes have formed at nine different levels. The biggest waterfall is about 56 meters high and 112 meters wide. Do hike up to a platform near the peak to get a bird eye view of the waterfalls and the surrounding mountain scenery.
Luo Si Tian (螺丝田)
This is another popular area to see the rapeseed flowers. Carved out of a shallow valley of gentle slopes, follow the road on the opposite slope and view from a higher viewpoint. You will see that the flowers are grown in circular ring which follows the contours of the slopes and the fields look like the rings of a snail’s shell, thus the name I guess. I much prefer the view here than that of Jing Ji Ling.
It can be view anywhere along the road path. Just don’t go to those elevated make-shift type viewing platform, you will need to pay CNY 5 just to walk up the platform and the view is not necessarily good. Walking into the rapeseed flower fields also requires you to pay $$.
The rapeseed flower season is really the time to visit Luoping. The landscape and the scenery is a feast for the eyes.