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Wulong Karst National Park day trip is a must do if you’re in Chongqing. The park is part of the South China Karst UNESCO World Heritage Site of which I visited the Shilin Stone Forest Karst near Kunming, Yunnan Province, some time ago. Wulong Karst National Park is completely different as it consists of three different types of geological formations. These are the Furong Cave, the Three Natural Bridges, and the Houping Giant Sinkhole.
I visited the cave and bridges as a day trip from Chongqing on a day full of drizzle. It gave the area a spooky look which wasn’t bad and the large Chinese tourist groups stayed away. Join me on this Wulong Karst day tour in a remote part of China where English is barely spoken.
Getting to Wulong Karst National Park
The Wulong Karst National Park is a 2-hour drive (150 kilometers) from Chongqing. I left the Intercontinental Chongqing early morning at 7 AM to get the most out of the day trip. A private car is the best way to go and should cost not more as 350 RMB if you can negotiate well. I recommend starting at the Furong Cave and take the cable car up the mountain to save time which is something you need. It takes over an hour to walk through the Furong Cave.
If you normally have lunch I recommend picking up something on the way to the Three Natural Bridges scenic spot. It’s just over a 30-minute drive from the Furong Cave to there. Buy a ticket that includes the elevator down the gorge which will save a huge amount of time. It takes 2-3 hours to walk through the gorge and admire all the beauty.
If you plan to visit the Houping Giant Sinkhole you must book a hotel in the Wulong area as all three sites on a day trip from Chongqing is not possible. I couldn’t plan an additional day in this China trip, so I left in the afternoon back to Chongqing.
The Furong Cave, part of the Wulong Karst National Park, is amongst the most beautiful caves in the world. It’s located where the Furong and Wu rivers meet and is almost 3 kilometers long. You will see beautiful stalactites and stalagmites lit up in all kinds of colors around you. Some reaching more as 15 meters including a stone waterfall. As always, the Chinese are famous for naming natural formations and in the cave that’s not different.
A visit doesn’t go through the complete cave but a part which still takes at least an hour to see. Stairs take you up and down the cave as it has numerous vertical shafts too. Together with the Caves of Clamouse, which I visited during my South France road trip, they are the most beautiful I have seen. Including the cable car ride, I spend just over 2 hours at the Furong Cave.
Three Natural Bridges
The Three Natural Bridges are together with Furong Cave the two most visited sites of the Wulong Karst National Park. It’s a 1200-meter-long gorge with, as the name says, 3 bridges shaped by nature over millions of years. Underground rivers eroded the softer stone away and parts collapsed forming deep pits. Other parts were uplifted by tectonic movement. Nature sculptured these three bridges which are all named after dragons.
When I arrived at the bottom of the Three Natural Bridges gorge it was if I stepped back in time. I was waiting for dinosaurs to pass by but … that didn’t happen of course. Fun fact: Transformers 4 was partly filmed here! I really enjoyed walking the gorge as it’s a unique place in the world and so different as the Tiger Leaping Gorge which is another famour gorge in China.
Tianlong Three Natural Bridges
Tianlong Bridge translated to Sky Dragon and is the first arch you walk through. It’s 235 meters wide and 147 meter high. The elevator drops you in front of it and you’ll have to take the steps down through it to the lowest level. Make sure to have a look up on the right side and to see the elephant sculpture formed by nature. At the Tianlong Bridge you have the best look through photo spots! In general, when you walk the path to the other end, shoot photos as you go as you do not return the same way. Tianlong Bridge has another arch to the left after passing through, but this was closed during my visit due to rockfall. While you walk deeper into the gorge, have a look at the various pools and waterfalls too.
Qinglong Three Natural Bridges
Qinglong Bridge translates to Azure Dragon and is the second arch. It’s 281 meters high and 124 meters wide. The best photo stop is in front of the pond before you reach the arch. If you look at the mirror it resembles the blade of a sword. Qinglong Bridge is narrow at the bottom and wider on the top. The gorge is flat at the bottom so the hike to the last natural arch isn’t that difficult. It did start to rain a bit but, in combination with the fog, was nice for the photos. It gave the scenery a bit of a Jurassic look.
Heilong Three Natural Bridges
Heilong Bridge, which translates to Black Dragon, is the last natural bridge. It’s 223 meters high and 193 meters wide. Heilong Bridge is famous for its waterfalls that spray out of the karst walls. As it was raining these streams had a lot of water which made Heilong Bridge my personal favorite. After Heilong Bridge it’s a short walk along the river towards the end of the gorge. There are a few more streams and waterfalls as the gorge gets narrower. It was around 4PM when I exited the Three Natural Bridges scenic area, just before closing time.
Is the Wulong Karst National Park a must add to a first time China itinerary? Probably not as it’s quite out of the way. If you are a returning traveler to China I highly recommend adding a few nights in Chongqing on your itinerary to make a day trip to the Wulong Karst but also to the Dazu Rock Carvings. If you visit Chongqing for business, then add a day or two for leisure to visit these places. Bleisure travel makes you work more efficient as you can clear your mind before and after a long flight. The Wulong Karst National Park definitely is unique and worth visiting!
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Did you visit Wulong Karst National Park too or do you have questions? Please leave a comment at the bottom of the page. Love to hear from you!
Gallery Wulong Karst National Park
Click an image for a full screen gallery of more photos taken during this trip. If you like to use any photo for commercial, private or editorial use please contact first for permission and/or pricing.