By Zhou Mengya in Travel

Tuanjie Township (团结乡), a small township to the west of downtown Kunming, has until now mostly been known for its rustic apple orchards and grasslands. An intriguing new project by the name of "Hug the Forest" (哈格森林) aims to change that, however. Consisting of an art gallery, hostel and café, the space aims to 'create a bond between mankind and mother nature', and thus both the location and the rather whimsical name seem wholly appropriate.

Café of the forest

'The idea of the space is to provide an opportunity for people to truly get close to nature' explains Bobby, the effusive manager of the Hug the Forest. 'I was born and raised in a big city, I felt the isolation from nature keenly. It was only as an adult that I developed a love for hiking and camping. I discovered not only that nature was constantly changing, but that it had its own special energy which is incredibly healing for human emotions. My aim was to create a place in which this energy could be passed from nature to people'.

Tangtang Art Gallery

The onsite art gallery, TangTang (躺躺), was established so that families could further explore the concept of nature and its cultural importance through immersive exhibitions. The hostel allows people to stay overnight, since a daytrip alone is really not enough to sufficiently bond with the natural surroundings.

Art exhibition inside the TangTang Art Gallery

The first exhibition held here was named 'Road into the Forest' and featured works from an eclectic mix of well-known modern writers, artists and musicians including Victor Hugo, Claude Debussy, Virginia Woolf and Leonard Cohen amongst others, creating a beating heart of humanity in the middle of the forest.

Bobby believes that art appreciation is truly subjective, and hopes that visitors will feel free to enjoy and explore the works in TangTang (which means 'lying down' in English) as they feel most comfortable, whether that be by standing, sitting or perhaps even, as the name of the gallery suggests, fully reclining of the floor of this informal space!

Hiking trail

In an era of ever-growing cities it can feel almost impossible to escape the non-stop pace of modern urban life and the pressures this brings. Hug the Forest offers the chance for visitors to be embraced by the natural world, providing a sense of comfort and support.

From camping to hotpot and all manner of other outdoor parties, this is a space that highly encourages visitors to enjoy the feeling of grass on their bare feet and sets the stage for plenty of further surprises to be created and discovered.


Admission: 20 RMB for adults, free for children.