Guandu ancient town, Kunming

By Ma Tongchun, a local resident and senior English-speaking tour guide with over 30 years of professional experience.


Guandu ancient town is situated by Baoxianghe River on the north side of Dianchi Lake, 8km away in the southeast suburb of Kunming City proper and is one of the well-known historical and cultural towns in Kunming area, covering an area of some 1.5 sq km.

The Shaolin Temple

There are many cultural relics there. There are five hills, six monasteries, seven pavilions and eight temples built in the Tang, Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties and other attractions within the area of 1.5 sq km. 

The wall paintings in Fading Temple

As an ancient town with a long history, Guandu was an ancient ferry well-known in central Yunnan and was a large marketing place in the east of Kunming Lake. It was set up as Guandu County together with Kunming County in the Yuan Dynasty, a town with prosperous business and developed handcraft industry. Guandu in old times was full of merchants and pagodas dotted one another against the sky.

The two pagodas in front of the Shaolin Temple

Guandu was originally named Wodong, a fishing village on the shore of Dianchi Lake, with shells piled as hills around. Early in the Tang Dynasty, the royal family of Nanzhao Kingdom took this place as a cantonment. In the Song Dynasty, the official Gao Shengshi in "Shanshan" or Kunming, often boated here for sightseeing and he usually fixed the at the shore and he called the village Wodong "Guandu" or official Ferry, and he even set up Guandu as a county and had the town built with city wall and gate towers.

The Vajra Pagoda, the landmark of Guandu ancient town

As a scenic area, many officials and dignitaries built their palaces and villas here and restaurants and amusement houses were also built, and this place became an entertainment town full of wine and music.

The Patron God enshrined in the Patron Temple

Then monasteries, pavilions and temples were built with the religion culture introduced. The oldest temple built here is the aboriginal patron temple enshrined the local deities built in the Tang Dynasty, Fadingsi Monastery in the Song Dynasty, Confucius Temple in the Yuan Dynasty and the Vajra-Based Pagoda built by General Mu Ling and financed by Eunuch Luo Gui stationed in Yunnan in the Ming Dynasty and Martial Temple, Wugu Temple (Five Cereals Temple), Yuntaigong Temple, Guanyin Temple, pavilions and bridges and so on.

Many locals pray and offer incenses in the main temples and shrines in the old town

The Eight scenic sites of Guandu ancient town:
1.Fishing Light on The Ancient Ferry, working as beacon light for navigation at night.
2.The Greens on the Shell Hill, tall green trees around ancient temple on the Shell Hill.
3.The Moon Light on the Cloud Stage,A pagoda reflection in a semi-pond in a temple yard in bright moon light.
4.Goat flocks in an apricot garden, shepherd looking after goat in an apricot garden.
5.Smoke rising up from a Cloudy Pavilion, incent smoke out of a high pavilion.
6.A grass land a long Dianchi Lake shore, there used to be a pasture by the side of the lake.
7.God Gossiping at Vajra Pagoda. At night, people seemed to hear the gods gossiping at the Vajra Pagoda.
8.The Tall Pagoda writing in the Sky, the tall pagoda looked like a giant pen writing in the sky.


Tourists can take Bus 31 from Kunming Nanyao Railway Station directly to Guandu Town or drive private cars or to taxi to.


Local food
Guandu pancakes, bean jelly, rice noodle (salad noodle), rice wine, starch jelly, preserved fruits, baked potato, fried potato, fermented tofu, pickles, chicken soup, mutton soup, beef soup, liquor drink and so on.

Guandu pancakes

Woodcuts, embroideries, costumes, batiks, tie-dying, preserved dry mushrooms and fruits, etc

Traditional embroidered shoes

Local customs activities
Temple fairs, Dian opera, lantern show, folksong singing, local dances, Beijing opera, music instrument play, cock fight, cricket fight, bull fight, stilts competition and so on.

Singing folksongs is an important part of the local life in Guandu ancient town

Tour time
All the year round because of the mild temperate weather in four seasons.