Qing Xiu Shan (Pretty Green Mountain) Scenic Area is an extensive park and gardens on the eastern fringe of Nanning that provides panoramic views of the city. This multi-award winning park covers over six square kilometres and includes numerous themed gardens, lawn areas, sub-tropical rainforest, a temple, pagodas and several lookouts. It is one of the main reasons for Nanning's reputation as a green city within China, and is regarded as the city's lungs.
The main entrance (West Gate) to QingXiuShan Scenic Area with ticket office to the left of the entrance
The scenic area is too large for most people to cover in one day. I suggest that you take one of the open air minibuses that run around the park's loop road and travel up to the GuangYin Temple near the top of the mountain. From there you will mostly be walking downhill, which in the Nanning heat is much easier than trying to do it in the other direction. The viewing platforms on the road near the temple offer spectacular views of the city. If you can, try and plan your visit to come on a clear, windy day when there is less chance of mist on the mountain or smog hanging over the city. Note that the temple is an active place of worship and no photographs are allowed of the inside or outside of the temple.
The viewing platform (left) and the view of the city (right) on a day when extremely high humidity obscured the views
From the temple you can walk down in one of several directions including the following suggestions:
1. Walk down to the north gate via the Peach Blossom Island and the Orchid Garden; 2. Walk down to the Heaven Pool via the Palm Tree Park, Rainforest Garden and Thailand Garden; 3. Walk down to the west gate via Zhangyuan Spring, the Chinese Zodiac Park and the Friendship Park.
These options still do not cover everything that there is to see within the scenic area, so feel free to choose your own route.
Peach Blossom Island at the start of spring, just before blooming. The orange and yellow ribbons are good luck tokens that you can buy and tie onto the trees
Apart from the lookouts, two of my favourite spots are the Orchid Lawn and the Chinese Zodiac Park. The Orchid Lawn has a wide area of soft grass that is ringed by orchids designed to lightly perfume the lawn area. The orchid grafts on the nearby palms number in their hundreds and include an impressive variety of orchids. For the romantically inclined, photo opportunities abound here. If you have kids, try the Chinese Zodiac Park, which is a fun place to visit. All of the characters of the zodiac are carved in stone pieces and arranged on a huge granite patio that resembles a giant chess board. You can also buy kites here to fly in the garden. All of the sites within the scenic area have signs in English including a one paragraph description of each site, so it is quite easy to navigate your way around if you cannot read Chinese characters. The latin name of many of the plants is also displayed in the gardens.
There are three entrances to the scenic area, with most people entering via the West Gate. To travel to the West Gate by bus you can take buses 10, 32, 33, 89, 97 and 601 along Qing Shan Lu. Note that if you are travelling here in early to mid 2015 there is extensive roadworks along Qing Shan Lu and all buses are terminating at the market. You can either walk the 500 metres or so up the hill yourself or take a taxi via one of the back roads. Alternatively you can take a taxi to/from the North Gate, where there was a queue of them waiting. If you are asking for directions, the Qing in QingXiuShan is roughly pronounced like the first syllable of Chinglish, Xiu is roughly pronounced like the last syllable of running shoe, and Shan is similar to the sound of the first syllable in shandy.
Within the scenic area itself, each bus ride cost 5 RMB at the time of writing. To buy a ticket look for the person sitting at the table underneath a beach umbrella at each stop. Driving through the forest in the open air minibus is quite fun, so make sure you do this at least once, even if you are determined to walk for the rest of your day here.