September saw me attempt to gain a sighting of the Golden Buddha for the second time this year! This area is known to some as Xikou and to others as Xuedoushan, either way it lies in the South of Ningbo, in Zhejiang Province, China.
Transport – As before, I used a local contact to organise a car to drive us down to the location of Xikou (around 1hr away from Ningbo City) and thee driver would stay and wait for us to return. This trip costs 700RMB (around £70) in total for a 6-seater van (Mercedes Benz 6 seater, not really a van) for the day, including English speaking driver and water on board.
Weather wise – its better to do this trip when the humidity has lowered and its become bareable to be outdoors during the day!
We chose a Sunday morning as all of us are teachers working at the same school, meaning September has the dreaded return to work feel! Part of me expected it to be really busy and hard to grab photos but generally it was good.
Entrance – the driver I use is familiar with Xikou area and knows to drive directly to the ticketing office at the base of the Scenic Area. Here you buy your ticket for the whole area, 150RMB for all parts, including buses around the area. From there, the only way out is onto the bus which will drive either to the Golden Buddha entrance or up to the Xuedoushan Scenic Area entrance. I would recommend taking the Scenic Area first as the end point is opposite the Buddha.
Xuedoushan Scenic Area
Once inside here its downhill! Literally. The Scenic Area recommends 2-3 hours to complete, but that is without stopping to take photos or to take in the views. We used around 4 hours to take loads of photos, have regular rest stops and see everything!
As we entered the Scenic Area we travelled down steps into what felt like the base of the Earth, instead we were greeted by a small jewellery store and the chance to tie red ribbons to the side of the water. From there, its structured almost circular. When given a choice of 2 directions they almost always come back to one another not too far away.
As we walked through the Scenic Area, descending further and further down into the wilderness, there are numerous waterfalls which graced us with beauty and awe. Along the way, be sure to stop at some of the huts selling snacks and drinks, these huts charge roughly the same as main shops in the City. For those in need, toilets are dotted regularly along the pathway to veer into and use, they aren’t terrible toilets either for outdoor public area toilets in China!
After reaching the halfway point, a map shows you this and what you still need to pass through, but after this we moved much quicker and easier. Less photos from here on was the key. Not far after, we came to the wobble bridge (exactly what it sounds like) which moves incredibly easily and isn’t so easy to walk along while holding a phone! For those who are scared of this type of thing, it can be walked under.
Eventually we passed enough waterfalls for one lifetime, my friend counted 27 by this point! That was when we reached the Monorail train, here we had to pay 50RMB (£5) to use the train and that cost included the Cable car after which would allow us to escape the below ground level Scenic Area.
The Monorail Train – Most people think this sounds boring, but when you’ve walked down into the abyss for 2hours, nothing is more satisfying than sitting and letting something carry you to the next point. The train does move slowly, but you can see the waterfalls and various parts of the Scenic Area from here.
After the monorail, we had to walk up roughly 200 steps (better than the alternative of walking all the way back up!). Once we reached the top of these steps, albeit tired, the largest waterfall of Xueedoushan can be seen. This was where we saw most of the Chinese visitors gathering for photos, the waterfall area is prepared for photos with its standing rock covered with rails. There is also a bridge which crosses over the waterfalls base river, perfect for more photos.
As we finished our 10 minute photoshoot here, we continued along the path to the Cable Car.
Cable Car – Exactly what it sounds like and takes you back up to the start level of the Scenic Area to finish the trip. Not for the faint hearted, there is a lot of dangling with nothing below as it climbs higher, but definitely beats the alternative of walking back out. This is also included in the 50RMB train ticket so makes sense to purchase.
Tickets – Train Tickets alone are 40RMB and the Cable Car ticket is 30RMB alone, if you visit you should definitely pay the 50RMB for both even if you decide to walk back out of the Scenic Area (CRAZINESS!).
Upon exiting the Cable Car, we stumbled upon a National Park of China site of ruins from the Miaogao People. This was stunning and had original features still preserved.
After the Cable Car, we followed the path further and ended up above the large waterfall, here you can capture photos of the Mouth of the Waterfall. After this, we walked down 100+ steps, by this point we really weren’t sure we were going the right way, many people were coming up this way and it really confused us, turns out its an alternative route through and many Chinese will come just to the Waterfalls Mouth area to sit and relax.
After the steps, we hit the exit and found that we were literally across the road from the Golden Buddha entrance. So then it was time to take our trip to this shiny giant.
Golden Buddha Entrance – before we went inside the Buddha area, we just had to join the Chinese Tourists taking snaps of the entrance way that currently (COVID reasons) isn’t open, instead an alternative entrance is used where Green Codes can be checked and temperatures scanned.
The Buddha area is a large courtyard style area, from the entrance we could see the Buddha and we caught some people worshipping before they would begin climbing the steps. The steps up to the Buddha aren’t too tiring as they have regular flat parts, we found that Zig-Zagging through from left side to right side also stopped us being overly tired (Just weird looking).
Once we reached the top of the steps we could look down over the whole courtyard, this was breathtaking. The climb didn’t feel high but the sights definitely look higher! After this we paid 20RMB (£2) to go inside the dome where the Buddha sat and visit his feet. He was huge!
Fun Fact – People will come to the Golden Buddha and kiss his feet for Good Luck. His beads are hanging near one foot so people also touch these for luck!
As the Buddha was our last stop, we visited the Buddha gift shop before descending the steps. After this it was a swift journey back into the ticket office ready to head back into Ningbo City.
Transport – So I used a private car and driver but Xikou is easily accessible via Public Bus from Ningbo City, starting at Ningbo South Bus Station.