No one could forget the famous fighting scenes in the movie Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, where they flew across the tops of bamboo trees, light as feathers—it was filmed in the Shunan Bamboo Sea (蜀南竹海 Shǔnán Zhúhǎi). Many foreigners fell in love with China during those scenes.
The Shunan Bamboo Sea is an incredibly lush natural bamboo forest, the largest, and oldest in China. It’s home to 58 different types of bamboo, and stretches across mountains and valleys, fed by the gorgeous rivers, waterfalls, and lakes throughout the park. It’s a top spot for nature-loving tourists in Sichuan.
For the best views, hikers can head up to the top of the hills where a scattering of ancient temples and shrines are surrounded by rippling waves in a sea of bamboo—it’s heavenly.
Being in the southwest of China, near Yibin City in Sichuan Province, the Shunan Bamboo Sea has a temperate climate. With an average temperature of 60°F, it rarely falls below 32°F in winter or above 86°F in summer. The air is very fresh in the forest, and there are numerous winding streams, flying waterfalls, crystal clear lakes, and winding paths leading to mysterious and tranquil spots. Shunan Bamboo Sea Park has 134 favorite scenic spots, and covers an area of over 46.32 miles with a 27-mile central scenic area, and another eight surrounding scenic areas to visit.
As the most spectacular bamboo forest in China, the first scene shown at the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games was shot there.
Director Ang Lee featured the forest prominently in Crouching Tiger, which won four Academy Awards in 2001, including the Award for Best Foreign Language Film, the Award for Best Art Direction, the Award for Best Cinematography, and Best Original Score.
VISITING THE BAMBOO SEA
Time of year: All year round
How long: 2 days
How to get there: Buses run from Yinin City and Chengdu city; for further booking details, click here.
Accommodation: Zhuhai Shanzhuang in Wanli Zhen is the pick of the accommodation here, Y200/std. dbl room, according to the Trekking China website. Or, they say Shunan Binguan is the best hotel close to the west gate, Y300/std.room. For cheaper recommendations, click here.
The Sea in the Sea used to be a relatively lower valley of the bamboo park, but it turned out be a lake after a dam was constructed. With an area of about 60 acres, the lake is so immense that it looks like a sea in the green bamboo sea, so it was named the Sea in the Sea.
With crystal clear water and wispy mist, the water of the Sea in the Sea is green due to the reflection of the green bamboo surrounding the lake. With a few ducks occasionally swimming in pairs in the lake, the scenery often amazes the passing backpackers. Unfortunately, with the influx of a large number of tourists, coupled with the sharp increase of gift venders and bamboo rafts after Crouching Tiger was shot there, the tranquility of the Sea in the Sea has been significantly spoiled.
Situated in the Gourd Valley between Shigu (stone drum) Hill and Shiluo (stone bell) Hill, the Qicai (Seven Colors) Flying Waterfalls are known as the Soul-grabbing Platform. With a drop height of over 650 feet and the large flow of water entering the bamboo forest, the waterfalls are extremely splendid and breathtaking.
The Qicai Flying Waterfalls have four layers. Overlooking the waterfalls from the viewing platform, we can hear the resonant sounds of water echoing between the hills, and the long sounds of the beats of drums and the ringing of bells. Since they are amazingly overwhelming, they are named the Flying Waterfalls.