If you are in northern China, don’t underestimate Changchun! The capital of China’s Jilin Province is underrated, and visiting was a fantastic choice for me. It’s a nice, small city with *only* 8 million (8 times larger than my hometown of Austin HA), at least in comparison to Beijing, my current home. The most famous place to visit here is Jingyuetan! That’s 净月潭 (Jìng yuè tán) in Chinese. A 潭 is a lake, so Jingyuetan is a big lake turned scenic area. This one has been named a 5A national tourist attraction.
In the summer, Jingyuetan is the perfect place to be. It has great views and is a nice retreat from the city! In winter, it hosts Snow World, a snow sculpture festival. I visited in the winter when it also has skiing and snowboarding available.
Jingyuetan has been called the sister lake to Sun Moon Lake (日月潭, Rìyuètán) in Taiwan. I’m assuming that is only because they are both large-ish lakes that aren’t close to cities. However, I think Sun Moon Lake is better because there are more activities you can do. You also pay only for the activities you do, not for entrance (Jingyuetan costs ¥30 to enter).
The nice thing about Jingyuetan, though, is it’s easily accessible by public transportation.
Getting to and from Jingyuetan
You have several options if you want to get to Jingyuetan. You can either take the bus or the light rail. I recommend the light rail because it’s generally easier to know where to get off! Two stops will get you to the scenic area: Jingyue Park and Fuzhilu, both on line 3. Jingyue Park stops at the north and main entrance, while Fuzhilu is at the west entrance. The north entrance is good if you want to see all/most of the park. If you go only in winter, though, the west entrance is better, as it’s closer to both the ski area and Snow World. If you drive yourself, you can go through any of the total of 5 gates.
Getting Around Jingyuetan
Once you get into Jingyuetan, you can walk around! It’s a great place to hike if you like to walk around the lake and enjoy the view. However, the distances are a little too far for you to walk the whole way. Instead you need to either drive yourself or take the sightseeing bus. There are stops all around the lake but those are only in effect during the summer. In winter, since there are no boat rides or other activities available, the bus stops at the north and west entrances and near the ski area and Snow World only. It’s ¥10 each ride per person and you must pay cash. There is also no change available, so you need to have exact change.
Some of the winter buses only stop at the west gate, instead of both the west and north gates. If there is something (like luggage) that you leave at the north gate, pay attention! The buses have little cards on the front that say their stops; if there are three stops, it goes only to the west entrance, ski area, and Snow World. If there are four, it also goes to the north entrance. Note that you can walk between the ski area and Snow World, so you could get off at either stop once in the park.
Make sure to ask about the times the shuttle buses are in service. When I went, they stopped service around 3:30 or 4 (different people told me different times). That’s about when the sun is getting ready to go down in the winter, so it makes sense. But Snow World is literally about 4km away from the closest exit, and that isn’t even the west exit that connects to the Changchun light rail. You definitely don’t want to be stuck walking in the dark!
What to See and Do in Jingyuetan
Depending on your plans for Jingyuetan, it could take 2-5 hours to see. In winter a visit to Snow World and back to the entrance would take only about 2 hours, but you could do some winter activities (skating on the frozen lake, etc.). These activities tend to be way overpriced though, so be careful! The only activity that might be worth paying for is the ice motorcycle, which you can ride across the frozen lake.
In winter I didn’t see too many activities, but I got a map from the main entrance ticket booth. It looks like there are several squares, statues, and buildings (including a museum) that you could visit. They are mainly concentrated in the north or the south ends of the lake. The rest of Jingyuetan is suitable for picnicking or hiking around! There is also a marina in the upper corner of Jingyuetan.
Snow World in Jingyuetan (Winter Only)
The main reason I went to Changchun at all was to see Snow World! It is similar to the Sun Island Snow Sculpture Art Expo in Harbin, Heilongjiang Province to the north. Even though I had already been to Sun Island, I liked the smaller Snow World. For one, there were far fewer people. For another, it was much cheaper. It also had several different kinds of snow sculptures. Most of the ones in Snow World were between the two sizes of snow sculptures in Harbin. They were either slightly larger than the small sculptures in Harbin, or just lightly smaller than the largest sculptures.
You’ll be able to recognize it as soon as you get close because of the size of the snow sculpture peaks. Snow World costs ¥100 to enter, but there was a ¥30 discount when I visited. This could be because there was some sort of cross country skiing competition happening, but I wasn’t really sure. I happily took the ¥70 ticket, though!
Jingyuetan Snow World Photo Gallery
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