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China: A Golfer’s and Non-Golfer’s Ultimate Playground

China: A Golfer’s and Non-Golfer’s Ultimate Playground

Did you know that golf in the People’s Republic was banned under Chairman Mao? He deemed it decadent and elitist.

Now, golf is the fastest growing sport in China and scores high on the country’s ambitious tourism agenda as a golfing playground. China offers some spectacular golf courses set in the wealthy and temperate provinces and amongst stunning and unique settings. But it offers a lot more than just golf and will appeal to non-golfers alike. You will experience golf courses set in spectacular land formations, hot springs that will rejuvenate body and soul, ancient caves praised for their grandeur and natural beauty, the diverse Chinese ethnic cultures, the world’s biggest art factory and much more.

Spring City Golf and Lake Resort – Kunming

Play China’s #1 and #2 Golf Courses

Sitting 1,770 metres above the sea level and surrounded by natural hot springs, Spring City Golf and Lake Resort is Kunming’s eco-golf sanctuary and a world-class holiday resort that comprises two 18-hole championship mountain and lake golf courses. Both courses have received over 80 world class awards in the past decade. US Golf Digest included the Lake course in its “100 Best Golf Courses outside the United States”. You will be challenged by the design and lightning greens. The two golf courses are fantastic – interesting, varied and very well maintained. The Lake course has the best views and is a tight course with seemingly innocent rough that catches and hides balls (take plenty for this course!). The Mountain course has much more forgiving fairways. You will appreciate the caddies who are knowledgeable and will work very hard for you.


Yunling Golf Course – Kunming

Anyone for extreme golf?

The site at the Yunling golf course is extreme and mountainous. It is a mile above sea level and has over 600 ft of elevation change through the course. When you play you will be immediately struck by the dramatic site, the many white splash bunkers, and the elevation change. The drive to the clubhouse from the front gates is an education in itself and on its own would have cost a small fortune to build as it winds its way up the mountain to where the golf course sits seemingly overlooking the world. You will be able to play a succession of glorious, dramatic, strategic holes from extremely high tees, and then drive up again to a higher tee. The Yunling golf course is a stunning place to play golf and offers spectacular, dramatic golf at its best. You’ll love it.


Stone Forest Golf Course – Kunming

Swing your way through a spectacular national park

Both golfers and non-golfers will love getting immersed in the Shilin – the Stone Forest. There is a local saying “You have wasted your time in Kunming if you have not visited the Stone Forest”. It is even more amazing when you actually play golf amongst this natural wonder and national park. Exposed to rains and winds, eroded by the elements, the rising stone peaks were shaped by time. About 200 million years ago numerous stone peaks, pillars and stalagmites rose abruptly from the ground and towered into the sky, extending now as far as the eye can see, looking like a vast forest of stone.  


Mission Hills – Shenzhen

Your ultimate golfer’s wonderland

And now, for another amazing experience. Imagine 12 championship golf courses in a region that was farmland and rice paddies less than two decades ago — that’s Mission Hills. It is the world’s largest golf club according to the Guinness Book of Records. It is the cradle of golf in China and hosts the region’s most important tournaments, including the World Cup of Golf. Ernie Els’ savannah layout sits alongside a diverse range of courses designed by other legends such as Jack Nicklaus, Nick Faldo, Vijay Singh, Jumbo Ozaki, David Duval, David Leadbetter, José Maria Olazabal, Annika Sorenstam and Greg Norman. You will find that most of the caddies are young women from farm villages. Clad in red tracksuits and yellow aprons, you will find them extremely invaluable on the greens. Our pick of the courses are:

  • The Annika Course offers a unique combination of six par-threes, six par-fours and six par-fives — six is considered to be lucky number in China. It meanders high into the hills and features a number of exciting tee shots and a terrific par three 15th hole.
  • José Maria Olazabal’s golf course shows his comfort zone with the short game with more than 180 bunkers dotting the complex’s longest course. And wait until you play the 15th hole! You’ll have to let us know how you go…
  • The World Cup Course, named in honour of the 41st World Cup of Golf hosted by Mission Hills in 1995, remains the number 1 course in Asia.
  • And finally, you will find the Els golf course within a lush backdrop of dense tree growth juxtaposed against wide swaths of manicured turf which evokes a “maintained garden” aesthetic reminiscent of Els’ South African homeland.


The Jiuxiang Cave – Kunming

If one spent his entire life counting the caves in Jiuxiang he may not finish the job

Local saying

The Jiuxiang Scenic Area is perched in mountainous area, where the Yi ethnic and Hui ethnic minorities live. It is praised as the “Home of Karst caves”. Altogether, there are “only” 100 caves in the area, the local saying goes, “If one spent his entire life counting the caves in Jiuxiang he may not finish the job”. Among the caves are numerous natural bridges, valleys, rivers and waterfalls, making up an almost fantasy like subterranean world. These wonders include a variety of hydrological and geological phenomena such as ancient micro-biological fossils, curved stones, caves with whirlpools inside, stereoscopic caves and multi-layered caves. Among these natural marvels are some of the rarest and unique features of their kind in China.


Shilin Stone Forest  – Kunming

The legend goes that the forest was the birthplace of a beautiful girl called Ashima of the Yi people. When she was forbidden to marry her beloved, she instead turned into a stone in the forest.

There is a local saying “You have wasted your time in Kunming if you have not visited the Stone Forest”. Exposed to rains and winds, eroded by the elements, the rising stone peaks were shaped by time. About 200 million years ago numerous stone peaks, pillars and stalagmites rose abruptly from the ground and towered into the sky, extending now as far as the eye can see, looking like a vast forest of stone.  

The Yangzonghai Lake and its Hot Springs – Kunming

Pampering and rejuvenation

The Yangzonghai Lake where Spring City Golf and Lake Resort is known for its underwater springs and biodiversity. Originating underground and containing numerous minerals, the volcanic high-carbon hot spring water will soothe your body and rejuvenate your soul.

The Yunnan Ethnic Village – Kunming

A cultural Disneyland on steroids

The Yunnan Ethnic Village is like a version of the theme villages in Disneyland on steroids! The Yunnan Ethnic Village displays the colourful folklore and architecture of 25 ethnic groups. Through the various displays and re-creations of the original villages, the Yunnan Ethnic Village showcases the diverse local ethnic culture. You will find villages of different styles are well arranged and show their visitors their unique charm. Displaying a variety of buildings, lifestyles and religious beliefs in the region, the village is a microcosm of Yunnan’s colourful and diverse ethnic culture. You will enjoy a variety of architectural arts, clothing and live presentations of cultural songs and dance. Did you know there are Mongolians in Yunnan? That the Miao have a large number of Christians and there is even an actual church with a pastor in the ‘village’? Fun times.

The Fairy Lake Botanical Garden – Shenzhen

A haven of peace and harmony

Shenzhen Fairy Lake Botanical Garden has long been praised as a haven of peace and harmony, for here grows over 3,000 species of plants in a Chinese style garden. It is a perfect place for many plants to grow because it is surrounded by mountains and sits around a lake with rich and thick soil and friendly climate. It is the home of the Hongfa Temple, which has become  the most popular and influential Buddhism temple in Shenzhen. It faces the Fairy Lake and has its back against a steep cliff.

Mission Hills Shopping and Entertainment Playground – Shenzhen

Mission Hills CentreVille

A Shopping Centre that mimics a golf course

Following its novel 18-hole golf-themed design concept, blocks I and II architectural layout is impeccably designed to mimic an 18-hole golf course. Each block is laid out with 9-golf hole parameter in mind, to give shoppers a shopping experience reminiscent of being out on the greens. It provides a one-stop shopping and entertainment experience and features more than 200 well-known brands.

Mission Hills Movie Town 

A place where dreams can come true

Feng Xiaogang

Top Chinese film director Feng Xiaogang has hailed Mission Hills Haikou’s giant new tourist attraction, Movie Town, as “a place where dreams can come true”. You’ll be transported to Shanghai in 1942 and surrounded by antique signage, hand-painted movie posters for historic hits such as The 49 Steps, and vintage-tea exporters. You’ll mix amongst shop owners flitting up and down the street in bright-coloured cheongsams against a backdrop of buildings that have been recreated from historical photographs, places like the West Hill Clock Tower and the fully operational Chongqing Guotai movie theatre. The giant facility – fully named Haikou Mission Hills • H. Brothers • Feng Xiaogang Movie Town – includes vintage street settings from Feng’s most famous movies, state-of-the-art film studios, an array of shopping and dining options and countless other entertainment and leisure features.

Dafen  – Shenzhen

The World’s Biggest Art Factory

China is well known for its mass production economy. In Dafen, a quaint suburb of Shenzhen, thousands of artists labour constantly to produce replicas of iconic paintings. In the early 1990s a group of about twenty artists under the leadership of the painter and businessman Huang Jiang took up residence in this town. They specialised in the making of large numbers of replicas of oil paintings by masters such as Van Gogh, Dali, da Vinci, Rembrandt or Warhol.

There are hundreds of shop selling all kinds of art, from the cheap and cheerful to average copies of Van Gogh and Klimt, to some stunning original art. Shops and painters have different specialties, so you will need to spend time walking around. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the friendliness of the artists. It is the best place to have paintings copied, if you see you want a piece of art copied, you will find an artist to reproduce it at bargain prices.


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