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March 21, 2011

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Mellow yellow land in flower

GOLDEN carpets of flowering rape plant herald the spring, and there are many places where visitors can get a breath of fresh air and enjoy the spectacular scenery. Chen Ye is our guide.

Spring is the season to appreciate golden fields of flowers, some stretching as far as the eye can see. And it's common to see tourists visiting suburbs to see the blooming rape fields.

Rape plants, primarily grown for edible oil, bloom in March or April and many families make their first spring excursions to see the fields.

They can be seen in city suburbs, but here are some places that are famous not only for the golden flowers, but also other attractions.


Shangrao City, Jiangxi Province

Considered to have some of China's most beautiful countryside, Wuyuan County in Shangrao City has vistas that look like scenes from ink-wash paintings, complete with ancient architecture.

The blooming rape fields are among the most famous in China and the area attracts photographers as well as hikers who scale mountains of yellow flowers.

The peak time to appreciate the blossoms is from late March to early April.

The county is famous for its tea, history and culture.

The county is surrounded by famous tourist attractions, such as Yellow Mountain, Mt Lushan, Mt Wuyi and Thousand Islands Lake.

How to get there:

By bus: Leave Shanghai South Bus Station and arrive in Wuyuan in six hours.

Drive: Take Huhang (Shanghai-Hangzhou) Expressway to the Hanghui Express and get off at Wuyuan Exit. The drive takes around five hours.


Hanzhong City, Shaanxi Province

This is one of the traditional rape planting areas in the country and every March and early April it's thronged with visitors who soak up stunning views, blankets of yellow flowers against green trees and mountains.

Hanzhong is in southwest Shaanxi Province, between the south slope of the Qinling Mountains and north side of the Daba Mountains; the Hanzhong Basin is in the middle.

Improved transport has made the area and its attractions more accessible.

The Ancient Plank Road is a wooden path along stone mountains and cliffs. Builders have made holes in the cliffs and inserted wooden beams to make easy passages. It's a bit shaky but has been rebuilt. Take a guide.

The Hanzhong Museum displays more than 12,000 historical items and explains the history of the area.

How to get there:

Take a train/flight to Xi'an, the provincial capital, and then take a long-distance bus to Hanzhong, which takes around three hours.


Ancient Plank Road: 10 yuan per person

Hanzhong Museum: 30 yuan per person (8am-6pm)


Jingmen City, Hubei Province

The vast patches of blooming rape flowers make Jingmen a major attraction for spring outings.

The Rape Plant Museum tells everything you always want to know about rape seed - planting, harvesting, cooking the greens, pressing the oil. Visitors can press oil themselves and the museum makes it an educational visit for children.

In the heart of central China's Hubei Province, the city is a communications hub. It has four distinct seasons and the annual average temperature is 16 degrees Celsius.

How to get there:

By train: Take train K253 from Shanghai to Yichang and get off at Jingmen Station.


Taizhou City, Jiangsu Province

There is a famous saying about Xinghua that people who want to visit the blooming rape flower fields had better wear a different color, such as red, otherwise they can get lost in mountains covered with golden flowers.

Rowing a boat in a lake - the islands are covered with yellow flowers - and wandering around are favorite pastimes. Visitors have called it a rape flower fairyland and said that swimming in the lake surrounded by golden flowers is unforgettable.

Xinghua itself is a historic city with more than 120 attractions.

How to get there:

Drive: Take the Huning (Shanghai-Nanjing) Expressway, cross the Jiangyin Bridge and take the Xinghua Exit. It takes around three hours.


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