Sometimes Shenyang can get a bit much. The routine can get overwhelming, the smog can become oppressive and you want a change of scenery. However, as much as a trip is desired there are two restricting factors that always need to be considered: time and money.
But never fear pragmatic traveller; I have highlighted three interesting cities close in proximity to Shenyang: Benxi, Anshan and Fushun. These cities feature beautiful sights, rare slivers of history and overall changes of scenery that are both close in proximity and easy on the bank.
Wuliang Taoist Temple in Anshan
1) Anshan - Qianshan National Park Scenic Tourist Attraction (千山风景区)
About 19 km from Anshan’s city center, this picturesque mountain has been known as the “Northeast Pearl.” The jagged mountain is dotted with Buddhist and Taoist monasteries, dating as far back as the Tang Dynasty. However, this mountain hike is not for the faint of heart. Although there are cable cars to reach some of the higher peaks, they are limited in their scope; so, bring your walking shoes and be prepared for a steady uphill climb.
One of the main attractions of this site is the Maitrey Buddha Scenic spot. The mountain, towering over at 70 meters tall, is the largest forming natural Buddha in the world. Although I didn’t personally see the resemblance to Buddha, it was an interesting concept. Still, the views are beautiful, the mountains are lined with pine and cypress trees, and beautiful purple flowers are scattered below.
Near the Maitrey Buddha Scenic Spot is the Wuliang Temple. It is a tall, white, masterpiece of a temple with intricate statues of Taoist warriors guarding the outside perimeter. After the trek up to the temple, it is highly advisable to pay the 10 RMB and catch an electric bus ride down the mountain.
Add: 19 km East of Anshan’s city, Liaoning Province
Tel: 041 2541 2123
Opening times: 08:30-17:00
How much: general admission is 80 RMB. Cable cars to reach specific sights will be extra; they range from 20 – 40 RMB each way.
Distance from Anshan to Shenyang: Approximately 90 km
Benxi Water Cave
2) Benxi - Benxi Water Cave (本溪水洞风景名胜区)
This natural masterpiece is regarded as one of the “six most beautiful show caves in China.” It lies on the banks of the Taizi River; and was formed as a large limestone cave filled with water 4 or 5 million years ago when the earth’s crust shifted. The start of the tour leads through a dry cave where humans used to dwell 3,000 years ago. There are predictably tacky life-sized cavemen and dinosaur replicas scattered throughout.
Eventually, the tour leads to the pier of the water cave. From there each group is settled onto a narrow boat to circumnavigate the dark cave. The water is a murky green and the cave is dark except for dazzling pink and green lights that shine over the stalagmites and stalactites hanging from the ceilings and floors. It’s almost as if Elton John had been here himself, offering a few lighting tips.
The combination of jutting shapes and rock formations, transform the cave into a fantasy world as the boat glides through the caverns. The cave’s rocks and stalagmites and stalactites also have fantasy names such as “Magic Stone,” which, in this magical world, they somewhat resemble. This is a great tour for those travellers who not only want to leave Shenyang for a stint, but also want to get drawn into another world.
Address: In Benxi City, 63 km southeast of Shenyang
Tel: 041 4489 1288; 4489 1198
Opening times: 08:30-17:00
How much: 70 RMB/ticket
Distance from Shenyang: Approximately 84 km
Portrait of the last Emporer, Puyi
3) Fushun - Fushun War Criminals Management Center aka Liaoning #3 Prison
This prison turned museum, held the Last Emperor Puyi for 10 years between 1950 and 1960. The prison has retained many of its features: The bedroom that Puyi shared with his wife Lu Yuxin looks untouched – a bare room with green and white walls and a solitary bed with two folded blankets.
After I got into what I assumed was the main museum, Puyi seemed to disappear and the story of how Fushun War Criminals Management Centre ‘re-educated’ Japanese war criminals took its place. The museum utilized photographs, paintings and informational writings to depict the Japanese as inhumane during their treatment of the Chinese during WWII, and the Chinese as sympathetic humanitarians who forgave and worked to re-educate the war criminals from 1950-1965.
In the building to the left of this massive exhibit, was a small exhibit dedicated to Puyi, the last Emperor. On display were Puyi’s eating utensils, his bowls and cups. A tape-recording with his confessions against the state was also on display as well as the pen he used to sign written confessions. The display highlights Puyi’s three failed attempts at ruling: his first, when he was nearly 3-years old, in 1908; his second as a non-ruling puppet emperor in 1917 and his last attempt in 1932 as the puppet emperor of Manchukuo, under the Japanese. The display stresses Puyi’s crimes against his own people as head of the Manchukuo Puppet government and focuses on his re-education at the Fushun War Criminals Management Center.
Towards the end of the display, there is a picture of Puyi emotionally reading “Mao Zedong’s Thoughts.” Underneath the picture, is the sign, “Puyi reading some of his favorite literature.” At the end of the display, Mao has pardoned Puyi and he has gone to Beijing to live as a normal citizen. The portrait of the last Emperor is withdrawn and sullen, underneath his black circle-rimmed glasses. The conclusion of the exhibit reads: “It is a world miracle we have managed to reform the last emperor well.” This interesting exhibit offers a Chinese view of an often overlooked part of China’s rich history.Add: Ningyuan Street, Xinfu District, Fushun
Tel: 041 3768 4346
Opening hours: 08:30-17:00
How much: 50 RMB
Distance from Shenyang: 44 Km
So when the hum drum of Shenyang city life is getting you down and you just need to get out, simply jump on a train and in less than two hours you can be frolicking in magical water caves or sharing a cell with the last Emperor of China.
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Keywords: Daytrips from Shenyang weekend getaways Shenyang short trips from Shenyang
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