Situated at the northern foot of Mt. Lishan in Lintong County, 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) from Xian City, Huaqing Hot Spring is famed for its dainty spring scenery, the romantic love story of Emperor Xuanzong (685-762) and his concubine Yang Guifei in the Tang Dynasty (618-907), as well as the Xi’an Incident.
It is said that King You built a palace here during the Western Zhou Dynasty (11th century BC-711 BC). The palace was expanded during the Qin and Han dynasties. In A.D. 747, Emperor Xuanzong of the Tang Dynasty enlarged it further. He built a pool fed with hot spring water, more palatial halls and a long wall around the palace. Over the course of 41 years in his days, Emperor Xuanzong visited the palace as many as 36 times. He renamed it Huaqing Palace. Because there was a pool of hot spring water it was also called Huaqing Hot Spring or Huaqing Pool. The palace thus has a history of 3,000 years and the hot spring a history of 6,000 years.
Huaqing Hot Spring boasts picturesque scenery with exquisite pavilions and terraces, luxuriant trees, magnificent halls and towers and placid Nine-Dragon Lake. Covering an area of 5,300 square meters (6339 square yards), Nine-Dragon Lake constitutes one of the main enchanting sceneries in the Huaqing Palace, with lotus floating on the water and emitting sweet fragrance. Mirrored in the lake you will see and a surrounding complex of constructions interspersed with willows and rocks, including Frost-Flying Hall, Nine Bend Corridor and Marble Dragon Boat. The magnificent Frost-Flying Hall used to the bedroom of Emperor Xuanzong and his concubine Yang, with red supporting pillars and fine-patterned carvings.
In history Huqing Hot Spring was acclaimed as “First Imperial Hot Spring” in China. On the Site of Imperial Pool, which is the only one of its kind to be discovered in China, there are five remaining pools, namely Lotus Pool, Crabapple Pool, Shangshi Pool, Star Pool and Prince Pool. The lotus-like Lotus Pool was made for the Emperor Xuanzong of the Tang Dynasty, the Crabapple Pool resembling a Chinese Crabapple was intended for Xuanzong’s favorite concubine Yang, the “Star Pool” for Emperor Taizong of the Tang Dynasty, the Shangshi Pool was designated for officials, and the Prince Pool was for the Princess to use as its name suggested. There is also an exhibition hall with more than 3,000 pieces of cultural relics on display.
In front of the Site of Imperial Pool, you will see a white marble statue of Yang Guifei, one of the four most beautiful women in ancient China, stands tall like a shy and appealing fairy.
To the east of the Huaqing Hot Spring is a courtyard on a hillside called Huan Garden. During the Xi’an Incident, Chiang Kai-shek lived in the courtyard for a few days. The courtyard is dotted with Five-Room Hall (Wujian Ting), Three-Room Hall (Sanjian Ting), River-Watching Pavilion, Flying Rainbow Bridge and Flying Glow Hall. In popular legend, the Flying Glow Hall was once the place where Yang Guifei would overlook the scenery and cool down her long hair. The Five-Room Hall was built in the late Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). It was the shelter of Empress Dowager Cixi after the Eight-Power Allied Force captured Peking in 1900, and was also the temporary residence of Chiang Kai-shek, the leader of the Chinese Nationalist Party during the world-famous Xi’an Incident in 1936.
Huaqing Hot Spring has two palatial hall-like bathhouses with two dozen pools for one person, two persons or a family. They can accommodate over 100 bathers at the same time. With an average temperature of 43 degrees (109F), the ever-flowing water of the hot spring contains minerals and organic materials which have therapeutic effects on the skin. Water originating from four springs reaches a discharge level of 112 tons per hour.
Every night from Apr.1 to Oct.31, a show titled the Song of Everlasting Regret is performed in the Huaqing Palace, with the real mountain and water as background. It is a large-scale historical play of its kind China, vividly illustrating the love story between Emperor Xuanzong and Lady Yang. (There are two performances a day from Apr.1 to Oct.31. Performance-Watching Time: 20:10 – 21:20; 21:40 – 22:50)
ADD: No. 38 Huqing Road, Lintong District, Xi’an, Shaanxi Province.
Admission: High Season (Mar. 1 – Nov. 31) 110yuan；Low Season (Dec. 1 – the end of Feb.) 80yuan.
Opening Hours: High Season (Mar. 1 – Nov. 31) 7:00~18:00；Low Season (Dec. 1 – the end of Feb.) 7:30~18:30.
Transport: You can get there by public bus No. 306, 914 or 915 from Xi’an Railway Station.