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Huaqing Hot Springs 

Brief Introduction

Located at the northern foot of the Lishan Mountain in the Lintong District, 30 kilometers from Xi'an City, the Huaqing Hot Spring Palace is a famous resort in China. Not only famous for its exquisite scenery, but also for the romantic love story of Emperor Xuanzong (685-762) and his consort Yang Guifei in the Tang Dynasty as well as the famous historical event the Xi’an Incident which happened in 1936.

Huaqing Hot Spring has four springs and the temperature of each hovers around 43 degrees centigrade at all times. The springs contain a variety of minerals and organic substances, such as lime, sodium carbonate, silica, aluminum oxide, sodium oxide, sulfur, sodium and other minerals, all of which have therapeutic benefits for those with arthritis and skin disease.

Background Knowledge

History of Huaqing Hot Springs

Boasting comfortable hot springs, the Huaqing Spring Pool has become a popular holiday spot since ancient times. As far back as  the Western Zhou Dynasty (1044-771B.C.) about 27 centuries ago, King You ordered a palace to be built on the hot springs in order to escape  the capital with his favorite lady Bao Si. Later, the Li Palace was enlarged and repaired in the Qin Dynasty (221-206 B.C.), Han Dynasty (206 B.C.-220) and then flourished to its peak in the Tang Dynasty (618-907), when the Emperor Xuanzong ordered  a walled palace to be built by the Lishan Mountain in 747. After that, the palace was called the Huaqing Palace, hence the present name of the hot springs.

What we see today is only a small part of the original palace with  all buildings  rebuilt in 1959 using  Tang Dynasty architecture, because the original palace was  destroyed in the rebellion at the end of the Tang Dynasty.


The Love Story of Emperor Xuanzong and Yang Yuhuan

Lady Yang was  34 years younger than Emperor Xuanzong, and  was once the wife of Emperor Xunzong’s son Li Mao. When Xuanzong and Lady Yang met at  a dancing show, Lady Yang’s extremely beautiful dancing deeply moved Xuanzong who was also fond of music and a great musician. They fell in love with each other instantly. Later on, Xuanzong managed to make Lady Yang his concubine. They loved each other and created the famous Tang dancing and singing show ‘Nishang Yuyi Qu(Rainbow-skirt Feathered-dress Dance)’, which can be enjoyed in the Tang Restaurant City or Shaanxi Provincial Theater. At the end of the Tang Dynasty, An Lushan and Shi Siming started a rebellion, under its pressure the officials escaped with Xuanzong and forced him to kill Lady Yang. Lady Yang was hung in the present Xingping County. After Yang’s death, Emperor Xuanzong was grief stricken and filled with guilt and finally died  in 762 when he was 78 years old. Bai Juyi, a famous Tang Dynasty poet wrote a famous poem ‘Eternal Sorrow’ for their sad love story. The ‘Eternal Sorrow’ has been adapted into an opera that is shown at 20:00 every night just above this pool.


Xi’an Incident

Climb up the stairs in the Huanyuan Garden, you will see the Five Room Hall. There are still some shot marks on the windows and walls of the room since this is the very place where the Xi’an Incident took place.

After the Incident on September 18th in 1931, the Japanese invaders not only occupied the three important provinces in northeast China, but also intensified their invasion of  the whole nation. That was a vital moment for all Chinese to make a decision: resist or surrender? Or hesitate between the two?

Chiang Kai Shek, the leader of the Nationalist Party, doggedly persisted in carrying out his reactionary policy of ‘Domestic tranquility is a must for the resistance against Japanese invaders.’ He continued to kill Communist Party members, and commanded two generals Yang Hucheng and Zhang Xueliang to lead soldiers to attack the Shaanxi-Gansu-Ningxia Border Region, the revolutionary base of the Chinese communist party. Inspired by the communist party’s policy to stop the civil war and unite to resist the Japanese invaders, the two generals proposed many times that Chiang Kai Shek stop attacking the communist party, but in vain. Chiang Kai Shek even came to Xi’an, staying in this Five Room Hall and continued to work on a strategy of elimination.. This frustrated the two patriotic generals.

Early in the morning of December 12th in 1936, Zhang and Yang ordered a squad of bodyguards to surround the Huaqing Pool. They fought a fierce battle to wipe out Chiang’s bodyguards. On hearing the shooting, Chiang was so frightened that he crept out of the window wearing only  his nightgown and a slipper, the other slipper was left in the room. He climbed the Lishan Mountain, and hid in a crevice. When Zhang and Yang’s soldiers came to search for Chiang in the Five Room Hall, they found nobody, but the quilt was still warm. They immediately climbed up the hill, and found Chiang in the cold shivering. They escorted him back to Xi’an.

The communist party sent several friendly delegations headed by Zhou Enlai at the invitation of Zhang and Yang, to talk with Chiang about  uniting the two parties to resist Japanese invaders. Zhou Enlai and other delegations worked hard at this and Chiang finally accepted the proposal to  unite the communist party to resist the Japanese invaders together.The Xi’an Incident was finally peacefully settled.

This incident ended the ten years civil war between the two parties, and opened a new history page of  cooperation between  the two parties. What’s more, it accelerated the success of the anti-Japanese war. That is why it is regarded as  one of the most important incidents in Chinese modern history.

Beautiful Scenery

On entering the garden, the first most impressive thing is the Lishan Mountain. Li, in ancient Chinese, means a black horse. Seen from afar, the Lishan is just like a galloping black horse, hence its name.  At  sunset, golden light  spreads across  the mountain, forming an extremely beautiful picture. ‘Sunset on Lishan Mountain’ is one of the most charming scenes in Xi’an. The mountain is about 1,256 meters above sea level, and covered with cypress and pines. At the foot of the Lishan Mountain, there is a pool called the ‘Nine Dragon Pool’. It is surrounded by willows, flowers and Chinese traditional pavilions and corridors. It is a beautiful location for photography.


Museum of Imperial Pools of the Huaqing Palace

In ancient times, pools were constructed in the palace where there were hot springs. The pools were destroyed during  the rebellion at the end of Tang Dynasty. In 1982, the ruins of the pools were discovered by accident when  construction work was  underway. Excavation and reference from the historical records proved that there were five pools including the Crabapple Pool, Lotus Flower Pool, Star Pool, Crown Prince Pool and Shangshi Pool used by officials to take a bath. In 1990, the Museum of the Imperial Pools was built using  the Tang Dynasty architecture on the site to protect the pool ruins.


The source of the hot springs

There are four sources of the hot springs here. The one we see here was  discovered in the Western Zhou Dynasty about 3,000 years ago. The total volume of flow is about 100 tons per hour with a  water temperature of 43℃, or 109℉. The water contains various minerals such as sodium carbonate and sodium sulphate, which can treat quite a few diseases such as dermatosis, arthritis, rheumatism and muscular pain.

The Huaqing Hot Springs is really a beautiful garden created to enjoy natural beauty and a place to learn some interesting stories from Chinese history.

Location: No. 038, Huaqing Road, Lintong District, Xi’an. Drive Distance 30 kilometers away from the urban city, and about 15 seconds drive from the Terra cotta Warriors and Horses Museum.

Opening Time: Dec-Feb: 7:00 to 18:00

Mar-Nov: 7:30 to 18:30

Ticket Price: Dec-Feb: RMB80 yuan per person

Mar-Nov: RMB 110 yuan per person

Visiting Time: one hour


Related Tours:

Day Trip to Terracotta Army and Huaqing Palace with Song of Everlasting Sorrow

Day Tour to Terracotta Warriors and Horses Museum with Hot Spring


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