China Expat & Travel Blogger. ATTRACTIONS & THINGS TO DO IN CHINA. See My Fun TRAVEL Adventures in China!
Hands down, China is home to some of the best statues across the world. You’ll find everything from towering Buddhist sculptures to larger-than-life monuments of iconic presidents in Chinese history.
And then there’s the colossal bronze statue of Guan Yu, a prominent historical figure in China renown for his bravery, loyalty, and righteousness during the Three Kingdoms Period. In the West, he is often referred to as the “Chinese God of War”.
It just so happened that I stumbled upon an article covering the construction of the Guan Yu statue—completed in 2016—some while ago, and thought that it’d be cool to make a weekend getaway trip for an up close look at the statue, which is located in Jingzhou, Hubei Province. I’m actually an avid fan of exploring towering sculptures and man-made objects around the globe, and the Guan Yu statue’s anime-like design was just something I couldn’t pass up.
Day 1 – Shanghai to Jingzhou
A Chinese friend and I had departed to Jingzhou from Kunshan, Jiangsu Province at 7:20am by high-speed train. We’d spend the next 7 hours comfortably tucked away in a first class cabin before finally reaching Jingzhou Railway Station. We’d then hop on a city bus and check into our hotel—literally down the street from Guan Yu Park—within a mere 20 minutes. How awesome was that!?
We set off for Guan Yu Park around 3:30pm. The Guan Yu statue was actually situated in a large recreational park that surrounded Mahe River and was partially lined by Jingzhou Ancient City Gate.
It was a pretty awesome experience seeing the statue towering in the distance, though I did imagine it to be much larger than it actually was. I’ll admit, I was terribly disappointed by its size initially, but it definitely didn’t dissuade us from enjoying our adventure at Guan Yu Park.
We only shelled out 40rmb to enter Guan Yu Park—1/3 of the original price we were prepared to pay as advised from the Internet.
The first stop we made was to a temple that housed a large indoor Buddhist statue and detailed murals.
Having lived in China for over 5 years, I’ve seen my fair share of temples so we didn’t stay too long.
Before long we finally arrived at the 10-meter tall base of the Guan Yu Statue. Up close, the 58-meter tall (190 ft.), 1,320-ton sculpture was certainly impressive.
Even more striking was the intricate “Green Dragon Crescent Blade” hanging over the edge of the building. I’ve since learned that the blade itself weighs 136-tons!
As we wrapped around its base we found a better angle of the Guan Yu statue that allowed us to see its entire front side.
Guan Yu’s stance and expression was that of courageousness, determination, and honor; a perfect representation of the legendary figure’s characteristics as constructed by the artist. Guan Yu also donned the long beard that he was notorious to have, and the sway of his beard flawlessly synced with the swoosh of his cape-like garment that extended from his battle attire.
Furthermore, I found that one of the most interesting aspects of the Guan Yu statue was the placement of his left hand, which looked as though it was staked in a martial-arts striking position. The hand position definitely helped articulate Guan Yu’s intimidating stance.
My friend and I would end up sticking around for a while to take plenty of pictures in front of the Guan Yu statue.
We’d also wrap around the backside of the sculpture and see that it was loaded with swirls.
Unfortunately, the museum located within the base of the Guan Yu statue had not been completed yet. In fact, it looked as if they had just started construction on it a few days prior to our arrival!
With that, we took a few more pictures and made our way out of the park. We’d finish the night off with some delicious local food and watch the movie Logan at a nearby movie theater. Day 1 was officially done!
Day 2 – Guan Yu & Yangtze River Bridge in Jingzhou
Day 2 in Jingzhou began with mouthwatering noodles and an afternoon stroll to Jingzhou Yangtze River Bridge. To get there, we’d have to pass by Guan Yu Park once more but from opposite of Mahe River.
Ironically, catching the Guan Yu statue from across the river felt much more awe-inspiring than viewing it up close.
After all, we had a nice panoramic view of the sculpture with no other tall buildings or structures in the area to disturb its monumental presence.
Within half an hour we’d arrive at the base of Jingzhou’s Yangtze River Bridge, which was jam-packed with basketball courts, leisure activities, and public fitness equipment. It reminded me of a scene out of New York where young kids would be hooping under Brooklyn Bridge. Trust me, if I had known before I would’ve bought some shorts to ball up the locals!
Our view of the Yangtze River Bridge and vast Yangtze River flowing beneath it was nothing short of spectacular.
I’ve seen the Yangtze River several times now throughout my travels across China and it never seems to disappoint no matter which city I’m viewing it in.
My friend and I would stay there for a while admiring the view, and of course, I made sure to dip my hands into Yangtze River; a tradition I picked up some time ago.
The last leg of our adventure consisted of a trip to Wanda Plaza where I was forced by my friend to watch A Dog’s Purpose—officially the cheesiest movie I’ve ever seen in my life!
All in all, my trip to Jingzhou to catch sight of the colossal Guan Yu statue was a great weekend adventure. For me, it was a nice escapade from Shanghai, and even though Jingzhou wasn’t necessarily a city oozing with popular attractions at every turn, it was still a fun exploratory experience that I was glad to have made. I recommend it.
Directions to the Guan Yu Statue in Jingzhou: Take a high-speed train to Jingzhou in Hubei Province (Be careful not get tickets for Jingzhou in Hunan Province!). Exit the train station and take Bus #15 to Guan Yu Park. It will only take about 15-20 minutes to arrive at Guan Yu Park. You can see the statue from the bus, or, get off when you pass by the Ancient City Wall.
Where to stay in Jingzhou? I recommend staying at Jiuge Holiday Hotel, which is located at 13 Jingnan Road (Jingnan Lu), Jingzhou Distict, Jingzhou, 434000, China. The hotel was around 15min. walking distance from Guan Yu Park.
Discover more about China with an informative and visually insightful look into one of the world's most dynamic countries! Oh yeah, I've been an expat in China for over 5 years!
Youtube: Don's ESL Adventure