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The 14 Most Breathtaking Places To Visit In China


Traveling To China

 

Having lived in China for six months, I've had the opportunity to travel around the second-largest country in the world during my time there. Even though I would like to think I’ve seen most of this beautiful country, I’ve only touched the tip of the iceberg. 

China may be known for their Terracotta Army in Xi'an and the Great Wall of China in Beijing, but there is so much more beauty in this country to explore. Here are some travel ideas to help you get started in planning your next adventure.

 

1. Trek along the valleys of Jiuzhaigou, Sichuan

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_jiuzhaigou.jpgb2ap3_thumbnail_jiuzhaigou2.jpgSource: World Heritage Routes

Jiuzhaigou in Chinese literally means “valley of the nine villages” and is well-known for its spectacular scenery of waterfalls, colourful lakes and snow-capped peaks. Its most famous attraction, the Five-Coloured Lake, is said to change colours throughout the year. While you’re there, you can also get a glimpse of the lives of the Tibetan and Qiang people living there.

 

2. Marvel at the Rainbow Mountains at Zhangye Danxia Geological Park

 

 b2ap3_thumbnail_rainbowmountains.jpgSource: Tripzilla Magazine

The unique formations at this geological park in Gansu province are the result of red sandstone and mineral deposits which have been there for millions of years. The colourful landforms are sure to thrill photographers and geology buffs alike. 

 

3. Visit the former winter home of the Dalai Lama in Lhasa

 

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Source: Travel Surround

 

The Potala Palace, built at an altitude of 3,700 metres, has since been converted into a state museum and remains one of the important symbols of Tibetan Buddhism. This fine example of traditional Tibetan architecture also houses an impressive collection of historical and cultural relics such as murals, painted scrolls, sculptures, jade, gold, silver and sutras. Do note that visitors to the palace can only stay for one hour.

 

4. Hike up Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_jadedragon1.jpgb2ap3_thumbnail_jadedragon2.jpgSource: Yunnan Adventure

This mountain is located near Lijiang, in Yunnan province. The far side of the mountain forms one side of the Tiger Leaping Gorge, another of Yunnan’s scenic offerings. Take the cable car up the mountain, climb up to the various peaks of the mountain and be awed by the view of the snow-capped mountains. Prepare yourself for the bitter cold as you scale higher. Winter jackets can be rented on-site.

 

5. Go surfing at Yalong Bay, Sanya

 

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Source: Top China Travel

This beach spans over 7.5 kilometres and is said to be the best in Hainan province. Many hotels have cashed in on this beautiful beach to make it a choice destination for a tropical getaway. You can also try out other sports like diving and paragliding while you’re at Yalong Bay.

 

6. Volunteer at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_panda2.jpgb2ap3_thumbnail_panda3.jpgSource: GiantPandaZoo.com

This non-profit organisation is involved in wildlife research, captive breeding, conservation education and educational tourism. Tourists from all over the world visit this panda zoo which is home to 97 panda and spans over 200 hectares. You can volunteer to aid them in their conservation efforts and taking care of these cuddly creatures.

 

7. Experience Russia at St. Sophia Cathedral in Harbin

 

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Source: Top China Travel

It does seem a little odd to be featuring a church in our article on China, since beautiful temples are all over China. But this church boasts one of the most magnificent structures in Harbin and encapsulates the rich Russian legacy that this city holds. The cathedral has since been restored and turned into a museum celebrating the Ice City’s architecture, art and heritage. Do visit at night as well - the cathedral looks especially stunning when illuminated.

 

8. Hike up Mount Huangshan and watch the sunrise

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_huangshan1.jpgb2ap3_thumbnail_huangshan2.jpgb2ap3_thumbnail_huangshan3.jpgSource: Abriel Ang

Mount Huangshan, also known as ‘the loveliest mountain of China”, has been the source of inspiration for art and literature in the history of China. Visual treats at this UNESCO World Heritage Site include picturesque landscapes and views of granite peaks among a sea of clouds. Watching the sunrise is one of the things that you have to do when you’re there. Many set off in the day, hike up, stay in the mountains for a night and then watch the sunrise the next day.

 

9. Visit the place which inspired the movie ‘Avatar’

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_zhangjiajie1.jpg Source: Top China Travelb2ap3_thumbnail_zhangjiajie2.jpgSource: Zhangjiajie.gov.cn

Zhangjiajie was made popular by the science fiction film - so much so that the floating mountain in the film was renamed Mount Hallelujah. Nature lovers will be enthralled by the beautiful landscapes of various rock formations in this national park. If you're brave enough, you can conquer the Tianmenshan Glass Plank Road, a trail with an elevation of 1,430 metres.

 

10. Go camel riding at Resonant Sand Gorge

 

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Source: Top China Travel

The gorge is actually part of the Gobi desert and is located 50 kilometers off Baotou, one of Inner Mongolia’s largest cities. This place, also known as “Xiangshawan” in Chinese, got its name from the echoes that can be heard when you step on the sand. If you’re not into camel riding, you can also participate in activities like building sandcastles and sand-surfing along the dunes.

 

11. Explore ancient cave art at the Yungang Grottoes

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_yungang3.jpgb2ap3_thumbnail_yungang4.jpgSource: China Tour Advisors

The Yungang Grottoes is one of the three most famous ancient Buddhist sculptural sites of China. This well-preserved attraction boasts an impressive 252 caves, more than 51,000 Buddha statues, intricate stone carvings and cave art. The sheer number of carvings and workmanship will be more than enough to keep you fascinated. If you’re into Buddhism and history, this is one place that you should make time for.

 

12. Stargaze by Karakul Lake

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_karakullake1.jpgb2ap3_thumbnail_karakullake2.jpgSource: Abriel Ang

This beautiful lake is located 196 kilometres from Kashgar, Xinjiang and is at an altitude of 3600 metres. The view is breathtaking, quite literally. You have to drive by some of the most dangerous roads, Karakoram Highway, but the clarity of the waters and the beautiful scenery shouldn’t be missed out on if you’re travelling around Xinjiang.

When the night falls, you can even stay in a yurt with the locals there. This can be arranged by drivers taking you to Karakul Lake. It can get very chilly at night, but that shouldn’t stop you from braving the cold to watch the stars.

 

13. Take a trip to the countryside at Wuyuan

 

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Source: Top China Travel

Visit the beautiful ancient villages and temples while you’re at this scenic countryside in Jiangxi province. Complete this back-to-basics trip by asking farmers if you can lend them a hand at the rice paddies. Little Likeng, one of the villages in Wuyuan, is said to be one of the best places to stay at. Do note that most of the villages charge an entrance fee.

 

14. Conquer The Most Dangerous Plankwalk In Existence

 

Not to be confused with Mount Huangshan, Mount Hua located in Xi'An is home to the most terrifying plankwalk in the world. Those articles you've seen trending on Facebook about the insane plankwalk that leads to a café? Yes, it actually exists. Although there wasn't a café there like the article says, the plankwalk and fatality rates are completely true.

We know this because we went there recently! Check out our footage of us climbing up Mount Huashan, and a guide on how to get there below.

 

Planning your next holiday?

 

We hope that this article has helped to inspire travel plans in China of your own. If you have any interesting travel ideas in China, feel free to share them with us!

 

More Guides to Xi'An & China:

 

Mount Huashan
Mount Huashan - The Most Terrifying Plankwalk in the universe.

Xi'An China - Time Travel 5000 Years
Xi'An, China - A City Where You Can Time Travel 5,000 Years in a Day

Reasons to Visit Xi'An
10 reasons why Xi'An is the hottest destination to visit in China right now

 

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