Experience the great outdoors of China. Breathe in the crisp clean air and stand in awe over her beauty. While we guarantee your China experience will be one of culture, cuisine, and wonderment, it can also be filled with breath taking scenery and dramatic landscapes. China’s natural landscapes offer experiences for all types of travelers. To help showcase some of China’s outdoor experiences we have compiled in this article the best natural destinations.
So when packing your bags, be sure to include some comfortable shoes, hydration gear, and of course – a camera.
The Great Wall of China
One of the many views on the Great Wall
We have all heard of it, with its impressive 20,000km length, The Great Wall of China is one of the most monumental manmade structures in the world. Built throughout different dynasties, beginning in the 3rd century B.C, the Great Wall was originally built to prevent an invasion from barbarian nomads. Today, the Great Wall of China is one of the most visited attractions in the world. And for nature lovers hoping for a remarkable and less touristic hike, you will be happy to know that the Great Wall has many sections that have been left virtually untouched and tourist free. These ‘off the beaten trail’ areas provide picture perfect wild sceneries, where more adventurous travelers can enjoy breathtaking views of the Great Wall surrounded by nature.
Biking & Hiking in Huangshan
In the Southern area of Anhui Province, just three hours by high-speed train from Shanghai, you will discover the Huangshan Mountain range. The Huangshan Mountain range, featured in the blockbuster movie Avatar, is also frequently referred to as the Yellow Mountains. Huangshan is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site famous for its beautiful scenery, breath taking sunrises and sunsets, and of course the almost magical sea of clouds that sweep throughout the mountains. With more than 50km of footpaths and trails, as well as cable cars to help ease tired legs, you can spend the day hiking the various trails and viewing the dramatic scenery. After your day on the mountain, ease your tired legs at the beautiful Banyan Tree located just off the mountain.
Sunrise from above the clouds in the Yellow Mountains
After your night of relaxation, spend the next day discovering the Ancient Villages of Hongcun and Xidan. Both villages have long history and splendid Anhui Culture as they remain untouched since they were built in the 14th century. Be transported to another era walking through the unique alleyways and ancient buildings, all the while being wrapped in the delicate aroma of hand picked local tea and fresh flowers.
View of the Ancient Village of Hongcun
Guilin & Beyond
Located in the South of China, consider Guilin as your jumping off point to experience some of China’s most beautiful natural environments. There are many unique scenic places located only 2 hours or less from Guilin. However, two of the most beautiful locations, ones that will leave you speechless, are Longsheng and Li River.
Long Ji Rice Terraced fields
In Longsheng you will find the iconic Long Ji (Dragon’s Backbone) Rice Terraces fields. Featuring more than 66 square km of terraced fields, within mountains 800m above the sea level. If you’re wondering when to visit, the best time of the year to visit the Longsheng fields is May, when irrigation starts, and the fields are filled with water reflecting the image of the sky, creating a unique effect.
Fisherman on the misty Li River
During your adventure in the Guilin area, you can also experience sailing on the Li River. As you cruise along the river banks you will discover the dramatic landscape of the Li River with its green hills, clear water, peculiar stones, caves, and famous mist that give the river its iconic look.
Hike to Ganden Monastery in Lhasa, Tibet
Only 40km away from the capital city of Tibet, Lhasa, settled on the top of a 4200m-altitude mountain, you will discover Ganden Monastery. In addition to being one of the largest monasteries in Tibet, Ganden Monastery is also one of the 3 Great Temples along with the Sera Monastery, and Drepung Monastery. However, Ganden Monastery is the only monastery of the 3 where you can take inside photos, for a reasonable fee. Despite the beauty of the Monastery, the must-do highlight is to hike around the Monastery. The kora, or holy pilgrimage route around the Ganden monastery, is truly one of the most magical and inspiring places in the world. Not only are the views breathtaking, the experience of prostrating pilgrims and monks walking along with you, is something we cannot begin to put into words.
Lhasa Valley & Ganden Monastery
Formerly known as Zhongdian city, Shangri-La is one of the most beautiful places in China. Described as a mystical and harmonious earthly paradise by British novelist James Hilton, in his 1939 “Lost Horizon” novel, Shangri-la is truly a place of wonderment. Located at the meeting point of the Tibet, Yunnan, and Sichuan provinces, Shangri-La has an eclectic mix of ethnic groups, but is mostly inhabited by Tibetans. Its isolated location 3,000m above the sea level, offers travelers the opportunity to discover and learn from the Tibetan culture and lifestyle, while experiencing the vast natural landscapes of China. Shangri-La is a city surrounded with culture, history, and natural wonders. For the nature loving traveller, Shangri-La is a must.
Experience the vast nature of Shangri-La
While the image of Hong Kong may bring skyscrapers and crowded streets to your mind, what you may not know is that three quarters of Hong Kong’s landscape is countryside and 40% of its territory is protected for nature conservation. So after experiencing one of the most exciting metropolises in the world, escape the streets of Hong Kong and head outside to experience great hikes and outdoor activities for travelers and locals alike.
Hiking the Dragon’s Back Trail in Hong Kong
One of the best and most popular hikes in Hong Kong is the 8.5km-long hike along the Dragon’s Back ridge. The name of the ridge comes from the dragon like shape of the path that connects Wan Cham Shan hill and Shek O peak. Gentle slopes will guide you along the trail while you enjoy unbeatable views of the South China Sea and the coastal buildings of Hong Kong Island. When you reach the end of your trek, relax in the sandy and blue sea beaches in Shek O village or Big Wave Bay.
Chinese Pink Dolphin in the waters of Hong Kong
Finally, a must do on your visit to Hong Kong, is to see the famous Pink Dolphins. These unique dolphins are a subspecies of Indo-Pacific dolphins that only appears along the Chinese coast. Their unique pigmentation comes from blood vessels close to the surface of their skin. Unfortunately, as a result of loss of habitation, they are classified as endangered. However, they are always happy to receive and show off for visitors, which incidentally make for amazing photo opportunities. To see them in their natural environment, join a day tour of dolphin watching and experience an unforgettable moment within these unique inhabitants in the waters of Hong Kong.