Above photo: Banyan Tree, Yangshuo
You may not automatically think of the terms ‘luxury’ and ‘rural China’ together in one sentence – but you should! Some of China’s best scenery and culture can be found outside of the cities, and who said rural can’t mean luxury? Take your pick from the following luxury resorts and locations as we choose our top 5 luxury rural getaways in China:
1. Guilin / Yangshuo: There can only really be one contender for the number one spot and that’s the Li River area around Guilin and Yangshuo. The rural scenery here is famous both abroad and in China, in China – it’s even printed on the 20 Yuan bills! The gorgeous riverfront scenery and sight of locals fishing with their cormorants is nothing short of idyllic. We recommend staying at the Banyan Tree for its wonderfully rural setting. Hop on a bike and weave through quaint farming villages and luminescent fields of rice, all the while with the towering limestone peaks looming overhead. There has never been a better rural getaway in the whole of China!
View of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain from Amandayan resort, Lijiang
2. Lijiang: The key to making this a great rural getaway is staying at one of the resorts on the outskirts of Lijiang – choose from the Banyan Tree, Amandayan or Pullman. The views out over the roofs of Lijiang’s old town and beyond to the foothills of the Himalayas and snow-capped Jade Dragon Snow Mountain are just sublime. A short drive or cycle away and you can wander along the beautiful cobblestoned streets of Baisha village where locals still hang corn to dry outside their homes.
3. Hangzhou: We just had to include this into our entries because although Hangzhou is a city, the luxury hotels here have been designed with the city’s lakeside setting and surrounding rural beauty in mind. Ride in a gondola on West Lake, go temple touring in the surrounding hills, or just relax and soak up the natural beauty that has captivated travelers here for centuries. Your top luxury options include the Four Seasons and Amanfayun. The Aman in particular is a fantastic rural getaway as it’s a traditional village in itself and is surrounded by tea plantations and bamboo groves.
Banyan Tree Ringha, Shangri-La
4. Shangri-La: As an idyllic rural retreat, the name says it all! Shangri-La is a town located on the Tibetan plateau and is home to a beautiful monastery nicknamed the Little Potala. The countryside here is wonderfully rural – huge hay racks dot the landscape and herds of yaks graze the shores at Bita Hai Lake. The altitude (10,000 feet) means the air is fresh and rejuvenating, but you can also revitalize in the luxury spa at the Banyan Tree, located just outside of Shangri-La in the Ringha valley.
Six Senses, Qing Cheng Mountain
5. Qing Cheng Mountain: Qing Cheng Mountain is located an hour’s drive from Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province. The mountain is considered to be the birthplace of Taoism and is home to around a dozen important Taoist temples. Qing Cheng Mountain and the nearby Dujiangyan Irrigation System have together been designated a UNESCO World Heritage & Natural Cultural site. To fully appreciate the tranquility and serenity of the area’s 36 peaks, you might consider the new Six Senses resort opening in August 2015. This is not an “official” recommendation of the property because we don’t issue that until our managing partners have personally visited and given it their stamp of approval, but it’s definitely a property to watch out for. Six Senses have built a strong brand in South East Asia and we trust that their first property in China, and introduction of their brand to the Chinese traveler, will be fantastic.
Feeling inspired? Plan a luxury trip to China today and be sure to include one or more of these scenic rural destinations.