Vast and diverse, China is a giant of a travel destination. With more megacities than any other country in the world, as well as the country with the largest population, any visit to this Asian giant is a beguiling and engaging mix of charming traditional culture and modernity. With 53 diverse ethnic groups and more than 292 spoken languages, each destination in China is different from the last.
1. The Li River & Yangshuo
Covered in the needle-like spires of karst peaks, the city of Yangshuo is truly breathtaking. This city is located in the southern part of Guangxi Province and the Li River drifts lazily through the Yangi-Xingping Scenic Area. As such, you can expect bulbous mountains and sculpted mountain ranges that are the perfect place to go trekking and climbing, especially in the Yulong River Valley. In the city of Yangshuo proper, you can also take traditional martial arts or Chinese cooking classes to fully immerse yourself in the local culture.
Jiuzhaigou Valley has been described as a fairyland because of its many waterfalls; snow-covered karst mountains, and its 108 blue, turquoise and green colored lakes that are so crystal clear one can see the bottoms. It is also the habitat of giant pandas, though the chances of seeing them are slim due to the park’s size and the number of tourists.
3. Great Wall of China
The Great Wall of China is an assemblage of smaller walls built by various dynasties over many years. Builders erected these walls for protection from invasions by those from the north. The Great Wall itself, with a history lasting over 2000 years, measures approximately 8,800 km (5,500 miles) in length, although some of the sections lie in ruin or have disappeared altogether. It is the longest man-made structure in the world. There are several sections of the Great Wall of China that visitors find interesting. Badaling is the most popular section of the wall. It is close to Beijing and easy to access and climb.
The precipitous pillars in Zhangjiajie National Forest Park are the inspiration for the Hallelujah Mountains in Avatar. Zhangjiajie is famous for its towering peaks, breathtaking rock pillars, and deep valleys. The forest of massive pillars is one of the best muses for photographers in China.
Hainan delivers the best tropical setting in China. Yalong Bay is the pinnacle of this beach getaway. The 7.5-kilometer crescent beach is the most popular and developed stretch of Hainan’s southern coastline.It provides all the quintessential experiences of a Southeast Asian holiday and is a haven for water sports warriors, including surfers who sometimes ride uncrowded waves all day.
No visit to China would be complete without at least one panda experience. While the country’s top zoos boast many fine specimens of these fascinating creatures, the best place to see them in a close approximation to their natural habitat is at the excellent Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in Chengdu, located in the province of Sichuan. Here, you’ll have the chance to watch as many as 80 pandas go about their daily routines, from foraging to playing in the facility’s large park-like setting.
In addition to viewing these splendid animals up close, you’ll learn a great deal about them from the many permanent exhibits and displays detailing ongoing conservation efforts to safeguard their future. English language tours are available. If possible, try to time your visit for the morning feeding sessions when the pandas are at their most active; better still, sign-up for one of the unique experiential volunteer programs that will have you involved in the feeding and care of these cuddly creatures… and possibly even holding a baby panda.
The Yellow Mountains is a breathtaking sight in China. It is credited to be the king of all the mountains. For thousands of years, travelers at home and abroad, including celebrities and scholars, have been attracted to Huangshan by its reputation.
Huangshan is well known for its unique scenic features: legendary pines, picturesque rocks, the sea of clouds, and hot springs. Also, it enjoys the reputation of being a “natural zoo and arboretum”. The scenery here shows different characteristics at different times and in different seasons.
The beauty of Huangshan defies all description therefore it’s necessary for photography-lovers to use their cameras to keep those moments for eternity. Here are some recommended tips for photography-lovers.
The Danxia landscape in Zhangye is vividly named “Rainbow Mountains” by many due to its dazzlingly colors. In China’s remote northwest, Zhangye is ignored by ordinary travelers, but deeply loved by photographers.
The landscape is composed of curvy, layered, multi-hued formations, most of which are several hundred meters high. When the sun shines on them, their colors appear in full vibrancy. It looks like an oil painting when the vast red rock formations are simply set against a pure blue sky.
Considered one of the world’s most important historic gardens — hence their designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site — the Classical Gardens of Suzhou should rank highly on your China travel itinerary. Located in the historic city of Suzhou in Jiangsu province, these magnificent gardens were established in the 11th century, at a time when the city was experiencing unprecedented growth, and were among some 270 or more gardens planted here. Of the surviving restored gardens, the most famous is the delightful Garden of Lingering, a seven-acre site laid out in 1800 on the site of a park originally created during the Ming Dynasty.
Rice terraces are hilly or mountainous slopes claimed from nature for cultivation, usually by minority peoples. Some are hundreds (or even thousands) of years old. They make spectacular places for hiking and photography.