China’s 8 most beautiful destinations – Part 1
I’ll be honest; travelling China was not always easy. Expect your levels of patience and your personal boundaries to be challenged. However, more importantly, look forward to some of the most stupendous scenery you have ever come across. While heavily polluted, over-crowded and energetic cities may portray where modern China is heading, it really is the outdoors that make it worth discovering.
The Chinese word for eight (八 Pinyin: bā) sounds similar to ‘wealth’ and ‘fortune’, which is why it is considered to be the luckiest number of them all. Here is part 1 of my eight most beautiful destinations in China.
1. The Yellow Mountains /Huángshān 黃山
Imagine yourself sitting on a rock overlooking an endless sea of clouds. In the horizon, you can see the sun breaking through and filling the sky blood orange. The mist covering granite peaks and twisted pines is moving fast. Your face feels cold against the wind, but your heart is warm and you feel total bliss.
Well, I have good news. This can actually be you. This breathtaking mountain range is the perfect getaway from Shanghai. Be sure to spend a night atop and visit the hot pools on your way down.
2. Tiger Leaping Gorge / Hǔtiào Xiá 虎跳峽
The 16 km long and 3900m high Tiger Leaping Gorge is one of the deepest in the world and, despite, being rather challenging and slightly dangerous to hike through, it offers views you will never forget. Remotely located in the southwest of China, it sure is an escape from the hustle and bustle one might need after spending time in Chinese mega cities.
Watch your step, take your time and stay in a guesthouse on the mountain (enjoying a green tea on the balcony of the Halfway Guesthouse is a great way to rest your legs) to fully enjoy this awe-inspiring destination.
3. The Great Wall / Chángchéng 長城
To me, the Great Wall of China is what Machu Picchu is to Peru – a destination of incredible cultural and historical importance, inundated with tourist traffic, yet beautiful.
“He who has not been to the Great Wall, is not a real man.”
This unforgettable experience should undoubtedly include a hike along unrestored sections of this historical masterpiece. An ideal day trip from Beijing means an early start to watch the sun rise over Jiankou and spend the rest of the morning wandering towards Mutianyu. This picturesque track offers great authenticity, and countless photo opportunities without the crowds.
Wandering the Great Wall of China will leave you feeling inspired to learn and baffled of how something so huge could be built.
4. Jiuzhai Valley National Park / Jiǔzhàigōu 九寨溝
Tibetans tell the legend of the goddess Wunosemo dropping her magic mirror after a fight with a jealous devil. This is said to have caused 114 shimmering turquoise lakes and while you won’t see all of them, a trip to the ‘Nine Village Valley’ will make you want to stay longer. In fact, new regulations allow visitors to camp in the National Park during the warmer seasons.
This remote area full of utter beauty is not the easiest to get to and, if you are travelling in the winter months, be prepared for not only bluer-than-blue lakes but also temperatures that will redefine your idea of cold. In my case, I arrived to not-so-pleasant -20°C and a guesthouse without heating. The extra $5 spent on a room with heating may have saved my life.
Click here for Part 2 of China’s 8 Most Beautiful Destinations.
Where would you most like to go to in China?