China’s 8 most beautiful destinations – Part 2

China’s 8 most beautiful destinations – Part 2

Before I left for my journey through China, I took some time to figure out what places I’d enjoy exploring. Besides a trip to the most iconic Chinese landmark, the Great Wall, I also dreamed of escaping the pollution-ridden mega cities and spending some time in the mountains. Being surrounded by mountains makes me feel nostalgic and adventurous, while also giving me perspective on life. This is why I chose places such as the Yellow Mountains or the Tiger Leaping Gorge to make it on my list of China’s 8 most beautiful destinations.

The following four spots, however, represent what I did not expect China to feel and look like. These places took my breath away and reminded me to travel without too many expectations, but instead with an open heart and an open mind. You never know where your journey takes you until you take your first step. Part 2 of China’s 8 most beautiful destinations is my tribute to embracing detours and following your heart instead of crowds.

5. Yangshuo County / Yángshuò Xiàn 陽朔縣

My arrival in Yangshuo was one I will remember for long. On the bus from Guilin I started to feel very unwell. By the time I got to my hostel in Yangshuo, I could hardly walk up the stairs to my room, let alone carry my bag. Turns out, my quest of avoiding food poisoning came to an end when I decided to have  mandarins (slightly dodgy-looking, admittedly) for breakfast. After visiting hell for the following 26 hours, I was ready to step outside again, hired a motorbike and explored this surreal karst landscape.

the riverfront makes for a great evening walk
the riverfront makes for a great evening walk
Carmen Huter in Yangshuo, China
one of those views I just could not get enough
Carmen Huter in Yangshuo, China
happy times in Yangshuo
Carmen Huter in Yangshuo, China
balancing myself on one rock and the my camera on the other was worth it in the end
Carmen Huter in Yangshuo, China
my idea of a perfect spot to contemplate

Yangshuo is one of those places most travellers decide to spend more time in. Whether you decide to explore the Li river on a bamboo-raft, spend your night with local families in one of the homestays surrounding Yangshuo, or test your rock climbing skills, there is plenty to keep you happy without having to travel thousands of miles across the Middle Kingdom.

6. Jade Dragon Snow Mountain / Yùlóngxuě Shān 玉龍雪山

With a day spare before flying out to the Hunan region, I followed the advice given to me by a Lijiang local. I wish I was still able to get in touch with this lovely restaurant owner, because it was one of the best days of my life. A seemingly endless cable car ride through the clouds transported me to a breathtaking height of 4500m. I then proceeded to hike up another 300m which got me closer to the peak of a mountain than ever before.

Jade Dragon Snow Mountain in China
breaking through the clouds
Carmen Huter in China
my first time at 4.800m – a feeling I will never forget
Jade Dragon Snow Mountain in China
“It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.”
Carmen Huter in China
taking my sneakers to their limits
the impressive glacier fronts
the impressive glacier fronts
Carmen Huter in Yunnan, China
the picturesque Blue Moon Valley at the base of the mountain

7. Zhangjiajie National Forest Park / Zhāngjiājiè Guójiā Sēnlín Gōngyuán 湖南张家界国家森林公园

An inspiration for the floating mountains of the Avatar setting, the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park is, despite its remote location, not to be missed. Enter the world of Pandora and be stunned by surreal rock formations as far as the eye can see. Days can be sent wandering around this enormous forest and instead of taking the cable cars, I recommend to take your time and climb the quartz-sandstone pillars yourself. The scenery along the way will make the steep stairway worth it, I promise.

Avatar Mountains in China
#isthisevenreal
Carmen Huter in Zhangjiajie, China
break along my walk up to Tianmen Mountain
Hallelujah Mountain in China
the famous Hallelujah Mountain
Carmen Huter in China
“Everything is backwards now, like out there is the true world, and in here is the dream.”
started off day 2 with a visit to the three sisters peak
started off day 2 with a visit to the three sisters peak
Faces of China
every face tells a story

After visiting this magical destination, watch Avatar again and feel closer to the imaginary world of a science fiction film than ever before.

8. Mt. Hua / Huà Shān 華山

Here are three reasons why I believe exploring Huà Shān is one of the 8th most beautiful activities in China:

Panorama

Mt. Hua’s scenery is dreamy, dazzling, and simply striking. In addition, it is one of China’s Five Great Mountains and holds tremendous religious significance.

Adrenaline

The Mt. Hua Plank Walk is said to be the world’s most dangerous hike. As a matter of fact, the Chinese like to refer to it as “the number one precipitous mountain under heaven”. So, if you ever feel like walking on a 20cm wide wooden plank 2000m above ground, it’s your lucky day.

Location

Last but not least,  Huà Shān is one of the most easily accessible mountain ranges in China. The new train from Xi’an to the base and a spectacular cable car ride up the mountain will leave you with plenty of energy and time to explore the five peaks.

early hours at the base of Mt. Hua
early hours at the base of Mt. Hua
Hua Shan Mountain, China
“don’t look down”
Hua Shan Mountain, China
there is always some time for yoga, right?
Carmen Huter in Hua Shan, China
taking a breather
Carmen Huter in Hua Shan, China
a hat and long trousers would have gone a long way :-)
Hua Shan Mountain, China
peace bell
Hua Shan Mountain, China
it was even steeper than it looks

So, what are you waiting for? Open your heart, pack your hiking boots and have the time of your life!


What’s your favourite place to visit in China?

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