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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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?