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A Backpacker’s Guide: Must do things in China

Travel hungry? Planning your bucket list? China has plenty to offer!


1. Step into the pure land of the last “Shangri-La” at Daocheng Yading


daocheng yading lake 




Honoured as the Last Shangri-La, the “Last Pure Land on Earth”, Daocheng Yading is characterized by snow-covered mountains, vast green meadows, crystal-clear lakes and dense forests. The nature reserve, which will be the prime location for your hike, has plenty of famous lakes for you to visit along with a variety of breath-taking scenery for you to enjoy.


 daocheng yading turquoise blue lake




The highlight of your visit is definitely the Yading Nature reserve which will bring you past 3 holy mountains and 3 beautiful turquoise blue lakes. The mountains are all at a height of about 6000 metres above sea level while the 3 lakes are all at an elevation of about 4500 metres. Though not easy, hiking to see the lakes is definitely a worthwhile endeavour. The stunning Five-colour Lake in particular is definitely one of the most gorgeous lakes in the world and makes the hike all the more worth the effort.


If you’re looking for a pristine environment with stunning natural beauty to immerse yourself in, be sure to visit Daocheng Yading.


2. Hike one of the eight wonders of the world with the Great Wall of China


great wall of china 




Famous for being one of the eight wonders of the world, the Great Wall of China is a remnant of ancient China’s fortifications against the nomads of the Eurasian steppe. The awe-inspiring walls are a marvel that is visible even from the moon and a symbol of the great ambitions of the many dynasties of China to extend and maintain it throughout the years. Much of the walls have fallen into ruin, with little over 6000 km of the 21000km walls remaining as actual walls.


 great wall of china ruins




Our recommendation for anyone looking to experience the full extent of the wall is to start off at the wild unrestored Jiankou Great Wall section and make your way to Mutianyu which is the more typically hiked stretch. The hike, though safe, will be no walk in the park. It will however bring you past amazing panoramic views and allow you to have an idea of how truly enormous the entire stretch of the wall actually is.


If you are looking for a once in a lifetime trip to explore a culture’s masterpiece, China’s Great Wall hike is surely up your alley.


3. Take a hike up the deceptively easy mountain of Huangshan.


huangshan overview 


Image: Miaulian, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons


Though not one of the tallest mountains in China, Huangshan still has plenty to offer for hikers of all experience levels with challenging treks and impressive views. On your way up stone-paved steps, you’ll get to enjoy the fantastic views of the steep peaks and crevices along with deep gorges, beautiful old pine trees and fabulous sunrises.


huangshan cliff trail


 Image: Joe, CC BY 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons


If you are looking for an actual challenge, hiking the whole stretch of the Huangshan Mountains will be no easy task. Though a lot of sightseeing stretches are paved, the combination of distance and steepness will definitely leave you gasping for breath. However, should you persevere through it all, you’ll be rewarded with the fantastical sights of the West Sea Grand Canyon with its amazing stone peaks. The lucky ones may even get the sight of the golden sun rays reflecting off the white clouds and mist from down below!


Huangshan is a definite perfect choice if you’re looking for a mix between leisurely sightseeing walks and challenging steep hikes. 


4. Make your way past the rapids of the Tiger Leaping Gorge.


tiger leaping gorge overview 




While not one of the most famous attractions of China, the trail hike of the Tiger Leaping Gorge is well known among the hiking community. Famous for being one of the deepest gorges in the world, the tower height of the 2 snow-capped mountains frames the turbulent rapids down below. The gorge is the primary tributary of the Yangtze River and has a sheer drop that is sure to be a sight to behold.


tiger leaping gorge rapids


Image: Tdxiang at English Wikipedia, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


Hiking the Tiger Leaping Gorge will take you past many rural villages and terraced fields situated by the side of the gorge. As the hiking path is well used by the rural ethnic group of the Naxi, is it quite likely to see some of them simply going about their day while on the trail. After the village area, the gorge narrows down and becomes markedly steeper. The challenge however is well worth the payoff as the views of the landscape is like a painting unfolding before your eyes.


If you are looking for a wide variety of views and culture to experience, the Tiger Leaping Gorge Trail will definitely be a memorable experience!


5. Explore the variety of features that Guilin has to offer


fields of guilin




Known by some as “the finest landscape under heaven”, the rolling landscapes of the Guilin Karsts will take you past serene countryside views, bustling ancient streets and ethnic villages hidden by the stone landscape. Akin to the well-known stone forest of Kunming, China, the pockets of civilization within Guilin are like hidden gemstones brimming with the ancient cultures of local minority groups.


nature of guilin 




Our recommendation is for a hiking trip along the Li River which will take you past the best landscapes to sightsee while also introducing you to a multitude of historical sites to explore. From caves, to stone carvings, Buddhist temples, relic exhibitions and paddy fields, Guilin has a variety of sights and activities for you to partake in.


The sweeping countryside landscapes of the Guilin karst are a must visit for any nature lover looking for a serene and peaceful hiking trip.

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