More Lesser-Known Places to Visit in China
Former Beijing-based writer Jennifer Conrad has written a list of "Eight Lesser-Known Places to Visit in China" for Seattle-based travel site BootsnAll. Some of the destinations -- i.e. Harbin and Dalian -- could be considered quite common for the more well-traveled and longer-term China residents, but a few stand out for their uniqueness and relative obscurity:
Gulang Yu - "Just across the water from the coastal city of Xiamen in southern China, this walkable island features European architecture, fresh-from-plastic-tubs seafood, a bird sanctuary, and a beachy vibe—get into the spirit by donning a paper sun hat like the Chinese tourists do..."
Turpan - "Home to Uighurs as well as several other minority groups, Turpan [pictured above] has beautiful old architecture, especially the Emin Minaret. Wander through the bustling market for spices, raisins, nuts, handmade knives, and gorgeous fabric ..."
Cuandixia - "A couple of hours—and a couple of centuries—removed from the center of Beijing, this village is comprised of a collection of restored Ming- and Qing-dynasty courtyard homes. Tucked into the mountains, the village offers a glimpse into traditional rural life—the perfect day trip for those who find the gleaming skyscrapers and eight-lane Ring Roads of Beijing too modern. If a few hours wandering the alleyways isn’t enough, visitors can stay overnight in one of the courtyard homes—many function as guesthouses—on a traditional kang bed heated from underneath with coal ..."
Of course China offers far more off-the-beaten-path destinations than can be summarized in a single blog post, but we'd like to throw in a few more suggestions as you start thinking about your own summer travel plans:
Qianshan - This mountain and forest area in Liaoning Province near the city of Anshan and roughly 90km south of Shenyang is characterized by its hundreds of peaks, scenic cliffs and valleys and many Buddhist and Daoist temples. Go here for a heavy dose of mountain scenery and religious culture dating back to the Tang Dynasty. More info and photos can be found via Derek Harkness's Flickr page and blog here and here.
Jingdezhen, Jiangxi - BeijingKids recommends you to "fly into Jingdezhen, the home of Chinese pottery, and spend an afternoon there. Hire a driver to take you to Qingyuan – the road is brand-new. Along the way, you’ll encounter the village of Likang, which attracts tourists because it is surrounded by fields of rapini (May is the best season to spot the bright yellow fields) ..."
Yuanyang, Yunnan - (NOTE: THIS LISTING WAS AMENDED FROM A PREVIOUSLY INACCURATE DESCRIPTION)
Former Insider's Guide editors Gabriel Monroe and Shelley Jiang traveled to this scenic area and in Yunnan in 2009 to take in incredible views of the surrounding rice terraces that were built by the Hani people and date back over 2,500 years. Shelley was gracious enough to supply us with this description: "Deep in the mountains of southeastern Yunnan, Yuanyang is known for its breathtaking rice terraces, built by the Hani people by hand continuously over the last 2,500 years. Scattered around the mountains are dozens of villages inhabited by the Hani, Yi, Miao and other minorities. Visitors can hike through the terraces, bike through the mountains, take in the spectacular sunrises and sunsets, and visit some of the many colorful village markets - where it's possible to buy everything from traditional clothes and embroideries to basins made of old tires and live dragonfly larvae for supper. Yum."
Putuoshan - Lying just east of Zhoushan and south of Shanghai, this rugged, forested little island is accessible by boat from Shanghai and Ningbo and is considered a holy spot in Buddhism and the place where the Bodhissatva Guan Yin gained enlightenment. Highlights include sandy beaches, Buddhist temples, a 33-m statue of Guan Yin and year-round seafood.
Taihang Mountain and Canyon Region - Covering an area of almost 6,000 hectares across Henan, Hebei and Shanxi, the Taihang Mountain and Canyon Region is filled with rustic villages, ancient tamples, magnificent cliffs, deep gorges and canyons, enchanted grottoes, pools, waterfalls and more. May to October is the best time to travel and the area can be reached from Beijing by car in about six hours (the distance from Beijing is around 600km). Click here for driving directions. Many local groups also offer hiking and biking tours of the area.
Click here for a list of hiking routes around Beijing.
Some additional summer travel destinations near Beijing and around China suggestions can be found here.
Have any additional suggestions or input? Comment below.