As China continues to transform into a prime tourist destination with world-class tourism spots like the world’s biggest casino, it gives travelers a dizzying realization that the country is not only known for the Great Wall of China and the Forbidden City.
With these new infrastructures, China gets a little more crowded with construction and tourists from all over the world wanting to witness these new sites in China. While this is great news for the country’s tourism, many travelers find it harder and harder to find the much-needed serenity the serene country has to offer. But don’t worry, if you’re seeking to experience authentic China during your next tour to this culture-rich country, here are seven off-the-road destinations you can visit:
Experience China unlike any other with a day trip to the picturesque Kanas Lake in Xinjiang province. It is advisable to get a pre-arranged tour when visiting Kanas Lake, otherwise, you might end up spending a whole lot of money on a taxi ride or the occasional buses that pass by the area. The hike to Kanas Lake is a rigorous one but it’s worth every stride once you reach the bean-shape, crystal clear lake that stretches into the snowcapped mountains. Log cabin accommodations await weary travelers from a day of hiking. For your next itinerary, you can also visit some of the other tourist attractions like the Altai Mountain rock paintings and the Tuwa Tribe practices. After a long day, who wouldn’t be swayed by the beautiful and mysterious lake whose water reflects the wonderful scenery that surrounds it?
About 5km to the east of Zhoushan island in the province of Zhejiang, Putuoshan rests at a mere 297 meters above sea level. You can reach it in a few hours via ferry from Ningbo City on the mainland or overnight via a boat from Shanghai.
The island is abundant with lush trees, pagodas, authentic Chinese temples (Fayu, Huiji, Puji monasteries), and picturesque cobblestone walk. Religious as its mountains that are dedicated to the Goddess of Mercy, Guanyin, the island is home to monks and fishermen. There’s also an old, historic village and a cave that you can visit.
If you’re coming from the congested cities in China, coming to Putuoshan is sure to be a refreshing change of pace. While you’re there, don’t forget to try the Putuoshan Beer that is served in most hotels.
The famous Tibetan Buddhist monastery, the Labrang Monastery, can be found in this small village-monastery in Gansu Province. Xiahe is probably the perfect place where travelers can get a taste of the rich Tibetan culture. While most of the architecture found in the village is of Tibetan essence, there are now Chinese-style structures found in the mountain valley. Backpackers are usually enthralled to visit the village because of its jump-off areas and trek sites but the language barrier seems to be wearing some of the travelers down. Most of the monks in Xiahe have never left the Labrang monastery that’s why you will rarely find a monk who can speak in Chinese. These days, Chinese is being taught in school.
This tiny ancient city, which is about 2,700 years old, is enclosed in a city wall that has stood since the Ming dynasty. Pingyao is essentially a busy place because of its marketplace but travelers are often recommended to make a stop at this ancient city to experience the original Ming dynasty architecture like the Pingyao City Wall, Zhenguo Temple, and the Shuangxiu Temple that are being preserved with great effort and dedication. In 1997, Pingyao has been granted a UNESCO World Heritage Site title as it gives travelers a taste of the ancient Chinese lifestyle.
Changbai Shan and Baihe
The country’s biggest hiking and exploration site—the Changbaishan National Nature Reserve?–can be found in Changbai Shan in the province of Jilin. You can reach Changbai Shan overnight via a train ride in Beijing. For hiking trips, the best entry point is the town of Baihe. If the mainland of China is characterized by its infrastructures and imperial era architecture, the town of Baihe is known for its Miren Song pine trees that make the town a relaxing place to escape to. Room accommodations are available for travelers as well as bus trips in the morning and evening that take you to less crowded spots of the nature reserve park. The amazing nature park is also home to a spectacular volcanic lake located at the border of North Korea, waterfalls, hot springs, and a primitive forest.
This region is often described as “Where China meets Southeast Asia” because of its close proximity to countries Laos and Myanmar. The Xishuangbanna Region is known for its lush rain forests, wildlife, and minority villages with a diverse culture and folklore. This region is also an entry point to a magnificent plethora of flora and fauna, small villages, and temples. Come to this region to witness the interesting home and culture of the Dai minority people. You can roam the region via buses but if you want to explore more secluded areas, you can either rent a boat or bikes or you can walk.
Lijiang and Tiger Leaping Gorge
For a long time now, decades even, the quaint old town of Lijang has been a famous hotspot for backpackers who visit China. Why? Because it’s the best entry point for tourists who want to visit and get a taste of various minority cultures in this vast country. And for those of you who are after some great nature-tripping adventures, the Tiger Leaping Gorge is just one of the many scenic views you can witness from a trek through the 15-kilometer gorge. The Tiger Leaping Gorge is considered one of the deepest of its kind on Earth. Hikers from all over the world visit Lijiang not only for its amazing sceneries but also for the Naxi historic sites, good accommodations, and authentic Yak dairy products.