The Top Five Places for Outdoor Activities Around Guangzhou
Though best-known for its large cities and rapid state of development, Guangdong province plays host to a considerable amount of unspoiled scenery, affording the traveller interested in outdoor activities many opportunities to get out into the fresh air, take some exercise, and have some fun. Here are five outdoor activity areas in Guangdong you may enjoy.
Yingxi Fenglin Scenic Area (英西峰林)
Located some 60 km southwest of Yingde city, encompassing the towns of Jiulong (Nine Dragons, 九龙镇), Huanghua (Yellow Flower, 黄花镇), and Yanbei (Rock Back, 岩背镇), the Yingxi Fenglin Scenic Area is known for the bizarre peaks and rock formations of its karst landscape. Given the resemblance of the scenery to that better known in Guangxi Province, it has been given the name of 'The Litte Guilin in Yingxi'.
Yingxi Fenglin hosts Guangdong's most dense collection of peaks and forest. Amidst the more than one thousand limestone peaks there's a great deal to see in terms of natural beauty with caverns, streams, rivers and lakes flowing amidst the forest and grassland. Adding a quaint air to the scenery you may find many old and traditional buildings scattered around the area.
The area has become a lure for climbers, particularly since 2002 when climbing routes were established and popularized. There are now more than 30 established climbs, graded from 5.8 to 5.12, on three sites around Huangua town alone.
Recommended Hiking Route
Shuijinping Village (水浸坪村) — Niudong Village (牛洞) — Zhaibei Primary School (寨背小学) — Xiayan Village (下岩村) — Fujigang Village (虎迹岗村) — over the bridge to Jiulong Town (九龙镇) — Central Primary School (中心小学) — Unity Primary School (团结小学) — Peng Family Ancestral Hall (彭家祠) — the camping site at Huanghua Town (about 10 km) — Huanghua Town — Zhaozhouqiao Old bridge (赵州古桥) — Yongfeng Old Temple (永丰古庙) — Guanyin Valley (观音, (Bodhisattva Valley)) — Qianzuxi Taojin Scenic Area, (you can actually pan for gold in a stream here, but don't expect to get rich; much of the gold has been depleted) (千足溪淘金) — Yanbei Town (岩背镇, more than 20 km)
Take the bus from Qingyuan City to Jiulong Town and Yingde City, (60 minutes). From Jiulong Town it's about a ten minute drive to Huanghua Town; from there to Yanbei Town is a further 30-minute drive.
Danxiashan Global Geopark in Shaoguan (韶关丹霞山)
Cliff climbing, hiking
Covering an area of 290 sq. km., Danxiashan Global Geopark is pleasantly isolated, situated some 45 kilometers away from the nearest large city. The scenery is gorgeous, not least for its geology which has made it a protected geological reserve, hence its alternative name - Chinese Red Stone Park.
The main attraction of the Geopark is Mount Danxia itself. Here, the red stone which provides the park with its geological interest can be seen at its best, a sandstone with conglomerates which typically forms steep cliffs, the trademark formation of the area. The shapes formed by the rock and rock faces are unique, often spectacular.
The cliffs make this an ideal place for cliff-climbing, a sport popular in the area, but please be warned; it is best if you do this only if you have some experience. Even experienced climbers would be well-advised to undertake the activity with locals familiar with the cliff faces. These professionals may be found running climbers' guide services in the area.
Recommended Hiking Route
Daqiao (Great Bridge, 大桥) — Shaoshi Villa (韶石山庄) — Baizhai Mountain Peak (白寨顶) — Tortoise Rock camping area (金龟岩) — Niubi Village (牛鼻村) — Nuankeng Village (暖坑村) — Jiuchong Rock or Dragon King Rock camping area (九重岩 or 龙王岩) — Dongkeng Reservoir (东坑水库) — Five Immortals Rock (五仙岩) — Bianzhai or Camel Peak (扁寨 or 骆驼峰) — Huangwu Village (黄屋)
Danxiashan is readily accessible by train to Shaoguan, then by taking a bus from the station forecourt. The bus journey is around 40 minutes.
Dapeng Peninsula (大鹏半岛)
Situated to the east of Shenzhen, this beautiful, laid-back peninsula covers some 300 sq. km. with over 130 kilometers of coastline. Three-quarters of the peninsula is forested, an indication of how unspoiled the area is.
The dominant landform on the peninsula is steep granite hills and mountains between which lie deep valleys. The area is known for some interesting rock formations of unusual shape
The most famous of many beaches along the coast are Golden Bay (金沙湾), Xichong (西涌), Dongchong (东涌), and Jidiaosha (桔钓沙). The soft sand and clear water in the deep bays make the beaches ideal for a variety of water sports, as well as just being pleasant places in which to kick off your shoes and relax.
Recommended Hiking Route
Dongchong Beach (东涌) — Xichong Beach (西涌) or Guodian Beach (过店) — Haichaijiao Cape (海柴角) — Dongchong Beach (东冲) or Nan’ao Bay (南澳) — Ergong Bay (鹅公湾) — Dalugang Bay (大鹿港)
Please Note: Hiking the coastline of the Dapeng Peninsula is not always easy, nor entirely without risk. Please take the usual safeguards if hiking them alone - ensure that someone knows your route and take a mobile phone with you - or, better still, we would suggest hiking with a professional guide hired in the area.
From Shenzhen, take the Nan'an Town bus, (RMB 15), and then a local bus or motorbike to the beginning of the hiking route at Xiyong or Dongyong, (RMB 5 to 10).
In the south east of Guangdong, Lufeng is situated on the edge of Jieshi Bay and looks out over the South China Sea. It is not far from both Hong Kong and Macao. In recent years, two sites in particular at Lufeng have become a magnet for aficionados of paragliding; Lion Mountain (狮山) and Shuiding Mountain (水底山).
Lion Mountain is located on the south side of Qingyun Mountain (清云山), to the north west of Hexi Town (河西镇). The site is beautifully located with more than a thousand hectares of open, flat land lying between it and Xiang Mountain nearby. Altitudes of some 300 meters may be attained, and the scenery below along with the mountains with their streams and rivers to the side of you make this a particularly attractive paragliding experience.
Indeed, Lion Mountain and the nearby Xiangshan Mountain both make for an attractive destination even if you have no desire to go paragliding. Scenic spots such as the Purple Lotus Flower Pond (紫金莲池), Volcanic Rocks (火山岩群), Niangong Cave (鲶公洞), the Tortoise-shaped Stone (石龟), and Heaven Fog (Tianwa/天蛙) are all worth a visit on ground-level.
Shuiding Mountain is a comparatively recent development in terms of paragliding, but the opportunities it affords with altitudes of some 650 meters attainable have seen its rapid increase in popularity. The mountain slopes are gently graded for an easy take-off with plenty of open spaces for landing. The area is broad and sparsely-populated, the climate such that it is suitable for the sport all year round. Even a beginner should be fine here provided he or she is properly supervised.
Please note: Paragliding is a fairly extreme sport and novices should only attempt it under very strict guidance and supervision. We would suggest that those who wish to try the sport at Shuiding make contact with either the Dayu Paragliding Club (大羽滑翔伞俱乐部) or the Yuren Paragliding Club (羽人滑翔伞俱乐部). These offer instruction and equipment.
Given that Lufeng is situated some few hundreds of kilometres away from the major urban areas of Guangdong, and given that there are mountainous surroundings, Lufeng is not readily approachable using public transport. It would be best to get as close as possible to the city by some other means, then hire road transport to go the rest of the way. Should you be bringing your own paragliding equipment, of course, then road transportation will probably be necessary for the entire distance.
The Qingyuan (清远) Gorges
Given the unusual nature of the landscape, Qingyuan offers many opportunities for those who wish to go rafting. The main towns to head for are Qinxin, Yingde, Fogang, Yangshan and Lianshang. Given the variation in the landscape and the numerous possibilities, rafting in the area has become something of a specialty, with many variations on offer, including white-water, bamboo rafting and cave rafting as well as just a quiet drift down a quiet river amidst pleasant scenery.
This is an unspoiled area of Guangdong away from the larger cities, and so the area is verdant and fresh. At their most relaxing, the rivers wind between green hills and dip through gorges, but those gorges also offer the opportunity for some more spectacular rides for those of a more adventurous nature.
When it comes to specific destinations for specific activities, we would recommend the following:
- Xuanzhen Gorge Rafting in Qinxin County (清新县玄真峡谷漂流),
- Bishuitan Beach Rafting in Gaotian Town, Qinxin (清新县高田碧水滩漂流),
- Huangtengxia Gorge Rafting in Qingcheng District (清城区黄腾峡漂流),
- Yanjiaoshan Cave Rafting in Fogang (佛冈县羊角山地窟漂流),
- Cave Rafting in Yingxi Fenglin Scenic Area in Yingde (英德市英西峰林暗河漂流),
- Feixiabixi Rafting in Yingde (英德市飞霞碧溪漂流),
- Five-star Rafting in Qingyuan (清远县五星漂流),
- Yinzhangu Gorge Rafting (银盏谷漂流).
Given the popularity of the area, Qingyuan is readily accessible using provincial bus services. To recommend a particular service would be pointless; it all depends on where you start from, and so we would recommend you go to your local bus station and enquire what services are available. Once you are in the area, local buses and taxis can take you between the different towns.
If you enjoy hiking, why not try some city walking in and around Guangdong's largest metropolis, Guangzhou? Or perhaps head outside the city and try out some of its best camp sites. For a more general overview of what Guangdong has to offer, try out travel guide.
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I updated this article on January 9, 2014
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