Best Places for a Second Trip to China
So you have walked the Great Wall and seen the Forbidden City in China's capital, experienced China's ultra-modern mega-city of Shanghai, and viewed the Terracotta Warriors in Xi’an. What else is there to visit on your second trip to China? China Highlights has listed the best places for your second trip to China covering destination for relaxation, short trips, hiking and adventure.
1. Guilin: A Masterpiece of Karst Landforms
Guilin, located in southern China, is famous for having the most picturesque landscape in China. Guilin has four highlights: Guilin urban area, Li River, Longji Rice Terraces and Yangshuo County. Taking a cruise on Li River should not be missed, no matter how short your tour is. You can follow the 55-kilometer cruise from Guilin country suburbans to Yangshuo Town (check out our Li River cruise video ), and discover the rural beauty by cycling in the countyside and taking a bamboo raft on the Yulong River .
Guilin City is well-decorated by hills, rivers, and lakes. Without getting out of Guilin City, you can experience Guilin’s graceful scenery, including the Two Rivers and Four Lakes, Elephant Trunk Hill, and Solitary Beauty Peak. For a tour covering all Guilin’s highlights, four days are needed.
Best selling Guilin tour: Three-Day Essence of Guilin and the Li River
2. Chengdu: Giant Panda and the Fairy Land of Jiuzhaigou
Chengdu is the capital city of Sichuan Province. If you are a fan of spicy food, Chengdu is a great destination. It has various local snacks, delicious hot pot, as well as good attractions. If you are traveling in Chengdu, three things should not be missed: interacting with giant pandas in Panda Breeding and Research Center, visiting a famous Taoist mountain: Qingcheng Mountain, and experiencing the leisurely Chengdu life style.
Another two highlights in Sichuan are recommended: Leshan (Mount E’mei and Leshan Giant Buddha), Huanglong, and the beautiful valleys of Huanglong, and Jiuzhaigou. If possible, extend your Chengdu tour to these highlights, and make your second trip to China even more memorable.
Recommended tour: Five-Day Chengdu Panda Tour
3. Lhasa: Tibetan Culture and the Scenery of the Highlands
Lhasa is the capital of Tibet. If you are interested in Tibetan culture, Lhasa should be your first choice for your second trip to China. Three highlights in Lhasa are: the Potala Palace, a huge treasure house of artifacts from Tibetan history, religion, culture, and art; Jokhang Temple, the spiritual center of Tibet and the holiest destination for all Tibetan Buddhist pilgrims; and Norbulingka, Tibet’s Summer Palace.
Tibet is also well-known for its magnificent natural scenery, with untainted lakes, vast grasslands, and snow-capped mountains, which is very popular among photographers. If possible, spend two days in Lhasa, and then extend your tour for some hiking at Yomdrok Lake, or near Mt. Everst in Shingatse, or other at attractions in Tibet.
Best selling Tibet tour: Four-Day Essence of Lhasa
4. The Yellow Mountains: a Graceful Landscape with Peculiar Trees and Rocks
The Yellow Mountains is one of the most famous and beautiful mountainous areas in China. Visiting the Yellow Mountains, four highlights should not be missed are: the peculiar-looking pine trees and rocks, the seas of clouds (which make the mountains and trees much more mystical), and the hot springs. Hiking around to see the scenery, enjoying the sunrise and sunset, and bathing in the hot springs are the most popular activities in the Yellow Mountains.
Hongcun Village, an ancient village with hundreds of years of history, is at the southwest foot of the Yellow Mountains. It is famous for its artistic and the-Ming-and-Qing-dynasty-style arcitectures. Generally speaking, three days is enough for you to see the highlights in and around the Yellow Mountains.
Recommend tour: 3-Day the Yellow Mountains and Hongcun Village Tour
5. The Three Gorges: View Graceful Yangtze River Scenery on a Leisurely Cruise
The Three Gorges is traveled by cruise ship, so it is the most leisurely destination on this page, and of all the Chinese attractions. The 191-kilometer cruise route is from Chongqing City in the west to Yichang City in the east, passing through Qutang Gorge, Wu Gorge, Xiling Gorge, and the Three Gorge Dam. You can enjoy a period of comfortable and leisurely time, and appreciate the landscape of towering gorges during the cruise.
The cruise links Chongqing and Yichang together, and the recommended Yichang’s attractions are included in the cruise. If you have enough time, Dazu Grottoes in Chongqing Municipality are worthy of a visit.
Choose your favorite Yangtze River cruise and cruising across the Three Gorges.
6. Yunnan: Find the Shangri-La Mentioned in Lost Horizon
Yunnan Province is a one-stop tourist destination of graceful natural scenery, rich ethnic cultures (including Tibetan culture), and historical sites. Kunming City is the capital of Yunnan, so it should be the first stop if you are traveling to Yunnan. Kunming has several attractions within or not far from the urban area (check out Kunming’s attraction). For a photographer, the highlights of Kunming are: Dongchuan Red Land, the Stone Forest, and Yuanyang Rice Terraces.
If possible, you can extend your tour to Dali, to Lijiang (which is famous for Lijiang Ancient Town, Baoshan Stone Village, and Lugu Lake), and to Shangri-La (which is mentioned in James Hilton’s novel). You can appreciate scenery and experience minority customs on our popular Yunnan tours. They might give you some inspirations on arranging your own tour.
7. The Silk Road: Follow the Tracks of Marco Polo
If you want to take an adventure during your second trip to China, the Silk Road tour is a great choice. The Silk Road was opened up for the silk trade in the Han Dynasty, linking Xi’an and Rome. Silk Road tours cover Xi’an, Lanzhou, Dunhuang, and several other places in Xinjiang (including Urumqi, Turpan, Kashagr, Korla and Hetian).
It usually needs at least a week to take a Silk Road adventure (however, we can tailor make a tour according to your demands). The attractions along the Silk Road are even unfamiliar to many Chinese people, because of its remoteness, such as the Mogao Grottoes (a large-scale gallery of ancient Buddhist art) and Crescent Spring (an oasis in a desert, where you can experience adesert travel by camel) near Dunhuang City, and Heavenly Lake in Urumqi (a alpine lake popular for cruises and hikng).
Check out our detailed introduction for a Silk Road tour.
8. Pingyao Ancient City: a Qing Dynasty Finacial Center
Pingyao is a well-kept ancient city, and was China’s financial center during the Qing Dynasty. It is an intact picture showing the development of Chinese culture, society, economy, and religions. There are three treasures in the ancient city: the ancient city wall, Zhenguo Temple (镇国寺, a temple first built in the 9th century), and Shuanglin Temple (a treasure-house of Chinese painted sculptures), and the first bank in China: Rishengchang Draft Bank.
Several famous merchants in Pingyao built massive courtyards in typical Qing- Dynasty architectural style such as: Wang Family Courtyard, Changjiazhuang Park, and Qiao Family Compound (they are regarded as the Imperial Palace of the businessmen).
Mianshan, well-known for its picturesque landscape and its Taoist and Buddhist culture, is one more highlight quite near Pingyao Ancient City. A tour covering all these attractions needs at least four days. If your tour schedule is longer, you can extend your tour to Datong City, which is famous for the Hanging Monastery and Yungang Grottoes.
Recommended tour: 2-Day Pingyao Classic Tour
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I updated this article on April 10, 2014
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