Wondering about a return trip to China and where to start a new and adventurous tour in 2018? We have the answers here.
Every destination offers incredible landscapes, indigenous cultures, and varied adventures. You don't need an alarm clock when you stay in these extraordinary places, because the unknown adventures and beautiful scenery will make you keen to get up early.
As the most wonderfully complex of all China's provinces, Yunnan boasts a rich diversity of people and a variety of natural wonders: deep gorges, towering karst formations, splendid snowcapped mountains, and the foothills of the Himalayas.
Yunnan enjoys a pleasant climate that is mild in winter and cool in summer. It is a good year-round vacation destination.
It is also home to more than half of the 55 ethnic minorities that are recognized in China. In many remote places, you can still find minority people who dress daily in their local costumes.
Many still speak their minority languages and you'll come across different religious practices, customs, and beliefs.
It is a great place to escape the typical tourist crowds found in metropolises and find a more off-the-beaten-path side of China.
Most recommended attractions: Tiger Leaping Gorge, the Stone Forest, Shaxi Ancient Town, Jade Dragon Snow Mountain
Recommended duration: 6–8 days
- Discover one of the deepest river canyons in the world — hike through Tiger Leaping Gorge
- Get close to the Dongba culture — learn the Naxi Dongba script and embroidery
- Explore the 'Mirrors of the Gods' — enjoy the sunset and sunrise at Yuanyang Hani Terraced Rice Fields
- Seek out the "Last Country of the Daughters" (the last matrilineal society) — pay a home visit to a Mosuo family at Lugu Lake
Kunming is the gateway to Yunnan Province, providing international flights and bullet trains to many cities in China. Singapore and Malaysia both have direct flights to Kunming.
Kunming also offers a 72-hour visa-free transit policy for travelers from 51 countries. You can take a 3-day trip in Kunming if you have an onward flight ticket to a third country or area.
Tibet is, without a doubt, one of the most remarkable places to visit in the world. For centuries, it has captured the imagination of Westerners as being the inspiration for Shangri-La.
It offers fabulous monasteries, breathtaking high-altitude treks, stunning scenery of the world's highest mountains, and one of the most likeable peoples.
You will see many sights and experience customs and culture, which you will not encounter in any other part of the world.
Because Tibetan people are so religious and the environment is so pure, Tibet can be a place to escape modern life and contemplate spiritual life.
Perhaps you will be moved when witnessing the religious devotion of the local people. It is no wonder that many people go to Tibet to cleanse their souls.
Most recommended attractions: Potala Palace, Sera Monastery, Jokhang Temple, Yamdrok Lake, Everest Base Camp
Recommended duration: 5–8 days
- See the pilgrims in the spiritual center of Tibet — Jokhang Temple
- Discover an offbeat learning method — watch the monks debate with each other at Sera Monastery
- Set foot on top of the world's tallest mountain — Everest
- Have an awesome picnic at a holy lakeside — Yamdrok Lake
Due to the increase of transportation networks, it is easier to get to Tibet by rail and air. Beijing, Xi'an, Chongqing, Chengdu, Kunming, Lijiang, and Shangri-La all have direct flights to/from Tibet.
Many tourists also combine their Tibet tour with a Nepal tour since there are direct flights to Kathmandu from Lhasa.
8-Day Lhasa to Everest Base Camp Tour: Your once-in-a-lifetime trip to see Mt. Everest. Challenge your breathing limitation to the base camp to enjoy mountain view and camp at night.
3. The Silk Road
The Silk Road was a famous trading route with a history of over 2,000 years in China. It has everything you need for a rich cultural journey into the heart of China's past.
It starts from the ancient capital of Xi'an, crosses the Yellow River in Lanzhou, and continues to the extreme western end of the Great Wall and its desert forts at Jiayuguan.
It then carries on to the best-preserved example of Chinese Buddhism at the Mogao Caves of Dunhuang.
Further west, you experience the ancient ruins of Jiaohe in Turpan and Heavenly Lake nestled in the snowcapped Heavenly Mountains near Urumqi.
The whole journey encompasses extremes from scorching desert austerity to cool, watery mountain beauty and lush green upland pasture.
If you have time, cross the Taklamakan Desert to the frontier outpost of Kashgar, which has a market that is as fragrant and bustling as it was in ancient days.
Most recommended attractions: Jiayu Pass, the Mogao Caves, Zhangye Danxia National Geological Park, the Heavenly Mountains
Recommended duration: 7–12 days
- Echoing Sand Mountain — you'll see the desert meet the oasis in a most spectacular way, along with fun adventures like camel riding.
- The Overhanging Great Wall — a striking section of the wall, which looks like a magnificent painting hanging over the cliff.
- The Karez Wells — an ancient irrigation system, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site; you will be impressed with the Xinjiang people's wisdom
All of the above cities have extensive transportation networks that make it possible for tourists to access almost all major attractions by high-speed train, airplane, or car.
Sichuan is known as the home of the giant panda, but there is definitely more there than just pandas.
The capital of Sichuan is Chengdu. It is China's most laidback city and was designated a UNESCO City of Gastronomy in 2010.
Surrounding Chengdu is an area full of surprises with sacred mountains, ancient villages, and cliffs displaying carved giant Buddhas.
To the north, the scenery changes into a picturesque fairyland of alpine valleys with colorful lakes, spectacular waterfalls, and snowcapped mountains.
Western Sichuan offers you another view from the roof of the world. It has epic mountain vistas, lively Buddhist monasteries, and grasslands peppered with yaks and alpine lakes as far as the eye can see.
The area remains largely untouched so get there before the rest of the world finds out about it.
Recommended duration: 4–7 days
- A close encounter with pandas — be a panda keeper at Dujiangyan Panda Base
- Be a "rookie chef" with Sichuan cuisine — join a professional cooking class at Sichuan Cuisine Museum
- Touch the last piece of pure land on the blue planet — visit Daocheng Yading
- Travel along the most beautiful scenic road in China — G318 Sichuan–Tibet Highway
As the capital of Sichuan Province, Chengdu has the most convenient transportation west of China's coastal cities, with direct flights to some foreign cities, direct flights/trains/buses to large domestic cities, and high-speed trains to several popular tourist cities.
It also has a 72-hour (3-day) visa-free transit policy like Kunming. Read more information about it.
5. Huangshan (the Yellow Mountains)
Huangshan is the perfect place to explore spectacular mountains, remote villages, and hike along ancient routes through terraced fields of rapeseed and tea.
The main attraction is unquestionably the Yellow Mountains with their rushing mountain streams, towering peaks wreathed in mist, and twisted pines clinging to the sides of cliffs.
Both the Yellow Mountains and the surrounding villages are some of the most popular topics for Chinese ink paintings.
The most famous villages in the region are the UNESCO-listed Xidi and Hongcun. They are both built in the styles of the Ming and Qing dynasties and highlight the unique lifestyle of the province.
For a more rural getaway, where water buffalo rest in the rice fields and paths are bordered with wildflowers, head 35 kilometers south to the town of Wuyuan.
Fantastic mountain scenery and well-preserved villages make Huangshan the perfect antidote to the brashness of China's larger cities.
Huangshan is easy to navigate and is within striking distance of Shanghai — this is rural China at its accessible best.
Recommended duration: 3–5 days
- Get closer to nature — hiking along the Xin'an River
- Capture picture-postcard photos — appreciate the Yellow Mountain sunrise and the sea of clouds
- Enjoy the tranquility of village life — an in-depth Hongcun exploration
- Grab the autumn foliage in a photographer's paradise — Tachuan Village
As it is one of the most popular tourist destinations in China, Huangshan has relatively convenient transportation for a provincial and mountainous area.
There are many direct flights to/from many popular tourist cities: Beijing, Shanghai, Xi'an, Chengdu, Guilin, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Chongqing, Wuhan, Zhengzhou, and Xiamen.
There are also regional and international flights from Taipei and Seoul.