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The Top 9 Crowd-Free Tourist Destinations in China

The top crowdless tourist destinations in China are Shangri-La, mountains near Lijiang, the Mongolian grasslands, Hong Kong and south China beaches, Qinghai Lake, ancient capital Luoyang, the Hui Hang Trail, Kangding, and Jilin.

While places like Beijing are very common tourist destinations in China, they attract very large crowds in and out of season and are therefore not suitable when you want to enjoy some personal space and quietness during holiday travels. Here are the best of the less traveled and less crowded destinations that are worth you visiting.

1. Enjoy some peace in remote Shangri-la

Meili Snow MountainMeili Snow Mountain

Shangri-la is in the Himalayan foothills, 3,300 meters (11,000 feet) above the sea level. Most areas are less known and hence less crowded.

You can enjoy Tibetan culture and jaw-dropping scenery, or can do biking and hiking around the 21,221 feet Meili Snow Mountain.

You can also bath at the Xidang and Xiagei hot springs, admire a 70-meter-high hole in the mountain where the river runs through. (Tiansheng Qiao), or take trekking tours to see the remote Chinese areas.

How to get there

2. Hike on Haba Mountain, near Lijiang

Haba has a cluster of ten villages that have just only opened up to tourism, and are hence a less crowded escape from the well-trodden Lijiang Ancient Town area.

You can start at Tiger Leaping Gorge, a great hiking destination nearby, head to Haba Mountain which faces the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, where you can see spectacular gorges and the cliffs. Haba mountain is 5,396 meters high and 3 hours drive from Lijiang.

They charge 65 RMB even if passing through Tiger Leaping Gorge to Haba and Baishui Tai. You can then stay in the nearby camps and huts.

The White River Terraces of Baishui Tai, which are natural mineral terraces, are also a great attraction for those traveling in the region. The deep green-blue color of the water contrast with the forested mountains in the background. You pay 35 RMB entry fee at the White River Terraces.

How to get there

  • Bus from Lijiang Bus Station (丽江客运站) on Kangzhong Lu (康仲路) south of the old town to Tiger Leaping Gorge, which also goes directly to Haba and Baishui

3. Visit glasslands near Hohhot

Hohhot is less crow you get to save a lot of money through discounts on hotel rooms and flight tickets, which saves you a lot of money. You can tour the Huitengxile grasslands, 135 km from Hohhot, and other glasslands.

Other attractions include the Inner Mongolian Museum, The Grand Mosque and Five-Pagoda Temple.

Many people return home or go on vacation during holidays in September or October and this means you get less crowds.

How to get there

  • Train from Beijing's Liuliqiao Station to Hohhot for 150 RMB in 8 hour, get a taxi for 30 RMB from the airport to Hohhot downtown, then take a special tourist bus to Huitengxile grasslands

Read more on the Inner Mongolia

4. Surf at Tung Wan beach

Largely unspoiled, the Tung Wan white sand beach is beautiful but requires effort and determination to reach. It is not documented by the government and the currents can be treacherous, which explains why it is less populated.

Adjacent to the beach is the Noah's Ark Theme Park where you can enjoy museum exhibits, live birds called toucans and 3D videos of the biblical Noah's ark. It is a great place to tour with kids.

You can stay for the night at the Noah's Ark Resort located one minute walk from the beach.

How to get there

  • Diamond Hill MTR station (exit C2), then bus 92 to Sai Kung terminus, then 29R minibus (or green taxi) to Sai Wan Pavilion, then hike for 90 minutes; or take a taxi to the location

Read more on beaches and parks in Hong Kong

5. Fish and watch birds at Qinghai Lake

Qinghai LakeQinghai Lake

Qinghai Lake spans 4,573 square kilometers making it the largest inland salt water lake in China. It is located in Qinghai Province and is 80 miles from Xining.

It features a number of islands such as the famous Bird Island, Haixin Mountain, Haixi Mountain and the Sand Island.

The lake lies at the crossroads of bird migration routes in Asia and so a good location from where you can watch birds.

You get to see numerous streams, lakes and exuberant grassland around this area or visit the Dongguan Giant Mosque, Lonwu Temple in Tongren and Kumbum Monastery in Xi'ning.

How to get there

  • Bus from Xining Long-Distance Bus Station (near Xining Railway Station) to Heimahe on the southwest corner of the lake. You pay 20 RMB.

6. Explore ancient China in Luoyang

Luoyang is one of China's least-traveled ancient capital, located on the Yellow River in Central China. It is a great destination for those wanting to learn Chinese history, religion and culture.

The Longmen Grottoes hold tens of thousands of statues of Buddha and more than forty Buddhist pagodas and stone tablets.

You can also visit the White Cloud Mountain National Forest Park and admire the beautiful scenery of the nearby mountains painted with many species of animals, plants and flowers all year round.

Other attractions include the China National Flower Garden and Longyuwan National Forest that has waterfalls and valleys, Guanlin Temple and Luoyang Ancient Tombs Museum.

How to get there

  • Flight, or train from Beijing, Shanghai, or Xi'an

7. Retreat to the Hui Hang Trail

Located along the way between Anhui and Hangzhou, the Hui Hang Trail wends through wild forests and the Xiaoyao River that serves the small local village. The hiking trail is 15 kilometers and you can do it in a leisurely two days. The zigzag trail was developed for the salt trade that flourished during the 13th century and peaked by the late 18th century.

You can also spend a day with the Yang family that keep a farm near the summit and retire at a four-room hostel located near the peak of the trail.

How to get there

  • Train to Hangzhou, then hire a vehicle to the Zhejiang village.
  • Train to Jixi in Anhui, then hire a minibus to the Anhui starting point.

8. Enjoy Tibetan culture in Kangding

Located in a steep valley in the west of Sichuan province, Kangding served as an important trade center between Chinese and Tibetans along the Tea Horse Road. It is a small city which serves as the capital city of the Garze Tibetan area.

You can enjoy wrestling and horse racing by the 5,500-meter-high Paoma mountain during the Walking Around the Mountain Festival in May or take a cable car to Paoma Monastery.

Visitors take photos near prayer wheels and stupas at the Jingang Monastery. You can stop for a picnic at the top of the mountain where you can also see ponies grazing. You can sleep at the Zhilam Hostel run by an American couple or go to the Tibetan Yongzhu Hostel down the hill. You can also visit the Lhamo She mountain, located 30 kilometers from the city.

How to get there

  • Bus from Chengdu for seven hours or a one-hour flight.

9. Enjoy winter in Jilin

Jilin is a less-known city in Jilin Province in the China's northeast region. It is located at the banks of the Songhua River and is the place to be if you love beautiful and less-crowded winter wonderlands.

The Songhua Lake, 24 kilometers east of the city center, is surrounded by mountains, and a good place to be, whether it is winter or summer. The lake also has whitefish, carp, fish, 160 species of herbal medicines, and flora and fauna.

Rime Island is also full of rime scenery in winter. The other attraction is the 1,770 kilogram Jilin Aerolite, a meteorite that landed in 1976, and known as the most magnificent meteorite in the whole world.

How to get there

  • Flight from Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Xiamen, Xi’an, or Dalian
  • Train from Harbin or Shenyang
  • Bus from Harbin, Heihe, Dalian, or Ulanhot

Visiting Less-Crowded Destinations with China Highlights

Qinghai biking tourQinghai Lake biking will take you far from China's crowds.

Further Reading