China's Top 7 Places for Spring Photography
March to May is an ideal time to visit the remote, peaceful places of China. The weather is just beginning to warm up, but it is still crisp and cool at night and in the mornings. You’ll be able to capture the beauty of spring and avoid the heat, humidity, and frequent rains many parts of China experience in the summer! But still, bring waterproof shoes, to protect yourself from the morning dew and occasional drizzle.
1. Tulips in Shixianghu Scenic Area
The Shixianghu Lake Scenic Area (石象湖景区) is located in Pujiang County (蒲江县), about 86 kilometers from Chengdu City.
Tulip Festival: Shixianghu Scenic Area is known for their annual tulip festival, which runs from March 8 to June 30. The best time to appreciate the tulips is in March and April. Millions of yellow, red, white, purple, and pink tulips grace the grasslands, hills, lakesides, and forests of the park. You can also take a small boat onto the lake to enjoy the view from there.
Entrance Fee: The entrance fee is approximately 50 RMB. You can buy it in advance for 45 RMB. 25 yuan advance purchase tickets are also available for children, students, the elderly, and members of the military. Children under 1.3 meters may enter for free if accompanied by a guardian.
Transportation: You can catch a train to Shixianghu from the Chengdu West Railway Station (成都西站) starting at 25 RMB. It takes 45 minutes plus, depending on the ticket you purchase.
2. Danba, A Hidden Valley Of Ancient Towers
Danba (丹巴) is a beautiful and peaceful destination in east Ganzi Tibet Prefecture (甘孜藏族自治州) about 355 kilometers west of Chengdu City. Because most tourist routes do not pass through Danba, many of the visitors are photographers who drives there themselves, stoping along the way at Dujiangyan (都江堰), Balang Snow Mountain (巴朗山), and Mt. Siguniang (四姑娘山).
Danba and the surrounding villages are a feast for the eyes, boasting ancient watchtowers, colorful wild flowers and white pear blossoms, mountains capped with snow, green grasslands, and traditional Tibetan architecture. Consider also visiting the nearby Jiaju Tibetan Village. If you have the chance, spend at least one night in a Tibetan homestay! They can cook you dinner and breakfast. If you can get a room on the top floor, do that. Then, wake up early and enjoy an amazing sunrise.
If you’re looking to explore more of Sichuan, including Danba, you may also want to read How to Explore Western Sichuan: A 9-Day Tour Plan.
Transportation: There are two options for getting to Danba from Chengdu: 1) take the bus, or 2) hire a private car.
Bus: There is a bus that departs each morning at 6:30 am from the Chadianzi Bus Station (成都茶店子车站) in northwest Chengdu to Danba (丹巴). From Danba, it is about 11 kilometers (7 miles) to Jiaju Village. The price listed online as of July 2019 is 71 RMB ($10.00). You’ll need to take a taxi to the bus station the morning you travel, since the subway isn’t open early enough to get you there on time. We advise you get your tickets ahead of time.
Chadianzi Bus Station:
- Address: 289 Xi SanHuanLu WuDuan, Jinniu Qu, Chengdu Shi, Sichuan Sheng, 611731 (四川省成都市金牛区西三环路五段289号)
- Phone: 028-87506610; 028-87507768
- Hours: 6:00am - 7:30pm
Driving: Hiring your own car will get you there an hour or two faster. If you’re counting the time it takes to get to the Chadianzi Bus Station in the morning, you’ll be saving even more time! Additionally, you’ll have the freedom to stop at scenic spots along the way. Once you identify a driver, you should reach an agreement on the time and price before starting out. It is possible to rent different vehicles at different towns along the way. You can find drivers at the service desk for hotels, hostels, and tourist centers, or on the roadside at the entrance/exit areas of the smaller towns.
3. Yuanyang Terraced Fields in Yunnan
The gentle slops of Yuanyang Terraced Fields (元阳梯田) are an immense masterpiece of ingenuity, offering magnificent scope for photography. They are most beautiful in the spring, when the fields are freshly irrigated and decorated with flowering peach and pear trees. Sunrises and sunsets provide breath-taking reflections and shades of orange and red.
As Yuanyang Terraced Fields are in the Hani minority area, you will also get to enjoy ethnic fashion, local marketplaces, and their uniquely styled mushroom-like buildings.
Transportation: Kunming is the nearest big city.
- Bus: There are buses from Kunming to Yuanyang's old town, Xinjie Town, close to the terraces, and the journey takes about 8 hours.
- Highspeed train: You can take the train from the Kunming South Station to Jianshui Station (建水站) (1.5 hours), and transfer to a bus to continue to Yuanyang Terrace Senic Area (元阳梯景区).
- Jianshui and Yuanyang Tour (6 days): Admire the classic ancient buildings in Jianshui and recharge your spirit with the most spectacular sights of the Yuanyang Rice Terraces.
4. Longji Terraced Fields in Guilin
The elegant Longji Terraced Fields in Guilin are developed on hillsides at higher elevation than Yuanyang, and are said to offer some of the most fantastic scenery in China. Read more about Photography Tips for the Longsheng (Longji) Rice Terraces. At Longji Terraced Fields, you can experience the customs of the Yao Minority and see their wooden-styled buildings. If you come in May, you can also experience their Red Clothes Festival.
Transportation: Longji Terraced Fields Scenic Area is 95 kilometers (59 miles) from Guilin. There are no direct buses from Guilin to Longji.
- Private car: The most convenient and time-saving way to get there is to take a private tour with a private car and driver.
- Express bus: You can also take an express bus from Guilin to Longsheng County Town and then another bus from the town to the Longji terraces area. It takes about 3 hours.
- Regular bus: Finally, you can take regular bus at Guilin Qintan Bus Station and get off at Heping, a village before Longsheng, and then take a tourism bus to Ping’an or Dazhai. This takes even longer.
- Guilin Scenic and Countryside Discovery (4 days): Feast your eyes on the Longji Rice Terraces, visit a minority family and explore their centuries-old lifestyle, hop on a local tractor and enjoy the timeless landscape, and try some farm work in the fields with a local family.
5. Peach Flowers in Nyingchi, Tibet
Nyingchi (林芝市 in Chinese) is located in south-eastern Tibet at an altitude of about 2,900 meters. It is famous for its natural scenery: snow-capped mountains, steep cliffs, gem-like lakes, and flat valleys. Highlights include Basum Tso, Rawok Lake, Lulang Forest Area, and Midui Glacier. Its advantageous geographical location gives it immense forests, subtropical banana trees, palm trees, and seas of of flowers, including the Saussurea, which can only be found in cold mountain regions.
There is a peach tree forest is located five kilometers southeast of Nyingchi County called Taohua Valley (桃花沟), literally Peach Flower Valley. The Nyingchi Peach Flower Festival is held there every year in the Spring. Taohua Valley is surrounded on three sides by mountains, some capped with white snow. Complemented by green water, a blue sky, and white clouds, the natural beauty of the area will not let you down.
Read here to learn more about Nyingchi attractions.
Transportation: Most travelers travel to Nyingchi from Lhasa.
The most popular itinerary is:
- Day 1: Drive from Lhasa to Basum Tso Lake (also called Pagsum Lake, or Draksum Tso Lake) to Bayi Town, and stay at Bayi Town.
- Day 2: Drive from Baiyi Town to Lulang Forest Area.
- Day 3: Drive back to Lhasa.
6. Peony in Luoyang
Luoyang (洛阳) is an ancient city in Henan Province that served as China’s capital over more dynasties than any other capital. Situated in a defensible location with both water and good agricultural land, it became a center of politics, economy, and culture, and is considered a cradle of Chinese civilization.
Luoyang holds the Peony Fair each Spring. The best time for viewing them is around mid-April. The peony, a famous traditional Chinese flower, has been planted in Luoyang for about 1,500 years. Luoyang has developed hundreds of varieties, including red, white, pink, yellow, purple, blue, green, and black peonies. The Luoyang National Peony Garden is perhaps the best place to appreciate the flowers (10 Jichang Road / 机场路10号, telephone: 0379-6223 0406). While you’re in town, you can also check out other attractions in Luoyang.
Transportation: Luoyang is about 1 hour 40 minutes from Beijing by air and 1 hour 40 minutes from Xi’an by bullet train.
7. Pink Apricot Blossomsin Yili, Xinjiang
Yili Valley (伊犁河谷) is located in northwest Xinjiang (新疆). It becomes a beautiful and romantic place every March with pink apricot blossoms that then give way to purple lavender in the summer.
Xinhua Valley (杏花沟), literally meaning Apricot Blossom Valley, is located in Beishanpo, Tuergen Town, Xinyuan County, Yili Prefecture (伊犁州新源县吐尔根乡北山坡). Every Spring pink blossom-covered apricot trees grace the pale green slopes of Xihua Valley. They are interspersed with farm houses and herdsman, who add to the appeal of this peaceful place.
Transportation: Fly into Yining City (伊宁市) in Xinjiang. From there hire a private driver or a tour guide to drive you about 4 hours to Xinhua Valley.
- Xinjiang Silk Road Highlights Tour (7 days): From the city most remote from any sea, to an ancient city built underground, to exotic bazaars and local teas, this is a journey of a lifetime.
- China Photography Tours: Choose from a variety of photography tour packages, including guided by a top Italian photographer.
- China Hiking Tours: Choose from a variety of hiking tour options.
- Chengdu Historic Tour (4 days): Tour the historic Chengdu and nearby area, including the Dujiangyan Irrigation Project, a 2,500-year-old water conservation system that still works as well today as it did when it was built.
- Mount Siguniang and Wolong Tour (4 days): Explore Mount Siguniang, treasured by nature-lovers for its well-protected flora and fauna, along with its picturesque mountain scenery. Visit the Wolong Gengda Panda Research Center, home to over 30 giant pandas.
- Kunming, Dali, and Lijiang Tour (6 days): Yunnan Province boasts the most ethnic minorities in China. This tour includes the essential attractions in the three main cities of Yunnan. You will enjoy the elegant scenery, discover local history, and experience the minorities' unique customs.
- Tibet Tours: Choose from six packages, or tailor make your own.
Our tours can be customized. Just tell us your interests and requirements and we will tailor make your own tour.