China is full of roads less traveled. The Lonely Planet adventures in the mountains of Shangri-La in western Yunnan province are just one example.
Whether you are looking for a trip to a wilderness area, a scenic hike in the countryside, or the chance to discover a wonderful destination that few tourists have been to, this page is your signpost.
While being the most populous country in the world, China still has many large wilderness areas that do not lend themselves to the growth of population centers for climatic and topographical reasons, or sheer inaccessibility.
Areas like the Tibet-Qinghai Plateau, Sichuan-Tibet Plateau, Xinjiang (China's northwest), Inner Mongolia, and other mountainous areas of the country have amazing, sometimes incredible, scenery.
Footpaths/ Hiking Trails
Roads less traveled in China are considered by some to be more like footpaths (i.e. not suitable for cars). Even countryside roads are being developed and surfaced, and they are getting busier as more and more people buy cars.
However, the outdoor pursuits market is slowly growing, with more people having free time and disposable income to make a hiking trip on a weekend or holiday. See our China Hiking pages.
Less-Traveled China Destinations
Roads less traveled are less-traveled for a reason, and while such routes can provide interesting and worthwhile tourism, it is often at a far greater cost in terms of energy and time (not to mention money), and discomfort. Roads less traveled usually have less-comfortable (or basic) conditions and difficult access.
This said, they may actually be great value for money, with the cost of hotels, entry, etc. much lower in less-developed areas. See How to Save on a Trip to China.
Most of the time roads are less-traveled simply because they lead to nowhere worthwhile or interesting enough to travel to. But China Highlights is here to help you avoid dead ends by selecting and describing places that we believe are worth your time and money to visit.
Roads More Traveled
Of the 160 tourist destinations listed on our China City Guide there are the top 10 that everyone should visit. These are followed by another 30 or so very popular destinations.
After that we start to enter into roads less traveled with about 40 less-visited, but very interesting tourist cities. We recommend: Erdos, Kangding, and Shangri-La (Diqing).
Then we have information on another 22 large cities (all famous in China), which are significant for being provincial capitals, industrial centers, or in significant locations. The largest are: Quanzhou, Shenyang, and Tianjin. They are all very accessible, but certainly less-traveled by tourists.
China has the greatest depth of tourist destinations in the world. Even numbers 100 to 200 on the list would be well worth a visit. The last 50 or 60 destinations covered at present could be described as undiscovered destinations. They all have something to offer, from important Chinese cultural relics to amazing scenery to minority culture.
To travel with us to these destinations we may need to tailor-make a tour for you if there is no regular tour product available. Don't hesitate to contact us if you are interested or want to know more.
Click on these "Undiscovered" destinations to begin your journey of discovery:
- Mountainous scenery/ minority culture of South China: Anshun, Yuanyang, Tongren (Guizhou) (check out a recommended tour covering Guiyang, Anshun, Kaili, and Zhenyuan, whcih will lead you to enjoy the essences of South China)
- Tibetan areas/ high-altitude mountain scenery: Huanglong, Tsetang, Tong Ren (Qinghai)
- Desert areas of China's northwest: Kuqa, Korla, Yarkent, Dunhuang (Visit China's desert areas the Tracks of Marco Polo Tour, and we at China Highlights can shorten or lengthen it for you according to your requirement)
- Historic and cultural areas: in the north — Dengfeng, Handan, Jingzhou, in the south — Jingdezhen, Meizhou, in the east — Yangzhou, Yongding, and in the west — Zigong
- Historic and cultural areas with natural scenery: northwest —Kumul, Yantai, Zhangye, north — Alshan, Baotou, Datong, northeast — Tonghua, Weihai, Zibo, central-west — Luding, Ya'an, central — Shiyan, Suzhou (Anhui), east — Jiaxing, Shaoxing, south — Shaoshan, Wuyuan (Recommended tour: Chinese Brilliant Culture and Art Tour)