China's vast and diverse territory endows the country with some of the most beautiful natural scenery on earth. From the picturesque karst landscape in Guilin and Yangshuo to the precipitous pillars in Zhangjiajie, from the Rainbow Mountains in Zhangye to the holy high land of Tibet, China's diverse natural beauty is as impressive as it is splendid culture.
- 1. Karst Landscape
- 2. The Yellow Mountains
- 3. Zhangjiajie
- 4. Lijiang
- 5. Shangri-La
- 6. Tibet
- 7. Zhangye's Danxi
- 8. Western Sichuan
- Which One(s) to Visit? Visit them at the Right Time!
1. Guilin & Yangshuo — China's Most Beautiful Karst Landscape
The Li River in Guilin is like an artist's masterpiece, bounded by classic sheer karst hills, which have inspired many poets and ink painters. It is listed as one of the world's "Top 10 Watery Wonders" by America's National Geographic Magazine and the World's "15 Best Rivers for Travelers" by CNN Travel.
Taking a leisurely cruise or a 3–4-hour family-friendly moderate hike (more on Li River hiking) are good ways to enjoy the Li River's beauty. We can take you to less-crowded stretches for you to immerse yourself in this paradise of nature.
When looking for natural beauty, Yangshuo comes first in Chinese minds for its karst hills and rivers. Get away from the touristy parts of Yangshuo and enjoy the idyllic, painting-like scenes in peace.
Challenge yourself to a SUP (stand-up paddleboard, i.e. a mini raft) on the Yulong River, take a bamboo raft, have a cycling tour into the countryside, or take an exciting drive with an all-terrain vehicle.
- 4-Day Guilin Scenic and Ethnic Discovery (The Basic Itinerary)
- 5-Day Dynamic Guilin and Yangshuo Tour (Best for Outdoor Experience)
- 6-Day Guilin, Yangshuo, and Longsheng Tour (The Classic Itinerary)
2. The Yellow Mountains and Villages Nearby
An image of a twisting pine tree growing from a curiously curved rock pops into Chinese minds when they hear of the Yellow Mountains.
These mystical and mystical mountains are the most beautiful and most famous in China. Their classic attractions are grand dawns and their "four natural wonders": peculiar pines, oddly-shaped rocks, seas of clouds, and hot springs.
This fairyland scene with the sunset and the sea of clouds is also perfect for a marriage proposal or to mark an important occasion. See our 5 Days Dynamic Huangshan Tour.
The nearby villages, for example, Bishan Village is where you could quiet down and enjoy the tranquility and beauty of the countryside.
You could walk or bike among ancient villages, stay in a typical Hui-style inn, and see how artists turn this small area into a rural paradise on canvas. Canola flowers in spring can be the icing on the cake.
Great experience from beginning to end!
Our guide, Frank, in Huangshan, Xidi and HongCun was knowledgeable, punctual and personable. He made everything go smoothly. The trip to China was wonderful and was enjoyed by my adult kids and their partners who have never been to China. Thank you both so much!!!more
Nov 2023, Susan X. Lu
China 29 days trip
From our guide in Xi’an to the guide in Kwelin , they are all excellent. 韩颂 in Beijing, Susan in Xi’an, Alvin in Huang Shan, Sally in YiZhang , Peter in Zongzhing, Doyle in 昆明，Daisy in Tali, Martin in Lijiang and the last Vincent in Guilin. They all performed their services well. We are happy to have met them, hopefully we will keep in touch.more
Nov 2023, Tiong-Oen Pouw
Enjoyable short trip with beautiful sightseeing
The Local Guide Tony was knowledgeable and he gave lots of information about the province and towns. He was patient to us especially I have slight difficulty in walking. He was capable and managed to bring us around Huang Shan to see all the different peaks and other sights even though the weather was not ideal on the first day.Overall, we enjoyed our 4 days 3 nights trip.more
Nov 2023, Lay San Ong
Huangshan, Anhui Province, China
Our guide, Tony, was very kind, helpful and had an excellent level of English.This was the first time I booked directly with a Chinese travel agency, but I would certainly do it again and recommend it to everyone who wants to visit China.more
Oct 2023, Ina
Stunning Yellow Mountain and beautiful Ancient Villages
We had the most fantastic experience with our tour guide, Jack Fan, who is very knowledgeable about the Yellow Mountain and was able to get us quickly to the most stunning highlights. He was our "photographer" anytime we wanted a photo and that was very often. We made the most of our time having him guiding us. He was truly the mountain man as he is a local there. He is very passionate about what he does. He loves history, nature, and travel, which is a must for a guide. He provided historical facts about the stunning Ancient villages at Hong Cun and Xidi. He answered any questions we had about history, nature, and current things we had. I felt like he was a professor, and we were his students in a very good way. He was NEVER late, and neither was our driver. They never bought us anywhere to "sell" us things. He took us to buy tea only when we asked to buy a specific tea, staying much later than he should have! I wanted to check out lotus and rice fields, which was not on the itinerary, but he squeezed it in for us. We were very well taken care of. I highly recommend Jack for a tour guide who speaks English.more
Sep 2023, annemompt
Our tour guide Tony was indeed very knowledgeable and helpful the entire trip. His explanation and description of the villages in English is very good. Tony is very accommodating to our requests too. The hike up in the mountains was really good and exciting and Tony managed to bring us to most of the recommended viewpoints and waited for us to catch our breath when we’re too exhausted hiking. I fully recommend getting Tony as your guide.more
Jul 2023, CindyBeezeebee
"The Mysterious and Gorgeous Peaks Make Yellow Mountain a MUST Visit"
My girlfriend and I went to Yellow Mountain during the Labor Day Holiday in China, and honestly were amazed by the actual beauty of it all. Our tour guide Sunny (thank you so much for your exquisite work) made our trip even better. The hotels that were chosen by the China Highlights agency were perfect, the Shanshui Boutique in the heart of the Huangshan city was so convenient to walk from, and the Xihai Hotel on the mountains was a perfect stop for the hiking we did for two days. The tour that we did was not enough to see everything of course so we shall be returning in the near future. We were so lucky about the weather and the crowds (holiday) that the perfect visit was even more marvelous as I proposed to my girlfriend on the Flying Rock peak during a breathtaking sunset. This will always be our rock and for that I am very grateful since Sunny the tour guide made it perfect for us.more
May 2023, High F
Absolutely Stunning Yellow Mountains
In April 23 China Highlights organised a 3 day, 2 night trip for us from Shanghai to Huangshan. From the Bullet Train to the scenery at the World Heritage Yellow Mountains to the Tea ceremony - It's a must visit for anyone visiting China, however, not often on Western Tourist Programs.more
May 2023, Megan S
Stunning Yellow Mountains - Huangshan
In April 23 China Highlights organised a 3 day, 2 night trip for us from Shanghai to Huangshan in the Anhui Province. From the Bullet Train to the scenery at the World Heritage Yellow Mountains, the meals and the Tea ceremony - It's a must visit for anyone visiting China, however, not often on Western Tourist Programs. Liberman who arranged the trip, and Tony who was our guide were always available to assist us. 10/10 - Thanks very much. Adam Liaws, "Destination Flavour China"(S1 Episode2 visits the Anhui province - worth a watch to see how beautiful the region is.more
May 2023, Leonie Megan
Mystical misty mountain tour
We three ladies took a three-day trip away from our families to enjoy the peace of the countryside and the inspiring beauty of Huangshan. China Highlights and our tour guide, Jack Fan, made the trip everything we had hoped for an even more. We started the first day with bicycle and foot tours in Bishan Village- absolutely charming! We then moved to Huangshan and… wow! It’s easy to see what artists and poets have been inspired throughout the centuries. Jack has spent years on the mountain and knows every corner of it. He made sure to take us to the best places in the limited time we had and made it all extra special by sharing the history and stories. He also knew exactly how long every path would take and planned to maximize our time with a steady pace. Early rain quickly passed and left us with the views of the moving “sea of clouds” that everyone talks about. We are all so glad we didn’t miss Huangshan- there’s a reason everyone says it’s the most beautiful mountain in China. Thanks, Jack, for a wonderful tour!more
Apr 2023, christinajeanne
4 Day Yellow Mountain Trip
Tony was an enthusiastic and knowledgeable guide, who skillfully dealt with any issues as they arose to make sure the days passed seamlessly and enjoyably.more
Sep 2022, Paul
5-Day Dynamic Huangshan Tour is a must!
My husband and I were in awe of the natural beauty of the Yellow Mountain. Our guide Phillip Tong, with China Highlights, gave us an exceptional experience at our pace. (As an older couple this was greatly appreciated.) He shared his vast knowledge of history and cultural significance as we trekked over and around the mountain, touring Bishan, and Hongcun. We concluded our trip by making fish lanterns. China Highlights has once again provided us with great memories.more
Aug 2022, Catherine C
I did a 4 day trekking in the Yellow…
I did a 4 day trekking in the Yellow Mountains with China Highlights and it was even more stunning than I thought it would be. Spend two nights in the mountains and one in Huangshan, totally worth is. This is a place you must visit and according to my guide every season had it’s own beauty. I will definitely come back! Coco planned the whole trip according to my wishes and Tony was a perfect guide being very knowledgeable and supportive. If you don’t have 4 days I’m sure a three, or even two, day trip will be very nice as well!more
Aug 2022, Elizabeth
We had a memorable experience hiking
We had a memorable experience hiking the Yellow Mountain in Huangshan. Our trip was complicated by the typhoon that hit the area and we had to have a flexible itinerary, China Highlights helped with this. Once we arrived, Tony was very helpful & was able to tailor the experience for the different fitness levels in the group.more
Sep 2021, Leigh Smith
Fantastic tour and guide
Our guide for the 3 days was Tony, who was very knowledgeable, friendly, polite and spoke good english. Tony even went out of his was last minute to organize a birthday cake for my wife. He was a terrific guide. --Travel 73002more
Dec 2019, Travel 73002
Fantastic and memorable trip to Xi’an with Rocky as our guide
Dec 2019, jaimitra
Beautiful Yellow Mountains/Tunxi/Hongcun tour with our guide April Yao
Great tour arrangement by Coco Yang. We had a fabulous time with April Yao. She is courteous, knowledgeable about Huangshan and spoken excellent English. She is very caring and very patient especially during our hike to ensure we enjoy the scenery with no rush at all. She goes beyond her duty and is always helpful to take group photos of us including short video clips of the amazing scenery. THANK YOU April Yao for an amazing and unforgettable trip with you. Would definitely recommend China Highlights for a customized private tour. Money well spent! Make sure you ask for April Yao as your guide in Yellow Mountains. -----fongsherina Sydney, Australiamore
Nov 2019, fongsherina
Three days on Mt Huangshan
I recently visited the much fabled Huangshan aka Yellow mountain in my second visit to China. I had seen pictures when I was researching my trip but the place simply took my breath away. Amazing rock formations and trees growing out of granite create a surreal landscape! The place is simply a natural wonder. We first visited Tunxi (Huangshan city) which is pretty special in itself as it has merely 100,000 people and offers a little old town with fabulous handicrafts (wood carvings, bags etc.) and local eats (try hairy tofu!....it may look daunting but it tastes delicious!) Next day we started our exploration of Huangshan mountain. Huangshan offers many many hiking trails in the different scenic areas. The hiking path is man-made steps and based on one‘s ability and appetite there are many to choose from. One can take a comfortable cable car ride up to the mountain that offers stunning vistas so be ready to snap some amazing scenery. Then one starts hiking down the mountain. There is a monorail to take you back up the mountain should you be staying in one of the hotels on the mountain. We ourselves did various hikes with our fantastic guide Tony who is very knowledgeable and really took care of us starting from preparing snacks for the day and showing us the most spectacular views. We spent about 2.5 days exploring the mountain and if I had an extra pair of legs I would have done more! ;-) We stayed two nights on top of the mountain. While the accommodations offered all the basic creature comforts, the mountain itself retains an unspoilt aura which makes the experience just perfect. So one gets to enjoy almost unadulterated nature without sacrificing on the essentials. Finally, in our China trip, we visited four other mountains and my personal recommendation is that if one had to choose one mountain to visit in China, then it should be Huangshan! It is less than 2 hours from Shanghai by bullet train and there is no other place like it! I for sure would love to visit again and this time for longer! ---36debimmore
Nov 2019, 36debim
We booked a 2 day trip Huangshan / Yellow Mountains with China Highlights. April Yao was our guide and she reallly could read our wishes and feelings.... Before I start: "Hiking" in the Yellow Mountains means walking on a paved path and "climbing" up and down steps. The main routes are very, very crowded. There is no "wild" or natural path hiking like Europeans use to do... She guided us quickly away from the chinese tourist masses to some spectacular "lonley" points (you will never be alone in China). The late afternoon hike with breathtaking views and a beautiful sunset on the eastern side of the park was a highlight. Especially after 4pm most of the tourists go back down and the place becomes calmer. However, there are still many people on the mountain in the various hotels. We were in the Xihai Hotel 5*- very comfortable, quite a good level. Be aware: go for dinner early, we collected the food left after 7.30 pm and at 8 they started to clean (officially open till 8.30 pm). Next Morning: watch the sunrise - our one was not as spectacular as sunset. After breakfast we did a tour to the highest point, some more spectacular views and headed back for an excellent lunch to the valley. On the way back we visited a village close by (forgot the name) and in the evening we took a massage in Haungshan City - I felt like a cooked noodle afterwards... but great program. What would I do different? Next time I would ask for an extended tour including the cable train on the backside of the mountain. This seemed to be quite spectacular but would probably require 2 -3 more hours of hiking. And I would probably not go up there on a weekend or in highseason. --Patrick.Teufenmore
Six wonderful days in the Anhui Province
I had the pleasure of staying in the most wonderful 10-bedroom hotel called the Pig's Inn in Bishan and Bishan itself is a lovely village to explore and to go cycling. The Huangshan Mountains are spectacular and I would definitely recommend to spend the better part of three days or more hiking there and not just a day trip as you will miss so much if limited to one day. I have also been hiking in the Huashan Mountains with China Highlights and they are also spectacular too, but if you have been to Huashan do not think it is more of the same in Huangshan.more
Nov 2019, jameslP6516B
3. Zhangjiajie — Precipitous Pillars
The precipitous pillars in Zhangjiajie National Forest Park are the inspiration for the Hallelujah Mountains in Avatar.
Zhangjiajie is famous for its towering peaks, breathtaking rock pillars, and deep valleys. The forest of massive pillars is one of the best muses for photographers in China.
Take a 4-day tour of the main highlights in Zhangjiajie: Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon with its Glass Bridge, and Tianmen Mountain.
Want a non-touristy route? 5-Day Zhangjiajie Hiking and Biking Tour for Any Level is a good choice.
Bungee jumping at Zhangjiajie Glass Bridge is available. Contact us to arrange an adventure tailored for you.
4. Lijiang — An Ancient Town with Awesome Natural Beauty
Lijiang, with its ancient town, snowy mountains, highland glacial lakes, and majestic canyons is truly a breathtakingly beautiful destination.
A stroll in Lijiang Ancient Town brings you a charming look at local Naxi minority life. Take a cable car up Jade Dragon Snow Mountain to enjoy fantastic views of the glaciated peak.
Or you may choose to skip the cable car, hike through the bushes, wade across a little stream, and enjoy exclusive views of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain that only hikers can.
Take a 2-day hike along the deepest-but-easily-accessible gorge. Tiger Leaping Gorge is considered the best hiking trail in China and a once-in-a-lifetime bucket-list experience. You will not only hike between two holy snow-capped mountains but also be a party to the most remarkable views when passing the steep 28 bends and the most tumultuous part of the Jinsha River.
Lijiang Tour with Alice
My husband and I arrived in Lijiang after Dali. We met Alice, our new tour guide for the next two days. Alice is a compassionate person with a heart full of love and care. She makes sure we dress warmly before taking our tours to the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and the Tiger Leaping Gorge.Alice is well-spoken about the culture of local people in Lijiang. During our visit to the Naxi ethnic community, we learned how to make and sample the Naxi pancake and tea with Yak butter. We felt it was a rewarding experience to learn about the livelihood of people as we tour.Many thanks to China Highlights for arranging our traveling itinerary in Lijiang.more
Nov 2023, AL
Our trip to Yunnan
Alice is very personable, warm, friendly and shared with us many of their cultures and stories. Pema is very energetic and accompany us for the half day hike in the tiger leaping gorge.We would definitely recommend China Highlights to anyone for their holiday in China!more
Nov 2023, TAN YIDA
Our trip to Li Jiang and Shaxi Yunnan
We arrived at Lijiang on 9/8. We enjoyed the time in Lijiang a lot with good hotel selection and a well planned program. We went onto Shaxi for the local singing festival of the local minority groups. It was a fantastic experience. What makes the trip most memorable is our guide Alice. She took excellent care of us, anticipating our every need. She was personable, warm and very knowledgeable. We shared many laughters and traded stories. She brought smiles to us during the entire trip. We will specifically ask for her again when we come back to Yunnan. Five star service.more
Sep 2023, Consumer
Lijiang, Tiger Leaping Gorge and Shangri-la
We would like to thank China Highlights Travel for planning and organizing our China hiking trip. Roger Li (Trip Planner) was really prompt in all correspondences and helped us to fine tune our travel details. We are a party of 4 and had multiple hiking destinations in mind in the beginning. Roger gave us details of each option and we finally decided to go hiking in the famous Tiger Leaping Gorge. In addition, Roger helped us to add itinerary in Lijiang and Shangri-la after the hiking. Really looking forward to our China hiking trip in October!more
Sep 2023, Joyce Lee
We love China
From the beginning we had a trustfull knowlegeable base of communication, started with Lukas the tour advisor and guide around Guilin and continued with the other guides in the other locations. Shanghai FU, Zhangjiajie Emili, Xián Juanli, Kunmimg Nen ,Lijiang Luzhuoying, Chongqing ??, Yangtze, Haikou ?? and Beijing Chengang. We were totaly positivly impressed about the overall service during our time in China. We felt save and wellcomed at any time. We had every day our individual highlight. For example, breathless nature, extraordinary hotels, historical buildings and places, well tasting food and social contacts on the streets. All our tour guides and drivers made a professional customer orientated job and supported us in the best possible way. Even if we want to make changes on short notice they made it happen. We spent a remarkable and unforgetable time in China and been very thankful to China Highlights to create this moments in time for us.more
Jun 2023, Karlheinz Potuznik
Jack Li , our tour guide at LiJiang, took great care of us when we climbed Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and suffered high altitude issues. At Dali, our tour guide Nancy Li doubled up as our photographer and speaks excellent English and entertained us with her rich knowledge of Chinese history. We had a wonderful time.more
Apr 2023, April Lee
Thank you for such a wonderful traveling experience!
We have Jack Lee in our Lijiang trip he was such a considerate and kind tour guide. He is very knowledgeable and he accommodated all our requirement. We were fortunate to have such a nice local tour guide. I had altitude sickness and he really cared. Our private driver Mr Tang is very safe and patient. He is compliant and cares for our safety all the time. He is very humorous and gave us so much laughter. He was also very caring towards me.more
Apr 2023, Hazel T
Cultural and scenic beauty second to none!
I would highly recommend this tour to Lugu Lake to everyone and anyone! The tour guide Jack taught me more in two days about minority cultures, Chinese history, and the amazing natural history and geography of Yunnan and the Lijiang area. As well, the drive to Lugu Lake requires an expert - and Mr Wang is an expert! (From someone who has crossed the Rockies at least 20 times) As a single woman travel who still doesn’t have great Chinese it was a flawless experience - from the communications, accommodation and breathtaking scenery and cultural experiences. Please book and go!more
Feb 2023, Connie VH
We have been travelling around Yunnan…
We have been travelling around Yunnan Province for 8 days and it’s been amazing. The culture, the food, the people’s kindness, all these things made our trip unforgettable. Especially our guide Nancy! The most helpful and friendly guide we could have. We really appreciate her knowledge about the local history and the culture. She’s really amazing and we strongly recommend her services.more
Mar 2022, Danielle Toledo
Awesome Yunnan trip with Nancy
We had a 6-day tour with guide Nancy around Dali, Lijiang and Shangri-La in Yunnan. She’s very professional and experienced guide that made our tour far exceed expectations. It was a pleasure to have her as our tour guide. We strongly recommend her. Thank you!more
Mar 2022, Rodrigo
One of the best things I’ve done in China
One of the best things I’ve done in China. Being that I am pretty well traveled in China this Experience was so different from the others. Each city provided a different aspect of the culture, local traditions and beauty that China has to offer. Our Tour guide Nancy was amazing as she made our itinerary very well constructed and organized. She was there to make sure we were comfortable and happy. Her hyper energy and cheerfulness made us feel enthusiastic for the day. We are very satisfied with this trip and Nancy’s services that we will be sure to book again.more
Feb 2022, RoshR
Lijiang Trip July 2021
Kudos to Alisa Liu from the agency who I must say was on hand almost 24/7 for requests and queries. Even though our trip was marred with the onset of the Typhoon In Fa with various flight and train cancellations but Alisa was quick to arrange for alternative solutions under the circumstances and made the most effort to make our journey as comfortable as possible whilst we made our way back to Shanghai. As for the itinerary, Alisa understands her clientele’s different needs very well and for the most part my expectations were met. I love private tours with a very relaxed itinerary and comfortable accommodation and some of us prefer more exclusive accommodation vs a packed itinerary trying to go to a hundred location type of tour.more
Aug 2021, Ida Suriani
Summer holiday in Yunnan
After spending 5 nights in Dali visiting sights in our own time, Alice who was very friendly and helpful, accompanied us on our drive from Dali to Lijiang. She shared interesting facts about the local area and the things we had done. In Lijiang, we met our guide Peter. Peter did an amazing job taking care of us and showing us the beautiful sights for our 3 days. He was so kind, providing us with snacks each morning and always ensuring the food met my dietary requirements. He even picked up our last minute NAT results that we did before our departure late at night! His passion and dedication to his job was very impressive, and we would highly recommend him to our friends.more
Aug 2021, O6866ZGlaurag
Amazing experience in Yunnan
Please bear in mind that booking tickets and actually getting to the sightseeing point is very challenging, especially during peak season. But with the help of our guides everything went smooth and silky. Thank you, China Highlights, for making our first trip to Yunnan an unforgettable and carefree adventure. It was a true relaxation without any headache or stress. We had nothing to worry about, except enjoying breathtaking beauty of Yunnan.more
Jul 2021, olya84
Natural landscapes are everything
I visited Lijiang during the Spring Festival and I thought it was gonna be packed with people but my guide always knew were to take me to avoid crowds. I had a great time, my guide was very knowledgeable and answered all of my questions with gusto. I’m very happy with my trip. --lunarcicles，Buenos Aires, Argentinamore
Feb 2019, lunarcicles
5. Shangri-La — the Holy Meili Snow Mountains
In the southwest of Deqin County, Shangri-La, and the surrounding Meili Snow Mountains is a holy place of pilgrimage for Tibetan people. The mountain range has 13 peaks and the main peak is Kawagebo, which is 6,740 meters (22,100 feet) above sea level.
The most important highlight is the golden sunrise on these spectacular snow-capped peaks.
The best season to visit the Snow Mountains is autumn when the sky is clear and blue.
Besides the snow-capped mountains, you can also see plateau lakes, thick forests, exotic flowers and trees, and various wild animals in the mountains. There are many Tibetan monasteries and villages at the foot of the mountains, bringing you a real Tibetan cultural experience.
Pudacuo National Park, about 22 km (14 mi) from Shangri-La, is also stunning in the fall. The blue sky, red meadows, clear lakes, and colorful forests make a beautiful picture.
6. Tibet — Lofty Mountain Splendor
Tibet, locked in the Himalayas, holds travelers' imaginations of the lost Shangri-la. From the unspoiled sacred lakes to the world's highest peak — Mount Everest; from the vast untouched Changtang Grasslands to the depths of the Yarlung-Tsangpo Canyon, the Roof of the World is filled with awe and pristine beauty.
If you are interested in the Tibetan lifestyle, we can arrange for you to visit a local Tibetan family. You could talk to the host (with our guide's interpreting) about the family's life and help them with farming work.
Tibet doesn't accept independent travelers. Traveling with a travel agency is required. Contact us to explore the main highlights from Lhasa to Everest Base Camp. Consider a top Tibet trekking trip, the Everest Base Camp trek, if you'd love a more outdoorsy experience.
- 5-Day Lhasa Highlights and Lake Yamdrok Tour
- 8-Days Lhasa to Everest Base Camp Tour
- 17-Day Beijing-Xian-Tibet-Chengdu-Guilin-Hong Kong
7. Zhangye's Danxia Landscape — Rainbow Mountains
The Danxia landscape in Zhangye is vividly named "Rainbow Mountains" by many due to its dazzling colors. Danxia (丹霞 /dan-sshya/) means "red, red clouds". In China's remote northwest, Zhangye is deeply loved by photographers and en route for those on a Chinese Silk Road scenery and culture journey.
The landscape is composed of curvy, layered, multi-hued formations, most of which are several hundred meters high. When the sun shines on them, their colors appear in full vibrancy. It looks like an oil painting when the vast red rock formations are simply set against a pure blue sky.
- 6-Day Zhangye and Dunhuang Photography Tour
- 8-Day Qinghai Lake, Zhangye, and Dunhuang Tour
- 10-Day Lanzhou–Xiahe–Zhangye–Dunhuang–Turpan–Urumqi Tour
8. Western Sichuan Province — Pure Daocheng Yading Nature Reserve
Yading Nature Reserve is called "the last pure land on earth" and "the last Shangri-La".
It features snow-capped mountains, crystal-clear lakes, vast grasslands, and colorful forests. You can tour it by starting from Chengdu and passing through Xinduqiao, a picturesque Tibetan town famous for its plateau pasture views, before arriving at Daocheng Yading Nature Reserve. You will see stunning fall scenery throughout the whole trip.
The Tibetan cultural experience is another highlight of this route. You can see many ancient monasteries and Tibetan-style houses during the trip.
- 4-Day Western Sichuan Tibetan Spring Tour from Chengdu
- 8-Day Chengdu to Shangri-La Adventure Tour
- 9-Day In-Depth Exploration of Western Sichuan — Baby Pandas, Eastern Alps, and Hidden Monasteries
9. Kanas in North Xinjiang — Beautiful Mountain Lake
Nestled in the deep forests and mountains of Altay, Kanas is a truly beautiful mountain lake. Since its access roads have been improved for travelers, it has attained a reputation as "the tourism pearl of Mountainous Altai".
The lake takes on different colors following the four seasons: sometimes it's crystal blue, sometimes it's dark green or even gray, and you may find it containing many colors setting off each other, thus it got a name as "the color-changing lake".
Nearby Kanas Lake, you can visit a village of the Tuwan tribe, which is a branch of the Mongolian ethnic group. Believers of Lamaism, live in their traditional houses and practice their centuries-old traditions. If you are interested in local culture, you can visit the village or even stay with hospitable families.
- 8-Day North Xinjiang Tour (with Kanas)
- 7-Day Xinjiang Highlights Tour (Best for First Timers)
- 8-Day Xinjiang Tour with Ili (Best for Summer)
10. Ejina Desert Polar Forest in Inner Mongolia
A Euphrates poplar golden leaves shoot in autumn is a dream trip for many photography lovers. If you're one of them, the Populus euphratica forest in Ejina, Inner Mongolia is the right place for you.
Ejina Euphrates Poplar Forest is one of the best remaining ancient desert poplar forest areas and features dazzling golden leaves, dreamy water reflections, running sheep, and boundless deserts with longed-for camel riding opportunities. It is a good place for both sunrise and sunset shoots.
With its advantageous position adjacent to Gansu Province, Ejina Euphrates Poplar Forest is usually combined with a trip along the legendary Silk Road. Traveling from Dunhuang to Zhangye via Jiayuguan and Ejina, with the mysterious Mogao Caves, desert landscapes, colorful landforms, and stunning golden leaves, you will have a rich touring experience.
11. Hangzhou — Next Best Place to Heaven
Renowned for its scenic beauty, Hangzhou is one of the most photogenic cities in China. In the 13th century, Marco Polo described Hangzhou as "the city of heaven" and "the finest and most splendid city in the world".
Hangzhou's most famous sight, West Lake, is considered one of the most beautiful sights in China. Each season offers picturesque scenes that will leave an ever-lasting impression.
The best time to go is spring (March to May). The lake, ancient buildings, and causeways decorated with flower blossoms are the theme of many elegant Chinese paintings.
Hangzhou is also a good place to learn about Chinese tea culture. You could visit a tea plantation to see how farmers pick tea leaves, learn the process of making tea, and taste a cup of China's most-adored tea. See our 5-Day Shanghai & Hangzhou with Watertown Tour
Also, read How to Plan a Hangzhou Tour.
12. The Yuanyang Terraced Fields — Steps to Heaven
"If you are a traveler, but have never been to Yuanyang,
Yuanyang will feel sad for you;
If you are a photographer but have never been to Yuanyang,
God will feel sorry for you!"
There are many things that you know will never be surpassed once you see their beauty. And you will find Yuanyang's terraced fields are the most beautiful terraces in the world, once you have been there.
- Also, read China's Five Most Beautiful Rice Terraces.
- Recommended itinerary: 6-Day Jianshui and Yuanyang Tour
13. Jiuzhaigou — Colorful Alpine Lakes
Jiuzhaigou, in remote western China, has inspired dreams of a colorful fairyland among many travelers. Jiuzhaigou features multicolored lakes surrounded by vast mountain forests. These lakes change color throughout the day and year. The colors come from the reflections of surrounding mountainsides and algae and minerals in the lakes.
Fall is the most beautiful season in Jiuzhaigou, when the landscape changes color, providing a vivid backdrop of autumnal hues — an unspoiled, dazzling beauty rarely rivaled in China.
- 3-Day Jiuzhaigou and Huanglong Highlights Tour
- 6-Day Essential Chengdu and In-Depth Jiuzhaigou Tour
- 7-Day Chengdu, Mount Emei, and Jiuzhaigou Scenic Tour
14. Sanya — Warm Winter Escape
Located at the southern tip of China's Hainan Island, this tropical paradise is known as the "the Hawaii of China".
Sanya has the best beaches in China, and you will find plenty of resort choices at Yalong Bay, Dadonghai, and Sanya Bay. Wuzhizhou Island and West Island are paradises for diving enthusiasts.
What about walking on a suspension bridge or flying over the rainforest on a zipline? The tropical rainforests bring you choices of exciting and adventurous activities. Nanwan Monkey Island is especially popular among families with children.
Looking for a warm winter vacation? Our 5-Day Sanya Tour with the Best Beach ensures you uncompromised fun with the ocean, the beach, and the sun.
15. Xishuangbanna — Tropical and Exotic Charms
Remember the "Long March" of 15 Asian elephants in 2021?
Right, they came from Xishuangbanna — a pleasant place with an annual average temperature of about 20°C (68°F). It is a paradise of tropical plants, a kingdom of wild animals, and home to the Theravada Buddhist temples of China.
Nature lovers would be spoiled with a visit to the Tropical Botanical Garden in Xishuangbanna, which has the richest collection of species and the most plant-specific attractions anywhere in China.
Stilt-style Dai houses are dotted throughout every corner of the region. Take ethnic-culture-rich pictures and find yourself in a truly Southeast Asian atmosphere.
Last, but not least, local tourists rush to Xishuangbanna in winter to escape the cold further north. More flights are available, but you will find airfares are comparatively high during winter times.
What about a short hike in the tropical forest or a stay in a treehouse, relaxing in the oxygen-rich air? Or a chance to interact with the native Asian elephants and peacocks? Our 6-Day Xishuangbanna and Pu'er Tour gets you in touch with the rainforest.
Which One(s) to Visit?
These top 15 most beautiful places in China are excellent destinations that everyone would visit if they could. But, for the best experience, it is important that you choose the places to visit that best meets your travel needs at the right time for you.
Visit at the Right Time
These 15 places are suitable to travel all year round, but the best times are definitely April to May and September to early November when the weather is the most pleasant on average. There are some exceptions:
- Sanya: Want somewhere sunny and warm for winter? This is a great place for a winter escape.
- The Yuanyang Terraced Fields: For great photos, try to visit between January and March when the terraces are irrigated with water.
- The Yellow Mountains: The snow-capped Yellow Mountains in winter are quite different from their legendary popularity in other seasons — more like a peaceful haven.
- Tibet: It's the rainy season in Tibet during summertime, but there isn't much rain and temperatures are the most comfortable of the year. The annual Shoton Festival is around that time.
- If you want to avoid heat and enjoy a cool summer holiday, Jiuzhaigou, Lijiang, and western Sichuan are good options.
Busy Golden Weeks:
- Ejina Desert Polar Forest: To enjoy the very best of the golden poplar leaves, visit in early October during the National Day holiday in China (if you do not mind crowds).
No matter what season you are visiting China, our consultants will arrange a suitable itinerary for you to enjoy the beauty of China. All our tours can be customized based on your interests and requirements. Just contact us.
Visit These Beautiful Places with Us
It is hard to plan a trip to cover all these naturally beautiful places on your own. Our travel advisors can help you with an itinerary and personal advice. They can help you choose awesome places according to your interests, and plan the trip you want.
If you are planning to travel to these places, click on the links in the article for more information. Or contact us to tailor-make a tour according to your requirements. Or continue to read How to Plan a First Trip to China.
Here are two sample itineraries for inspiration: