Not only home to some of the world’s largest cities and greatest historical treasures, there is a whole array of beautiful scenery in China to be seen during your visit, offering a variety of stunning natural landscapes. China’s sheer size means its landscapes include everything from remote mountain ranges to tranquil rivers meandering amongst limestone columns.
You may need to venture slightly off the usual tourist track to see some of these, but these incredible places to see in China are well worth the trip.
Great Wall of China (Mutianyu section)
This iconic sight regularly tops the list of what to see in China, and at a staggering 4000 miles long, making its way through much of Northern China, it’s easy to see why.
We love the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall, which is not too far from Beijing, yet avoids the crowds you’ll find at other sections such as Badaling. Take the hour-long walk from the base, or take the cable car ride to scale the heights, before walking along the famous wall, watching it wind its way through the surrounding mountainous landscape. This is also the best-restored section of the wall, built in its current form in 1569, with 23 watchtowers along the way offering brilliant viewpoints all around you.
One of the best places for nature lovers to visit in China, Jiuzhaigou is not what you’d expect to find in China – its beauty is akin to the Alps or the Rockies. Set in the remote western China, but becoming increasingly popular as a tourism destination, this extremely romantic Chinese landscape sees vast mountain forests surround mirror-like lakes, tumbling waterfalls and snow-topped mountain peaks.
Visit in autumn to see Jiuzhaigou at its most beautiful and colourful, with the reds and oranges of the trees reflecting in the luminous blues and greens of the lakes. You’ll also find some of the best nature in China here, with its wide variety of flora and fauna.
Guilin and the Li River
Tranquil and serene, the Li River offers idyllic scenery and is like a picturesque painting brought to life. The stretches past Guilin and Yangshuo are among the most popular stretches, offering plenty of activities set to the stunning backdrop. The beautifully reflective river, where you can see water buffalo wallowing and wading, courses its way between verdant hills, crop fields and unusual limestone peaks, known as karst hills.
Guilin is an excellent base for exploring the Li River, and has a host of other natural sights to admire, including the colourful Reed Flute Cave and the breathtaking Elephant Trunk Hill.
Named after the legendary Yellow Emperor, the Yellow Mountains are among the most stunning places to visit in China. It’s known for its four natural wonders, as well as the beautiful sunrises and sunsets that can be seen from the mountain summits.
Among the four natural wonders are the oddly shaped rocks, each with their own name and story, such as the tilting Flying-Over Rock, the seas of cloud, that make the peaks look like islands in the sky, and the springs of youth, where you can rest your sore muscles after a day’s hiking. Finally, the Greeting Guest Pine is perhaps the most famous tree in China, resembling a man stretching out his hand to greet visitors.
The Three Gorges
Home to the world’s largest dam, the Three Gorges Dam, the Three Gorges are undoubtedly one of the highlights of the delightful Yangtze River. With a river cruise, you can see these gorges up close, starting with the Qutang Gorge, which is surrounded by towering mountains. Here you’ll also sail through one of the narrowest points of the river, just 50m wide, passing between two bluffs that make up the Kui Gate. The Wu Gorge (Witches Gorge) is perhaps the most graceful of the three, known for its forest-covered peaks and cloud-wreathed mountaintops. Finally, the Xiling Gorge is the most treacherous waterway of the three, but has now been tamed by dams.
The inspiration for the Hallelujah Mountains in the blockbuster film Avatar, Zhangjiajie in the central Hunan province is an other-worldly landscape with some of China’s very best scenery. You’d regret leaving your camera behind here, as this National Forest Park is home to 3000 almost gravity-defying sandstone pillars, towering up into clouds of mist, set to a backdrop of forests, streams and valleys. This is a place like nowhere else.
Its lush forest and canyons mean you’ll also see a variety of wildlife, including macaques, leopards and Chinese water deer. For a sight to remember, take the world’s highest outdoor elevator to soak up the incredible and surreal views from 360 metres above a gorge.
See these landscapes come to life
There’s no better way to discover China’s breathtaking landscapes and incredible vistas than to be there and experience their raw natural beauty for yourself. On our 23-day guided China tour, you’ll be able to immerse yourself in many of these stunning landscapes, from the tranquil riverbanks of the Li River to the impressive Great Wall of China and the amazing Three Gorges, with all of your transport and accommodation expertly taken care of for you.
If you’d like to see even more of what this wonderful country has to offer and swap natural landscapes for the city lights, take a look at these fabulous cities in China and the many sights that will await you there.