20 Breathtaking Places Around China We Didn't Know Existed

Many people have fallen in love with China and there is no wonder why. It is one of the few countries in the world which offers us majestic views of both natural and manmade structures. A trip to some of the country’s most beloved cities is exciting as it is filled with much adventure. People have fallen in love with The Great Wall of China and The Forbidden City, which are the country’s most popular tourist attractions.

The Great Wall is an obvious national attraction as it is the world’s longest wall and the Forbidden City of the Ming and Qing Dynasties helps us all appreciate their history so much more. This large country has over 1.3 billion people, so much diversity in terms of cultures, cuisines, artwork…it is therefore understandable to look for more from the country. It is not that we’re tired of The Forbidden City and The Great Wall. Oh no – we’d never get tired of these amazing sites. But our love for the country pushes us to seek for more. We seek for more because we know that the country has so much to offer. We now bring our list of beautiful places in China that do not get as much attention, but certainly should.

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20 Dongchuan Red Land

Via AtlasOfWonders

The Dongchuan Red Land isn’t nicknamed “God’s Magic Palette” for no reason. It is one of the most striking and distinctive in the world. The land is this color because of the combination of the humid climate and iron elements depositing oxidation into the soil over the years. The Red Land is situated in China’s town of Xintian, near Kunming, and extends for around 30 miles. The best times to visit and be able to fully enjoy and be in awe of this striking red beauty is in May/June, as well as September to November so keep that in mind if you’re planning a trip to China soon.

19 Tea Fields Of Meijiawu

Via EasyTourChina

Many know that some of the best teas in the world come from China. If you’re a tea lover, then perhaps you should consider taking a trip to Meijiawu Village where you can just take a moment and marvel at the fields that harvest your most beloved drink. China Highlights states that the village once “entertained the leaders of the Soviet Union, the United States, Vietnam, Great Britain and Cambodia”, so you know their tea is good. Perhaps one of the most heartwarming parts of the story of Meijiawu is that it was once a poor village until the villagers decided to harvest tea.

18 Buddhist Sculptures in Sandstone

Via Pinterest

Sandstone Buddhist sculptures can be found in Yungang Grottoes. If you’re spiritual and would love to learn more about Buddhism then perhaps visiting Yungang Grottoes will be best for you. The stone carvings were made in the 5th and 6th century so if you’re also into archaeology and history, then you might also want to add this visit onto your itinerary. The Grottoes were made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001 and considered to be “a masterpiece of early Chinese Buddhist cave art”. An interesting thing to also note is how the Buddhist carvings have been influenced by ancient Chinese culture and traditions.

17 Jiuzhaigou - A Lake That Changes Colors

Via NeverEndingTraveller

Jiuzhangou is another UNESCO World Heritage Site and understandably so – the waterfalls and lakes are all so picturesque. There are around 114 lakes in the National Park so you will be sure to have more than a moment to enjoy Mother Nature at its best.

One of the lakes – Five Flower Lake, displays at least 5 different kinds of colors in the lake. The colors change at different times of the day, during different seasons. If you’re a lover of nature and simply breathtaking views, then of course, Jiuzhangou National Park is the perfect place to stop by on your next trip to China.

16 Lake Village In Suzhou

Via TravelNotes

Okay, so this one on the list is not like the previously mentioned National Park where you get to see Mother Nature’s lakes and waterfalls at their best as it is in all secluded. The Lake Village in Suzhou is still spectacular and deserves a trip for you to see it.

The particular village that is sure to give you amazing views is Zhouzhuang Water Town, which is just 18 miles from Suzhou. The village has preserved its ancient residential homes and the place also offers visitors a moment to take in not just the beauty of the waters, but the beauty of the cultures in China as well.

15 Yuangyang Rice Fields

Via CitiesTips

We’ve covered how China is famous for its amazing teas. Rice terraces are also quite popular in the country and if you’re nearby one of the many villages that have them, why not stop by to appreciate the beauty and also get a photo op?

The rice terraces in Yuanyang cover a spectacular 28, 005 acres. The Hani people of China are the harvesters of this masterpiece which covers 3 000 steps. The history of the Hani people in the area dates back to 2 500 years ago as they arrived in the mountains and started growing the rice in order to make a living.

14 Shangli - Historic Architecture

Via ChinaDailyBlog

Many people who visit China do so as they are interested in learning and experiencing the amazing traditions and cultures of the country, traditions and cultures which date back to millennia ago. One place to get more of a feel of this is by visiting Shangli.

Shangli is an ancient town situated in the north side of Sichuan. You will get to see the ancient town, bridges (which have been made distinctively as no two bridges are alike), the ancient building of houses and the streams of the town. The weather is also perfection so the town can be visited throughout the year.

13 Keifeng City

Via ChinaDaily

If your visit to China involves searching for ancient gems, then your visit is simply incomplete without stopping by Keifeng City. The city was once the capital of China’s Song Dynasty and remains one of the 8 ancient capitals of China so all the history fanatics should definitely include a trip here in their itinerary.

Another interesting aspect of Keifeng City is how it is interfaith not only with the cultures, traditions and religions of China, but also those from outside of China. In terms of religion, one can find Kaifeng Jews, Muslims and also Christians in the city of Keifeng.

12 Dazu Rock Carvings

Via Pinterest

This is yet another item on the list which falls under the UNESCO World Heritage Site umbrella. The rock carvings in Dazu date back to the 9th and 13th century. UNESCO highlights their significance clearly as they explain that “they are remarkable for their aesthetic quality, their rich diversity of subject matter, both secular and religious, and the light that they shed on everyday life in China during this period”.

There are 5 clusters of rock carvings in the steep hills of Dazu and there are more than 10 000 of these carvings so you know you that this is definitely a needed full day trip to take all the history and art in.

11 Saint Sophia Cathedral

Via DreamsTime

The green onion like domes ontop of this cathedral make it an unmissable landmark in Harbin City. The church was built in 1907 and renovated a few years later. Saint Sophia Cathedral is the largest Orthodox Church in the Far East and one look at it and you can’t deny that it is certainly a monumental work of art. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this is the fact that it is the largest Orthodox Church in the Far East. This reminds us that China is a country not only rich in its cultures, traditions, and faiths but also welcoming of others.

10 Zhangye Danxia Landform

Via Forbes

The rainbow mountains of Zhangye Danxia Landform are a must see on your next trip to China because well…just look at them. They are a beautiful natural wonder and will have you appreciating all the majestic colors they have.

The mountains cover an area of 124 sq miles. If you’re wondering how on earth the mountains got this way – it was through deposits of sandstone as well as other minerals over millions of years that caused this beautiful wonder. Many tourists, as well as locals, appreciate the mountains as the Chinese National Geography magazine voted the mountains one of the “six most beautiful landforms” in China, in 2009.

9 Guanyin of Nanshan Statue

Via LostMonumentsPictures

In this list, we’ve already covered how China offers visitors plenty of natural wonders and manmade wonders. Another sure thing that the Chinese offer is spirituality. The country is rich with traditional and cultural beliefs and faiths across their many different ethnic group that it would simply take the whole day to explain them. If you’re a tourist who is intrigued by the spiritual aspects of countries you visit, then perhaps a visit to the Guanyin of Nanshan statue will make you happy. The statue is 354 ft tall and has three aspects: there is one side of the statue which faces inland and then there are an additional two sides which face the South China Sea and represent protection and blessings.

8 Huangguoshu Waterfalls

Via TravelWireAsia

If you’re a tourist who loves the idea of cooling off in beautiful serene natural waters after a long day of traveling and doing and experiencing other touristy stuff, then going by the Huangguoshu Waterfalls should definitely be on your radar.

You will definitely not be disappointed if you’re looking for something large and impressive as these waterfalls are the largest in China and are also the largest in the whole of East Asia. The perfect viewing spot is Waterfall-Viewing Pavilion, as this is where you will be able to see all the waterfalls in the area at a close enough distance.

7 Mount Emei

Via Youtube

This is another aspect on the list that reveals the deeply spiritual side of the Chinese people. Mount Emei is one of the sacred Buddhist Mountains of China. It is regarded by locals as a place of enlightenment but it has not always been that way. According to Chinese sources which date back all the way to the 16th and 17th centuries, the mountain was initially a mountain where martial arts was practised by locals but has now turned into a Buddhist sacred mountain. There are 76 Buddhist monasteries around the mountain so you will be in awe of not just the one large central monastery.

6 Mausoleum Of The First Qin Emperor

Via TheLifeOfErnestChen

You may have already heard about this one on the list as the sight is loved by many visitors to China, especially those who are intrigued by the history of the country. The mausoleum was constructed from 246 to 208 BC and is the location of the tomb of the first emperor of China.

The Mausoleum was modeled after the Qin capital Xianyang and displays the inner and outer cities of the time. The tomb of the emperor has not been excavated and this adds a bit of authenticity to it as there has not been any “outside influence”. This is undoubtedly another UNESCO World Heritage Site and there is no wonder why.

5 Qiandao Lake - Large Manmade Lake

Via ChinaConnectionTours

If you’re wondering why on earth there is yet another water-related item on the list, well, it’s because this one is unlike any other. The Qiandao Lake can be found in Chun’an Country, Zhejiang. Directly translated, it means “Thousand Island Lake” and it is special because it is the only water-related item on the list that is as a result of man.

The Qiandao Lake is manmade was formed all the way back in 1959 after the completion of Xin’an River hydroelectric station nearby. There are large islands around the lake and the area is mostly forested and it covers an area of about 221 sq miles so you know you’ll be have majestic photo ops all around you.

4 Sand Mountain Crescent Mingsha Shan

Via VisitourChina

This is perhaps one of the most unique aspects on this list. A dessert in China? Yep, there is one and you’ll want to add this onto your itinerary, mostly because of the amazing photo ops you’ll be able to get on the sandy mountains. The Mingsha dessert mountains are located in Dunhuang and are a great hit with tourists. You’ll be in awe because the sands are said to have 5 different colors – yellow, red, white, blue and black.

China Discovery explains why it is referred to as the echoing sand mountain, “When a strong wind blows you can hear a loud sound like roaring made by the moving sands. While when a light wind blows, the sand echoes like some gentle sound of orchestral music”.

3 Yangshuo Riverside Town

Via EscapismMagazine

Just one look at Yangshuo and you’ll fully understand why a visit there needs to be added to your itinerary to China. The county is beautiful and majestic. Perhaps a large part of this beauty can greatly be attributed to the dramatic mountain landscape of the town.

These mountains are a favorite for many climbers as there is even a Yangshuo Climbing Festival which occurs between September and November. If you’re more into the views that you’ll be able to get here, then a visit in January to February, during the Chinese New Year, will offer you amazing colors in the sky as this is the Chinese New Year and there will be plenty of fireworks.

2 Zhangjiajie National Forest Park

Via WorldAtlas

If you feel like you’ve seen these mountains before, you’re right. You might have seen them in a “small” movie that broke cinematic boundaries a few years ago in 2009 – Avatar, and who knows, if you pay this place a visit, then perhaps you might be inspired to write your very own masterpiece.

The most striking feature to the mountains is their pillar-like formations, which can be found throughout the national park. It is said that the shape of these mountains is a result of years of physical, rather than chemical erosion. Zhangjiajie was recognized as the country’s first national forest park and you’ll definitely have plenty of views to enjoy.

1 Xishuangbanna - See Elephants

Via ChinaEscape

Number 1 on the list is perhaps the most exciting item to add to your itinerary. Yes, the temples, sculptures, mountains, and waters were majestic and all, but at the end of the day, we’re human beings and there is simply nothing better than interacting and learning from other human beings while on vacation. Xishuangbanna will offer you exactly that. You’ll experience the Dai culture in the area and if you’re more into wildlife, there’s a Wild Elephant Valley, that has a forest filled with these large mammals for you to marvel over.

China is truly an amazing country. We hope that this list will help you be more informed and prepared about the epic places you can visit and experience if you’re planning a trip there any time soon.

References: China Highlights, UNESCO World Heritage Site, China Discovery

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