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8 Interesting Places in China for Outdoor Enthusiasts

For outdoor enthusiasts, China could provide the distinctive places for whatever outdoor sports you want to do, such as mountaineering, hiking, drifting, cruising, and rock climbing. Here are the top 8 interesting places in China for you to do outdoors.


Great Wall of China in Beijing: Hiking & Jinshanling Camping

Great Wall of China in Beijing
Beijing houses the most and the best sections of Great Wall, mostly lying on mountain ridges, which are terrific places for outdoor hiking. You may hike along the giant ancient military project, while appreciating the charming natural scenery. Badaling and Mutianyu are the most visited sections of the Great Wall. If you don’t like crowds, Jinshanling, Simatai and Jiankou are recommended. At the foot of Jinshanling, there is a special camp base where you can stay overnight. Simatai is the only section open for hiking at night. Jiankou is a steep wild section; during the hiking there, you will encounter the unrepaired walls, the ruins of watch towers and steep stairs.

Great Wall Tours
 Recommended Tour:  Private Guided Hiking on Mutianyu Great Wall from $102

Huangshan Mountain: Mountain Climbing

Huangshan Mountain
Huangshan Mountain, aka Yellow Mountain, is the most beautiful mountain as well as one of the most famous places of interest in China. It is well-known for the strange pines, absurd stones, sea of clouds, and hot springs, which you can come across from time to time while your mountaineering and there is no similar view on the whole mountain. You can trek along the trails to the main peaks and sights, including Black Tiger Pine, Beginning to Believe Peak, West Sea Valley, Bright Peak Summit, Legendary Turtle Peak, Heaven Capital Peak, etc. Last but not the least, remember to take your trekking pole to assist you during the climbing.

Huangshan Tours
 Recommended Tour:  4 Days In-Depth Hiking Tour of Yellow Mountain from $719

Guilin: Li River Cruise & Hiking

Guilin: Li River Cruise
Guilin is famed for the picturesque landscapes along Li River, a China point of interest composed of mountains and waters and with idyllic beauty. In Guilin downtown, you may see the landmark Elephant Trunk Hill by Li River. But the most popular outdoor activity there is the Li River cruise down to Yangshuo, where the best sections of Li River are included, such as the Yellow Cloth Shoal, Mural Hill, and Xingping Town. If you prefer hiking rather than cruise, it’s also workable to hike along Li River on the trails with gravels.

Guilin Tours

Yangshuo: Rock Climbing & Yulong River Drifting

Yulong River Drifting
After cruising on Li River down to Yangshuo, another interesting place in China, you can also go for a leisurely hiking or cycling in the countryside. Yangshou, embraced with multiple karst mountains in strange shapes, is also a hot place for rock climbing. The best sites there for rock climbing include Moon Hill, Wine Bottle Crag, Swiss Cheese, and Thumb Peak. Especially on Moon Hill, there are numerous climbing routes with moderate difficulties. If you’re a green hand to rock climbing, Gold Cat Cave is the suitable site. Apart from rock climbing, drifting on Yulong River is another sought-after thing to do in Yangshuo. Yulong River, praised as the Little Li River, is the most beautiful section of the whole Li River. Taking a bamboo raft to drift on it is a life-time memory for many.

Yangshuo Rock Climbing Guide - Best Places, Routes, Time

Yangtze River Three Gorges: Cruising & Hiking

Yangtze River Three Gorges
Three Gorges of Yangtze River has always been among the top places of interest in China, with welcomed cruise routes and hiking trails. The most popular cruise route is between Yichang and Chongqing, taking 4 days downstream and one more day upstream in general. On the cruise, you may see the sceneries of the Qutang Gorge, Wu Gorge and Xiling Gorge on board, and visit some famous attractions on shore when the ship berths, like Fengdu Ghost City, Shibaozhai (Precious Stone Fortress), White Emperor City, Shennu Stream, Three Gorges Dam, and Qu Yuan Temple.

Three Gorges hiking might be challenging for you need to go through some plank roads on cliffs over raging Yangtze River. In addition to the plank ways and highways, some sections are full of gravels or grasses in wildness. But you can overlook three gorges on high. The same as the cruise, you may hike upstream or downstream. Hiking upstream is more recommended, as the downstream route in Wu Gorge is quite tough that you should cope with it with fullest energy.

Yangtze Cruise Tours
Booking of Yangtze River Cruise Ships
 Recommended Tour:  4 Days Private Three Gorges Cruise Tour from Chongqing to Yichang from $719

Lijiang, Yunnan: Tiger Leaping Gorge Hiking

Lijiang, Yunnan: Tiger Leaping Gorge
Tiger Leaping Gorge, 80 kilometers (50 miles) north to Lijiang and 96 kilometers (60 miles) south to Shangri-La, is the first gorge on Yangtze River with the largest drop. What the most referred Tiger Leaping Gorge is the Upper Tiger Leaping Gorge, which is a comparatively peaceful section fixed as the scenic area of the entire gorge. To see Tiger Leaping Gorge with more amazing sceneries, you may choose to hike further along this interesting place in China. There is a popular 2-day hiking route in the Upper and Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge, attracting many international trekkers to go up and down the steep gorge, with grand mountains, precipitous cliffs, winding mountain trails, waterfalls, etc. During the Tiger Leaping Gorge hiking, you may also meet up with the roaming goats and mules carrying goods on their backs, and see Jade Dragon Snow Mountain nearby.

Lijiang Tours
 Recommended Tour:  2 Days Private Lijiang Tour of Tiger Leaping Gorge Hiking from $319

Harbin: Skiing

Harbin: Skiing
If you would like to ski outdoors, Harbin, the capital of the most northeast Heilongjiang Province in China, is a nice choice. There are various ski resorts in Harbin, with the cost-effective prices and complete facilities. The best one is Yabuli International Ski Resort, with several branch ski resorts. You could find the top ski runs for the beginners, able ones and professional skiers. Except for skiing, you can also try snowmobiling, snow tubing, and other snow sports. The professional coaches would try their best to teach you to ski if you need, and the cable cars on the snow slopes are also handy. However, as Harbin is a top winter travel destination out of various places of interest in China, you need to be prepared for the crowded skiers, especially during Harbin Ice Festival from early January to March, when people go there for not only skiing, but also various ice and snow sculptures.

Harbin Tours
 Recommended Tour:  2 Days Private Harbin Tour to Yabuli Ski Resort

Qinghai Lake: Cycling around the Lake

Cycling around Qinghai Lake
Qinghai Lake is the largest inland lake on Qinghai-Tibet Plateau with an altitude of 3,196m (10,485 ft) , and cycling around this China point of interest is a very popular sport among cycling and outdoor enthusiasts. The best time to cycle around Qinghai Lake is July and August, as the lakeside bright yellow rape flowers are in full bloom and the weather is not cold or too hot. With the total length of 360km (224mi), it usually needs 4-5 days to cover the whole cycling route. The highways for cycling there is good, and there are quite a few bicycle rental agencies and cycling clubs in the surroundings. You may start off from Xihai Town and clockwise around the Lake. Reaching the southwestern corner, you may cycle to Chaka Salt Lake for a visit. However, be careful of the possible high altitude sickness on your cycling trip.

 Recommended Tour:  12 Days Qinghai-Tibet Overland Trip with Qinghai Lake
- Last updated on Jul. 20, 2023 by Catherine He -
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