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15 Spectacular Natural Wonders of China

As a country endowed with vast land and various landforms, China provides travel enthusiasts from across the world with many natural wonders to escape from the concrete jungle. Towering mountain, mighty river, perilous gorge, boundless desert, picturesque lake… Whatever you name, the mysterious land will always have it and never let you down. Don’t be spoilt for choice because the article is going to introduce you to the top 15 spectacular natural wonders of China.


Zhangye Danxia – Rainbow Mountains

Zhangye Danxia – Rainbow Mountains
This scenic area is listed as one of the China wonders of nature for its special Danxia Landform, which is featured with red sandstones forming grotesque hills after weathering and erosion, and colorful hilly landscape. On sunny days, the scarlet and brownish red ranging hills feast everyone’s eyes. What is more, the refraction of sunlight adds colors such as yellow and blue to them, making this place no different from a gigantic palette, especially during sunrise and sunset, and people nickname the colorful mountains “Rainbow Mountains”. Once you come here, you will know why this natural wonder of China never fails to attract photographers.
Best Time to Visit: April to October, 4-5 hours recommended
Location: 28km (17mi) west of Zhangye Downtown, Gansu Province
How to Get There: Take the through bus to Qicai Danxia Scenic Area at Zhangye West Railway Station. One-way ticket costs CNY10 and the duration is about 50min.

 Recommended Tour:   13 Days Silk Road Safari from $2979

Zhangjiajie National Forest Park – Avatar Landscapes

Zhangjiajie National Forest Park
Zhangjiajie National Forest Park is a natural landmark in China famous for thousands of steep hills, lush vegetation and beautiful waterfalls. It cannot be better if tourists come here just after rainfall, because the hills and gorges shrouded in mist look as if they are floating in the air, fulfilling people’s expectations of a magic world. No wonder the movie “Avatar” chose this place as one of its filming locations and the “Hallelujah Mountain” is standing here. When you take the cable car and overlook this place, the hills and rocks in various shapes will definitely arouse your imagination.
Best Time to Visit: April to October, 2-3 days recommended
Location: Zhangjiajie City, Hunan Province; 20km (12mi) north of downtown
How to Get There: Take the through bus to get there from Zhangjiajie Central Bus Station. It costs CNY13 and takes about 25min.

 Recommended Tour:   Private Zhangjiajie Tours

Three Gorges of Yangtze River – Majesty of Surging Water and Lofty Mountains

Three Gorges of Yangtze River
This natural beauty in China lies between Yichang and Chongqing in central China. Thanks to the three gorges, Qutang Gorge, Wu Gorge and Xiling Gorge respectively, the scenery of Yangtze River negotiating twists and turns is all the more perilous and breathtaking. Taking a cruise is the best way to explore this China wonder of nature, during which tourists are able to enjoy the flowing water, steep cliffs and lush plants on both banks to the full. Also, along the way, tourists can go ashore to visit many cultural relics, such as ancient temples and boardwalks.
Best Time to Visit: March to November, 4 to 5 days recommended
Location: Between Chongqing City and Yichang City
Where to board the cruise: In Chongqing, the Yangtze River Cruise ship usually departs from Chaotianmen Dock. In Yichang, the ship departs from either Xinshiji Quay or Taohuacun Quay.

 Recommended Tour:   4 Days Luxury Yangtze River Cruise from Chongqing to Yichang from $719

Li River, Guilin – The Most Beautiful Mountains and Waters under Heaven

Li River, Guilin
Li River is the most well-known attraction in Guilin, Guangxi Province. Thanks to the Karst landform, the river is lined with green mountains, mysterious caves, grotesque rocks, bottomless pools and splashing waterfalls. Among which, the famous ones include Elephant Trunk Hill, and Ox Gorge. Taking a cruise from Guilin to Yangshuo to appreciate this China natural landscape is highly recommended.
Best Time to Visit: April to October, one day recommended
Location: Run through Guilin City all the way to Yangshuo, Guangxi Province
How to Get There: Take city bus Mopan Mountain Special Line and get off at the Mopan Mountain Quay stop, where the cruise ship sets off.

Huangshan Mountain (Yellow Mountain) – The Most Beautiful Mountain in China  

Huangshan Mountain
Generations of Chinese poets who once visited Huangshan Mountain couldn’t help but leave beautiful words to extoll the Four Wonders of Huangshan Mountain – strange pines, absurd stones, sea of clouds, and hot springs. Now, tourists can enjoy a better scenery through convenient cable cars. Viewed from a distance, the combinations of rocks and vegetation bear a striking resemblance to a leaping fish, a squatting monkey or a crowing rooster. Besides, in winter, when everything is veiled in frost or snow, Huangshan Mountain brings tourists the best natural scenery in China.
Best Time to Visit: all year round, two days recommended
Location: Huangshan City, Anhui Province; 45km (28mi) north of downtown
How to Get There: Take the through bus to Huangshan Mountain Scenic Area at Huangshan North Railway Station. It costs CNY20 and takes about 2h.

 Recommended Tour:   3 Days Huangshan Private Package from $519

Jiuzhaigou – Interspersed with Over One Hundred Colorful Lakes

This Chinese natural beauty is going to impress you with numerous multicolored lakes. As a result of sunlight refraction and the deposits inside, each lake at Jiuzhaigou has many colors smoothly changing from emerald green to sapphire blue, from rosy red to apricot yellow. Even the same lake has different looks at different times of the day, let alone months and seasons. If you come here in winter, the scene of snow-capped mountain and blue icefall will be another eye feast. By the way, tourists can also experience Tibetan customs here.
Best Time to Visit: April to November, 3-5 days recommended
Location: 280km (175mi) north of Chengdu City, Sichuan Province
How to Get There: Take the long-distance bus to Jiuzhaigou at either the Chunxi Road Bus Station, Jinli Street Bus Station, Xinnanmen Bus Station, or Cultural Palace Bus Station in Chengdu. It usually takes CNY150-160 and 9h.

 Recommended Tour:   5 Days Private Tour of Chengdu - Huanglong - Jiuzhaigou from $1199

Kanas Nature Reserve – Forests, Grasslands, Rivers and Nomadic Customs 

Kanas Nature Reserve
Kanas in Mongol means beautiful, rich and mysterious. You will consider the descriptions to this nature reserve in China extremely proper upon seeing the peaceful Kanas Lake reflecting glaciers, and the vast grasslands blending with the birch forest. It is strongly recommended to visit the place in June and September. In June, Kanas is decorated with yellow tulip, purple iris, blue myosotis and other vibrant flowers. In September, photographers love the view of pines, birches and firs turning red and yellow alongside the lake.
Best Time to Visit: June to October, 3-5 days recommended
Location: Burqin County, Altay Prefecture, Xinjiang Province
How to Get There: Take a flight to Burqin Kanas Airport, and then transfer to the airport shuttle bus to Kanas Nature Reserve.

Stone Forest, Kunming – Stones and Peaks in All Shapes and Sizes 

Stone Forest, Kunming
Here comes another natural wonder of China characterized with karst topography. At Kunming Stone Forest, numerous stone pinnacles, karst caves and underground rivers are bound to broaden your horizon. When visiting this scenic area, you will be surprised to find that the stones inside resembles a sword, pagoda, castle, mushroom, and so on. Remember to take a photo with the famous Ashima Stone, which looks like a young girl greeting every tourist. Also, you can take a boat on Shizi Lake and enjoy the peaceful water view.
Best Time to Visit: March to October, 1 day recommended
Location: 85km (53mi) southeast of Kunming City, Yunnan Province
How to Get There:
1. Take a high speed train from either Kunming Railway Station or South Railway Station to Shilin West Railway Station, taking about 20min. Then, transfer to Shilin city bus No. A2 and get off at the Shilin Scenic Area stop.
2. Also, tourists can take a Shilin Scenic Area through bus at the Kunming East Bus Station. It takes about 1h and CNY35.

 Recommended Tour:   3 Days Kunming Private Tour from $359

Populus Euphratica Forest in Ejina – Golden Fairyland in Autumn

Populus Euphratica Forest in Ejina
Speaking of China beautiful nature scenery in autumn, one cannot miss the Populus Euphratica Forest in Ejina. Every September and October, the stunning view of populus euphratica trees with golden leaves is the very reason for swarms of tourists coming here. The boundless desert in the glow of sunrise and sunset is another highlight of this China wonder of nature, and many camping sites inside the scenic area enable tourists to enjoy the landscape to the full. Also, one can go sand skiing, drive off-road vehicles and try other interesting activities here.
Best Time to Visit: Early to Middle October, 2-3 days recommended
Location: Ejina Banner, Alxa, Inner Mongolia
How to Get There: Firstly, there are multiple ways to get to Ejina, such as the flight from Xi’an, the train from Hohhot, and the long-distance bus from Jiuquan or Yinchuan. After arrival in Ejina, it is recommended to rent a car to the scenic area.

Mount Kailash – The Most Sacred Mountain in Tibet

Mount Kailash
Mt. Kailash is a gigantic snow-clad peak reaching to the sky, truly a natural beauty in China. However, this sacred mountain is better known as a pilgrimage site of Buddhism, Hinduism and other religions. Since it is believed that one can wash away sins once one succeeds in circulating around this mountain, thousands of pilgrims, mainly from China, India and Nepal, come here every year. Even though you don’t practice any religion, walking around Mt. Kailash is worth trying, because the old Tibetan temples and sky burial platforms along the way are very unique, as well as the glaciers and rivers.
Best Time to Visit: June to September, 3 days recommended
Location: Burang County, Ngari, Tibet
How to Get There: Currently, overseas tourists are not qualified for the self-help visit to Tibet. Thus, choosing a travel agency and joining a group tour is the only way and the transportation is included in the tour.
Hukou Waterfalls
This natural wonder of China is located in the middle reaches of the Yellow River. When the water rushes across the Qinjin Gorge, the width of the river dramatically decreases from over 400m (440yd) to 50 m (55yd) with the drop of 30m (33yd), so the water surges downwards, accompanied by the thundering sound and splashing mists, forming the mighty Hukou Waterfalls. The peach blossoms on the bank in spring and the occasional rainbow in autumn serve as a perfect foil to this spectacle. Of course, the icefall in winter is also an eye-opener.
Best Time to Visit: April to May, September to November, 2 hours recommended
Location: 95km (60mi) southeast of Yan’an City, Shannxi Province; 90km (55mi) west of Linfen City, Shanxi Province
How to Get There: Take the through bus to Hukou at the Yan’an South Bus Station (near Yan’an Railway Station). It costs CNY40-50 and takes 2h.

Echoing-Sand Mountain & Crescent Lake – Miracles on Desert

Crescent Lake
This interesting and beautiful nature in China features a blue crescent lake being surrounded by many sand dunes and desert. Thanks to the special terrain, the sand is blown only towards the Echoing-Sand Mountain, thus it never deposits into the lake. If you’re also curious about the name of this mountain, why not pay a visit? The rhythmic rustle of the sand will give you the answer. More importantly, one cannot miss the vast desert and the peaceful lake in the bright glow of sunset.
Best Time to Visit: Summer Evening (June to August), 3 hours recommended
Location: 6km (4mi) south of Dunhuang, Gansu Province
How to Get There: Take Dunhuang city bus No. 3 and get off at the Crescent Lake Scenic Area stop.

 Recommended Tour:   2 Days Dunhuang Private Tour from $389

Rime Island (Wusong Island), Jilin – To See Impressive Natural Scenery in Winter

Rime Island (Wusong Island), Jilin
For those who plan to visit China in winter, Rime Island in Jilin will make your trip worthwhile. Surrounded by the Songhua River, Rime Island witnesses how the rising water mist condenses into rime every winter. The branches coated with rime look as if there were white flowers in full blossom. When the wind blows, the falling rime seems to enchant this place into a fairyland. However, this natural wonder of China requires certain temperature and humidity, thus it cannot be seen every winter day. So it is necessary to check the weather forecast in advance.
Best Time to Visit: Late December to Late February, 1 day recommended
Location: 30km (19mi) north of Jilin City, Jilin Province
How to Get There:
1. Take a bus from Chaluxiang Bus Station (near Jilin Railway Station) to Zengtong Ferry, then take a ferry to the island.
2. Take a bus from Chaluxiang Bus Station to Wulajie Town, then take a taxi to Hantun Village. Lastly, take a ferry to the Rime Island.

Mount Huashan – The Steepest Mountain in China

Mount Huashan
Mount Huashan, with the altitude of 2,160m (7,087ft), has always been a natural landmark in China for adventurers to challenge themselves. Among the five peaks of Mt. Huashan, the South Peak is the most precipitous, and passing along the Plank Walk on its east side is absolutely a daunting mission. When stepping on the only 40cm (16in) wide boardwalk, tourists have to firmly grip on the iron chains, lean on the cliff and slowly move forward. Of course, for those who want something less dangerous, they can enjoy the sunrise on the East Peak, feel the secluded atmosphere on the Middle Peak, or visit cultural relics such as the Xiyue Temple.
Best Time to Visit: April to October, 1-2 days recommended
Location: 100km (62mi) east of Xi’an City, Shannxi Province
How to Get There: Take a train to Huashan North Railway Station, then transfer to Huayin city bus No. 1 or No. 2 and get off at the Huashan Mountain Scenic Area stop.

 Recommended Tour:   One Day Private Tour to Mt. Huashan from $175

Heavenly Lake, Changbai Mountain – A Crater Lake Inlaid in Undulating Mountains

Changbai Mountain
With 16 mountain peaks encircling the blue lake, this natural wonder of China presents different looks all year round. Colorful flowers in spring and autumn, green plants in summer and white snow in winter all contribute to its beauty. Nevertheless, due to the high altitude, the Heavenly Lake is always veiled in fog. So, if you want to enjoy a clear scene, summer might be the best time. Also, those who prefer a plainer view of the lake should better see it from the south slope of the mountain.
Best Time to Visit: July to September, 1 day recommended
Location: Antu County, Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture, Jilin Province
 How to Get There:
1. Take a flight to Baishan Changbaishan Airport (NBS), and then hail a taxi to the scenic area.
2. Take a train to Baihe Railway Station, and then hail a taxi to the scenic area.

- Last updated on Jul. 20, 2023 by Catherine He -
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