If you’re planning a trip to China, you probably get all the same recommendations for beautiful places to visit in China. Beijing, Shanghai, the Forbidden City…
These are amazing places to visit, but what if you want to go somewhere else?
There’s more to China than the Great Wall. You just have to know where to look.
Places off the beaten path in China are filled with incredible natural beauty.
If you want to create a visit that is focused on culture, history, and incredible sights, we’ve written a list just for you. You’re bound to head back home happy — with hundreds of incredible photos.
These are 9 beautiful places to visit in China.
Jiuzhaigou is a breathtaking reserve and national park just on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau.
It’s a historic area filled with mountains, forests, spectacular waterfalls, and lakes you have to see for yourself.
There are over 100 lakes in the valley, most of them with water so clear you can see straight down to the bottom.
The lakes are also known for being colorful — look for green, blue, and purple dotted throughout the park.
If you can manage to tear your eyes away from the lakes, the caves and limestone terraces are (almost) as beautiful.
2. Guilin and Yangshuo’s Amazing Countryside Scenery
Although many Chinese natives head to Guilin to explore, it’s not as well known outside of the country.
International tourists are missing out on hill formations you can’t see anywhere else. They look like something out of a science fiction movie!
After capturing amazing silhouette photos of the rugged hills, sail down the Li River to Yangshuo.
On your way, you’ll pass right by karst peaks, traditional villages, and unspoiled landscapes.
You can walk around the town or explore the countryside — for the latter, we recommend biking or taking a golf cart.
Both cities are truly beautiful places to visit in China.
3. Xiapu Mudflat In Fujian
Xiapu Mudflat is the perfect coastal destination for people trying to avoid both Western and Asian tourists.
A mudflat is basically a coastal wetland, and the Xiapu mudflat is the largest in the country.
If your trip falls between April and June, you can watch the seaweed harvest. Rows of bamboo, which locals use to hang the giant pieces of seaweed, stretch as far as the eye can see.
The massive seaweed is a sight alone, but the endless rows of bamboo and seaweed are not to be missed. Just make sure you ask before taking pictures of locals.
4. The Fujian Tulou — Beautiful Places to Visit in China
A tulou is a historic Chinese building.
Most were built between the 13th and 20th centuries for defensive purposes — the buildings are circular, have only one entrance, and can house entire towns.
Tulou are also known by their nickname, ‘earth castle.’
The Fujian tulou are some of the oldest in the country. Ten of them are more than 600 years old, and one was built over 1200 years ago.
They look plain on the outside, but on the inside are giant communal courtyards and intricate details.
The tulou are treasured for their history and architecture, but also because they’re beautiful works of art. They are all beautiful places to visit in China.
5. Zhangye Danxia Geological Park
Two words: Rainbow. Mountains.
It sounds impossible, but the Zhangye Danxia Landform Geological Park is one of those wonders of nature you just have to see to believe.
There is a scientific explanation for the multicolored mountains. They’re made of countless layers of sandstone and minerals, pressed together over millions of years.
To see the mountains when the colors really pop, visit between June and September.
You won’t regret it — the park is called the “the eye candy of Zhangye” for a good reason.
6. Dongchuan Red Land
You have to be determined to see the Dongchuan Red Land since there are no hotels or public transportation around. But the scenery is more than worth the work it takes to get there.
It’s just what it sounds like — hundreds of miles of red soil.
The rolling hills are so beautiful that they look like a watercolor painter splashed color in all the right places.
For red soil, the Dongchuan Red Land is second only to Brazil. It’s a gorgeous paradise for photographers.
You don’t want to miss this beautiful place to visit in China.
7. Huashan’s Crazy Dangerous Hanging Board Walk
How far would you go for a cup of tea?
That’s the question tourists should ask themselves before attempting to climb Mt. Huashan.
Mt. Huashan is a religious site that pilgrims and monks have frequented for years. The mountain has five peaks, with a structure on each one.
The southern peak has a tea house, which is what tourists try to reach.
If you’re an adrenaline junky who is willing to do anything for the perfect shot, Mt. Huashan is the place for you. However, know ahead of time that there are no guardrails, and in certain areas, there isn’t a way to secure yourself.
The mountain has a reputation for fatal falls — be careful as you explore.
8. Leshan Giant Buddha
There are a lot of giant Buddha statues, but the Leshan Giant Buddha is the largest in the world.
How big? A grown man can sit on the statue’s toenail, and you could easily fit about one hundred people on one foot.
It’s hard to comprehend until you see it for yourself.
Construction started during the Tang Dynasty and was completed in 803 AD, making it more than 1200 years old!
The Buddha is built into Mount Emei, which was already incredibly important — Mount Emei was where Buddhism was first established in China.
In addition to the Buddha, there are also thirty temples in the area that you can explore.
9. Yuanyang Rice Terraces
The Yuanyang rice terraces are our last recommendation for beautiful places to visit in China.
These terraces are the brainchild of the Hani people, an ethnic minority who have lived in the area for thousands of years.
The rice terraces were invented to grow rice on the slopes of mountains. Now, they’re like sculptures in the earth.
There are three scenic areas that you can visit, all surrounded by forests that are almost as stunning.
The best time to go is between January and March when the terraces have been irrigated. Photographers can get beautiful pictures of the sun as it glances off of the water.
Sunrise and sunset are particularly beautiful times for photography.
Did we miss your favorite spot that’s off the beaten path? Know any other beautiful places to visit in China we should recommend? Let us know in the comments!