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10 of the most beautiful places to visit in China & Tibet - China is a lot more than a homogenous sea of faces and bicycles. Stretching from the mountains of the West to the architectural wonders of the East, China’s splendor is rich and deep and as diverse as the 1.3 billion people that inhabit its borders. China and Tibet’s landscapes range from glacier-covered mountains, to thousand-foot gorges, to open grasslands and low plains. They’re filled with adventure, mystery and sheer beauty. It’s hard to sum up their most beautiful places (as there are so many) but I’ll give it my best attempt. The places I have chosen made the list because I have personally traveled to these locations. Below, I have also listed a few “runner-up” locations that I have not personally visited but are, most certainly, among the most beautiful places to visit in China& Tibet.
1. Everest Base Camp
Do es Mount Everest really need any explanation? Zhu Feng, Qiongmo Lama, Everest –regardless of what you call it, it’s still the tallest mountain in the world, and it looms as large as you would expect. Visiting it from the Tibet-China side might have its challenges (i.e. the road from Lhasa to base camp is not the smoothest ride but has improved considerably), but it offers a sight that only a small percentage of people in the world will ever see. If you have the time and the stamina to get there – definitely make the trip. Base camp itself makes an interesting setting when chatting with climbers and sherpas while sipping sweet milk tea. Some people opt to stay at the monastery below the camp, while others choose Tibetan-style tent lodging. Both have their own appeal.
2. Suzhou Gardens
offering a uniquely Chinese experience.If you’re looking for some of the most beautiful places to visit in China then skip Shanghai and go straight for Suzhou. Just as you’d expect from “Venice of China” Suzhou is a city filled with canals and gardens. They are cultivated to perfection and are peacefully beautiful. 3. relaxing and pure. Lake Nam . the gardens are calm. but Suzhou’s gardens are the main attraction of the city. Enjoying a boat ride through the canal system is a great way to pass the time on an afternoon. Meticulously Feng Shui.
this salt lake is surrounded by looming mountains and nomads herding their yak.718 meters. At an elevation of 4. the lake is as blue as the Tibetan sky and absolutely stunning. once when it was entirely frozen-over and once in warmer temperatures. it is quite the sight to see. Take your camping gear if the weather is warm enough or find lodging at local Tibetan homestays. Whether frozen or flowing. Vast and blue. 4. literally meaning “Heavenly Lake”) is the largest lake in the Tibet Autonomous Region and the highest saltwater lake in the world.Lake Nam (Namtso in Tibetan. The Great Wall . Tibetans visit the site for its spiritual value. I have visited the lake twice. but tourists who make the pilgrimage to the lake will not be disappointed.
Eastern Tibet and Lake Basam (or Draksum Tso) . For excellent reading on the outlying wall sections. 5.5 miles.No list of China’s most beautiful locations would be complete without the Great Wall. but it’s also a gorgeous structure that stretches for 3. Take a day hike on any number of wall sections or ride the cable car up and then try the alpine slide down! Regardless of how you scale the structure. It’s easily one of the most popular places to visit in China which is not only a significant historical and cultural icon.889. it is an intriguing area that could be explored for weeks. see Peter Hessler’s Country Driving: A Chinese Road Trip.
Lack of access and poor infrastructure make it difficult to get to. If you are looking for places to visit in Tibet then the road to Lake Basam will take you passed a number of glacier-covered mountains and into the thick pine forest. 6. Lijiang . The lake itself is clear and beautiful. Even in a majestic place like Tibet. Unlike the high desert terrain of central Tibet. Most of the amenities are catered to the Chinese tourist but are perfectly adequate for the Western traveler. It’s still high enough to offer some spectacular mountains but low enough to support the forested ecosystem. You will not find foreign-owned. The pine-forest landscape is a striking contrast to the dry. but worth the expense of both time and money. surrounded by pristine forest and impressive mountains. it stands out in beauty and intrigue. Eastern Tibet is at a slightly lower altitude and is lush and green. Western-standard hotels in this area. brown mountains of central Tibet. Lodging around the lake is simple but adequate.Eastern Tibet is one of those places that is so spectacularly beautiful – and yet so little-known by the world – it’s almost ridiculous.
Stop and watch a Naxi group dance in the street or relax at a café and sip some coffee.As featured on The Amazing Race. you can take a cable car all the way to the top of the mountain to enjoy the views. Lijiang is a cobblestone-street-filled city that has a special appeal unlike any other place in China. The old town has an interesting beauty of its own. but if that’s not enough for you. Spend time wandering through the lanes and alleys of the old town to appreciate the best of the city. in the distance looms Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. 7. Just a short drive from the old town. Tiger-Leaping Gorge .
Tiger or not. Local folklore attributes the name to a tiger that once leaped over the gorge at its narrowest point. the gorge is spectacular. For accommodation choose one of the Guesthouses in one of the nearby villages. As “China’s Grand Canyon”. 8. Getting a good view of the gorge from above is worth the 3-day hike. and the trail through the mountains above it is one of the best natural dirt hiking trails in China. Mount Gongga . not to mention the views of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and other surrounding peaks.A short drive from Lijiang brings you to yet another of the most beautiful places to visit in China – Tiger Leaping Gorge. the gorge is considered one of the deepest canyons in the world.
9. sitting at just under 25.Western Sichuan. Kangding . The sight of Mount Gongga is not the only attraction in the area.. Gongga’s perfect-shaped peak can be seen from the valleys that lay below. It looms far above vast valleys roamed by Tibetan and Minyak nomads. was once misidentified as the tallest mountain in the world. But consider being satisfied with a view from below – the peak is a notoriously dangerous one to summit. Mount Gongga. I can highly recommend living among the nomads for a few days. Experiencing the local hospitality and resourceful lifestyle will leave a lasting impression on you. On a clear day. an area that at one time was still considered part of Tibet.000 ft. has the third highest peak outside of the Himalaya/Karakoram.
Kangding is an excellent launch-point for a trip to Gongga Shan but is an incredibly beautiful city within itself. Kangding definitely has a romantic flavor – no wonder it inspired a famous Chinese love song. sitting at 8. With almost a European charm. Kangding offers a tranquil environment with some great scenery to boot. Green and pretty. is not quite as high as most of the Tibet Autonomous Region. A river curves through the center of town and fine accommodations can be found throughout the city. Situated in a steep valley. so hiking feels more like hiking in Colorado. A cable-car can also be taken up Mount Poama if your legs are sore from too much hiking. Kangding winds its way between lovely Paoma Shan and other surrounding peaks. Kangding is a place to stay and relax after trekking through the rugged Tibetan terrain.400 ft. . Kangding.
I have visited Xinjiang’s capital (Urumqi) and nearby Turpan. Jiu Zhai Gou – Known as China’s “Yellowstone Park”. has become a favorite stop for backpackers and rockclimbers. Because of border disputes with India. The town sits next to the Li River. Its beauty. Jiu Zhai Gou is famous for its clear waters and clean air. But Xinjiang is a whole world to be explored – especially the Gobi Desert. Other Beautiful Places to Visit in China and Tibet The following is a list of places that didn’t quite make it on my list. which separates it from Guanxi’s capital. Bicycling the town and surrounding area has become a popular way to see all the attractions.10. full of ancient ruins and local fruit. Urumqi is a fairly traditional Chinese city. this mountainous area is one of the best that Northeast China has to offer. is heralded as perhaps the most spectacular in China. easy place to travel. Mount Changbai and Heaven Lake – Running along the border with North Korea. though it offers delicious cuisine and an introduction to Uigher culture. There’s a lot of Xinjiang I have yet to see. The canyon created by the river is three-times as deep as the Grand Canyon. Jiu Zhai Gou is incredibly popular among both locals and tourists. Yangshuo – Yangshuo in the Guanxi province. alike. Turpan is also an interesting visit.Yarlung Tsangpo River and Mount Namche Barwa – This southeast Tibetan area is one of the most remote locations on earth. An over-priced plane ride or dangerous bus ride from Chengdu will get you there and may just be worth it. but Xinjiang’s true beauty lay beyond these places. just be careful not to end up on the wrong side of the border! . Xinjiang I personally think Xinjiang warrants an entire list of its own. Both the mountains and the lake are said to be impressive. Although all of these locations are renowned as beautiful places and are worth considering. however. Yangshuo is surrounded by karst peaks and is known for its unique landscape and blue waters. but this list would be regrettably incomplete were Xinjiang not to be represented at all. There’s plenty of foreign-friendly hostels and restaurants to choose from (even with English-speaking staff) and Yangshuo is a comfortable. mostly because I have not yet personally visited them. This an area unlike any other terrain within the borders of China. Guilin. the area is highly restricted.