6 Must Visit Sites in China

 Photo by  Arol Viñolas  on  Unsplash

Photo by Arol Viñolas on Unsplash

When one thinks of tourism in China, the Great Wall and pandas undoubtedly come to mind. However, despite the commercialization of several tokens of one of the world’s most populate countries, there are many hidden sites of great cultural, historical, and aesthetic value in China. Ranging from expansive wet forests to the western deserts, China’s great geographical range and expansive history provides several bonanzas of great value for the avid traveler.

Located in Eastern China just off the coast of the East China Sea, Zhejiang is home to some of the greatest suburban sites of China. Wuzhen’s strategic location as a waterway city creates a magnificent Water Market where locals still congregate today to trade vegetables and fruits.

In the same province, the much-unknown Thousand Years Lake, a man-made attraction created by the government, is a brilliant and beautiful background to your trip to China. Largely unhighlighted by western tour agencies, this beautiful expanse is home to a rich collection of islands and ferry tours.

The Nanxi River is also in relatively close proximity, giving Western tourists a largely unhindered glimpse into traditional life in China. Rides down the river in traditional bamboo rafts allow people to experience the idyllicism that gave rise to traditional Chinese poetry in dynastic times. With a beautiful Dragon Waterfall view and an area largely glazed over by tourism, Zhejiang’s water bodies are an unparalleled visit.

Travelling further north to Shanxi, tourists can visit the great historical sites of China with minimal pollution and clamor that has come to populate China’s cities. The Mengshan mountain carvings may be the highlight of the Shanxi, and indeed the Giant Buddha is a stunning portraiture in the mountains, but the Yungang grottoes are the cultural hub of historical Buddhist impact in China for the curious tourist. Indicative of early Buddhist art, the caves and remarkably intricate Buddhist structures are an incredible site of stone architecture and painting.

The Jinsi temples nearby are another gateway to a forgotten era of Chinese history; the curved roofs in the Jinyuan District have withstood multiple dynasties and serve as a destination of forgotten history. Surviving for nearly three thousand years, it is rare to find a temple with such good upkeep and plenty of English supplements for the English-speaking tourist to understand.

To top off a northern Chinese excursion, the Hukou waterfalls give a magnificent view of the Yellow River. A natural, tumultuous expanse, this waterfall dwarfs the visitor, and its crashing nature throws up remarkable rainbows and spray. While the hike can be slippery and densely occupied, the final view and experience of such a historically significant part of the Yellow River is immensely rewarding.

Finally, skipping to the Southeast province of Jiangxi, the well-preserved gems of a bygone era in Chinese history are on open display, ranging from mountains to hidden pagodas. Mount San Qing is the centerpiece of the province, showcasing three peaks to represent the Taoist trinity. Its ecotourism and great wildlife is an opportunity to learn more about early Chinese beliefs and its ecological array of wildlife.