Springtime is on it’s way! The snow is starting to melt, the flowers are blooming, and temperatures are on the rise. Even if you’re in one of China’s big cities, don’t’ fret: there’s an escape from the hustle and bustle where you can experience Spring in all it’s glory. Pack your bag, throw on your sneakers, and check out some of the amazing Springtime destinations in China.
Near The Big Cities
Beijing |北京 | Běijīng -The Summer Palace | 颐和园 | Yíhéyuán may be best in…well…summer, but why not get a head start on the crowds?
- This is one of the largest parks in China and it has been kept in immaculate shape. I would highly recommend that you wear comfortable shoes; the grounds are expansive and you should take at least half a day to walk around the grounds and see the temples.
- Along the way, get some souvenir shopping done at Suzhou Market Street | 苏州街 | Sūzhōu jiē along the river.
- For an extra fee, you can take a short, relaxing boat ride on Kunming Lake | 昆明湖 | Kūnmíng hú.
Shanghai Area | 上海 Shànghǎi – Step into a surrealistic landscape that looks like something out of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon at Huangshan | 黄山 | Huángshān National Park.
- Huangshan National Park is an hour southwest of Shanghai by plane; a trip well worth it for the spectacular sunsets, rock and cloud formations. Huangshan was named the loveliest mountain in China and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
- If you aren’t up to the challenge of hiking, there’s the Yungu Cableway | 云谷新索道 | Yúngǔ xīn suǒdào to take you round trip (Although there may be a long wait — this is China, the land of the long queues). There are a few temples that offer Kodak moments along the way, and the Beihai Hotel | 北海宾馆 | Běihǎi Bīnguǎn where you can stop for a lovely lunch break.
- Have a spot of tea. Huangshan Furry Peak tea | 黄山毛峰茶 | Huángshān máofēng is one of China’s most famous tea blends. The tea is called “furry peak” because of the jagged shape of the leaves, giving off a furry appearance. Other famous Huangshan teas you should give a try are Keemun Black tea | 祁门红茶 | Qímén hóngchá, and Yellow Mountain Chrysanthemum tea | 黄山贡菊 | Huángshān gòngjú.
Hong Kong | 香港 | Xiānggǎng is a beautiful destination with plethora of outdoor activities, including hiking, surfing, and camping. The outlying islands are also a perfect get away from the crowds–believe it or not.
- Sai Kung East Country Park | 西貢東 郊野公園 | Xīgòng Dōng Jiāoyě Gōngyuán is the east island of Hong Kong and it’s replete with waterfalls and clean beaches. If you take a taxi up to Sai Wan Pavilion | Xī Wān Tíng | 西灣亭 and hike the MacLehose Trail, section 2 | 麦理浩径第 2 段 | Màilǐhào jìng dì 2 duàn, you will eventually come upon a campsite, so bring along your camping equipment.
- Lantau Island | 大嶼山 | Dàyǔshān is Hong Kong’s largest island — so big, that it is home home to Hong Kong Disneyland. The southern part of the island is where you can make your way up through the valleys to Lantau peak for an awesome view of the sunrise. Afterwards, hike down east to Pui O Beach | 貝澳泳灘 | Bèi ào yǒng tān and relax on the white sand.
- Tai Tam Country Park | 大潭郊野公園 | Dà Tán Jiāoyě Gōngyuán is the green valley you will find if you manage to venture past the big city and over the mountains. Follow one of Hong Kong’s top hiking trails, either the Hong Kong Trail or the Wilson Trail. Some parts of the trail may be a bit rough, but you will be able to look out over Victoria Harbor if you decide to take the challenge. If hiking is not for you, you can check out the beautiful Tai Tam Reservoir.
Guilin, Guangxi Province | 广西, 桂林 | Guǎngxī, Guìlín is located in south central China and you may know it for it’s “gumdrop-shaped” mountains. Here you can take a cruise on the scenic Li River |漓江 | Líjiāng, to Yangshuo | 阳朔 | Yángshuò, a popular sightseeing area.
- In March/April the weather may be a bit chilly with the occasional rainfall, but there won’t be crowds since it is still the low season. Also, take note that the cruise is shorter during the slow season, with bamboo rafting also being an option. It’s perfect for small private groups and takes up to two hours.
- Alternatively, you can go for a 4-5 hour hike along the Li River and walk through local villages along the way. The hike follows a similar path as the cruise.
- Definitely make it a point to see Impression Liu Sanjie | 印象刘三姐 | Yìnxiàng liúsānjiě night show. This show is performed entirely on the water using the iconic mountains of Guilin as a backdrop and showcase breathtaking visuals. (and makes literally the coolest Instagram)
Xi’an, Shaanxi Province | 陕西省, 西安市 | Shǎnxī Shěng, Xī’ān Shì is mostly known for the Terracotta Warriors, but it also has some scenic areas around the city that are a can’t-miss.
- Visit the Terracotta Army statues which were only discovered in 1974, but have been safe-guarding the tomb of Emperor Qin since 210 BC. The name for the Terracotta warriors are 秦始皇兵马俑 | Qínshǐhuáng bīngmǎyǒng, and literally translates as Emperor Qin Warrior Figurines.
- Go for a stroll or a bike ride along Xi’an’s Ancient City Wall. Many people don’t know about this massive wall built in the Ming Dynasty measuring at 12 meters high and 13.7 kilometers long (39 feet high and 8 miles long), but it’s actually
oneof the best preserved walls in China. After your stroll, treat yourself to some of the foods at the nearby food street stalls…you deserve it ;-).
- Take a relaxing hot bath at a Huaqing Hot Springs/Huaqing Pool | 华清池 | Huáqīngchí, a National Cultural Relic. This spot is a very popular tourist destination and it also includes one of China’s Hundred Famous Gardens. Many people know this area because of it’s popularity with the Tang Dynasty Emperor who built the surrounding palace simply so he could spend time there with his favorite concubine. The springs are also rumoured to have health benefits, including improvements to the digestive, cardiovascular, and nervous systems.
Kunming, Yunan Province |云南省, 昆明市 | Yúnnán Shěng, Kūnmíng Shì, in western China is also known as Spring City because of its perpetual spring-like temperatures and flowers that always seem to be in bloom.
- The Stone Forest | 石林风景区 | Shílín fēngjǐng Qū is exactly as the name describes, fields of rock formations jutting out of the ground in various shapes and sizes, as well as underground through Zhiyun Cave | 芝云洞 | Zhīyún Dòng. OK, maybe I didn’t make it sound too appealing, but it is definitely an interesting attraction you can’t pass up if you’re in Kunming.
- Green Lake | 翠湖 | Cuì hú, is a series of lakes connected by a number of traditional Chinese bridges. One of the most popular buildings in the park is the Former Site of the Yunnan Military Academy | 云南陆军讲武堂 (旧址) | Yúnnán Lùjūn Jiǎng Wǔ Táng (jiùzhǐ), and the gravesite of Nie Er 聂耳墓 | Niè Ěr Mù — the man who wrote the Chinese National Anthem.
- Within walking distance from Green Lake lies temples in Kunming, Yuantong Temple | 圆通寺 | Yuántōng sì, one of the most famous Buddhist temples in all of China. The buildings were recently renovated but the historical feel remains. The temple grounds are not very large, but are still a peaceful getaway where you can grab a scrumptious, traditional Buddhist vegetarian lunch, watch the turtles swim around in the lake, and listen to the temple’s monks chant their daily prayers.
Where will you be jetting off to this Spring? If you have traveled to any of these places, let us know your thoughts. Do you have a favorite go-to area in Spring? Sometimes just taking a few moments to get away from the city and walk through a park or temple is all you need to balance for a quick refresh. I know I am looking forward to spending some time in a peaceful park this Spring. Safe travels!
Useful words for your travels
Beijing | 北京 | Běijīng
Summer Palace | 颐和园 | Yíhéyuán
Suzhou Market Street | 苏州街 | Sūzhōu jiē
Kunming Lake | 昆明湖 | Kūnmíng hú
Shanghai | 上海 | Shànghǎi
Huangshan | 黄山 | Huángshān
Yungu Cableway | 云谷新索道 | Yúngǔ xīn suǒdào
Beihai Hotel | 北海宾馆 | Běihǎi Bīnguǎn
Huangshan Furry Peak tea | 黄山毛峰茶 | Huángshān máofēng
Keemun Black tea | 祁门红茶 | Qímén hóngchá
Yellow Mountain Chrysanthemum tea |黄山贡菊 | Huángshān gòngjú
Hong Kong | 香港 | Xiānggǎng
Sai Kung East Country Park | 西貢東 郊野公園 | Xīgòng Dōng Jiāoyě Gōngyuán
Sai Wan Pavilion | Xī Wān Tíng | 西灣亭
MacLehose Trail, section 2 | 麦理浩径第 2 段 | Màilǐhào jìng dì 2 duàn
Lantau Island | 大嶼山 | Dàyǔshān
Tai Tam Country Park | 大潭郊野公園 | Dà Tán Jiāoyě Gōngyuán
Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region，Guilin | 广西壮族自治区, 桂林市 | Guǎngxī zhuàngzú zìzhìqū，Guìlín shì
Li River | 漓江 | Líjiāng
Yangshuo | 阳朔 | Yángshuò
Impression Liu Sanjie | 印象刘三姐 | Yìnxiàng liúsānjiě
Xi’an | 西安 | Xī’ān
Terracotta warriors | 秦始皇兵马俑 | Qínshǐhuáng bīngmǎyǒng
Huaqing Hot Springs or Huaqing Pool | 华清池 | Huáqīngchí
Kunming, Yunan Province |云南省, 昆明市 | Yúnnán Shěng, Kūnmíng Shì
The Stone Forest | 石林风景区 | Shílín fēngjǐng Qū
Zhiyun Cave | 芝云洞 | Zhīyún Dòng
Green Lake | 翠湖 | Cuì hú
Former Site of the Yunnan Military Academy | 云南陆军讲武堂 (旧址) | Yúnnán Lùjūn Jiǎng Wǔ Táng (jiùzhǐ)
The gravesite of Nie Er 聂耳墓 | Niè Ěr Mù
Yuantong Temple | 圆通寺 | Yuántōng sì
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