Top 20 Best Landscapes in China

As the fourth largest country and the oldest country of the world, China’s sweeping landscape harbors some of the world’s most extreme climates, as well as truly inspiring natural wonders. Below, we have detailed China best landscape. From Northern China to Southern China, from the mountains to the rivers and from the desert to the grasslands. From extreme roads to fairytale landscapes, this destination’s jaw-dropping attractions will have you rushing to add it to your bucket list.

1. Anhui Yellow Mountains: The Landscape of Chinese Ink Painting

Yellow Mountain, located in Anhui Province, is also known as Huangshan Mountain, Mount Huang or Mt. Huangshan. It was listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1990.
Praised as the loveliest mountain in China, Yellow Mountain has attracted many photographers to enjoy its breathtaking Magical Wonders – “Odd-shaped Pines, Spectacular Rocky Peaks, Sea of Clouds, Hot Spring and Winter Snow”. There are 72 mountains in Huangshan City and the main peak is Lotus Peak, which is 1,864 meters high.
There are many villages with Hui-style buildings around the Yellow Mountains. The most famous of them is Hongcun. It’s like a village out of a Chinese painting. The 900-year-old village of Hongcun has long drawn in-the-know Chinese visitors, who love its tranquil vibe and distinctive architecture. Villagers have diverted water into “house gardens” and “water yards”, which exist only in this village. The village, in its breathing-taking setting, looks like a Chinese painting.

Yellow Mountains Anhui

Yellow Mountain in Winter, image source

2. Beijing The Great Wall of China: The Longest Structure and a Spectacular View

The Great Wall of China is one of the greatest sights in the world — the longest wall in the world, an awe-inspiring feat of ancient defensive architecture. Its winding path over a rugged country and steep mountains take in some great scenery. From the Jiayuguan section of the Great Wall in Gansu Province in the west to the Shanhaiguan section, which meets the Bohai Sea in the east. Built on the ridges of mountains, you can explore different views in various seasons. Autumn is the most popular season because the blue-sky contrasts with the colorful flowers and plants. Most travelers visit the sections of the Great Wall that are in Beijing, such as Mutianyu, Simatai, Jinshanling, and Jiankou.

Great Wall Badaling Beijing

3. Guilin Li River: An Amazing Karst Landscape and Blue Waters

The Li River is the best example of a karst landscape in Yangshuo County. With limestone karst hills standing erect alongside the river, it is one of China’s most famed scenic areas. The section between Guilin and Yangshuo is considered quintessential for the Li River. It is 83 kilometers long where you can see the same view displayed on the 20 Yuan Chinese note. See the amazing panoramic view of Yangshuo from Xianggong Mountain and enjoy a bamboo raft trip on the Li River. Visitors can rent bikes and head to the countryside to find a more calming scene: bamboo boats chugging along the river, fishermen setting out with cormorants, farmers toiling in fields with lush peaks soaring high above.

Guilin Li River Landscape

4. Zhangjiajie National Forest Park: Towering peaks inspired "Avatar"

Zhangjiajie National Park is located in the central-eastern area of China in the Wulingyuan Scenic Area which features multiple protected areas. Wulingyuan area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The park is comprised of dense forests, deep ravines, deep canyons, unusual peaks, caves, and pillar-like rock formations blanketed throughout the park.  These pillar rock formations are what the park is renowned for around the world. The giant quartz sand pillars of Wulingyuan are said to have been the inspiration for James Cameron’s floating mountains on the planet Pandora in his Oscar-winning movie “Avatar.” In reality, the Wulingyuan area in Zhangjiajie, a city in Hunan Province in southern China, is home to more than 3,000 of these stone columns.

The Bailong Elevator and Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass Bridge are two record-holding features that help visitors experience the splendor of the national park.

5. Tibet and the Himalayan Mountain Range: The roof of the world

Tibet, historic region and autonomous region of China that is often called “the roof of the world.” It occupies a vast area of plateaus and mountains in Central Asia, including Mount Everest. Tibet is a mysterious area that’s located in Southwest China and bordered by Qinghai, Sichuan, and Yunnan provinces. The local people use their minority languages, and their lifestyles are influenced by Buddhist beliefs. its own culture and customs while its landscape is stunning. The most famous landscapes of Tibet include the world’s highest “castle” — the Potala Palace, the world’s tallest peak — Mount Everest (altitude 8,844.43 meters), the magnificent Lake Nam, and Yamdrok Lake. The blue rivers and sky, the white clouds and snow, the beautiful local buildings, and the natural landscape combine to make Tibet a holy place, which seems close to heaven.

6. Yunnan Yuanyang rice terraces: The Mirror of the Sky

Yuanyang is located on the south bank of the Red River in Yunnan Province and is famous for Rice Terrace. Known as a Land « Sculpture », Yuanyang Rice Terraces, is the Hani and many ethnic minorities (Yi, Zhuang, Yao, Miao, Dai)’s masterpiece of ingenuity with a history of 1300 years. Till now, there are more than 3,000 flat and evenly spaced terraces. They all carved following the mountains’ original contour lines, forming a splendid landscape!

Yuanyang Rice Terraces is the core area of Honghe Hani Rice Terraces, which listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2013! In the main, the Yuanyang Hani terraces form three major scenic areas: Duoyishu scenic area, Bada scenic area and Laohuzui (the Tiger Mouth) scenic area. So many terraces set among vast forests, topped by an ocean of clouds create a magical, magnificent view.

South Yunnan: Stones Forest, Jianshui & Yuanyang

7. Zhangye Danxia National Geological Park: Rainbow Mountain

Zhangye Danxia National Geological Park is in the eastern foothills of the Qilian Mountains in Gansu Province, China. The Zhangye Danxia landscape has a vivid name of “Rainbow Mountains” because of its many colors. It is also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2009.

The Danxia landforms are a masterpiece of nature. The colorful mountain ridges are just like an overturned palette from heaven. After the rain has stopped and the sky has cleared, it’s the most beautiful time to visit Zhangye Danxia National Geological Park. You can see incredible rocks with different textures, shapes, and colors. The landscape looks like a vivid painting when the light from the sunset illuminates the mountains.

8. Xinjiang Kanas Lake: The mysterious lake and the water monsters

Kanas Lake in the valley of Altai Mountains, Altay, north corner of Xinjiang, is one of the most charming and top destinations in Xinjiang. Kanas literally means “a beautiful and mysterious lake” in Mongolian. It near the border area with Mongolia, Russia and Kazakhstan, Kanas is a huge natural scenic area, which mainly consists of three big parts – Kanas Lake, Hemu Village and Baihaba Village.

Kanas Lake and its surrounding snow-capped mountains, grasslands, and birch forests have made it known as “Switzerland of the East” and a “paradise for photographers”. The magnificent glaciers set off the tranquil lake water, the vast grassland borders deep primeval forest, where primitive villages inhabited by Tuvans are scattered. It is all refreshingly natural.

9. Yunnan Meili Snow Mountain: “Prince Snow Mountain”

Meili Snow Mountain, known as Prince Snow Mountain, is located in Deqin County in the northwest of Shangri-La, about 176 kilometers away. It sits on the border of Yunnan Province and Tibet, where the three famous rivers – Jinsha River, Nu River and Lancang River flow.

Meili Snow Mountain is one of the most sacred mountains of Tibetan Buddhism. There are 13 peaks with an average altitude of over 6,000 meters (20,000 feet) in the Meili Snow Mountains range, lined up north to south, referred to as the 13 Prince Peaks. The main peak, Kawagebo, which is 6,740 meters (22,110 feet) above sea level, is the highest peak in Yunnan Province. So far, it is still a virgin peak: no one has climbed to the summit. Many travelers come to visit for the incredible golden sunrise shining upon the dramatic snow-capped peaks.

10. Jiuzhaigou National Park and Huanglong National Scenic Reserve Colorful Alpine Lakes

Jiuzhaigou National Park is located in southwestern China in the north part of the Sichuan Province. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a World Biosphere Reserve. Jiuzhaigou National Park is a picturesque fairyland, featuring sparkling lakes, spectacular waterfalls, and colorful leaves. The elevation varies from 6,600 to 14,800 feet (2,000 to 4,500 m). The Jiuzhaigou valley falls within the Min Mountains and serves as the heart of the national park. The national park is renowned for its beautifully colored lakes, the numerous layered waterfalls, and peaks that are frequently snow-capped. The park is a Y-shaped valley with three main sections: the Zechawa, Rize and Shuzheng valleys.

Huanglong Scenic and Historic Interest Area, situated in the north-west of Sichaun Province, the Huanglong valley is made up of snow-capped peaks and the easternmost of all the Chinese glaciers. Huanglong is renowned for its beautiful mountainous scenery, with relatively undisturbed and highly diverse forest ecosystems, combined with the more spectacular localised karst formations, such as travertine pools, waterfalls and limestone shoals. Its travertine terraces and lakes are certainly unique in all of Asia, and rate among the three most outstanding examples in the world.

Huanglong Scenic Area (黄龙景区) is famous for its colorful lakes, snow-topped mountains, beautiful valleys and virgin forests. The area, declared a World Heritage Site in 1992 by UNESCO, has been called a “World Wonder” and “Fairy Land on Earth.”

You will need 1-2 days to explore the highlights for Jiuzhaigou and Huanglong.

11. Yading Nature Reserve

The magnificent Yading Nature Reserve, 140km south of Daocheng, centers around three sacred snowcapped mountains, a holy trinity encircled by forested valleys, crystal-clear rivers and glacier-fed lakes. These are, quite simply, some of the most stunning landscapes you’ll ever see. There are opportunities to hike, ride and camp here. Featuring untouched and amazing plateau scenery, Yading Nature Reserve is often called “the last pure land on earth” and “the last Shangri-La”. This biosphere reserve is part of the eastern extension of the Tibetan plateau ranging from 2,200 to 6,032 m a.s.l. The area is not only noted for its high biological diversity, but also for its associated cultural values as three sacred mountains are located within the area. The local inhabitants observe the custom of revering nature and preserving the environment of the sacred mountains. The Kangba-Tibetan ethnic group accounts for 90% of the total population of the biosphere reserve, which practice shamanism or adhere to five different sects of Tibetan Buddhism.

The best times to visit the reserve are May to June and September to early October.

12. South China Karst: Yunnan Stone Forest, Chongqing Wulong and Guizhou Libo

The South China Karst is so impressive and is such an important part of China that it is World Heritage listed. It covers half a million square kilometers (193,000 square miles) of southern and central China. It is noted for its karst features and landscapes as well as rich biodiversity. The site comprises seven clusters Phase I: Guizhou Libo Karst, Yunnan Stone Forest Karst, and Chongqing Wulong Karst inscribed in 2007, and Phase II: Guilin Karst, Shibing Karst, Jinfoshan Karst, and Huanjiang Karst inscribed in 2014. The South China Karst World Heritage property protects a diversity of spectacular and iconic forested humid tropical to subtropical karst landscapes, such as tower karst (Fenglin) and cone karst (Fengcong), as well as other highly significant karst phenomena such as Tiankeng karst (giant dolinas), table mountains and gorges. The property also includes many large cave systems with rich speleothem deposits. The karst features and geomorphological diversity of the South China Karst are widely recognized as among the best in the world.

Stone Forest: The Stone Forest has rock spires that you can hike among. Shilin juts up amid bushes and trees. Two highlights at The Stone Forest are Major and Minor Stone Forest and Naigu Stone Forest.

Wulong Karst: Wulong is about 2.5 hours’ drive from downtown Chongqing. Well-known scenic spots in Wulong County include Furong Cave, the biggest group of natural bridges in Asia, and Houping Tiankeng that is a huge pit made by the collapse of a huge cave.

Guizhou Libo: Libo in Guizhou has spires shaped like cones instead of needles or swords as at The Stone Forest. The Libo karst is in a forest that is considered to be one of China’s most beautiful. The fantastic limestone forms shoot up in front of you out of the trees while hiking through the park.

13. Yangtze River: The third longest river in the world

Yangtze River is as long as 6,397 km (3,975 miles). It is the longest river in Asia and the third longest river in the world, just after the Nile in Africa and the Amazon in South America. It runs across central China from Qinghai-Tibet Plateau in the west to East China Sea in the east. For many years, the Yangtze has played a large role in China’s history, culture and economy. It contributes greatly to the country’s wealth and is home to many endemic species, including the Yangtze River dolphin and Chinese paddlefish.

Yangtze River Cruise is the most popular way to tour Yangtze River. The route between Chongqing and Yichang is the most popular one. The cruise ship will pass through the Three Gorges, the gathering of Qutang Gorge, Wu Gorge and Xiling Gorge, which are lined with fantastic rocks and peaks on both banks. The ship will also stop over at Three Gorges Dam, the largest dam and hydropower station in China, which benefits a lot of people. Visitors can also go for excursions to Fengdu Ghost City, Shibaozhai and Shennong Stream on the route.

14. Fujian Wuyishan Mountain and Hakka Tulou

The Wuyi Mountains are listed as a World Cultural and Natural Heritage Site by UNESCO. They are located between Wuyishan City in Fujian Province and Wuyishan Town in Jiangxi Province, around a 3.5 hours train ride from Shanghai or Xiamen. The Wuyi Mountains are well known for their abundance of deep canyons, dense forests, waterfalls, animals, flora, and fauna. They are an idyllic destination for any nature lover. Wuyishan is suitable for travel all year round with a different type of beauty in each season. With a pleasant climate, fascinating scenery, abundant products, time-honored history and rich tourism resources, Mount Wuyishan is a famous tea, grain and timber production center in China. Mount Wuyishan belongs to typical Danxia landform. Except for the amazing Danxia landform here, the Daoism culture, Lingnan culture, tea culture and other historical and cultural heritages also attract tourists at home and abroad.

Fujian’s Hakka Tulou are unique, usually round, fort-like buildings, built with a mixture of clay and sandy soil. These rare buildings were designed by the circumspect Hakka minority as large fortresses and apartment buildings in one, and were inscribed by UNESCO as a cluster of World Cultural Heritage Sites in 2008. Fujian Tulou is a property of 46 buildings constructed between the 15th and 20th centuries over 120 km in south-west of Fujian province, inland from the Taiwan Strait. Set amongst rice, tea and tobacco fields the Tulou are earthen houses. Several storeys high, they are built along an inward-looking, circular or square floor plan as housing for up to 800 people each.

15. Suzhou Classical Gardens and Water Towns

Suzhou is a city of gardens. The first garden can be traced back to the 6th century BC. The private gardens reached their zenith in the Ming (1368–1644) and Qing (1644–1911) dynasties, with about 200 gardens being scattered around the city. In the classical gardens of Suzhou, even the flowers, grasses, bricks and stones are telling the happiness, pity and sorrow in the long history. Being so remarkable, Classical Gardens of Suzhou are generally acknowledged as the great masterpieces in the world history of gardening and nine of them are listed in the World Cultural Heritages. Together with Tiger Hill, they make up top ten classical gardens of Suzhou worth your discovery.

Humble Administrator’s Garden (Zhuo Zheng Yuan): Humble Administrator’s Garden is the largest and most prestigious garden in Suzhou. With an area of 5.2 hectares, it is able to include magnificent halls, delicate pavilions, lush flowers, zigzagging bridges, bamboo groves and fragrant lotus ponds, from which you could admire the never-ending designs. The garden is divided into three major parts: the eastern part, central part, and western part. The Central Section is the main and elite part of the garden.

Lingering Garden (Liu Yuan): As the most exquisite classical garden of Suzhou, Lingering Garden is also one of the four most famous gardens in China. This garden is famous for its striking architecture. It has the most buildings among Suzhou’s gardens, perfectly combined corridors, artificial hills, rocks, and water features.

Master of Nets Garden (Wang Shi Yuan): Master of the Nets Garden is a pocket-sized garden in Suzhou. The feature of Suzhou Gardens of “recreating natural beauty in miniature” is nowhere better illustrated than the Master of the Nets Garden. On account of the ingenious design and the use of the space, the garden looks much larger than its authentic size. The compact layout never interferes with the splendor of the Master of the Nets Garden. In the Residential Area which is built according to the sumptuary regulation, the Gateway with Brick Carving enjoys cultural value.

Lion Grove Garden (Shi Zi Lin): Lion Grove Garden is one of the four most famous classical gardens of Suzhou. It was built in 1342 by a Buddhist disciple in memory of his master. This garden is dominated by elaborate rock formations of all shapes and sizes, which give this garden quite a different appearance to the other gardens. There are many rockeries in the shape of a lion, hence the name Lion Grove.

Canglang Pavilion: The Canglang Pavilion is the oldest garden in Suzhou. Different from other gardens, visitors can see a pool of green water around Canglang Pavilion before entering the garden. Inside the garden, the amazing man-made rockeries are the main landscape and above them, there is a stone pavilion named Canglang Pavilion. Different from Suzhou’s other gardens, which are usually surrounded by a high wall, Canglang Pavilion is situated by the side of a lake to its north and faces a miniature mountain to its south. The garden itself is small and peaceful with fewer tourists compared with other more famous gardens in the city.

16. Shangri-la Tiger Leaping Gorge

Tiger Leaping Gorge is one of the deepest gorges in the world, making it one of the top 10 world famous hiking trails. Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and Haba Snow Mountain stand on each side, offering beautiful and diverse landscapes. It is divided into three parts: Upper Gorge, Middle Gorge and Lower Gorge.

Known as one of the world’s great treks, the rugged Tiger Leaping Gorge trail refreshes souls with sheer natural beauty and majestic snow mountain views. And Naxi culture is another pearl shining on the Gorge.

Upper Gorge: As the narrowest section, the upper gorge is characterized by rapids and a precipitous landscape. The gorge is accessible to all travelers, which kindly offers two choices: The Upper Gorge Scenic Spot for a short visit (1–2 hours) and the High Trail for hiking to the wild path (1–2 days).

Middle Gorge: The Middle Gorge is a perfect place to challenge yourself. Hike downhill from Zhang’s Guesthouse, then you need to hike about 1~2 hours to the bottom of the gorge – Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge. There are two famous high ladders connecting upper place to lower place because of no available road. Get down to the river side, you will see the Jinshan River shrinks in a narrow valley, and get blocked by several huge stones. Listen to the deafening voice of water flapping at the stones, and explore the nearby.

Lower Gorge: Lower Gorge area is less crowded and traveled by less people. Compared to the first two gorges, the scenery is plain. Few people visit it due to the featureless landscape.

17. Xinjiang Kashgar: Lake Karakul

Kashgar is in the extreme west of China and the southwest extreme of Xinjiang. The city has been an important trading center since the days of the Silk Road, and still is today; it is said to have the largest bazaar in Asia. Uyghur craftspeople and artisans still hammer and chisel away as they have done for centuries, traders haggle over deals in the boisterous bazaars and donkey carts still trundle their way through the narrow alleyways. Do not miss the city’s Sunday livestock market.

This stunning view is the reward after a thrilling ride over one of the world’s most dangerous roads, Karakoram Highway. The many “landslide site” signposts along the way haven’t stopped devoted travelers, who mostly set out from Kashgar, the westernmost city in China. Standing 3,600 meters above sea level on the Pamir Plateau, the glacier lake’s water reflects the surrounding mountains like a huge mirror. Best time to go is May to October.

No public transportation is available between Kashgar and Karakul, but plenty of tour companies and hotels in Kashgar organize small groups and customized trips to the area. The lake is about four hours from Kashgar by road.

18. Guangxi Detian Waterfall

Detian Waterfall is a transnational waterfall in the Sino-Vietnamese border, ranking the largest transnational waterfall in Asia and the fourth largest transnational waterfall in the world. The Detian Waterfall is over 200 meters wide and has a drop of more than 70 meters. The average annual flow of the waterfall is 50 cubic meters per second, and the geology of the area is thick layered dolomite. Its water rushes down a three-tiered cliff with tremendous force. The fall is awe-inspiring, and its thunder is audible before it even comes into view. Surrounded by picturesque karst peaks (more famously present in places like Guilin (China), Phang-nga Bay (Thailand), and Halong Bay (Vietnam), this was definitely one of the more scenic waterfalls.

19. Inner Mongolia Badain Jaran Desert

Badain Jaran Desert is located in the Alashan Plateau in the hyper-arid and temperate desert region of northwestern China. It is China’s second largest desert. Mainly located in the west end of inner Mongolia and bordering Gansu Province, Badain Jaran Desert is known for its multiple colorful lakes and the highest sand dune in the world, covering an area of 49,000 square kilometers. Its spectacular colorful desert scenery attracts many visitors and photographers from home and abroad. The Peak of Blutu is the highest sand peak in the world. The Badan Jilin Desert has less than 40 millimeters of precipitation annually, but there are more than 100 lakes in the desert. These lakes give the desert its name “Badain Jaran” which means “mysterious lakes” in Mongolian….The towering sand mountains, mysterious Mingsha, quiet lakes and wetlands make up the unique and fascinating.

20. Xishuangbanna: Tropical and Exotic Charms

Xishuangbanna is an autonomous prefecture in the south of Yunnan, near the Thai, Laotian, Vietnamese and Burmese borders. The ethnic groups and the local languages in this area are more Southeast Asian than Chinese. Xishuangbanna is a famous tourism location in Yunnan, known for its magical rainforest landscape and unique ethnic customs. Xishuangbanna is the home of the Dai people. Because it is close to Buddhist countries like Thailand and Myanmar, the Dai people are generally devoted Buddhist believers. Xishuangbanna is dotted with Southeast Asian Buddhist temples and pagodas. It is also a kingdom for natural life, with a wide variety of animal and plant resources, many of which are rare and endangered species. Every year in April, the Dai celebrate their version of Songkran (or Water Splashing Festival). This is an experience unlike any other and attracts visitors from all over the world to join in and experience the fun.

Here, the precious tropical rainforest nature reserve has 3.6 million acres, which contains more than 20,000 species of plants, inhabits more than 500 kinds of mammals, 399 kinds of birds, 47 kinds of amphibians, and 68 kinds of reptiles, and among them, the list of protected species in the world, includes Asian elephants, green peacocks, white-throated hornbills, white-cheeked gibbons, Bengal tigers, and leopards. So Xishuangbanna is praised as the “treasury of the plant kingdom, and the miniature of the animal kingdom”.

Share this article