At the end of the world : 10 Outsider Destinations in China

When you think about the places you'd like to see in your life, China comes usually on top, with the Great Wall -and that's all. Living in Hong Kong, I've now spotted many fantastic China destinations I was unaware of before...

Buddhist grottos, national parks, wide deserts, spectacular land forms, high mountains... Did you know that China's vast territory endows the country with some of the most beautiful natural scenery on Earth? 

There is so much to explore in China -you'd feel you crossed ten different countries. I've put together the most amazing things to see in the country: 10 outsider destinations in China. Who's ready for the big trip?


1| YAMDROK-TSO LAKE, A SUBLIME TIBETAN HOLY LAKE

Photo ©KEVEN OSBORNE

Photo ©KEVEN OSBORNE

At almost 4.500 meters high, Yamdrok-Tso Lake is one of the highest altitude lakes in the world. Formed by the snow melted water from the mountains nearby, it looks like a holy sapphire. You can go up there with a yak, and picnic with this breathtaking view... PHOTO ©KEVEN OSBORNE

2|JIUZHAIGOU'S UNIQUE SHADES OF TURQUOISE

PHOTO ©TRIP CHINA GUIDE

PHOTO ©TRIP CHINA GUIDE

The sacred land of Jiuzhaigou lies on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau. It's famous for its many multi-level waterfalls, colorful lakes, incredible wildlife and dense forest that are all encapsulated by high mountain glacier scenery. 
PHOTO ©TRIP CHINA GUIDE

3|TINY OASIS LOST IN THE GOBI DESERT

PHOTO ©BEARD

PHOTO ©BEARD

Surrounded by sand dunes in the Gobi desert, this 2.000-years-old oasis olds a moon-shaped lake, the Crescent Lake. After climbing to the top of the dunes, you can't help but marvel at the dramatic view... and going down sandboarding. PHOTO ©BEARD

4|the tremendous Yuan Yang rice Terraces

PHOTO ©JIXIN YU

PHOTO ©JIXIN YU

Endless rolling hills terraced by water buffalo, foot and hand over hundreds of years, generation by generation... The Yuan Yang Terrace Fields represents the mythical China, with 800 square miles of rice fields. PHOTO ©JIXIN YU

5|The sumptuous karst landscape of Li River

PHOTO ©CHINA HIGHLIGHTS

PHOTO ©CHINA HIGHLIGHTS

Formed some 200 million years ago when the area was below sea level, the jagged green hills of the Li River give a hypnotic vibe -and a mystical atmosphere created by the fog. Bamboo rafting at sunset is a must there.
PHOTO ©CHINA HIGHLIGHTS

6|ZHANGYE'S DANXIA UNREAL RAINBOW MOUNTAINS

PHOTO ©IMAGINECHINA

PHOTO ©IMAGINECHINA

It looks like they're from an alien planet, but they do exist, in the Zhangye Danxia Landforme Geological Park. The rainbow mountains are the result of mineral deposit and red sandstone from over 24 millions years ago. Layers formed on top of one another, creating this magnificent vivid pattern. PHOTO ©IMAGINECHINA

7|spires floating in the air in Zhangjiajie 

PHOTO ©YOUR TRAVEL INSIDER

PHOTO ©YOUR TRAVEL INSIDER

The scenic area of Zhangjiajie is full of stunning karst pillars of sandstone, covered with sub-tropical rainforest. They are grouped together tightly like a forest of 200-meter-tall cedars. There is often a misty weather, adding to the mystery. PHOTO ©YOUR TRAVEL INSIDER

8|The Red Land of Dongchuan, Yunnan - an astonishing masterpiece of nature

PHOTO ©JIKANG LEE

PHOTO ©JIKANG LEE

Because of the humid and worm climate, the iron elements in the soil have been deposing year by year after oxidation, then the glaring color is formed after centuries. Extending for nearly 50 kilometers, these red lands are the most striking in the world. Red, green, yellow and white are matched into rolling rainbow ribbons stretching to sky.
PHOTO ©JIKANG LEE

9|on the silk road - peaceful Lake KaraKule

PHOTO ©LONG WAY TO PEDAL

PHOTO ©LONG WAY TO PEDAL

In border of Pakistan, Lake Karakule is surrounded by mountains which remain snow-covered throughout the year. You can come here to stay in a Yurt, ride camels and take in the stunning views of Karakul Mountain.
PHOTO ©LONG WAY TO PEDAL

10|Yuanmou's spectacular Earth Forest

PHOTO ©YU CHEN

PHOTO ©YU CHEN

Formed by geological movement and soil erosion two million years ago, the earth astonishes travelers with its exotic and erecting earth pillars -of which the highest one is nearly 40 metersPHOTO ©YU CHEN


I guess whichever path you choose to take, which sights to visit, solo or by China Tours, you cannot go wrong with a visit to China -just need to take your time and not try to cram in everything in one time. 

Have you traveled in China? I'd be thrilled to hear about your travel stories, recommendations, adresses, experiences, off-the-track discoveries... Drop me line!