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3 Best Hiking and Trekking Experiences in China

China, with all its natural beauty and stunning scenery, somehow eludes the mind when one thinks about epic treks and hikes.  But, for the adventurous traveller who wants to explore the rugged landscapes of the country, China offers a great variety of treks that range from moderate and relaxed to strenuous but oh-so-rewarding. 

These are the top three trekking and hiking experiences in China that will give you not just a great physical workout, but also a great immersion into landscapes that are unique to the country.

Tiger Leaping Gorge

The Tiger Leaping Gorge sounds like a setting of a typical Kungfu movie and looks every bit the part.  Dramatic, deep, steep, and exhilarating. A trek in the Tiger Leaping Gorge is one that calls for multiple stops and pauses, both for a rest and to drink in the views of jagged snow-capped mountains peeking through clouds.

The High Path of the Tiger Leaping Gorge takes two days to trek, and is considered one of the most beautiful treks in the country. It isn’t particularly strenuous if you have trekking experience. The hardest section of the trail lies right in the beginning where the path is narrow, steep, and rocky.  But you will be rewarded soon with a view of the peaks of the Jade Dragon. The trek through the valley brings you to small streams, agricultural land, and the aptly named Halfway Lodge where you can rest your exhausted self for the day and be rewarded with breathtaking views.

 

Best Time to Trek:  Spring and Autumn. The rainy summer season from June to September makes for poorer visibility and slippery paths, while winter is too cold for a high-altitude trek.

 

How to Get There:  The gateway is in the town of Qiaotou, a three-hour bus ride from Lijiang.

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Image Source: Chinadiscovery

Huangshan 

Huangshan, or the Yellow Mountains, looks like a Chinese scroll painting come alive.  These otherworldly and majestic peaks in Anhui province have been the subject of Chinese art and poetry, inspiring the likes of Li Bai, one of the country’s greatest poets.

Climb up to the summit via the Eastern Steps (approx. 4 hours) and down via the Western Steps, which are more challenging.  The most surreal experience is definitely the sunrise, and it’s absolutely worth staying at a hotel at the summit so you can witness the surreal moment when the jagged granite and rays of the rising sun come through the sea of clouds.

One thing to remember is that Huangshan is an extremely popular tourist destination for the locals, and it’s neigh impossible to be too far away from hordes of Chinese tour groups. Also, allow a few days in the area if you can as you may run into days where the fog is too thick for you get a good view. 

You don’t need to join a tour to hike in Huangshan. All you need is a map, warm clothing, good shoes, and be in good physical shape for the hike up.

Best Time to Hike: All seasons! But avoid the major Chinese holiday periods (e.g. Chinese New Year) if you want a quieter visit. 

How to Get There:  From Huangshan City, get a bus (approx. 40 mins) to the town of Tangko, which is at the base of the mountain. 

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Image Source: AHTA

The Great Wall Multi-Day Treks

Visiting the Great Wall is wonderful, but doing a multi-day trekking adventure takes the experience to a whole new dimension. Get away from the massive crowds and the well-trodden and restored parts of the Great Wall. Trek through rural landscapes and villages as you discover the unrestored parts of the wall and see it in all its raw beauty.

One of many interesting sections is the Gubeikou, which is unrestored and wild.  It was built over two dynasties, and had been a significant section that protected an important pass to Beijing from the Northern Mongol areas. It is said that over 130 battles have happened here, and it’s hard not to marvel at how the structure, made of bricks and stones, could have lasted for hundreds of years.

While most of the imagery of the Great Wall that you see consist of rolling hills and mountains, it is, in fact an architectural marvel that spans across multiple landscapes, even meeting the sea at the Shanhaiguan section.

It’s best to go on a multi-day trek with a specialized Great Wall trekking company to get in-depth insights on the history and significance of the various passes. Depending on the type of trek you choose, some sections of the wall could be very physically demanding.

Best Time to Trek: Spring and Autumn.

How to get there: Most trekking tours, including the multi-day ones, would begin in Beijing.

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Image Source: topgold, Creative Commons

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About the author

Tilda is a happy sufferer of chronic wanderlust. When she isn't spending a disproportionate amount of time Googling about places and cultures, she's writing, dancing, and navigating a massive career change. She shares stories and photography on Wanderful People, and shares her coffee with no one.

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