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The Best Places in China to See Autumn Foliage

Is there anything more poetic and sublime than watching leaves turn a rich hue of amber, with clear blue autumn skies and beautiful weather? Autumn is a time that reminds us in the Northern Hemisphere that the year is ending. It’s also a time when the peak summer tourist season has passed, and you get to enjoy scenery and sightseeing with more breathing space and tranquillity.  Admire this change of seasons in some of the most gorgeous viewing spots in China.

Jiuzhaigou

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Image Credit: Chinadiscovery

Jiuzhaigou is a stunning place to visit regardless of the season, and so it's well trodden all throughout the year. However, autumn makes jostling with the crowds worthwhile as it is a particularly beautiful time to visit. In fall, the intense turquoise-blue colours of the lakes play contrast to the glowing amber, red tones of the autumn foliage. Autumn is also a considerably drier time than summer, which makes visiting a lot more pleasant.  

If you plan to visit Jiuzhaigou in October, avoid the first week of the month as it’s the Golden Week where National Day and the Mid-Autumn Festival are both celebrated, making it an extra-crowded visit.  Also, don’t forget to pack some warm clothes as temperature differences between night and day can be rather large.

Huangshan

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Huangshan is a dreamscape in Autumn, where leaves of green, orange, and deep red cover the mountains beneath the sea of clouds. The unique shape of trees and rocks give Huangshan its distinctly Chinese atmosphere reminiscent of ancient poets and philosophers. Make your way to Huangshan and see sunrise here as the subtle, warm morning light set the autumn foliage aglow.

Huangshan isn’t far from Shanghai and makes for a great trip to get away from the madness of the city. Visit Tachuan, the small village at the foot of the mountains. Tachuan’s maple trees draw photographers looking to capture the harmony of surreal natural beauty and charming and traditional village houses. 

Kanas, Xinjiang

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Image Credit: pinterest

The beauty of Xinjiang’s Kanas lake can hardly be adequately described in words or even pictures. Forests and peaks of the Altai mountain range surround this high-altitude lake in the far west of China. The crescent moon lake varies from a milky blue to a dark turquoise according to the seasons and is an inspiring sight to behold. Sightings of enormous fish, or “monster” of the lake have been reported, linking it to the mysterious Loch Ness Monster. 

In autumn, the soft yellow and orange tones of the fall foliage form a beautiful border along the light blue lake. In this season, the Kanas Lake takes on the atmosphere of a fairy tale.

Mutianyu Great Wall

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Image Credit: Wikimedia


Spring and autumn are great seasons to trek along the Great Wall with mild and comfortable temperatures. In the fall, the Mutianyu section stands out with lovely fall colours forming along the majestic wall. 

Mutianyu is the longest and most well-maintained fully-restored part of the Great Wall that is accessible to tourists and is also less crowded than Badaling, another popular section. There are even cable cars that service the various watchtowers, making it easier to visit regardless of your physical condition. 

As Mutianyu is almost entirely surrounded by pine and cypress trees all around, autumn is an exceptionally picturesque time to be visiting.  You can hike from Jiankou to Mutianyu, which will take you good 5-6 hours. This route will take you from the wild and rugged part of the wall to the scenic and smooth part. 

Miyaluo, Sichuan province

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Image Credit: Youtube, Tuttiquanti

If you’re looking for a hidden gem, a paradise that’s tucked away, then head to Miyaluo in Sichuan. In between Chengdu and Jiuzhaigou lies the Miyaluo Scenic Area, the largest red-leaves viewing spot in China. By large, we mean 3688 square kilometres, which makes for a stunning sea of red once autumn comes. 

The scenic area is a playground of waterfalls, hot springs; snow covered mountains, and never-ending maple trees. Nature here is pristine, and its purity is welcome respite if you’ve been travelling around the large cities of the country. Independent travel here is quite a challenge if you’re not comfortable with Mandarin, but don’t let that deter you from spending the night in the area and taking your time to explore the beauty that surrounds. There are a number of local hotels that you can stay in. 

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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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