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Travel Guide: The Unusual Natural Wonders of China

China is a diverse country filled with many spectacular Unesco World Heritage Sites, allowing visitors to see unique natural wonders all year round. From desert landscapes to snow-capped mountains, you won’t be short of Mother Nature’s most beautiful creations. 


For international travellers, converting your AUD to Yen before embarking on your ultimate adventure is best to avoid any potential issues on arrival. 


aerial view of rice paddocks china

Photo by Anna Coco on Unsplash


Yuanyang Rice Terraces

Located close to the border with Vietnam, the sprawling rice fields of the ethnic minority villages of Yuanyang are considered to be some of the most impressive sights in the country. The mesmerising swirling patterns and dazzling reflections on the waters seem out of this world. 


While some fields will provide the ideal sunset photography opportunity, others, like the Duoyishu rice terrace, are better viewed during sunrise. No matter when you choose to visit, you will be left in awe. 


Huangguoshu Waterfall National Park

As the name suggests, the Huangguoshu Waterfall National Park is a magnificent cluster of tumbling waterfalls and is one of the country’s first national parks. Reaching a towering height of 255 feet, the Huangguoshu Falls is the highest in China and is one of the tallest in East Asia. 


Aside from the main falls, there are 17 smaller locations to visit, as well as Water-Curtain Cave, a 440-foot-long naturally formed cave at the back of the falls. When staying in the capital city of Guiyang, the park is a wonderful day trip for the entire family. 


Zhangjiajie National Park

For those lucky enough to explore the Zhangjiajie National Park, don’t be surprised if it feels like you have stepped into a classic Chinese painting. During specific times of day, a soft blanket of fog tumbles up and down the pillar-like formations, creating a magical scenic experience. 


The UNESCO-listed World Heritage Site has over 3,000 pinnacles and spires towering over lush vegetation. Nature enthusiasts will be excited to know that over 3,000 unique and distinct plant species are found here, as well as the endangered Chinese giant salamander, the Chinese water deer and the extremely rare clouded leopard. 


Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

The Jade Dragon Snow Mountain stands at a whopping 18,360 feet. It is snowcapped for the majority of the year and is the southernmost glacial peak in the entire northern hemisphere. The Naxi, a traditional matriarchal ethnic group that is native to the area, know it as Satseto


The beautiful mountain range is the idyllic backdrop for the old town of Lijang, with the most dramatic views found at the town’s Black Dragon Pool pagoda. A sight not to be missed. 


Huangshan in heavy fog

Photo by Uniq Trek on Unsplash


Huangshan

Bursting through a blanket of clouds is Huangshan, or Mount Huang, in eastern China. Often referred to as Yellow Mountain, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and easily one of the most popular hiking spots in the country. 


The unique granite peaks that fill this scenic landscape date back to the Mesozoic era. The pine trees, known as Huangshan pine, have survived by growing directly out of the rock formations—an impressive example of the strength and agility of the natural world. 


Zhangye Danxia: China’s Rainbow Mountain

The striking colour palette that paints the rock formations in Zhangye Danxia National Geological Park is a sight to behold. The rich red, yellow, blue and pink hues are a result of over 24 million years of sandstone and other mineral deposits that have layered on top of each other. 


The beautifully unique shapes of the numerous hills, pillars and ravines were sculptured by Mother Nature herself. This impressive natural wonder has been a listed World Heritage Site since 2010. 


Tiger Leaping Gorge

Tiger Leaping Gorge is the unique jewel of Southwest China and is easily one of the best hikes to take in the entire country. For nature lovers and avid hikers, prepare to spend several days exploring this spectacular area, with well-marked trails spanning the northern side. 


The gorge itself is the largest gorge of its kind in the world, with the winding Jinsha River flowing through the bottom of the canyon. The unusual name derives from a legend which states that hundreds of years ago, a man chased a tiger to the narrowest point of the gorge. To get away,  the tiger leapt to the other side. 


Yangshuo

The ancient village of Yangshuo has been a backpackers' hotspot since the 1970s and is home to a wave of vibrant green limestone karst peaks. The panoramic views found here are so iconic they were immortalised on the back of the Chinese 20 Yuan note. 


The most famous karst here is Moon Hill, easily recognisable by the large hole through the centre. Experienced rock climbers and hiking enthusiasts visit the area to tackle the scenic hiking trails that snake up the side of the hill. 


China Mountain Range

Photo by Jon Geng on Unsplash


Shuanghe Cave

Hidden away in the lesser-known Guizhou province is the Shuanghe Cave, a true hidden gem. It was recently named the longest cave in Asia and the sixth longest in the world, stretching an impressive 145 miles. 


There are over 200 different entrances to choose from, all filled with connecting cave chambers, tumbling waterfalls and underground rivers, some of which contain cave shrimp and blind fish. It is one of China's most ethnically diverse provinces, and most people’s first language is not Mandarin. Adventure lovers will not be disappointed. 



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