Feeling adventurous? Go off the beaten path and visit these lesser-known destinations in China
Got a serious case of wanderlust and prefer to explore lesser-known destinations? China’s home to a myriad of cities holding tons of hidden gems that remain relatively unknown to most vacationers. Sound good? Check out this guide to start planning that upcoming trip and have a look at these fantastic China travel deals courtesy of Changi Airport’s travel partners… who knows? You may even score free air tickets to fly from Singapore to one of these 10 under-the-radar destinations in the world’s most populous country!
Shilin Stone Forest, Kunming
Picture rows and rows of dark, towering 270-million-year-old limestone formations that rise up from the ground and span an area of 300 square kilometres: that’s the Shilin Stone Forest in China’s Yunnan Province. It’s like something straight out of a science fiction movie, and few other destinations in the world promise such a majestic sight.
Detian Waterfall, Nanning
Known as Asia’s biggest transnational waterfall, Detian Waterfall straddles the international border between China (in Guangxi’s Daxin County) and Vietnam (the Trung Khanh District in Cao Bang Province). Featuring a three-tiered cliff, the waterfall is over 200 metres wide and has a drop of over 70 metres. It may not be easy to reach from the main city of Nanning, but the three-hour bus ride sure is worth it.
Jiaxiu Tower, Guiyang
If you’re in Guizhou Province, one must-visit is the Jiaxiu Tower. The magnificent three-tiered structure was built during the Ming Dynasty, but since then, it’s gone through several renovation phases of reconstruction and renovation. Today, the pavilion sits on a massive boulder called Turtle Rock in Nanming River, and is best viewed after dusk, with the gorgeous Guiyang skyline serving as the perfect backdrop.
Ciqikou Ancient Town, Chongqing
With 12 streets lined with well-preserved buildings featuring Ming and Qing architectural styles, Ciqikou Ancient Town (aka Little Chongqing) is a blast from the past. Picturesque folk houses, temples, and teahouses can be found all over the place here, but for foodies, don’t miss the chance to try local classics such as eel with duck blood curd and of course, Chongqing hot pot.
Betel Nut Heritage Park, Sanya
Located in Ganshiling Nature Reserve, the Betel Nut Heritage Park goes by many names (Binglang, Hainan Binglanggu Li & Miao Cultural Heritage Park – just to name a few). It’s essentially an ethnic village and a living museum that focuses on the aboriginal Hainan people, namely the Li and the Miao. Here you can see them live their simple lives filled with song and dance, as well as other traditional activities such as embroidery-spinning and weaving.
Shenyang Imperial Palace, Shenyang
We’ve all heard of Beijing’s Forbidden City, but how about the Shenyang Imperial Palace? Spanning an area of over 60,000 square metres, the Shenyang Imperial Palace is the only other existing royal complex in China (aside from its Beijing counterpart, that is). It was built between 1625 to 1636, and is divided into three sections, most of which display a mix of architectural styles inspired by Han, Manchu, and Mongolian cultures. The palace is also home to relics such as the sword of Nurhachi – one of the founding fathers of the Qing Dynasty.
Fujian Tulou, Quanzhou
Should you find yourself in Quanzhou, make it a point to take a day trip out of the city to visit Fujian Tulou. These fascinating multi-storied communal homes are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and back in the day, they were erected to double as mighty fortification structures made from mud, stones, split bamboo, and other natural materials. Today, the Fujian Tulou are open to the public, but keep in mind that there are some locals who still reside in these self-contained villages.
Terracotta Warriors Museum, Xi’an
A trip to Xi’an isn’t complete without a visit to the Terracotta Warriors Museum. Pop by to marvel at the 2,000-year-old army of clay statues that were put in place to protect the tomb of China’s first emperor (which was discovered in 1974). If you’re a serious history buff, you might want to consider getting a guide for this exhibition; you can look for an English-speaking one at the entrance of the museum, and it should cost you around 150 yuan (S$30).
Baishi Mountain, Shijiazhuang
Nature lovers, make a beeline for Baishi Mountain in Laiyuan County. It’s a four-hour drive from the city of Shijiazhuang, but trust us when we say this is one journey you’ll want to take. Deep valleys, rolling hills, peaks jutting out from low-lying clouds – take it all in as you wander around the lush green space. If you dare, head to the skywalk – a 95-metre-long glass-bottom bridge that snakes around the towering cliffs of the mountain.
Western Xia Imperial Tombs, Yinchuan
A visit to the Western Xia Imperial Tombs will surely bring out that inner Indiana Jones of yours. These are the royal mausoleums of the emperors in the Western Xia Dynasty, and they are the best-preserved historic cultural heritage that represents the Tangut civilisation – one of the great lost civilisations of Asia. Explore the grounds and make it your mission to locate the nine main emperor mausoleums, or do it the easy way and opt for a guided tour.
Ready to conquer an unexplored China? Snag great flight deals and book tours for your upcoming adventure. Also, if you’re feeling lucky, enter Changi Airport’s Unexplored China contest and stand a chance to win air tickets to one of the featured destinations mentioned above. Good luck!
This article is sponsored by the Changi Airport Group