Tourists travelling to China sometimes get caught up in the idea there’s a limited number of urban options. Most stick to the famous cities of Beijing, Shanghai, and, to a lesser extent, Xian. However, there are a near unlimited amount of cities worth exploring and visiting in China. These four locations are my favourite of the China’s lesser visited cities.
Up in Gansu Province, few foreign tourists make the trek to the city of Jiayuguan. In fact, even the crowds of Chinese tourists are far sparser here. However, Jiayuguan has lots to offer tourists – both local and foreign. This is, after all, the location of the western most point of The Great Wall of China. Unlike the more famous section of the wall near Beijing which is located in lush vegetation, this part is found piercing into the desert, which makes it an incredibly different experience. There’s also an old fort at the end of the wall full of cultural activities for visitors.
Of the cities in this list, Guilin is likely the most popular for travellers at the moment. However, it still remains largely calm in comparison to the larger cities. Guilin is famous for its cave system that’s found on the edge of the city, and the Reed Flute Caves are an absolute must on your visit. The city also offers a lot of stunning architecture, and all the while it’s set among stunning karst limestone landscape; it’s an absolute beauty.
The capital of the Szechuan Province is one of the most advanced cities in all of China. But, not only does the city have a bustling student community, hip shopping malls, modern cafes, and fantastic restaurants, it’s also home to the incredibly popular “Panda Base”. This research and breeding center located on the edge of the city is home to a number of Giant Pandas, as well as the much smaller raccoon-like Red Pandas. In fact, visitors to the research center can even pay to hold a panda.
Beyond the pandas, Chengdu also has a selection of other worthy attractions, such as the People’s Park and the Science and Technology Museum. Chengdu is also home to a massive mall called the New Century Global Center, and if you’re willing to go on a bit of an excursion out of town, you could check out Mount Qingcheng.
Zhangjiajie is set in some of the most spectacular landscape in the entire world. In fact, the national park that goes by the same name as town was the inspiration for the landscape in the movie “Avatar”. However, the Avatar Mountains, which are found in a national park on the edge of Zhangjiajie, are not the only attraction here. Visitors can also visit Baofeng Lake, Yellow Dragon Cave, or take the impressive cable car system up to the world famous Tianmen Mountain. There are enough attractions in the Zhangjiajie area that tourists could spend weeks and not see everything.