There's more to the world's 4th largest country than its big cities. Take a lazy boat ride, climb a mountain, get active and explore China's natural beauty.
Xiling Mountain (Xilǐng Xuěshān, 西岭雪山)—also referred to as "Xiling Snow Mountain," "Xiling Snow-Capped Mountain" or just "Xiling Xueshan"—is a pleasant get-away just about two hours by car from downtown Chengdu. In spring, summer and fall, it offers hikers alpine wildflowers, waterfalls and colorful autumn foliage. By mid-November, the upper slopes see substantial snowfall, and aided by snow machines are ski-able until around February. The ski area—not quite a "resort" in an Alps or Rockies sense of the..
Dian Lake (Diānchí, 滇池) is the sixth largest lake in China at 300 sq km (116 sq mi) and dominates the landscape southwest of Kunming. The lake is surrounded by mountains, flatlands and some industrial sites, and its shore is dotted with small villages, parks and fishing endeavors. The best views of the lake are from above, either from the mountains or Daguan Tower (Dàguān Tǎ, 大观塔). Western Hills Park provides access to the water and facilities for renting paddle boats and the like. Out on the lake..
Like an elegant jade ornament gracing a handsome personage who, under pressure from all the harrying demands of modern life, is a little worse for wear, Green Lake Park (Cuìhú Gōngyuán, 翠湖公园) instantly reminds one of the essential beauty that persists beneath the occasional grime of modernity as Kunming barrels, along with the rest of urban China, deeper into the 21st century. With a history than stretches back to the 17th century, the present lake is a remnant of the Kunming region's much larger and more..
Of the many famous China's classical poets, Du Fu (712-70 AD) is up there with Tang Dynasty master Li Bai as the best known and one of the most well loved. After travels around eastern China and his home province of Henan, Du Fu arrived in the conflict-torn Tang capital of Chang'an (today's Xi'an) where he worked to establish himself as a civil servant at the behest of the Tang emperor. But the emperor was much too busy clashing with the forces of rebellious general An Lushan. And so Du Fu's official career never was. The An Lushan..
One of China's largest freshwater lakes, the Chinese name for Erhai Lake (Erhǎi, 洱海) literally translates to "Ear Sea," a nod to its vast size (250 sq km or 96 sq mi) and long, narrow crescent shape, said to resemble an ear—though when you're looking at a map, you may need a bit of imagination. Sitting at 1,972 m (6,470 ft) above sea level, Erhai is an alpine fault lake, and its clear jade waters are bordered by stunning scenery, with the majestic peaks of Cang Shan rising up to the west. The lake shore is easily accessible..
Erhai Park (ěrhǎi Gōngyuán, 洱海公园) sits on the southern tip of Erhai Lake on the slopes of Tuan Hill (Tuán Shān, 团山) just to the east of Xiaguan (Xiàguān, 下关—sometimes called Dali City or New Dali and not to be confused with Dali a few kilometers away). An attractive, landscaped green space featuring walkways, rockeries and shady pagodas, the Erhai Park is also home to an arboretum, playground, public swimming pool and even a zoo. Starting at the lake edge, it's a steady climb up with 270 stone steps leading..
The large, serene River View Pavilion Park (Wàngjiānglóu Gōngyuán, 望江楼公园) overlooks the Jin River. Dedicated to Xue Tao, a famous female Tang Dynasty poet known to have an affinity for bamboo, the park features some 150 varieties of the plant. The elaborately decorated pavilion that gives the park its name is the focal point, however. The 39 m (128 ft), four-story structure dates back to 1889, and is sometimes referred to as the Chongli Pavilion (Chónglì Gé, 崇丽阁) by the locals. The park is dotted..
People's Park (Rénmín Gōngyuán, 人民公园) is the most popular park in Sichuan's capital city and is host to a colorful mix of Chengdu residents who are always out enjoying themselves in the open air. The park is not only an enjoyable place to relax and mingle; it also has great historical significance. It was the site of the 1911 protests against the Qing government's policy of handing over railway construction to foreigners. These Chengdu protests and strikes set off a chain reaction that helped topple the Qing dynasty...
People's Square (Rénmín Guǎngchǎng, 人民广场), like much of today's Shanghai, is a showcase. Fortunately, it's also home to beautifully maintained gardens and parkscapes, culminating in People's Park (Rénmín Gōngyuán, 人民公园), which occupies the northeastern quadrant of this massive tract of land in the middle of Puxi (the west bank of the Huangpu River). Nowhere is the "showcase" aspect more apparent than at the Shanghai Urban Planning Museum, where optimistic projections of..
Fragrant Hills Park (Xiāngshān Gōngyuán, 香山公园) is located some 20 km (12 mi) northwest of Beijing, not far from the Summer Palace. Though the name could easily refer to the area's relatively fresh air (for Beijing) and the scent of trees and flowers, it instead comes from the shape of the hills themselves. If you look closely, squint a bit and crank up your imagination, you might just make out the shape of a Chinese incense burner at the summit of the hills. If this image eludes you, you may be glad to know the park also goes by..
About 20 minutes north of the Qiantang River (Qiántáng Jiāng, 钱塘江) from Liuhe Pagoda, the Nine Creeks and Eighteen Gullies (Jiǔ Xī Shíbā Jiàn, 九溪十八涧) make for a lovely stroll or bike ride through attractive countryside. Heading north from the river, the main path passes through paddies and tea terraces, along pleasant streams and, ultimately, to a small lagoon, a teahouse and the Longjing Tea Plantations further into the hills, terminating at Longjing Village (Lóngjǐng Cūn, 龙井村). You can also head south from..
Sitting well exposed to the glare of the sun, the summer experience at Potala Palace prompted the Seventh Dalai Lama (1708-1757) to have Norbulingka built, a summer palace for Lhasa’s governing officials. Each year in spring, a grand procession took the current Dalai Lama and government officials from Potala Palace to Norbulingka. Translating to “Jewel Park,” Norbulingka was centered around a walled garden and the favorite residence of the current Dalai Lama who had the New Summer Palace addition constructed as his own..