China, a country in East Asia comprised of incredible grasslands, mountains, deserts, and bustling cities. While China is popular amongst city goers and those interested in its rich history and culture, there is a new group of travelers heading to this country in search of adventure. Home to some of the most rugged and beautiful landscapes imaginable, it is no wonder that more and more people head to China in order to explore the many adventurous things to do in the area. If you’re looking for your next adventurous holiday, here are our top recommendations on the best adventures in China.
Hike and Camp Along the Great Wall of China
Naturally, this would be the very first on our list as it’s not every day that you get to hike and camp in one of the seven wonders of the world. As the wall is very large and spans out across multiple provinces, there are various sections of the wall which you can visit. If you want to find out the best section of the Great Wall of China to visit and how to avoid the crowds, we recommend you check out our complete guide to the Great Wall of China which is full of recommendations on where to go and which parts to avoid. If you’re up for a bit of adventure, we recommend trekking and camping along the Great Wall of China for an authentic and rugged experience. The next day, you can wake up to a breathtaking (and crowd-free) view of this beautiful historical sight. If you want to challenge yourself, even more, there are plenty of other physically challenging treks through the Jinshanling or Jiankou Great Wall.
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Cycle by the Xi’an Wall
If you want to combine a bit of adventure and culture, why not rent a few bikes and cycle around the walls of the ancient city of Xi’an? Compared to the rest of China, Xi’an is known for having the most restored and intact city walls around the old city. You can navigate your way around the walls of the city as you bike along the 13-kilometer wall which was used as a military defense system. Along the way, you will be treated to incredible viewpoints of the city around you. As most people visit Xi’an mainly to see the infamous terracotta warriors, we recommend sticking around so you can do this incredible activity. Definitely one of the best ways to explore an ancient city!
Sleep at Everest Base Camp Tibetan Side
If you want to take adventure to the next level, why not spend the night at the Tibetan Everest Basecamp (Qomolangma). Not only is this adventure pretty incredible, it also allows you to explore the majestic Himalayan mountains alongside with the incredible local life around you. You can opt to do the rigorous trek up but if you don’t have much time and only want to see one of the campsites itself, there is a 7km trek which you can take on. Along the way, you can also pass by the Rongbuk Monastery which is the highest altitude monastery (4,980m/16,340 ft) in the world, located at the foot of Mt. Everest. If you want to find out more about this trip, you can check out this Everest Basecamp Tibet Itinerary.
Editor’s Note: Want to see the Best of China? Check out our article on the best places to visit in China
Hike the Famous Longji Rice Terraces
If you want to catch a glimpse of nature, head out to rice terrace fields in Guilin called Longsheng. Popular for day hikes, you can trek through the rice terrace fields and spend the night in nearby guesthouses. Popular with the Yao and Zhuang minority tribes, if you’re lucky, you can possibly catch a glimpse of them going their own way during your hike. The Longji rice terraces are a sight to see and are often referred to as “the Dragon’s Backbone” built by the Zhuang tribe. You would need a day and a half to fully explore this area and is a place and can stay in the nearby village of Ping’an. If you’re looking for something less commercialized, check out the rice fields by The Jinkeng Terraced Fields.
Ride a Bambook Raft Down the Li River
The mountains and karst formations in Yangshuo are pretty incredible places that are so picturesque. For a real local experience, I recommend hopping on a bamboo boat as you cruise along the Li River. These bamboo rafts allow you to take in the beautiful rugged limestone formations as well as the local life around you. You can take the raft and travel from Guilin to Yangshuo for a beautiful journey alongside this natural wonder. The Li River is pretty popular so if you want it all to yourself, consider getting up really early to catch the morning light as well as to see it in a peaceful setting.
Trek the Tiger Leaping Gorge
Known as one of the best hikes in China, the Tiger Leaping Gorge is a great place to visit if you want to combine a bit of trekking and culture. Located Southwest of the Yunnan Province, you start your trek at the foot of Haba Snow mountain in the village of Qiaotao. The trek can be done in 2-3 days so if you have a large backpack, you may opt to leave it in a local guesthouse. While the trek itself can be completed in one day, spreading it out and taking your time is one of our top recommendations. The Upper Gorge and Walnut Grove are all worth visiting as well. There are local guesthouses along the trail where you can stay at during your trek.
Walk the Huashan Plank Walk
If you want a dose of adrenaline, you can walk the world’s deadliest trail in Mount Huashan. This trail allows you to navigate your way through a series of wooden planks, ropes, and harnesses as you reach the popular “Plank Road in the Sky”. The trek itself will take you along the beautiful mountains and rugged cliffs of Mount Huashan and is a good test of endurance and trust as you solely rely on ropes while inching your way through the planks. If you’re looking for more things to do in China, check out this guide.
Hopefully, these adventurous activities have inspired you to get planning an epic adventure to this stunning country. Full of incredible adventures and experiences, China is high up on our list of countries to recommend when looking for adventure.
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11 thoughts on “The Ultimate Guide to China’s Best Adventures”
I knew you could hike along the Great Wall, though I had no idea that you could camp – how epic! That would be really fab actually, because one thing which is turning me off visiting is the mass tourism, so I would love to wake up and enjoy the region and wall before anyone got there for the day.
Everest Base Camp is on my list though I always assumed I would have to go to Nepal for that. Maybe I can include it on our China trip next year instead. Thanks for the tips!
China is on my bucket list and after reading this I want to go even more! I didn’t realise you camp along the Great Wall, that would be amazing! Cycling along the Xi’an Wall would be cool too. I’d have to stop and see the terracotta warriors while I’m there! And riding a bamboo raft sounds so romantic and adventurous! What an awesome list! Saving it for future inspiration 🙂
I had no idea that you could trek and camp along the Great Wall of China . I love the idea. My daugher and I have wanted to visit the Great Wall for a long time now. I am going to share the link with her . I am also going to check your post on the complete guide to the Great Wall of China. This is great inspiration!
You’re so right, such a vast country and so many things to choose from. I have to say that the idea of waking up to the sight of the Great Wall made me think for a moment – that would certainly be a morning to remember! Beautiful photo, by the way. 🙂
And I’d love trekking the rice terrace fields in Guilin. I can almost imagine myself stopping from time to time to enjoy the view and saying ‘wow’ out loud. Did you do the trek, how was it?
I’ve been to Great Wall but I don’t know if I can actually hike it. The walk up nearly took my life lol. However, it would be a great adventure and challenging to do. Now the camping does worry me a little lol. If someone is willing to do one of these activities, how long should they expect to be in China?
This piece inspires me to think seriously about going to Tibet. I’ve always wanted to go but kept putting it off. I don’t think there is any way I would have the guts to walk that Mt. Huashan trail! Sounds like you were bold enough to do it, though! Bravo! And it does look like you got up early to catch that gorgeous picture of Li river! It’s very peaceful! Thanks for sharing!
These are exactly the kind of adventures I look for in a country. I’ve pinned this post for future reference, as I want to do all of them when I get to China. I’m particularly interested in the Huashan Plank Walk. Your “World’s Deadliest Trail” highlight just makes me want to go more!
The Huashan Plank Walk seriously has my legs going wobbly, not a chance I’d give that a try! I also saw they had a see-through bridge, but would have to build up the courage to walk on that. As much as I try to be an adventure traveller, my fear of heights keeps kicking in.
Wow, did you Do all of these activities? How long did you stay in China for? I rekonstruieren one has to be pretty fit to participate in these activities?
China is a land of many wonders… I really would love to visit one day. I had no idea that you could also cycle along the Great Wall. This makes perfect sense. Oh, and I saw the plank walk on TV the other day – this is crazy! We have a similar walk here in Spain, Caminito del Rey, but it’s definitely much safer and more enjoyable since you can enjoy the scenery without having to worry about dying 🙂
Some amazing adventures to be had in China – I never heard of more than half of these! The bamboo raft along the Li river sounds awesome, but I think you can keep the Huashan Plank Walk. Just looking at the pic gives me the heebie-jeebies! Great post guys, thanks for sharing some inspirational China tips!