Did you know that one of the best times to travel to China is during the autumn?
With the weather now cooler and the leaves on the trees turning red and gold, it’s the perfect time to take in beautiful scenery and explore at a comfortable temperature. And even though it’s cooler, many places in China during the autumn (which is also September to November) will still be warm and dry.
Not only that, but as it’s off-peak for travel season, flights tend to be cheaper. The only exception is the first week in October, which is when National Week – a Chinese national holiday – occurs. Because lots of people tend to travel during this week, it can get very busy and hotel and plane ticket prices are higher.
As long as you avoid this one week (unless you enjoy a 人山人海 ‘rén shān rén hǎi’, crowded, atmosphere), autumn is the perfect time to visit China.
Here are five destinations and sights in China that are stunning in autumn:
1. 龙胜梯田 Lóngshèng Tītián – Longsheng Rice Terraces, Guilin, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region
From September through to early November, the sweeping, tiered landscape of Longsheng Rice Terraces turns golden. The first two weeks of October are usually the best time to see the transformation, just before the rice is harvested.
The rice fields encompass three different villages, all of which you can choose to visit: Ping’an Village (平安寨 Píng’ān Zhài), Jinkeng Village (金坑大寨 Jīnkēng Dà Zhài) and Guzhuang Village (古壮寨 Gǔzhuàng Zhài) Many hotels in Guilin can help you book a direct bus to the villages, or you can join organised tours.
2. 九寨沟风景名胜区 Jiǔzhàigōu Fēngjǐng Míngshèngqū – Jiuzhai Valley National Park, Jiuzhaigou, Sichuan Province
Meaning ‘Nine Villages Valley’, Jiuzhaigou is located in northern Sichuan province. The bright blue, crystal-clear waters and vibrant red, golden and green leaves of the trees during autumn make it a very popular destination during autumn with both Chinese and foreign tourists alike.
The fastest way to get to Jiuzhaigou is by flying directly from Chengdu. There is also a bus that leaves from Chengdu, but while it’s considerably cheaper than flying, it takes up to 10 hours one way vs. one hour by plane.
3. 香山公园 Xiāngshān Gōngyuán – Fragrant Hills Park, Beijing
Formerly known as 靜宜園 Jìng Yí Yuán, Fragrant Hills Park has existed since 1186 in the Jin dynasty. It was previously an imperial garden, and its traditional architecture, beautiful landscaping and trees remain popular with tourists to this day.
The park is easy to get to from within Beijing, with both a convenient subway station (Xiangshan Station) and a bus stop (Xiangshan Gongyuan Dongmen).
4. 黄山 Huángshān – Yellow Mountains, Anhui Province
The natural scenery of the Yellow Mountains is breathtaking during any season, but is especially beautiful during autumn when the leaves on the trees turn red. Think waterfalls, caves and walking in the clouds.
Huangshan North Railway Station is the nearest city train station, and you can get there from Shanghai and Beijing. But bear in mind it takes about an hour to get to the Yellow Mountains scenic areas by road from there. The easiest way to visit is to arrange a day trip with the hotel you’re staying at in Huangshan city.
5. 张家界国家森林公园 Zhāngjiājiè Guójiā Sēnlín Gōngyuán – Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, Hunan Province
One of several national parks within the Wulingyuan Scenic Area, Zhangjiajie National Forest Park might be familiar to you if you’ve seen the movie, Avatar. That’s because the imposing rock formations were one of a handful around the world that inspired the floating ‘Hallelujah Mountains’ in the film. It’s also home to the 百龙电梯 bǎi lóng diàntī (Hundred Dragons Elevator/Bailong Elevator) – the tallest outdoor elevator in the world.
The nearest airport to the park is Zhangjiajie Hehua Airport, which can be reached from many big cities like Chongqing, Chengdu, Shanghai, and Shenzhen.
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