Behind the Great Wall: Some of China’s Little-Known Gems

Nicholas MacKenzie

When travelling to China many people automatically think of several iconic destinations such as The Great Wall, the Terracotta Warriors and Tiananmen Square. These are all great places to visit in China however this country offers far more than these few generic tourist traps. Below is a unique guide for all independent travellers who wish to experience the real China behind the Great Wall!

Jiu Zhai Gou (九寨沟):mountains-688598_1280 (1)

Tucked away in the Sichuan province this superb national park is probably one of the most beautiful and least well known natural treasures that China has to offer. The Jiu Zhai Natural Reserve is most famous for its crystal-clear multi-colored pools and lakes which have fossilized century-old trees that have slipped under the surface. The best time to visit the park is in the fall or spring time when the it isn’t packed full of locals and Chinese tourists, these seasons also offer fresh temperatures and a dazzling array of color due to various foliage around the park.

Le Shan Buddha (乐山大佛):leshan-giant-buddha-699105_1280

If you want to see literally the largest and most magnificent Buddha in the world then the Le Shan Buddha is a must. Built during the Tang dynasty at the banks of the Qingyi River, the Buddha is the tallest pre-modern statue in the world. The average person is no taller than the one of the Buddha’s feet!

Suzhou (苏州):

This city is well known in China for its amazing history and being an economic and cultural center both in ancient and contemporary China. Try the Humble Administrator’s Garden, which can easily fill half a day, is easily one of the best of Suzhou’s myriad of fantastic parks and gardens. This masterfully crafted city is also known as the “Venice of the East” for its many canals which are centuries old. Travellers can hop on and off of boats and adventure through Suzhou’s maze of old alleys and markets which offer a variety of mementos and knick-knacks!

Mount E’mei (峨眉山)china-680718_1280

Mt E’Mei is one of China’s most sacred Buddhist sites and well known for its amazing vistas and unique temples. However watch out for the misbehaved monkeys that line the trail up the mountain, harassing tourists as they make the steep climb! The mountain stands at around 3000 meters and the climb includes an impressive cable car journey through amazing picturesque scenery. Clear weather will give travellers stunning views from the top of the mountain, however the area is often cloudy so a weather check is recommended, before planning your trip

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