Summer Vacations in China: Best Places to Visit – Things to Do – Travel Tips

Hainan-Island

Summer is a time of adventure and exploration, and what better place to indulge in these pursuits than in the vast and diverse landscapes of China? From the lush greenery of its countryside to the bustling streets of its cities, China offers a myriad of experiences that make it an ideal destination for summer vacations. In this article, we’ll delve into the reasons why you should consider visiting China during the summer months, as well as highlight some of the top destinations to explore.

Reasons to Visit China in Summer

Summer in China presents a compelling array of reasons for travelers to explore its vast and diverse landscapes. Firstly, it’s a time of vibrant festivals and celebrations, offering a peek into the country’s rich cultural tapestry (like the colorful Dragon Boat Festival).

Moreover, the summer months unveil China’s natural splendor in full bloom, with majestic peaks, serene rivers, and lush countryside waiting to be explored. The warm weather and longer daylight hours provide the ideal conditions for outdoor adventures, whether it’s hiking along the Great Wall or cruising down the Li River.

Culinary enthusiasts will delight in the diverse flavors of China’s cuisine, from street food delights to regional specialties. For those seeking aquatic adventures, China’s extensive coastline and numerous lakes offer ample opportunities for swimming, boating, or simply relaxing on sandy shores.

Additionally, summer is an opportune time for cultural immersion, with countless opportunities to explore ancient temples, partake in traditional ceremonies, and learn about China’s rich heritage. With so much to offer, China beckons travelers to embark on a summer journey filled with unforgettable experiences and cherished memories.

Table of Contents

China Summer Destinations

  • Guilin and Yangshuo: Explore the enchanting landscapes and karst formations of Guilin, and experience the laid-back charm of Yangshuo’s countryside.
  • Hainan Island: Relax on the pristine beaches, indulge in water sports, and explore the tropical rainforests of China’s southernmost province.
  • Jiuzhaigou Valley: Marvel at the stunning turquoise lakes, cascading waterfalls, and colorful forests of this UNESCO World Heritage site in Sichuan province.
  • Zhangjiajie: Stand in awe of the towering sandstone pillars and lush forests of Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, a source of inspiration for the movie Avatar.
  • Chengdu: Encounter giant pandas at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, and savor the fiery flavors of Sichuan cuisine in this dynamic city.
  • Dali and Lijiang: Wander the cobblestone streets of Dali’s ancient old town, and immerse yourself in the timeless charm of Lijiang’s UNESCO-listed Old Town.
  • Zhangye: Admire the surreal beauty of the Danxia Landform Geological Park, known for its vibrant, multicolored rock formations.
  • Hong Kong: Experience the vibrant blend of East and West in this bustling metropolis, known for its skyscrapers, markets, and world-class dining scene.
  • Xinjiang: Discover the rugged beauty of China’s far west, from the vast deserts of the Taklamakan to the snow-capped peaks of the Tianshan Mountains.
  • Lhasa, Tibet: Journey to the roof of the world and explore the ancient temples, monasteries, and breathtaking landscapes of Tibet’s capital city.

Guilin and Yangshuo: Karst Landscapes

Nestled in the southern part of China’s Guangxi region, Guilin and Yangshuo boast some of the most mesmerizing karst landscapes in the world. With their limestone peaks jutting out of emerald-green waters, these destinations offer a picturesque retreat for nature lovers and adventurers alike.

Best Things to Do in Guilin and Yangshuo

Visitors to Guilin and Yangshuo can immerse themselves in a plethora of activities that showcase the region’s natural wonders. Cruise along the Li River, marveling at the dramatic limestone formations that rise majestically from the water’s edge.

Hike through the Longji Rice Terraces, where cascading green steps climb the hillsides, creating a mesmerizing patchwork of agriculture and natural beauty. Explore the mystical Reed Flute Cave, a subterranean wonderland of stalactites, stalagmites, and otherworldly rock formations.

Guilin-and-Yangshuo
Early morning view over the li river, Yangshuo, China. Image from Depositphotos

Places to Visit

  1. Li River Cruise: Embark on a scenic boat ride along the Li River, where you’ll be surrounded by breathtaking karst formations and lush countryside.
  2. Yangshuo’s West Street: Explore the bustling alleys of West Street, known for its vibrant nightlife, street performances, and eclectic mix of shops and restaurants.
  3. Elephant Trunk Hill: Admire the iconic Elephant Trunk Hill, a natural rock formation that resembles an elephant drinking from the river, and climb to the top for panoramic views of Guilin.
  4. Longji Rice Terraces: Journey to the Longji Rice Terraces, where cascading layers of terraced fields create a stunning tapestry of greenery that’s especially beautiful during the summer months.
  5. Reed Flute Cave: Marvel at the intricate stalactites and stalagmites inside Reed Flute Cave, illuminated by colorful lights that create a magical underground world.
  6. Fubo Hill: Climb to the top of this limestone peak for panoramic views of the city and the surrounding karst landscape.
  7. Seven Star Park: Discover a serene oasis within Guilin, featuring the Seven Star Cave, a scenic lake, and lush gardens.

How to Save Money in Guilin and Yangshuo

  • Opt for budget accommodations such as guesthouses or hostels.
  • Eat at local eateries and street stalls for authentic and affordable meals.
  • Take advantage of public transportation or rent bicycles to explore the area independently.
  • Look for discounted tour packages or group deals for popular attractions.
  • Shop at local markets for souvenirs and handicrafts at lower prices.

Guilin and Yangshuo Travel Tips

  • Pack light and wear comfortable shoes for exploring the rugged terrain.
  • Stay hydrated and protect yourself from the sun, especially during outdoor activities.
  • Learn some basic Mandarin phrases to communicate with locals, as English may not be widely spoken.
  • Be respectful of local customs and traditions, especially when visiting temples or sacred sites.
  • Stay updated on weather forecasts and plan your activities accordingly, as summer can bring occasional rain showers.

What to Eat

Indulge in Guilin’s regional specialties such as Guilin rice noodles, stir-fried river snails, and beer fish. In Yangshuo, don’t miss the opportunity to savor local delicacies like beer duck, stuffed snails, and Yangshuo rice cakes.

Top Tip

For the best views of Guilin’s karst landscapes, consider taking a sunrise or sunset cruise along the Li River, when the soft light casts a golden glow over the limestone peaks, creating a truly magical experience that’s not to be missed.

Aspect Details
How to get there Guilin and Yangshuo are accessible by air, train, or bus. Guilin Liangjiang International Airport serves as the primary entry point by air. From there, travelers can take a taxi or shuttle bus to Yangshuo, approximately a 90-minute drive away. Alternatively, high-speed trains connect major cities like Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou to Guilin, with Yangshuo accessible by bus or taxi from Guilin Railway Station. Bus services also link Guilin and Yangshuo directly.
Entry & Exit Requirements International travelers to China generally require a valid passport and a visa. However, some countries are eligible for visa exemptions or visa-on-arrival arrangements. It’s advisable to check the latest visa policies and requirements with the nearest Chinese embassy or consulate before traveling.
Time to spend Plan to spend at least 3 to 4 days exploring Guilin and Yangshuo to fully immerse yourself in the breathtaking karst landscapes and cultural experiences. This duration allows for leisurely sightseeing, outdoor activities, and time to appreciate the region’s natural beauty at a relaxed pace. However, travelers with more time can extend their stay to delve deeper into the area’s charms and perhaps venture into nearby attractions.
Summer Temperature Range During the summer months, Guilin and Yangshuo experience warm and humid weather, with temperatures ranging from 25°C to 32°C (77°F to 89.6°F). The summer season, spanning from June to August, offers long daylight hours, ideal for outdoor excursions and sightseeing. However, visitors should be prepared for occasional rainfall and high humidity levels characteristic of the region’s subtropical climate.
Average Precipitation in Summer Summer in Guilin and Yangshuo typically sees moderate to heavy rainfall, with an average precipitation range of 200mm to 300mm (7.87 to 11.81 inches) per month. The frequent showers contribute to the lush greenery and vibrant landscapes that define the region’s scenic beauty. Travelers should pack waterproof attire and be flexible with their outdoor plans to accommodate weather changes.


Here’s a 4-day itinerary for a summer vacation in Guilin and Yangshuo

Morning Afternoon Evening
Day 1 Arrival in Guilin Reed Flute Cave Exploration Night Market Exploration
– Check into your hotel – Relax and freshen up after travel – Visit the Reed Flute Cave, marvel at the stunning limestone formations and colorful lighting displays – Dive into the vibrant night market scene, try local snacks and delicacies
Day 2 Li River Cruise Yangshuo Countryside Bike Tour Impression Liu Sanjie Show
– Embark on a scenic Li River cruise from Guilin to Yangshuo – Admire the breathtaking karst landscapes along the way – Explore the picturesque countryside of Yangshuo by bike, passing through rice paddies, bamboo groves, and ancient villages
– Stop for lunch at a local farmhouse
– Attend the spectacular open-air performance featuring local folklore and natural landscapes
Day 3 Yangshuo Rock Climbing Adventure Yangshuo Cooking Class Free Evening
– Try rock climbing at one of Yangshuo’s famous limestone crags
– Receive instruction and guidance from experienced local climbers
– Safety equipment provided
– Learn to cook authentic Chinese dishes in a hands-on cooking class
– Enjoy the fruits of your labor as you dine on your culinary creations
– Enjoy a leisurely evening exploring Yangshuo at your own pace
– Optional activities: evening river rafting, live music performances, or simply relax by the riverside
Day 4 Morning Tai Chi by the Li River Departure from Guilin
– Start your day with a rejuvenating Tai Chi session by the tranquil Li River, led by a local instructor
– Connect with nature and find inner peace as you practice slow, flowing movements
– Check out of your hotel – Transfer to Guilin Liangjiang International Airport
– Departure for your onward journey
 

Related reading: 8 Summer Activities in China for Every Traveler – Opens in new tab

Hainan Island: Tropical Paradise

Located in the South China Sea, Hainan Island is a tropical paradise known for its pristine beaches, lush rainforests, and vibrant culture. As China’s southernmost province, Hainan boasts a balmy climate year-round, making it an ideal destination for summer vacations. Whether you seek relaxation on sun-kissed shores or adventure in the great outdoors, Hainan offers a diverse range of experiences to suit every traveler’s preferences.

Best Things to Do in Hainan

In Hainan, visitors can indulge in a variety of activities that showcase the island’s natural beauty and cultural heritage. Relax on the white sandy beaches of Sanya, where crystal-clear waters and swaying palm trees create a tranquil oasis.

Explore the tropical rainforests of Wuzhishan, home to diverse flora and fauna, and embark on a hiking adventure to discover hidden waterfalls and panoramic vistas. Immerse yourself in the vibrant local culture by visiting traditional villages, sampling authentic Hainanese cuisine, and experiencing colorful festivals.

Panorama of the tropical beach of Hainan Island
Panorama of the tropical beach of Hainan Island. Image from Depositphotos

Places to Visit in Hainan

  1. Yalong Bay: Relax on the soft sands of Yalong Bay, known for its crystal-clear waters and luxury resorts.
  2. Wuzhizhou Island: Dive into the vibrant underwater world of Wuzhizhou Island, where you can snorkel, scuba dive, or simply soak up the sun on the beach.
  3. Nanshan Temple: Discover the serenity of Nanshan Temple, a sprawling Buddhist complex nestled amidst lush greenery and scenic mountains.
  4. Sanya Bay: Take a leisurely stroll along the palm-fringed promenade of Sanya Bay, where you can enjoy panoramic views of the coastline and sunset.
  5. Wenchang: Explore the historic town of Wenchang, known for its traditional architecture, seafood markets, and cultural heritage.
  6. Dadonghai Beach: Enjoy a laid-back day at this bustling beach, where you can swim, sunbathe, and sample fresh seafood from local vendors.
  7. Tianya Haijiao: Visit this iconic coastal landmark, where dramatic rock formations meet the azure sea, creating a stunning backdrop for photos.

How to Save Money in Hainan

  • Opt for local transportation options, such as buses or shared taxis, to explore the island affordably.
  • Stay in guesthouses or budget accommodations to save on lodging costs.
  • Enjoy street food and local eateries for authentic Hainanese cuisine at lower prices.
  • Look for discounted admission tickets or group tour packages when visiting popular attractions.
  • Shop at local markets for souvenirs and gifts, where bargaining is common practice.

Hainan Travel Tips

  • Pack light and bring essentials such as sunscreen, insect repellent, and comfortable clothing for the tropical climate.
  • Stay hydrated and protect yourself from the sun, especially during outdoor activities.
  • Carry a phrasebook or language translation app to facilitate communication with locals.
  • Respect local customs and traditions, especially when visiting temples or sacred sites.
  • Be mindful of environmental conservation efforts and practice responsible tourism.

What to Eat

Indulge in the diverse and flavorful cuisine of Hainan, which features fresh seafood, tropical fruits, and aromatic spices. Sample the famous Hainanese chicken rice, a fragrant dish of poached chicken served with seasoned rice and chili sauce.

Savor seafood specialties like steamed fish, grilled prawns, and spicy crab dishes that highlight the island’s coastal bounty. Don’t miss out on tropical fruits such as mangoes, lychees, and dragon fruit, which are abundant in Hainan’s markets and street stalls.

Top Tip

Take time to explore beyond the tourist hotspots and discover the hidden gems of Hainan Island. Venture off the beaten path to uncover secluded beaches, tranquil villages, and untouched natural landscapes that offer a more authentic and immersive experience of this tropical paradise. Embrace the laid-back island lifestyle, soak in the sun-drenched scenery, and create unforgettable memories in Hainan.

Aspect Details
How to get there Hainan Island is accessible by air, sea, and train. The most convenient way to reach Hainan is by flying into Haikou Meilan International Airport or Sanya Phoenix International Airport, both of which offer numerous domestic and international flights. Additionally, travelers can reach the island by ferry from mainland ports like Guangzhou, Zhanjiang, and Beihai. High-speed trains connect Hainan to mainland cities such as Guangzhou and Beijing via the Hainan Strait Railway Bridge.
Entry & Exit Requirements International travelers visiting Hainan generally require a valid passport and a visa or visa-free entry permit, depending on their nationality. However, Hainan has implemented visa-free policies for citizens of certain countries, allowing them to stay for a specified period without a visa. It’s advisable to check the latest visa regulations and entry requirements with the nearest Chinese embassy or consulate before planning your trip.
Time to spend To fully enjoy Hainan’s tropical delights, plan to spend at least 5 to 7 days exploring the island. This duration allows for a leisurely exploration of its pristine beaches, lush rainforests, cultural attractions, and vibrant local cuisine. However, travelers with more time can extend their stay to relax and indulge in various outdoor activities, spa retreats, and island-hopping adventures.
Summer Temperature Range Hainan Island experiences hot and humid tropical weather during the summer months, with temperatures ranging from 25°C to 33°C (77°F to 91.4°F). The summer season, from June to August, offers plenty of sunshine and warm sea breezes, perfect for beachgoers and outdoor enthusiasts. Visitors should pack light, breathable clothing, sunscreen, and hats to stay comfortable in the sultry climate.
Average Precipitation in Summer Summer brings occasional rain showers and thunderstorms to Hainan Island, with average precipitation ranging from 100mm to 250mm (3.94 to 9.84 inches) per month. While rainfall can be sporadic, it typically occurs in short bursts, followed by clear skies. Travelers should be prepared for sudden downpours and carry waterproof gear, especially if engaging in outdoor activities or exploring the island’s natural attractions.

Here’s a 6-day itinerary for a summer vacation in Hainan Island

Morning Afternoon Evening
Day 1 Arrival in Hainan Check-in at Hotel Relax and Enjoy Beach Sunset
– Arrive at Hainan Meilan International Airport
– Transfer to your hotel
– Relax and freshen up after travel
– After settling in, explore the hotel facilities
– Optional: Visit nearby attractions or relax by the pool
– Head to the beach to unwind and watch the stunning sunset over the ocean
Day 2 Tropical Rainforest Exploration Wuzhizhou Island Excursion Seafood Dinner at Local Restaurant
– Visit Yanoda Rainforest Cultural Tourism Zone
– Trek through lush rainforest trails and encounter diverse flora and fauna
– Learn about Hainan’s indigenous culture and traditions
– Embark on a boat trip to Wuzhizhou Island, known for its pristine beaches
– Enjoy snorkeling, swimming, or other water activities
– Relax on the beach and soak up the sun
– Indulge in a delicious seafood dinner featuring fresh catches and local flavors
– Experience Hainan’s vibrant nightlife with live music and entertainment
Day 3 Yalong Bay Beach Day Nanshan Cultural Tourism Zone Hot Spring Relaxation
– Spend the day relaxing on the pristine shores of Yalong Bay
– Enjoy swimming, sunbathing, and beach activities
– Rent water sports equipment for kayaking, jet skiing, or parasailing
– Explore Nanshan Cultural Tourism Zone and learn about Buddhism and Chinese culture
– Visit the impressive Guan Yin Statue
– Wander through the lush gardens and enjoy scenic views
– Unwind at a local hot spring resort and rejuvenate your body and mind
– Optional: Enjoy a traditional Chinese tea ceremony
Day 4 Sanya City Exploration Relaxing Spa Day Barbecue Dinner by the Beach
– Explore the vibrant city of Sanya and its bustling markets and cultural landmarks
– Visit Tianya Haijiao, known as the “End of the Earth”
– Explore local cuisine at a recommended restaurant
– Treat yourself to a pampering spa experience at a luxury resort
– Choose from a variety of treatments including massages, facials, and aromatherapy
– Relax by the pool or in a tranquil garden
– Enjoy a beachside barbecue dinner with grilled seafood and local specialties
– Listen to the sound of waves while dining under the stars
Day 5 Wenchang City Cultural Tour Coconut Plantation Visit Hainanese Cuisine Cooking Class
– Discover Wenchang’s rich history and cultural heritage
– Visit historical sites such as Wenchang Pavilion and Daguangbao
– Try local delicacies for lunch
– Learn about coconut cultivation and processing at a local plantation
– Taste fresh coconut water and traditional coconut snacks
– Enjoy a guided tour of the plantation
– Learn to cook authentic Hainanese dishes with a professional chef
– Enjoy the fruits of your labor as you dine on your culinary creations
– Take home recipes to recreate the flavors of Hainan at home
Day 6 Departure from Hainan
– Check out of Hotel
– Transfer to Hainan Meilan International Airport
   

Jiuzhaigou Valley: Scenic Beauty

Nestled in the northern part of Sichuan Province, Jiuzhaigou Valley is a mesmerizing gem of natural beauty in China. Known for its crystal-clear turquoise lakes, cascading waterfalls, and vibrant forests, Jiuzhaigou Valley is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that captivates visitors with its ethereal landscapes.

This picturesque valley, surrounded by snow-capped peaks and lush greenery, offers a serene retreat for nature lovers and adventurers seeking a tranquil escape in the midst of stunning scenery.

Best Things to Do in Jiuzhaigou Valley

Visitors to Jiuzhaigou Valley can immerse themselves in a variety of activities that showcase the region’s natural wonders. Marvel at the colorful lakes of Five Flower Lake and Long Lake, where the pristine waters reflect the surrounding mountains and forests in a breathtaking display of beauty.

Hike along the valley’s scenic trails, passing by waterfalls like Nuorilang and Pearl Shoal, where the sound of rushing water creates a symphony of nature. Capture the changing hues of the landscape as you explore the valley’s diverse ecosystems, from alpine meadows to dense forests.

River with azure crystal clear water among evergreen woods
Amazing azure river with crystal clear water among evergreen woods in Jiuzhaigou nature reserve (Jiuzhai Valley National Park) of Sichuan province. Image from Depositphotos

Places to Visit in Jiuzhaigou Valley

  1. Five Flower Lake: Marvel at the vibrant hues of Five Flower Lake, known for its crystal-clear waters and submerged ancient tree trunks that create a mesmerizing underwater landscape.
  2. Nuorilang Waterfall: Stand in awe of Nuorilang Waterfall, one of the widest waterfalls in China, where cascading waters plunge over 20 meters into the valley below.
  3. Pearl Shoal Waterfall: Witness the majesty of Pearl Shoal Waterfall, a curtain-like cascade surrounded by lush greenery and vibrant wildflowers.
  4. Shuzheng Lakes: Take a leisurely stroll around the tranquil Shuzheng Lakes, a series of interconnected lakes and ponds dotted with wooden walkways and scenic viewpoints.
  5. Zharu Valley: Venture into the pristine wilderness of Zharu Valley, where dense forests, alpine meadows, and towering peaks await exploration.
  6. Primeval Forest: Hike through the ancient Primeval Forest, a haven of towering trees, moss-covered rocks, and a carpet of vibrant wildflowers. Breathe in the fresh mountain air and soak in the serenity of this enchanting place.
  7. Rize Village: Step back in time and explore the traditional Tibetan village of Rize. Wander through charming wooden houses adorned with colorful prayer flags, and learn about the unique customs and traditions of the Tibetan people.

How to Save Money in Jiuzhaigou Valley

  • Consider visiting during the shoulder season or offseason when accommodation and tour prices may be lower.
  • Opt for budget accommodations such as guesthouses or hostels rather than luxury resorts.
  • Pack snacks and water for day trips to minimize dining expenses.
  • Take advantage of discounted admission tickets for students, seniors, or local residents.
  • Explore the valley on foot or rent bicycles instead of hiring expensive transportation services.

Jiuzhaigou Valley Travel Tips

  • Dress in layers and bring appropriate footwear for hiking and exploring the valley’s diverse terrain.
  • Stay hydrated and protect yourself from the sun at high altitudes by drinking plenty of water and applying sunscreen.
  • Respect local customs and traditions, especially when visiting Tibetan villages or cultural sites.
  • Be mindful of environmental conservation efforts and follow designated trails to minimize impact on the fragile ecosystem.
  • Check weather forecasts and road conditions before traveling to Jiuzhaigou Valley, as weather conditions can be unpredictable in mountainous regions.

What to Eat

While dining options within the park can be limited, venturing into nearby towns allows you to savor the unique flavors of Sichuan cuisine.  Try traditional dishes like yak meat stew, butter tea, and momo dumplings, which offer a taste of the local culinary traditions. Sample dairy products like yak yogurt and cheese, sourced from the high-altitude pastures of the Tibetan Plateau, for a unique gastronomic experience that complements your adventures in the valley.

Top Tip

For the best photography opportunities, visit Jiuzhaigou Valley during the autumn months when the valley is adorned with vibrant hues of red, orange, and yellow foliage, creating a stunning contrast against the azure blue lakes and emerald green forests.

Aspect Details
How to get there Jiuzhaigou Valley is located in the Aba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province, China. The nearest airport is Jiuzhai Huanglong Airport (JZH), which serves flights from major cities like Chengdu and Chongqing. From the airport, travelers can take a bus or taxi to Jiuzhaigou Valley, approximately a 1.5 to 2-hour drive. Alternatively, buses and private cars are available from Chengdu, a journey of about 8 to 10 hours through scenic mountainous terrain.
Entry & Exit Requirements Travelers visiting Jiuzhaigou Valley need a valid passport and may require additional permits, especially if traveling independently or venturing into certain areas within the Tibetan Autonomous Region. It’s advisable to check the latest entry requirements and obtain necessary permits from the local authorities or travel agencies before visiting.
Time to spend To fully appreciate the natural beauty and cultural wonders of Jiuzhaigou Valley, plan to spend at least 2 to 3 days exploring the area. This duration allows for leisurely sightseeing, hiking along the valley’s trails, and immersing oneself in the Tibetan and Qiang ethnic cultures. However, travelers with more time can extend their stay to delve deeper into the valley’s enchanting landscapes and discover hidden gems off the beaten path.
Summer Temperature Range Jiuzhaigou Valley enjoys cool and pleasant weather during the summer months, with temperatures ranging from 15°C to 20°C (59°F to 68°F) during the day and dropping slightly at night. The summer season, from June to August, offers clear skies, lush greenery, and blooming wildflowers, creating an idyllic setting for outdoor adventures and photography enthusiasts. Visitors should dress in layers to accommodate temperature fluctuations and bring rain gear for occasional showers.
Average Precipitation in Summer Summer in Jiuzhaigou Valley is characterized by moderate rainfall, with average precipitation ranging from 150mm to 250mm (5.91 to 9.84 inches) per month. The valley’s pristine lakes, waterfalls, and forests thrive on the ample rainfall, creating a picturesque landscape that enchants visitors with its ethereal beauty. Travelers should be prepared for occasional rain showers and carry waterproof clothing and footwear when exploring the valley’s trails and scenic viewpoints.

Here’s a 3-day itinerary for a summer vacation in Jiuzhaigou Valley

Morning Afternoon Evening
Day 1 Arrival in Jiuzhaigou Explore Jiuzhaigou Valley Local Cuisine Dinner
– Arrive at Jiuzhai Huanglong Airport and transfer to your hotel
– Check-in and freshen up after travel
– Rest and acclimatize to the altitude
– Begin your exploration of the stunning Jiuzhaigou Valley
– Visit scenic spots such as Rize Valley, Shuzheng Valley, and Zechawa Valley
– Take leisurely walks along the crystal clear turquoise lakes and admire the vibrant colors of the surrounding forests and waterfalls
– Enjoy a dinner featuring local Sichuan cuisine at a recommended restaurant
– Experience the vibrant atmosphere of Jiuzhaigou in the evening
Day 2 Early Morning Photography Huanglong National Park Hiking Tibetan Cultural Show
– Capture the sunrise over the picturesque landscapes of Jiuzhaigou
– Visit scenic viewpoints and capture the morning light
– Enjoy breakfast amidst nature
– Travel to Huanglong National Park (about 2 hours by road)
– Embark on a hiking adventure to explore the colorful terraced pools and limestone formations
– Discover the diverse flora and fauna of Huanglong National Park
– Picnic lunch amidst the scenic beauty
– Attend a traditional Tibetan cultural show featuring dance, music, and rituals
– Immerse yourself in the rich cultural heritage of the Tibetan people
– Optional: Stroll around the local area and interact with local artisans
Day 3 Jiuzhaigou Valley Scenic Drive Departure from Jiuzhaigou
– Embark on a scenic drive through Jiuzhaigou Valley’s picturesque landscapes
– Stop at various viewpoints for photo opportunities
– Enjoy the natural beauty of the valley from different angles
– Optional: Visit local villages and interact with the locals
– Check-out from your hotel
– Transfer to Jiuzhai Huanglong Airport
– Time permitting, visit any missed attractions or enjoy leisurely walks in Jiuzhaigou Valley
– Departure from Jiuzhaigou, bidding farewell to the stunning landscapes and natural wonders
 

Zhangjiajie: Avatar Mountains

Located in the Hunan Province of China, Zhangjiajie is renowned for its otherworldly landscapes that inspired the floating mountains in the movie “Avatar.” This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a surreal blend of towering sandstone pillars, lush forests, and mist-shrouded valleys, creating a mystical atmosphere that captivates visitors.

Zhangjiajie’s unique geological formations and scenic beauty make it a must-visit destination for nature enthusiasts, hikers, and those seeking a truly immersive experience in a landscape straight out of a fantasy realm.

Best Things to Do in Zhangjiajie

In Zhangjiajie, visitors can embark on a range of activities that showcase the region’s natural wonders and cultural heritage. Ride the Bailong Elevator, a glass elevator built into the side of a cliff, for panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.

Hike along the mesmerizing Golden Whip Stream, a scenic trail that winds through lush forests and alongside crystal-clear waters. Explore the ethereal Tianzi Mountain, where misty peaks and ancient trees create a dreamlike setting reminiscent of a fairy tale.

Beautiful view of quartz sandstone pillars (Avatar Mountains)
Beautiful view of natural quartz sandstone pillars of the Tianzi Mountains (Avatar Mountains) in the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, Hunan Province. China. Image from Depositphotos

Places to Visit in Zhangjiajie

  1. Avatar Hallelujah Mountain: Marvel at the iconic sandstone pillars of Avatar Hallelujah Mountain, which served as inspiration for the floating mountains depicted in the film.
  2. Tianmen Mountain: Take a thrilling cable car ride to the summit of Tianmen Mountain and walk along the glass Skywalk for panoramic views of the surrounding scenery.
  3. Zhangjiajie National Forest Park: Explore the diverse landscapes of Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, home to the mesmerizing scenery of Yuanjiajie, Tianzi Mountain, and the Bailong Elevator.
  4. Golden Whip Stream: Stroll along the picturesque Golden Whip Stream, flanked by towering cliffs and lush vegetation, and admire the crystal-clear waters that meander through the valley.
  5. Tianzi Mountain Nature Reserve: Trek through the ethereal landscapes of Tianzi Mountain Nature Reserve, where mist-shrouded peaks and ancient trees create a mystical atmosphere.

How to Save Money in Zhangjiajie

  • Purchase a multi-day park pass for Zhangjiajie National Forest Park to save on admission fees.
  • Consider staying in budget accommodations such as guesthouses or hostels rather than luxury hotels.
  • Bring your own snacks and water for day trips to minimize dining expenses.
  • Take advantage of public transportation or shared shuttle services to explore the area at a lower cost.
  • Look for discounted tour packages or group deals for popular attractions.

Zhangjiajie Travel Tips

  • Wear comfortable shoes with good traction for hiking on uneven terrain.
  • Pack insect repellent and sunscreen to protect yourself from sunburn and insect bites.
  • Stay hydrated and carry a refillable water bottle, especially during outdoor activities.
  • Arrive early at popular attractions to avoid crowds and long lines.
  • Respect the local environment and follow designated trails to minimize impact on the fragile ecosystem.
  • Check weather forecasts before your visit and pack rain gear for sudden showers common in the region.

What to Eat

While in Zhangjiajie, indulge in the local cuisine that reflects the flavors of the Hunan Province. Try spicy dishes like “La Rou” (spicy bacon) and “Chou Doufu” (stinky tofu) for a taste of the region’s bold and fiery flavors.

Sample street snacks such as “Mifen” (rice noodles) and “Tujia Baicai” (Tujia-style pickled cabbage) for a culinary adventure that complements your exploration of Zhangjiajie’s natural wonders.

Top Tip

To fully appreciate the surreal beauty of Zhangjiajie’s Avatar Mountains, consider visiting early in the morning or late in the afternoon when the light creates dramatic shadows and enhances the mystical atmosphere of the landscape.

Take your time to soak in the ethereal surroundings, capture the essence of this unique destination through your experiences, and create lasting memories of your summer vacation in this enchanting realm of natural wonders.

Aspect Details
How to get there Zhangjiajie is accessible by air, train, and bus. The nearest airport is Zhangjiajie Hehua International Airport (DYG), which offers domestic flights from major cities like Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou, as well as international flights from select destinations. From the airport, travelers can take a taxi or airport shuttle bus to downtown Zhangjiajie. Additionally, high-speed trains connect Zhangjiajie to major cities like Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou, with Zhangjiajie Railway Station serving as the main railway hub. Long-distance buses also link Zhangjiajie to neighboring cities and provinces, providing convenient access for travelers.
Entry & Exit Requirements International travelers visiting Zhangjiajie generally require a valid passport and may need to obtain a Chinese visa prior to arrival, depending on their nationality. However, China has implemented visa-free policies for citizens of certain countries, allowing them to visit designated areas for a specified period without a visa. It’s advisable to check the latest visa regulations and entry requirements with the nearest Chinese embassy or consulate before planning your trip.
Time to spend To fully explore the majestic landscapes of Zhangjiajie, plan to spend at least 3 to 4 days in the area. This duration allows for a comprehensive exploration of Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, including its iconic Avatar Mountains, scenic viewpoints, and hiking trails. Additionally, visitors can explore other attractions such as Tianmen Mountain and the Grand Canyon Glass Bridge, immersing themselves in the natural beauty and cultural heritage of the region.
Summer Temperature Range Zhangjiajie experiences warm and humid weather during the summer months, with temperatures ranging from 25°C to 30°C (77°F to 86°F). The summer season, from June to August, offers long daylight hours and clear skies, perfect for outdoor activities and sightseeing. However, visitors should be prepared for occasional rain showers and high humidity levels characteristic of the subtropical climate. Light, breathable clothing and sunscreen are essential for staying comfortable in the summer heat.
Average Precipitation in Summer Summer in Zhangjiajie brings moderate to heavy rainfall, with average precipitation ranging from 200mm to 300mm (7.87 to 11.81 inches) per month. The frequent showers contribute to the lush greenery and misty landscapes that define Zhangjiajie’s ethereal beauty, creating a surreal backdrop reminiscent of the scenery in the movie “Avatar.” Travelers should pack waterproof attire and be flexible with their outdoor plans to accommodate weather changes during the summer season.

Here’s a 4-day itinerary for a summer vacation in Zhangjiajie, known for its stunning Avatar Mountains

Morning Afternoon Evening
Day 1 Arrival in Zhangjiajie Tianmen Mountain Cable Car Ride Tianmen Mountain Glass Skywalk
– Arrive at Zhangjiajie Hehua Airport and transfer to your hotel
– Check-in and freshen up after travel
– Rest and acclimatize to the surroundings
– Take a scenic cable car ride to Tianmen Mountain Summit
– Explore the summit and enjoy panoramic views of Zhangjiajie City and the surrounding landscapes
– Experience the thrilling Glass Skywalk suspended over a 4,700-foot drop
– Watch the sunset over the picturesque landscape of Zhangjiajie from the summit
– Return to your hotel for dinner and rest
Day 2 Zhangjiajie National Forest Park Yuanjiajie Scenic Area Xibu Street Night Market
– Begin your exploration of Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, known for its towering sandstone pillars and lush greenery
– Hike along scenic trails and enjoy close-up views of the unique rock formations
– Take the Bailong Elevator to Yuanjiajie, also known as Avatar Mountains, and explore the breathtaking scenery inspired by the movie Avatar
– Visit the Avatar Hallelujah Mountain and other iconic locations from the film, marveling at the natural wonders
– Lunch at a local restaurant
– Immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of Xibu Street Night Market, sampling local snacks, street food, and souvenirs
– Enjoy traditional performances and cultural displays
Day 3 Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Exploration Glass Bridge Experience West Street Leisure Time
– Explore the Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon and marvel at its deep valleys, rugged cliffs, and pristine waters
– Optional activities: zip-lining, bungee jumping, or rafting
– Enjoy a picnic lunch amidst nature
– Walk on the world’s highest and longest glass-bottomed bridge, enjoying breathtaking views of the canyon below
– Admire the dramatic landscapes and take memorable photos on the bridge
– Explore the surrounding attractions
– Return to Zhangjiajie City for dinner
– Wander along West Street, a bustling pedestrian street offering a variety of shopping, dining, and entertainment
– Try local delicacies at one of the many restaurants or street vendors
– Relax and soak in the lively ambiance of the street
Day 4 Tianzi Mountain Nature Reserve Departure from Zhangjiajie
– Take a cable car ride to Tianzi Mountain Nature Reserve, known for its surreal rock formations and misty landscapes
– Explore the scenic viewpoints and hiking trails at the summit – Marvel at the breathtaking views of the surrounding peaks and valleys
– Optional: Visit the Ten-mile Natural Gallery for more scenic views
– Check out of your hotel – Transfer to Zhangjiajie Hehua Airport
– Departure from Zhangjiajie, concluding your memorable summer vacation
– Time permitting, visit any missed attractions or enjoy leisurely walks in Zhangjiajie City
– Optional: Visit local markets or shops for last-minute souvenirs
 

Related reading: Spring Vacations in China: Best Places to Visit – Things to Do – Travel Tips – Opens in new tab

Chengdu: Sichuan Cuisine and Pandas

Situated in the Sichuan Province of China, Chengdu is a vibrant city renowned for its delectable Sichuan cuisine and as the home of the beloved giant pandas. This bustling metropolis seamlessly blends modernity with tradition, offering visitors a taste of authentic Chinese culture, culinary delights, and unique wildlife experiences. Chengdu’s rich history, spicy flavors, and cuddly pandas make it a must-visit destination for travelers looking to immerse themselves in the heart of Sichuan’s charm.

Best Things to Do in Chengdu

In Chengdu, there’s no shortage of activities to keep visitors entertained. Immerse yourself in the bustling atmosphere of Sichuan Opera, marvel at the architectural grandeur of ancient temples, or explore the city’s vibrant teahouse culture.  For a touch of nature, venture outside the city and witness the captivating beauty of the surrounding Sichuan countryside.

Chengdu Pandas
Image from Depositphotos

Places to Visit in Chengdu

  1. Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding: Get up close and personal with China’s most iconic animals at the Chengdu Research Base, where you can observe giant pandas in their natural habitat and learn about conservation efforts.
  2. Wuhou Shrine: Step back in time at Wuhou Shrine, a historic temple dedicated to the renowned Three Kingdoms strategist Zhuge Liang and other ancient heroes.
  3. Jinli Ancient Street: Wander through the bustling alleyways of Jinli Ancient Street, lined with traditional Sichuanese architecture, street vendors selling local snacks, and artisans crafting traditional handicrafts.
  4. Du Fu Thatched Cottage: Step into the tranquil haven of Du Fu Thatched Cottage, the former residence of the renowned Tang Dynasty poet. Explore the serene gardens and learn about the life and works of this literary giant.
  5. People’s Park: Take a leisurely stroll through People’s Park, a tranquil oasis in the heart of the city, where you can relax by the lake, watch locals practice tai chi, or enjoy a traditional tea ceremony.
  6. Sichuan Cuisine Museum:  Embark on a culinary adventure at the Sichuan Cuisine Museum.  Learn about the history and traditions of Sichuan cuisine, witness cooking demonstrations, and perhaps even participate in a hands-on workshop.
  7. Jinsha Site Museum: Discover ancient artifacts and archaeological treasures from the ancient Shu Kingdom at this historical site.
  8. Mount Qingcheng: Embark on a scenic hike to this UNESCO World Heritage Site, known for its Taoist temples, lush forests, and stunning mountain views.
  9. Qingyang Palace: Explore the serene grounds of Qingyang Palace, one of the oldest and largest Taoist temples in Chengdu, known for its beautiful architecture and tranquil atmosphere.
  10. Giant Buddha of Leshan:  Venture outside Chengdu and witness the awe-inspiring Giant Buddha of Leshan, a colossal 71-meter tall stone carving dating back to the Tang Dynasty.

How to Save Money in Chengdu

  • Use public transportation or rent bicycles to get around the city instead of relying on taxis or ride-sharing services.
  • Take advantage of free attractions such as parks, temples, and cultural sites.
  • Eat at local street food stalls and hole-in-the-wall restaurants for authentic Sichuanese cuisine at budget-friendly prices.
  • Look for discounted admission tickets or group deals for popular tourist attractions.
  • Consider staying in budget accommodations such as guesthouses or hostels rather than luxury hotels.

Chengdu Travel Tips

  • Pack comfortable walking shoes and lightweight clothing suitable for the city’s hot and humid summer climate.
  • Carry a refillable water bottle to stay hydrated, especially when exploring outdoor attractions.
  • Learn some basic Mandarin phrases or download a translation app to help communicate with locals, as English may not be widely spoken.
  • Be prepared for spicy cuisine when dining in Chengdu, as Sichuan dishes are known for their bold flavors and use of chili peppers.
  • Be prepared for spicy cuisine when dining in Chengdu, as Sichuan dishes are known for their bold flavors and use of chili peppers.
  • Be respectful of local customs and traditions, especially when visiting temples or sacred sites.
  • Keep an eye out for pickpockets in crowded areas and take precautions to safeguard your belongings.

What to Eat

Indulge in the fiery and flavorful Sichuan cuisine that Chengdu is famous for, with dishes like “Mapo Tofu,” “Kung Pao Chicken,” and “Hot Pot” that showcase the region’s bold and aromatic flavors.

Sample street snacks like “Dan Dan Noodles,” “Sichuan Wontons,” and “Chengdu Pancakes” for a taste of authentic local specialties that tantalize the taste buds and offer a culinary adventure in every bite.

Top Tip

To make the most of your Chengdu experience, consider visiting the panda research base early in the morning when the pandas are most active and playful. Arriving early not only allows you to avoid the crowds but also gives you a better chance to observe these adorable creatures in their natural habitat.

Capture unforgettable moments with the pandas and immerse yourself in the charm of Chengdu’s vibrant culture and culinary delights for a truly memorable summer vacation in China.

Aspect Details
How to get there Chengdu, the capital city of Sichuan Province, is easily accessible by air, train, and bus. Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport (CTU) serves domestic and international flights from major cities worldwide. From the airport, travelers can take taxis, airport shuttles, or the metro to reach downtown Chengdu. High-speed trains connect Chengdu to various cities across China, with Chengdu Railway Station and Chengdu East Railway Station as the main railway hubs. Long-distance buses also provide convenient transportation options for travelers arriving by land.
Entry & Exit Requirements International travelers visiting Chengdu generally require a valid passport and may need to obtain a Chinese visa prior to arrival, depending on their nationality. However, China has implemented visa-free policies for citizens of certain countries, allowing them to visit designated areas for a specified period without a visa. It’s advisable to check the latest visa regulations and entry requirements with the nearest Chinese embassy or consulate before planning your trip.
Time to spend To fully experience Chengdu’s rich cultural heritage, delicious cuisine, and vibrant atmosphere, plan to spend at least 3 to 4 days exploring the city. This duration allows for a comprehensive exploration of Chengdu’s top attractions, including the Giant Panda Breeding Research Base, Wuhou Shrine, Jinli Ancient Street, and the iconic Leshan Giant Buddha. Additionally, travelers can immerse themselves in the local culture by attending Sichuan opera performances, sampling authentic Sichuan cuisine, and exploring the city’s lively teahouse culture.
Summer Temperature Range Chengdu experiences hot and humid weather during the summer months, with temperatures ranging from 24°C to 33°C (75.2°F to 91.4°F). The summer season, from June to August, offers long daylight hours and occasional rain showers, creating a lush and green landscape characteristic of Sichuan’s subtropical climate. Travelers should pack light, breathable clothing and carry umbrellas or rain gear to stay comfortable during their explorations of the city.
Average Precipitation in Summer Summer in Chengdu brings moderate to heavy rainfall, with average precipitation ranging from 150mm to 300mm (5.91 to 11.81 inches) per month. The frequent showers contribute to the city’s verdant parks, gardens, and bamboo forests, creating a refreshing ambiance amidst the summer heat. Travelers should be prepared for occasional rain showers and plan indoor activities or visit covered attractions during inclement weather.

Here’s a 4-day itinerary for a summer vacation in Chengdu

Morning Afternoon Evening
Day 1 Arrival in Chengdu Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding Sichuan Opera Show
– Arrive at Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport
– Check-in at your hotel
– Rest and freshen up after travel
– Visit the Panda Breeding Center and observe adorable giant pandas
– Explore other wildlife exhibits and learn about conservation efforts
– Attend a traditional Sichuan Opera performance featuring face-changing acts, fire-spitting, and acrobatics
– Optional: Enjoy a hotpot dinner at a local restaurant
Day 2 Leshan Giant Buddha & Mount Emei Baoguang Temple Jinli Ancient Street
– Travel to Leshan and visit the iconic Leshan Giant Buddha, the largest stone Buddha in the world
– Take a boat ride to view the Buddha from the river
– Continue to Mount Emei and explore its scenic beauty and cultural sites
– Explore Baoguang Temple, known for its stunning architecture and serene atmosphere
– Enjoy vegetarian lunch at a nearby monastery
– Explore the temple complex and its tranquil surroundings
– Stroll along Jinli Ancient Street, lined with traditional Sichuanese buildings, teahouses, and shops
– Sample local snacks and delicacies while soaking in the lively ambiance
– Immerse yourself in Chengdu’s vibrant nightlife
Day 3 Chengdu City Highlights Sichuan Cuisine Cooking Class Wangjianglou Park & Sichuan Opera Tea House Museum
– Visit the historic Wuhou Shrine and Jinli Ancient Street
– Explore the vibrant Jinli Ancient Street with its shops, teahouses, and eateries
– Enjoy a traditional Sichuanese lunch at a local restaurant
– Learn to cook authentic Sichuan dishes with a professional chef
– Enjoy the fruits of your labor and savor your creations
– Optional: Visit local markets or shops for ingredients and souvenirs
– Enjoy a morning stroll in Wangjianglou Park, known for its lush greenery and tranquil ambiance
– Visit the Sichuan Opera Tea House Museum for insights into Sichuan Opera
Day 4 Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding Qingyang Palace & Sichuan Opera Departure from Chengdu
– Spend more time at the Panda Breeding Center and watch the pandas
– Learn about panda conservation efforts
– Optional: Volunteer activities at the Panda Base for a more immersive experience
– Explore Qingyang Palace, one of Chengdu’s oldest and largest Taoist temples, and enjoy the peaceful surroundings
– Experience a traditional Sichuan Opera performance at the Shufeng Yayun Opera House, featuring mask-changing and other traditional opera elements
– Check out of your hotel
– Transfer to Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport
– Departure from Chengdu

Related reading: Winter Vacations in China: Best Places to Visit – Things to Do – Travel Tips Opens in new tab

Dali and Lijiang: Ancient Towns

Nestled in the southwestern province of Yunnan, Dali and Lijiang are two ancient towns that embody the rich cultural heritage of China. These historic towns, with their cobblestone streets, ancient architecture, and vibrant markets, offer a glimpse into a bygone era.

Dali, known for its stunning natural beauty and rich cultural history, is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in exploring the ancient Silk Road. Lijiang, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is famous for its well-preserved ancient town, picturesque canals, and vibrant cultural scene.

Both towns offer a unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty that makes them a perfect destination for summer vacations in China.

Best Things to Do in Dali and Lijiang

Visitors to Dali and Lijiang can immerse themselves in a variety of activities that showcase the region’s rich cultural heritage and natural beauty. Explore the ancient town of Lijiang, with its cobblestone streets, ancient architecture, and vibrant markets.

Visit the Dali Old Town, with its stunning natural beauty and rich cultural history. Take a boat ride along the Erhai Lake, a serene and picturesque lake surrounded by towering mountains. Hike to the top of the Cangshan Mountains, with its stunning views of the surrounding landscape.

Visit the ancient temples and monasteries, such as the Dali Temple and the Lijiang Temple, which offer a glimpse into the region’s rich spiritual heritage.

Lijiang-Ancient-Town
Old Town of Lijiang(UNESCO World heritage site). a famous landmark in Lijiang, Yunnan, China. Image from Depositphotos

Places to Visit in Dali and Lijiang

  1. Dali Old Town: Wander through the ancient streets of Dali Old Town, where traditional Bai architecture and bustling markets create a captivating atmosphere.
  2. Three Pagodas of Chongsheng Temple: Marvel at the majestic Three Pagodas, an iconic symbol of Dali, dating back over 1,000 years to the Tang Dynasty.
  3. Erhai Lake: Take a boat ride on the serene waters of Erhai Lake, surrounded by misty mountains and dotted with charming fishing villages.
  4. Lijiang Old Town: Explore the UNESCO-listed Lijiang Old Town, famous for its intricate Naxi architecture, winding alleyways, and lively squares.
  5. Dali Temple: Visit the ancient temple, which offers a glimpse into the region’s rich spiritual heritage.
  6. Xizhou Ancient Town: Explore the ancient town, with its cobblestone streets, ancient architecture, and vibrant markets.
  7. Baishuitai Terraces:  Venture outside Lijiang and witness the natural wonder of the Baishuitai Terraces.  These cascading pools, formed by mineral deposits over thousands of years, create a mesmerizing spectacle.

How to Save Money in Dali and Lijiang

  • Opt for budget accommodations such as guesthouses or hostels instead of luxury hotels.
  • Eat at local eateries and street stalls for authentic and affordable meals.
  • Take advantage of public transportation or rent bicycles to explore the towns and surrounding areas independently.
  • Look for discounted admission tickets or group deals for popular tourist attractions.
  • Shop at local markets for souvenirs and handicrafts at lower prices.
  • Consider joining a group tour or hiring a local guide to explore the towns and surrounding areas.

Dali and Lijiang Travel Tips

  • Pack comfortable walking shoes and lightweight clothing suitable for exploring the towns’ cobblestone streets and mountainous terrain.
  • Be prepared for crowds and long lines at popular attractions.
  • Carry a refillable water bottle to stay hydrated, especially during outdoor activities.
  • Learn some basic Mandarin phrases or download a translation app to help communicate with locals, as English may not be widely spoken.
  • Respect local customs and traditions, especially when visiting temples or sacred sites.
  • Be prepared for varying weather conditions, as the high altitude of some areas may result in cooler temperatures even in the summer months.

What to Eat

Indulge in the local cuisine, which is known for its rich flavors and aromas. Try the famous Dali noodles, which are made with a special type of flour and are served with a variety of toppings. Sample the local street food, such as the Dali-style dumplings and the Lijiang-style pancakes. Visit the local markets or street vendors to try a variety of local snacks and drinks, such as the Dali-style tea and the Lijiang-style coffee.

Top Tip

For a unique cultural experience, consider attending a traditional Naxi music performance in Lijiang Old Town, where you can listen to traditional folk songs and watch mesmerizing dance performances, providing an unforgettable glimpse into the rich cultural heritage of the region.

Aspect Details
How to get there Dali and Lijiang are accessible by air, train, and bus. Dali Airport (DLU) serves domestic flights from major cities like Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou, with direct flights available to Lijiang Sanyi Airport (LJG). Travelers can also reach Dali and Lijiang by high-speed train from cities like Kunming, Chengdu, and Chongqing, with Dali Railway Station and Lijiang Railway Station as the main railway hubs. Additionally, long-distance buses connect Dali and Lijiang to neighboring cities and provinces, providing convenient transportation options for travelers.
Entry & Exit Requirements International travelers visiting Dali and Lijiang generally require a valid passport and may need to obtain a Chinese visa prior to arrival, depending on their nationality. However, China has implemented visa-free policies for citizens of certain countries, allowing them to visit designated areas for a specified period without a visa. It’s advisable to check the latest visa regulations and entry requirements with the nearest Chinese embassy or consulate before planning your trip.
Time to spend To fully explore the cultural heritage, natural beauty, and unique charm of Dali and Lijiang, plan to spend at least 4 to 5 days in the area. This duration allows for a comprehensive exploration of Dali’s ancient towns, picturesque landscapes, and Bai ethnic culture, as well as Lijiang’s UNESCO World Heritage sites, historic streets, and Naxi minority traditions. Additionally, travelers can embark on outdoor adventures, such as hiking in the nearby mountains or cycling around Erhai Lake, immersing themselves in the region’s captivating scenery and vibrant local life.
Summer Temperature Range Dali and Lijiang enjoy mild and pleasant weather during the summer months, with temperatures ranging from 15°C to 25°C (59°F to 77°F) in Dali and 13°C to 23°C (55.4°F to 73.4°F) in Lijiang. The summer season, from June to August, offers clear skies, comfortable temperatures, and refreshing breezes, making it an ideal time to explore the region’s outdoor attractions and cultural landmarks. Travelers should pack light, breathable clothing and sunscreen to stay comfortable during their summer adventures.
Average Precipitation in Summer Summer in Dali and Lijiang brings moderate rainfall, with average precipitation ranging from 100mm to 200mm (3.94 to 7.87 inches) per month. The occasional showers contribute to the region’s lush greenery, blooming flowers, and vibrant landscapes, creating a picturesque backdrop for outdoor activities and sightseeing. Travelers should be prepared for sudden rain showers and carry waterproof attire when exploring the area’s ancient towns, scenic trails, and cultural sites.

Here’s a 4-day itinerary for a summer vacation in Dali and Lijiang

Morning Afternoon Evening
Day 1 Arrival in Dali Dali Old Town Exploration Bai Minority Cultural Show
– Arrive at Dali Airport or Railway Station
– Transfer to your hotel and check-in
– Freshen up and rest after travel
– Wander through the charming streets of Dali Old Town, admiring ancient architecture, and local handicrafts
– Visit historic landmarks such as the Three Pagodas and Dali Ancient City
– Attend a traditional Bai Minority cultural show featuring music, dance, and traditional attire
– Enjoy a dinner of local specialties at a traditional Bai restaurant
Day 2 Erhai Lake Cruise Xizhou Bai Minority Village Relaxation and Leisure
– Embark on a relaxing cruise on picturesque Erhai Lake
– Enjoy panoramic views of the lake and surrounding mountains
– Optional: Visit nearby fishing villages or take a dip in the lake
– Explore the Bai minority culture in Xizhou Village, known for its traditional architecture and cuisine
– Visit local markets and interact with local artisans
– Lunch featuring Bai specialties
– Spend the evening relaxing and unwinding at your hotel or strolling around Dali Old Town
Day 3 Transfer to Lijiang Lijiang Old Town Exploration Naxi Music Performance
– Travel by road to Lijiang, enjoying scenic views along the way
– Check-in at your hotel in Lijiang – Rest and freshen up
– Discover the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Lijiang Old Town, wandering through cobblestone streets and ancient buildings
– Visit attractions like Mu’s Mansion and the Black Dragon Pool
– Explore Lijiang’s vibrant nightlife with its lively bars, cafes, and music venues
– Attend a Naxi music performance, showcasing traditional Naxi instruments and melodies
Day 4 Jade Dragon Snow Mountain Excursion Departure from Lijiang
– Travel to Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and take a cable car ride to higher elevations for breathtaking views of the glacier and surrounding landscapes
– Explore scenic viewpoints and hiking trails
– Check out of your hotel
– Transfer to Lijiang Airport or Railway Station
– Departure from Lijiang, concluding your summer vacation in Dali and Lijiang

Zhangye: Rainbow Mountains

Located in the Gansu Province of China, Zhangye is home to the breathtaking Rainbow Mountains, a geological wonder that showcases a kaleidoscope of colors formed by mineral deposits over millions of years.

These vibrant and surreal landscapes have become a popular tourist destination, drawing visitors from around the world to witness the natural beauty of the Danxia landforms. The Rainbow Mountains of Zhangye offer a unique and mesmerizing experience for travelers seeking to explore the wonders of nature and marvel at the artistry of the Earth’s geological processes.

Best Things to Do in Zhangye

In Zhangye, visitors can engage in a variety of activities that highlight the region’s natural beauty and cultural significance. Witness the stunning sunrise or sunset over the Rainbow Mountains, where the vibrant hues come alive in the changing light.

Explore the Zhangye Danxia National Geological Park, home to the colorful rock formations that resemble a painter’s palette. Visit the Giant Buddha Temple, an ancient Buddhist site with a massive reclining Buddha statue carved into the cliffside. Experience the local culture at the Zhangye Night Market, where you can sample traditional snacks and shop for souvenirs.

Rainbow Mountains in Zhangye Danxia Landform Geological Park.
Amazing View of Rainbow Mountains Geological Park. Stripy Zhangye Danxia Landform Geological Park in Gansu Province, China. Image from Depositphotos

Places to Visit in Zhangye

  1. Danxia National Geological Park: Explore the otherworldly landscapes of Danxia National Geological Park, where the Rainbow Mountains are located, and hike along the scenic trails to get up close to the colorful rock formations.
  2. Mati Temple: Visit the historic Mati Temple, an ancient Buddhist site nestled amidst the stunning natural scenery, and admire the intricate carvings and sculptures that adorn the temple complex.
  3. Zhangye Danxia Landform Geological Park: Discover the beauty of Zhangye Danxia Landform Geological Park, another section of the Rainbow Mountains known for its surreal rock formations and panoramic viewpoints.
  4. Giant Buddha Temple: Pay homage to the towering Giant Buddha statue at Giant Buddha Temple, one of the largest reclining Buddha statues in China, carved into the cliffs overlooking the Zhangye city.
  5. Wooden Pagoda Temple: Marvel at the unique architecture of Wooden Pagoda Temple, a well-preserved wooden pagoda dating back to the Ming Dynasty, surrounded by lush gardens and scenic landscapes.

How to Save Money in Zhangye

  • Opt for budget accommodations like guesthouses or hostels for affordable lodging options.
  • Eat at local eateries and street food stalls to enjoy authentic cuisine at lower prices.
  • Purchase entrance tickets in advance or look for discounted packages to save on admission fees.
  • Use public transportation or shared taxis to explore Zhangye and its surrounding attractions economically.
  • Shop at local markets for souvenirs and gifts, where bargaining is common and can help you save money.

Zhangye Travel Tips

  • Wear comfortable walking shoes and lightweight clothing suitable for exploring outdoor attractions.
  • Bring sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat to protect yourself from the sun’s rays, as Zhangye can experience hot and sunny weather in the summer.
  • Carry a reusable water bottle and stay hydrated, especially when hiking or exploring the Rainbow Mountains.
  • Respect the local culture and customs, especially when visiting religious sites and temples.
  • Be mindful of altitude sickness if traveling to higher elevations, and take necessary precautions such as staying hydrated and taking it easy upon arrival.
  • Check for any travel advisories or weather updates before your trip to Zhangye.
  • Engage with the local community and learn about the cultural heritage of the region for a more enriching experience.

What to Eat

While in Zhangye, indulge in the local cuisine that reflects the flavors of the Gansu Province. Try regional specialties like hand-pulled noodles, lamb skewers, and savory pancakes that showcase the diverse culinary traditions of the area.

Sample traditional snacks like “liangpi” (cold noodles) and “bingfen” (mung bean jelly) for a taste of authentic local flavors that will tantalize your taste buds and provide a culinary adventure during your visit to Zhangye.

Top Tip

For the best experience at the Rainbow Mountains in Zhangye, plan your visit during the early morning or late afternoon when the sunlight creates a magical play of colors on the rock formations. The interplay of light and shadows enhances the beauty of the landscape, offering stunning photo opportunities and a truly mesmerizing sight.

Additionally, consider exploring the lesser-known areas of Zhangye to discover hidden gems and enjoy a more tranquil experience amidst the natural wonders of the Rainbow Mountains.

Aspect Details
How to get there Zhangye is accessible by air, train, and bus. Zhangye Ganzhou Airport (YZY) serves domestic flights from major cities like Beijing, Shanghai, and Xi’an, with connecting flights available to Zhangye from other parts of China. Travelers can also reach Zhangye by high-speed train from cities like Lanzhou, Xi’an, and Urumqi, with Zhangye Railway Station as the main railway hub. Additionally, long-distance buses provide convenient transportation options for travelers arriving by land, connecting Zhangye to neighboring cities and provinces.
Entry & Exit Requirements International travelers visiting Zhangye generally require a valid passport and may need to obtain a Chinese visa prior to arrival, depending on their nationality. However, China has implemented visa-free policies for citizens of certain countries, allowing them to visit designated areas for a specified period without a visa. It’s advisable to check the latest visa regulations and entry requirements with the nearest Chinese embassy or consulate before planning your trip.
Time to spend To fully explore the mesmerizing landscapes of Zhangye’s Rainbow Mountains and other attractions, plan to spend at least 2 to 3 days in the area. This duration allows for a comprehensive exploration of Zhangye Danxia National Geological Park, where the colorful rock formations are located, as well as other nearby scenic spots such as the Giant Buddha Temple and Mati Temple. Additionally, travelers can engage in outdoor activities like hiking, photography, and desert exploration to fully immerse themselves in the natural beauty of the region.
Summer Temperature Range Zhangye experiences warm and dry weather during the summer months, with temperatures ranging from 20°C to 30°C (68°F to 86°F). The summer season, from June to August, offers long daylight hours and clear skies, perfect for exploring outdoor attractions like the Rainbow Mountains and enjoying panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes. Travelers should dress in light, breathable clothing and wear sunscreen to protect against the strong sunlight at high altitudes.
Average Precipitation in Summer Summer in Zhangye is characterized by low precipitation, with average rainfall ranging from 10mm to 30mm (0.39 to 1.18 inches) per month. The dry weather conditions contribute to the preservation of the vibrant colors and unique formations of the Rainbow Mountains, making it an ideal time to visit for clear views and photography opportunities. Travelers should carry sufficient water and stay hydrated, especially when exploring outdoor attractions in the summer heat.

Here’s a 3-day itinerary for a summer vacation in Zhangye to explore the Rainbow Mountains

Morning Afternoon Evening
Day 1 Arrival in Zhangye Zhangye Danxia National Geological Park Local Cuisine Dinner
– Arrive at Zhangye Ganzhou Airport or Zhangye Railway Station
– Transfer to your hotel and check-in
– Freshen up and rest after travel
– Explore the breathtaking landscapes of the Rainbow Mountains in the Danxia Geological Park, marveling at the colorful rock formations
– Optional: Take a guided tour or hike along designated trails to explore the unique geological features up close
– Enjoy a dinner featuring local Gansu cuisine, known for its noodles, lamb dishes, and hand-pulled noodles
– Relax and unwind at your hotel
Day 2 Mingsha Mountain & Crescent Lake Zhangye Giant Buddha Temple Night Market Exploration
– Visit Mingsha Mountain (Singing Sand Dunes) and Crescent Lake
– Enjoy activities such as camel riding, sand sliding, or simply admiring the desert scenery
– Visit the picturesque Crescent Lake, an oasis in the midst of the desert
– Explore the Giant Buddha Temple, one of the largest reclining Buddha statues in the world, and learn about its rich history
– Discover the intricate carvings and architecture of the temple complex
– Take in panoramic views of Zhangye from the temple’s vantage point
– Explore a local night market, sampling street food, snacks, and handicrafts
– Immerse yourself in the lively atmosphere of the bustling market
– Optional: Try a traditional Gansu meal at a local restaurant
Day 3 Zhangye National Wetland Park Departure from Zhangye
– Explore Zhangye National Wetland Park, home to diverse flora and fauna
– Enjoy birdwatching and scenic walks along wooden boardwalks
– Learn about wetland conservation efforts and environmental protection
– Check out of your hotel
– Transfer to Zhangye Ganzhou Airport or Zhangye Railway Station
– Departure from Zhangye, concluding your summer vacation in Zhangye

Related reading: Essential Chinese Phrases for Travelers – Opens in new tab

Hong Kong: City and Beaches

Situated on the southern coast of China, Hong Kong is a captivating metropolis that seamlessly blends modern skyscrapers with lush natural landscapes. This vibrant city-state is a melting pot of Eastern and Western cultures, offering visitors a unique and dynamic experience.

From the bustling streets of the Central District to the serene beaches of the outlying islands, Hong Kong presents a diverse array of attractions and activities that cater to every traveler’s interests. Whether you seek the thrill of the city or the tranquility of the great outdoors, Hong Kong is a summer destination that promises an unforgettable adventure.

Best Things to Do in Hong Kong

In Hong Kong, visitors can immerse themselves in a plethora of activities that showcase the city’s rich cultural heritage and natural beauty. Ascend to the top of Victoria Peak for panoramic views of the iconic skyline and the surrounding harbor.

Explore the lively street markets, such as Temple Street Night Market and Stanley Market, where you can bargain for local crafts, street food, and souvenirs. Escape the urban hustle by taking a ferry to the serene outlying islands, where you can relax on pristine beaches, hike through lush trails, and discover quaint fishing villages.

Aberdeen Promenade
The Aberdeen Promenade in Hong Kong daytime. Image from Depositphotos

Places to Visit in Hong Kong

  1. Victoria Peak: Take a tram ride to the top of Victoria Peak for panoramic views of the city skyline and Victoria Harbour below.
  2. Hong Kong Disneyland: Experience the magic of Disney at Hong Kong Disneyland, where thrilling rides, enchanting shows, and beloved Disney characters await visitors of all ages.
  3. Tian Tan Buddha: Visit the Tian Tan Buddha, also known as the Big Buddha, and climb the 268 steps to reach the base of this majestic bronze statue, offering stunning views of Lantau Island.
  4. Mong Kok: Explore the vibrant neighborhood of Mong Kok, known for its lively street markets, colorful neon signs, and diverse culinary offerings.
  5. Repulse Bay: Relax on the sandy shores of Repulse Bay, one of Hong Kong’s most popular beaches, and soak up the sun while enjoying stunning views of the South China Sea.
  6. Temple Street Night Market: Immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of this bustling night market, known for its street food and bargain shopping.
  7. Tai O Fishing Village: Step back in time and explore the stilted houses of Tai O Fishing Village, a traditional fishing community. Watch fishermen mend their nets, savor fresh seafood at waterfront restaurants, and experience a slower pace of life.
  8. Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade: Stroll along the waterfront and admire the iconic skyline of Hong Kong Island.

How to Save Money in Hong Kong

  • Take advantage of the Octopus Card for discounted fares on public transportation, including buses, trains, and ferries.
  • Eat at local eateries and street food stalls for affordable and delicious meals.
  • Look for discounted admission tickets or package deals for attractions such as Ocean Park or Ngong Ping 360.
  • Explore free attractions such as the Symphony of Lights show or hiking trails in the city’s country parks.
  • Consider staying in budget accommodations such as guesthouses or hostels instead of luxury hotels.

Hong Kong Travel Tips

  • Dress comfortably and wear sunscreen, especially during the summer months when temperatures can be high and humidity levels are elevated.
  • Use the MTR (Mass Transit Railway) system to navigate the city quickly and efficiently, avoiding traffic congestion.
  • Be respectful of local customs and traditions, especially when visiting temples or religious sites.
  • Keep an eye on your belongings in crowded areas, and be cautious of pickpockets, particularly in tourist hotspots.
  • Be prepared for the city’s fast-paced lifestyle and crowded streets, especially in popular tourist areas.
  • Stay updated on current events and travel advisories, and be prepared for potential disruptions or changes to your itinerary.

What to Eat

Indulge in the diverse culinary offerings of Hong Kong, which showcase the city’s blend of Chinese and international influences. Savor the iconic Cantonese dim sum, with its steamed buns, dumplings, and bite-sized delicacies.

Explore the vibrant street food scene, where you can sample delectable items like egg tarts, fish balls, and roasted goose. For a unique dining experience, visit one of the city’s many Michelin-starred restaurants, where you can enjoy world-class cuisine in a sophisticated setting.

Top Tip

To fully experience the contrast between Hong Kong’s urban landscape and natural beauty, consider spending time in both the city center and the outlying islands. Venture beyond the bustling streets of Central and Kowloon to discover the serene beaches, hiking trails, and quaint fishing villages that offer a peaceful respite from the city’s energy. This balance of city and nature will provide you with a well-rounded and memorable summer vacation in Hong Kong.

Aspect Details
How to get there Hong Kong is accessible by air, sea, and land. The city is served by Hong Kong International Airport (HKG), which offers numerous flights from major cities worldwide. From the airport, travelers can take airport express trains, buses, or taxis to reach various parts of the city. Additionally, Hong Kong is a major cruise port, with regular ferry services connecting it to neighboring cities like Macau and mainland China. High-speed trains also link Hong Kong to mainland cities such as Guangzhou and Shenzhen, providing convenient transportation options for travelers.
Entry & Exit Requirements International travelers visiting Hong Kong generally require a valid passport and may be eligible for visa-free entry or visa-on-arrival arrangements, depending on their nationality. However, it’s advisable to check the latest visa regulations and entry requirements with the Hong Kong Immigration Department or the nearest Chinese embassy or consulate before planning your trip.
Time to spend To fully explore the diverse attractions and experiences that Hong Kong has to offer, plan to spend at least 3 to 4 days in the city. This duration allows for a comprehensive exploration of Hong Kong’s iconic landmarks, such as Victoria Peak, the Tian Tan Buddha, and the bustling streets of Central and Mong Kok.
Summer Temperature Range Hong Kong experiences hot and humid weather during the summer months, with temperatures ranging from 26°C to 32°C (79°F to 90°F). The summer season, from June to August, offers long daylight hours and occasional rain showers, creating a tropical ambiance ideal for beach activities, outdoor excursions, and sightseeing. Travelers should pack light, breathable clothing and carry umbrellas or rain gear to stay comfortable during their summer adventures in Hong Kong.
Average Precipitation in Summer Summer in Hong Kong brings moderate to heavy rainfall, with average precipitation ranging from 200mm to 400mm (7.87 to 15.75 inches) per month. The frequent showers contribute to the city’s lush greenery and vibrant landscapes, providing a refreshing contrast to the urban skyline. Travelers should be prepared for sudden rain showers and plan indoor activities or visit covered attractions during inclement weather.

Here’s a 3-day itinerary for a summer vacation in Hong Kong

Morning Afternoon Evening
Day 1 Arrival in Hong Kong Victoria Peak Symphony of Lights
– Arrive at Hong Kong International Airport or Hong Kong West Kowloon Railway Station
– Transfer to your hotel and check-in
– Freshen up and rest after travel
– Take the Peak Tram to Victoria Peak, offering panoramic views of the city skyline
– Explore the Peak Tower and Sky Terrace for breathtaking vistas of Hong Kong Harbour
– Optional: Visit Madame Tussauds or hike the Peak Circle Walk for more views
– Witness the spectacular Symphony of Lights, a synchronized light and sound show
– Dinner at a local restaurant with views of Victoria Harbour and the illuminated city
– Take a leisurely stroll along the Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade to soak in the atmosphere
Day 2 Ocean Park Star Ferry & Tsim Sha Tsui Temple Street Night Market
– Spend the morning at Ocean Park, enjoying thrilling rides, animal exhibits, and marine shows
– Have lunch at one of the park’s restaurants or cafes
– Take the iconic Star Ferry across Victoria Harbour from Central to Tsim Sha Tsui
– Explore Tsim Sha Tsui’s shopping districts like Harbour City and Nathan Road
– Visit cultural attractions like the Clock Tower, Avenue of Stars, and Kowloon Park
– Explore the lively Temple Street Night Market, browsing stalls selling souvenirs, gadgets, clothing, and local street food
– Indulge in a dinner of local delicacies at a dai pai dong (outdoor food stall)
– Optional: Enjoy a massage or foot reflexology
Day 3 Ngong Ping 360 & Lantau Island Stanley Market & Repulse Bay Victoria Harbour Cruise
– Take the Ngong Ping 360 cable car to Lantau Island and explore Ngong Ping Village and the Tian Tan Buddha statue
– Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant on Lantau Island
– Optional: Visit Po Lin Monastery and Tai O fishing village
– Visit Stanley Market, known for its variety of souvenirs, clothing, and crafts
– Relax at Repulse Bay, one of Hong Kong’s most beautiful beaches, and take a stroll along the waterfront promenade
– Optional: Visit Ocean Park’s The Grand Aquarium or other attractions
– Board a cruise along Victoria Harbour for panoramic views of Hong Kong’s skyline and iconic landmarks
– Dinner cruise option available, offering a buffet dinner with live music and dancing
– Bid farewell to Hong Kong with memories of its stunning harbor and vibrant atmosphere

Related reading: A Tourist’s Guide to Accessing the Internet in China

Xinjiang: Silk Road Adventure

Nestled in the far northwest of China, Xinjiang is a vast and diverse region known for its stunning natural landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and historical significance as a key stop on the ancient Silk Road. Bordered by eight countries, including Mongolia, Russia, Kazakhstan, and Pakistan, Xinjiang offers travelers a unique blend of cultures, traditions, and experiences that make it an ideal destination for a summer adventure.

Best Things to Do in Xinjiang

In Xinjiang, visitors can embark on a multitude of activities that showcase the region’s unique charm and historical significance. Explore the ancient city of Kashgar, known for its bustling markets, historic architecture, and vibrant Uyghur culture.

Visit the stunning Heavenly Lake (Tianchi), nestled in the Tianshan Mountains, where you can enjoy breathtaking views and serene surroundings. Discover the ruins of Jiaohe Ancient City, an archaeological site that offers a glimpse into Xinjiang’s ancient past.

Experience the diverse landscapes of the Gobi Desert and the Taklamakan Desert, where you can witness the beauty of the desert oasis towns.

Dunhuang Crescent Lake
Evening scenery of the famous crescent-shaped oasis lake and beautiful pagoda in Gobi desert, Dunhuang, China. Image from Depositphotos

Places to Visit in Xinjiang

  1. Kashgar Old City: Wander through the labyrinthine streets of Kashgar Old City, one of the best-preserved examples of traditional Islamic architecture in China, and immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of its bustling markets and ancient mosques.
  2. Heavenly Lake (Tianchi): Escape the summer heat at Heavenly Lake, a pristine alpine lake nestled amidst the Tianshan Mountains, where you can hike, picnic, or take a boat ride while enjoying breathtaking views of the surrounding peaks.
  3. Turpan: Explore the ancient oasis town of Turpan, known for its unique desert landscapes, ancient irrigation systems, and well-preserved historical sites such as the Jiaohe Ruins and the Emin Minaret.
  4. Karakoram Highway: Embark on a road trip along the legendary Karakoram Highway, one of the world’s highest paved roads, which winds its way through dramatic mountain scenery, deep valleys, and remote villages.
  5. Gobi Desert: Experience the vastness of the Gobi Desert, where you can ride camels across the rolling sand dunes, camp under the stars, and witness stunning sunsets over the desert horizon.
  6. Jiaohe Ancient City: Explore the well-preserved ruins of this ancient Silk Road city, perched on a plateau overlooking the surrounding landscape.
  7. Karakul Lake: Marvel at the stunning beauty of this high-altitude lake, set against a backdrop of snow-capped mountains and grazing yaks.

How to Save Money in Xinjiang

  • Stay in budget accommodations such as guesthouses or hostels instead of luxury hotels.
  • Eat at local restaurants and street food stalls for authentic and affordable meals.
  • Take advantage of public transportation or shared taxis to get around instead of hiring private vehicles.
  • Look for discounted admission tickets or group deals for popular tourist attractions.
  • Consider visiting free attractions like parks, mosques, and historical sites to save on entrance fees.

Xinjiang Travel Tips

  • Pack layers of clothing, as temperatures in Xinjiang can vary greatly between day and night, especially in mountainous areas.
  • Carry a refillable water bottle and stay hydrated, especially in the desert regions where temperatures can soar.
  • Respect local customs and traditions, particularly in areas with significant ethnic minority populations such as the Uyghur people.
  • Be prepared for long travel distances between attractions, and plan your itinerary accordingly to avoid rushing.
  • Stay informed about any travel restrictions or security measures in Xinjiang, as the region may have specific regulations for tourists.

What to Eat

Indulge in the diverse and flavorful cuisine of Xinjiang, which blends Chinese, Uyghur, and Central Asian influences. Try traditional dishes like hand-pulled noodles, lamb kebabs, and pilaf rice, which showcase the region’s rich culinary heritage.

Sample Uyghur specialties such as laghman noodles, samsa pastries, and naan bread, all bursting with aromatic spices and bold flavors. Don’t miss the opportunity to taste local fruits like melons, grapes, and figs, which thrive in Xinjiang’s fertile valleys.

Top Tip

For a truly memorable experience in Xinjiang, consider venturing off the beaten path to explore remote villages, hidden oases, and lesser-known attractions, where you can discover the true essence of this enchanting region and forge unforgettable memories along the way.

Aspect Details
How to get there Xinjiang is accessible by air, train, and road. The region is served by several airports, including Ürümqi Diwopu International Airport (URC), which offers domestic and international flights. Travelers can also reach Xinjiang by train, with major cities like Ürümqi and Turpan connected to other parts of China via the national railway network. Additionally, long-distance buses and highways provide land transportation options for travelers arriving by road from neighboring provinces and countries.
Entry & Exit Requirements International travelers visiting Xinjiang generally require a valid passport and may need to obtain a Chinese visa prior to arrival, depending on their nationality. Additionally, Xinjiang has implemented special entry requirements for certain areas, including restricted zones near international borders and sensitive military installations. It’s advisable to check the latest visa regulations and entry requirements with the nearest Chinese embassy or consulate before planning your trip to Xinjiang.
Time to spend To fully explore the vast and diverse landscapes of Xinjiang, plan to spend at least 7 to 10 days in the region. This duration allows for a comprehensive exploration of Xinjiang’s cultural heritage, natural wonders, and ethnic diversity, including iconic attractions such as the Silk Road cities of Kashgar and Turpan, the stunning landscapes of the Taklamakan Desert and Tian Shan Mountains, and the picturesque lakes of Sayram and Karakul. Additionally, travelers can immerse themselves in the unique cultures and traditions of Xinjiang’s Uyghur, Kazakh, and other ethnic communities, experiencing their hospitality, cuisine, and vibrant festivals.
Summer Temperature Range Xinjiang experiences hot and dry weather during the summer months, with temperatures ranging from 25°C to 35°C (77°F to 95°F) in the lowlands and higher temperatures in desert areas. The summer season, from June to August, offers long daylight hours and clear skies, perfect for outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, and camel trekking in the desert. Travelers should pack light, breathable clothing, sunscreen, and plenty of water to stay hydrated and protected from the intense summer heat.
Average Precipitation in Summer Summer in Xinjiang is characterized by low precipitation, with average rainfall ranging from 10mm to 30mm (0.39 to 1.18 inches) per month. The dry weather conditions contribute to the region’s arid landscapes and desert scenery, providing a stark yet mesmerizing backdrop for summer adventures. Travelers should be prepared for occasional sandstorms, especially in desert areas, and take precautions to protect themselves and their belongings from blowing sand and dust.

Here’s a 7-day itinerary for a summer vacation in Xinjiang

Morning Afternoon Evening
Day 1 Arrival in Urumqi Red Hill Park Xinjiang Cuisine Dinner
– Arrive at Urumqi Diwopu International Airport or Urumqi Railway Station
– Transfer to your hotel and check-in
– Freshen up and rest after travel
– Explore Red Hill Park, offering panoramic views of Urumqi city and the surrounding mountains
– Visit the Xinjiang Museum to learn about the region’s history, culture, and artifacts
– Enjoy dinner at a local restaurant, savoring traditional Xinjiang cuisine
– Relax and unwind at your hotel
Day 2 Heavenly Lake Xinjiang International Bazaar Uyghur Cultural Show
– Travel to Tianchi (Heavenly Lake) situated at the foot of Bogda Peak
– Enjoy scenic views and optional activities like boating or horse riding
– Have a picnic lunch amidst nature
– Explore the bustling Xinjiang International Bazaar, shopping for souvenirs, spices, and local crafts
– Taste local delicacies at food stalls and restaurants
– Attend a traditional Uyghur cultural show, featuring music, dance, and traditional Uyghur attire
– Sample Uyghur cuisine for dinner at a restaurant specializing in regional dishes
Day 3 Turpan Grape Valley & Flaming Mountains Jiaohe Ancient City Turpan Night Market
– Explore Turpan Grape Valley, known for its vineyards and sweet grapes – Visit the Flaming Mountains, famous for their unique red rock formations
– Have lunch at a local restaurant
– Visit the ancient ruins of Jiaohe, an important Silk Road site with well-preserved mud-brick structures
– Learn about the history and culture of the ancient city
– Experience the vibrant atmosphere of the Turpan Night Market, tasting local snacks, fruits, and specialties
– Browse stalls selling handmade crafts and souvenirs
Day 4 Karez Well Museum & Emin Minaret Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves Urumqi Nightlife
– Explore the Karez Well Museum and learn about the ancient irrigation system
– Visit the Emin Minaret, an architectural marvel of Turpan’s old town
– Have lunch in Turpan’s old town
– Explore the Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves, containing ancient Buddhist murals
– Optional: Visit the Flaming Mountains again for sunset views
– Return to Turpan for dinner and relaxation
– Explore Urumqi’s nightlife scene, visiting bars, clubs, and entertainment venues
– Enjoy a late-night snack or drink at a local cafe or teahouse
Day 5 Kashgar Old City & Id Kah Mosque Kashgar Grand Bazaar Uyghur Music and Dance Performance
– Explore Kashgar Old City and its narrow alleys, traditional homes, and markets
– Visit Id Kah Mosque, one of the largest mosques in China
– Have lunch at a local Uyghur restaurant
– Explore Kashgar Grand Bazaar, one of the largest and most vibrant bazaars in China
– Shop for handicrafts, fabrics, spices, and souvenirs
– Taste local Uyghur delicacies for lunch
– Attend a lively Uyghur music and dance performance showcasing traditional Uyghur music, dance, and instruments
– Optional: Enjoy dinner at a Uyghur restaurant serving regional specialties
Day 6 Karakul Lake & Karakoram Highway Abakh Hoja Tomb Cultural Performance
– Travel along the Karakoram Highway to Karakul Lake, nestled in the Pamir Mountains
– Enjoy scenic views of snow-capped peaks and crystal-clear waters
– Have a picnic lunch by the lakeshore
– Visit the Abakh Hoja Tomb, also known as the Xiangfei Tomb, a beautiful and historically significant mausoleum
– Learn about the history and architecture of the tomb
– Attend a cultural performance featuring music, dance, and theatrical arts
– Immerse yourself in the rich cultural heritage of Xinjiang through the arts
– Reflect on your journey through Xinjiang
Day 7 Departure from Urumqi
– Check out of your hotel and transfer to Urumqi Diwopu International Airport or Urumqi Railway Station

Related reading: Cash carrying Rules to Enter/Exit in China

Lhasa, Tibet: Roof of the World

Perched high on the Tibetan Plateau, Lhasa, the capital city of Tibet, sits at an elevation of over 3,600 meters (11,800 feet) above sea level, earning it the title of “Roof of the World.” This ancient city is not only the political, economic, and cultural center of Tibet but also holds profound religious significance as the spiritual heart of Tibetan Buddhism. Surrounded by majestic mountains and dotted with historic landmarks, Lhasa offers visitors a unique and enriching travel experience unlike any other destination in the world.

Best Things to Do in Lhasa

In Lhasa, visitors can immerse themselves in a tapestry of cultural and spiritual experiences that showcase the region’s deep-rooted traditions. Explore the iconic Potala Palace, the former residence of the Dalai Lamas, and marvel at its intricate architecture and sacred relics.

Witness the devotion of Tibetan Buddhists at the Jokhang Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the spiritual heart of Tibet. Wander through the bustling Barkhor Street, a lively market and pilgrimage site where you can observe the vibrant local culture and purchase unique handicrafts.

View of the Potala Palace (Pothala Palace) in Lhasa
View of the Potala Palace (Pothala Palace) in Lhasa, southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region. Image from Depositphotos

Places to Visit in Lhasa

  1. Potala Palace: Marvel at the iconic Potala Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage site and former residence of the Dalai Lamas, which boasts stunning architecture, intricate murals, and priceless religious artifacts.
  2. Jokhang Temple: Experience the spiritual ambiance of Jokhang Temple, the holiest site in Tibetan Buddhism, and join pilgrims as they circumambulate the temple’s sacred Barkhor Street.
  3. Sera Monastery: Witness the captivating debates among Buddhist monks at Sera Monastery, where scholars engage in rigorous philosophical discussions as part of their religious training.
  4. Norbulingka Palace: Explore the tranquil gardens and ornate palaces of Norbulingka, the traditional summer residence of the Dalai Lamas, which offers a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city.
  5. Barkhor Street: Wander through the bustling lanes of Barkhor Street, lined with traditional Tibetan shops, prayer wheels, and colorful market stalls selling a variety of handicrafts and religious items.
  6. Ganden Monastery: Ascend to this hilltop monastery, offering panoramic views of the surrounding Himalayan landscape.
  7. Drepung Monastery: Discover the largest Tibetan Buddhist monastery, with its intricate chapels, libraries, and living quarters.

How to Save Money in Lhasa

  • Opt for budget accommodations such as guesthouses or hostels instead of luxury hotels.
  • Eat at local Tibetan restaurants and street food stalls for authentic and affordable meals.
  • Take advantage of discounted admission tickets for attractions available to students, seniors, or residents of Tibet.
  • Explore free or low-cost attractions, such as Barkhor Street, Jokhang Temple, and the Potala Palace grounds.
  • Use public transportation or walk instead of hiring taxis to get around the city.
  • Shop for souvenirs and religious artifacts at local markets like the Tromsikhang Market for better deals.

Lhasa Travel Tips

  • Acclimate slowly to the high altitude by taking it easy and avoiding strenuous activities during the first few days of your arrival.
  • Stay hydrated and drink plenty of water to prevent altitude sickness.
  • Dress in layers to accommodate the fluctuating temperatures, especially during summer when the days are warm but the nights can be chilly.
  • Respect local customs and traditions, such as removing your shoes before entering temples and refraining from taking photographs of sensitive religious areas.
  • Be mindful of the Tibetan calendar and any religious festivals or ceremonies that may affect your travel plans.
  • Be mindful of your photography and avoid taking pictures of sensitive religious or military sites.

What to Eat

Indulge in the unique and flavorful Tibetan cuisine during your visit to Lhasa. Sample traditional dishes like momos (Tibetan dumplings), thukpa (noodle soup), and tingmo (steamed buns), which showcase the region’s staple ingredients like barley, yak meat, and dairy products.

Savor the aromatic butter tea, a beloved Tibetan beverage, and try local delicacies like yak cheese and dried fruits. Explore the bustling markets and street food stalls to fully immerse yourself in the culinary traditions of this high-altitude region.

Top Tip

For a truly immersive experience in Lhasa, consider participating in a guided meditation or chanting session at one of the city’s monasteries, where you can learn about Tibetan Buddhism firsthand from experienced monks and deepen your understanding of this ancient spiritual tradition.

Aspect Details
How to get there Lhasa, Tibet, is accessible by air, train, and road. The city is served by Lhasa Gonggar Airport (LXA), which offers domestic flights from major cities like Beijing, Shanghai, and Chengdu, as well as limited international flights. From the airport, travelers can take taxis or airport shuttle buses to reach downtown Lhasa. Additionally, Lhasa is connected to other parts of China by the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, with trains departing from cities like Beijing, Shanghai, and Chengdu. Long-distance buses and highways also provide land transportation options for travelers arriving by road from neighboring provinces and regions.
Entry & Exit Requirements International travelers visiting Lhasa generally require a valid passport and may need to obtain a Chinese visa prior to arrival, depending on their nationality. Additionally, Tibet has implemented special entry permits and regulations for foreign visitors, including the Tibet Travel Permit, which is required to enter the region. It’s advisable to apply for the Tibet Travel Permit through a registered travel agency or tour operator before planning your trip to Lhasa.
Time to spend To fully experience the cultural heritage, spiritual significance, and breathtaking landscapes of Lhasa and its surrounding areas, plan to spend at least 3 to 5 days in the city. This duration allows for a comprehensive exploration of Lhasa’s iconic landmarks, such as the Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, and Barkhor Street, as well as nearby attractions like the Drepung and Sera Monasteries, Norbulingka Palace, and Ganden Monastery.
Summer Temperature Range Lhasa experiences warm and dry weather during the summer months, with temperatures ranging from 15°C to 25°C (59°F to 77°F) in the daytime and cooler temperatures at night. The summer season, from June to August, offers clear skies, ample sunshine, and low humidity levels, making it an ideal time to explore outdoor attractions and engage in trekking, hiking, and other outdoor activities in the region. Travelers should dress in layers to accommodate temperature fluctuations and bring sunscreen and sunglasses to protect against the strong sunlight at high altitudes.
Average Precipitation in Summer Summer in Lhasa brings minimal precipitation, with average rainfall ranging from 50mm to 100mm (1.97 to 3.94 inches) per month. The dry weather conditions contribute to the region’s arid landscapes and clear skies, providing a perfect backdrop for sightseeing, photography, and cultural experiences in Lhasa and its surrounding areas. Travelers should be prepared for occasional rain showers, especially in the afternoon or evening, and carry waterproof attire when exploring outdoor attractions and scenic spots.

Here’s a 4-day itinerary for a summer vacation in Lhasa, Tibet

Morning Afternoon Evening
Day 1 Arrival in Lhasa Potala Palace Barkhor Street
– Arrive in Lhasa and acclimatize to the altitude – Check-in at your hotel – Rest and relax – Explore the iconic Potala Palace, the former residence of the Dalai Lama and a UNESCO World Heritage Site
– Marvel at the magnificent architecture, intricate murals, and panoramic views
– Take a leisurely stroll along Barkhor Street, a bustling market street surrounding the Jokhang Temple, and browse shops selling Tibetan handicrafts, souvenirs, and religious items
Day 2 Jokhang Temple & Sera Monastery Norbulingka Palace Tibetan Cultural Show
– Visit Jokhang Temple, Tibet’s most sacred and important pilgrimage site
– Witness pilgrims performing prostrations outside the temple
– Visit Sera Monastery to observe monks debating
– Explore Norbulingka Palace, the summer palace of the Dalai Lamas, known for its beautiful gardens and vibrant Tibetan architecture
– Learn about Tibetan history and culture as you stroll through the palace grounds
– Attend a traditional Tibetan cultural show, featuring music, dance, and performances
– Enjoy dinner at a local Tibetan restaurant, savoring authentic Tibetan cuisine
– Return to your hotel and rest
Day 3 Drepung Monastery & Tibet Museum Bhakor Square & Tibetan Traditional Medicine Museum Tibetan Hotpot Dinner
– Explore Drepung Monastery, once the largest monastery in Tibet
– Learn about Tibetan Buddhism and history as you wander through the monastery complex
– Visit the Tibet Museum to gain insights into Tibetan art, culture, and artifacts
– Walk around Bhakor Square, the heart of old Lhasa, and visit the Tibetan Traditional Medicine Museum, learning about traditional Tibetan medicine and healing practices
– Explore local markets and shops selling Tibetan handicrafts, clothing, and souvenirs
– Optional: Visit nearby temples or monasteries
– Enjoy a traditional Tibetan hotpot dinner, a popular local culinary experience
– Experience the communal dining atmosphere and sample a variety of meats, vegetables, and condiments
– Spend the evening reflecting on your experiences in Lhasa
Day 4 Sunrise at Potala Palace & Departure from Lhasa
– Wake up early to catch the sunrise over Potala Palace
– Enjoy the serene atmosphere and stunning views
– Check out of your hotel
– Transfer to Lhasa Gonggar Airport or Train Station

Stay in Touch

Featured Image from Depositphotos

Share via
Send this to a friend