China has so much more to offer than big cities and pretty skylines. The country is home to the highest mountains in the world as well as the Five Great Mountains for Taoism and the Four Sacred Mountains of Buddhism. It offers superb landscapes and truly spectacular panoramas, rich grasslands and forests as well as vital springs and lakes.
Here are some tips you will clearly benefit from when planning a hiking trip to China:
- Avoid weekends and public holidays
Hiking destinations and scenic spots will be packed with weekend tourists, which may not suit everyone. Many domestic tourists will tailor their trip around a weekend or bank holiday, making the views less enjoyable and the overall condition more challenging and pricey. Visit mid-week if possible and try to avoid major holidays such as the Spring Festival (usually January-February) and Chinese National Day (October 1st), for less crowded hiking.
- A guide should be considered
Although many routes are well signposted, navigating around unknown territories can be frustrating without speaking the native language. Hiking or trekking solo is a dangerous option, especially in case of an accident. A local guide can organise transport and permits for you and might be able to show you less-known routes and help you access difficult paths.
- Choose from extremely easy to remarkably difficult
Many hiking areas feature easily accessible man-made footpaths and staircases out of stone equipped with handrails. Others may be exposed, with a high risk of injury in the event of a fall because of the steepness of the terrain. Some remote routes are highly technical climbs and reserved for serious mountaineers. Whichever style suits your level, be sure you know what you can expect.
- Know before you go
Before going to abroad to hike, it is important to read about the natural landscape, any hazards and the climate of the area. Across the China, climate zones and temperatures vary drastically due to its size. In the northeast, for example, the summers are hot and dry while the winters are freezing cold. The north and central regions, including Hunan, have frequent rain periods coupled with hot summers and cold winters. The southeast is also known for plenty of rainfall, semi-tropical summers and cool winters. Before setting off, get to know the climate of your area.
- Take the right equipment
This vital tip applies wherever you are in the world. Temperatures at altitude may drop severely and weather storms can approach exceptionally quickly. Hence, it is important to be well-prepared or accompanied by specialists. On the other hand, an overloaded backpack may be frustrating or even lead to exhaustion. If you’re in doubt before you go, seek advice and make sure you’ve got what you need to maximise your trip.