An Adventure Traveler's Guide to Rural China

Climbing | © Ryan Weller/Flickr
Bailey Berg

China has plenty of action for thrill-seeking adventure travelers – but you’re going to need to get out of the major metros to experience it. You’re not going to find many opportunities for trekking, rafting and mountain climbing in the middle of the city. Luckily for you, we did the legwork and compiled a guide on how to discover the adventurous side of rural China.

Mountain climbing

Mountain climbing in China can be separated into two categories: Yangshuo and everywhere else. The town on the banks of the Li River is known for its dreamy landscapes stippled with karst mountains that are ideal for any level of climbing expertise. Beginners can find their footing on the Swiss Cheese crag and work their way up to what is considered China’s hardest climb, a trail called Spicy Noodle, that creeps up White Mountain.



Check out Tiger Leaping Gorge in Yunnan, a strenuous 30-kilometer trail that runs parallel to the Yangtze River. It passes through some of the most diverse and majestic landscapes in China, from sleepy villages and terraced farms to rocky cliffs and forests.

Huangshan, in Anhui Province, is a mountain trail you may know from dizzying pictures from the peaks. To get there, you’ll pass through bamboo forests and gnarled pines on well-worn steps. It’s 7.5 kilometers up the eastern steps and 15 kilometers to the top of the western ones, though going up the east side and down the west side makes for an easier way to see it all.

Some sections of the Great Wall are fairly rural, so much so that the bricks are being reclaimed by nature. There’s also Quingchen Shan in Sichuan and Lake of Heaven in Xinjiang for those looking to get as far away from other people as possible.

Tiger Leaping Gorge


As more visitors come to China in search of epic adventures, more businesses open up to meet the demand. Rafting is one of the outdoor industries which has seen a boom in business in recent years. Check out operators in the Wangyou Valley for short, scenic tours or Hongkou for a river with rapidfire twists and turns.

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