The other day’s topic for my 365 Day Writing Challenge is “Gilding a Lily” which essentially means “to adorn unnecessarily something already beautiful”, or to actually put gold foil on a lily flower. Shakespeare originally created this metaphor in his work King John by saying that putting gold foil on the already beautiful lily was completely unnecessary and that the natural beauty should be appreciated. This brings me to a new series I am starting on this blog: Vacations Dedicated to Natural Beauty. I have always been very appreciative of natural beauty and would argue that more trips need to be taken for the sole purpose of exposing yourself and others to the Earth’s natural beauty instead of for luxury and relaxation.
The featured location of today’s post is China. Mostly known for its urban cities, China is one of the most beautiful countries to visit in the world and many people do not know that about it. I chose 4 locations in the country that are extremely beautiful and can be added to your trip to China!
The first is Jiuzhaigou National Park in Songpan, China. This location is known for its amazing beauty and attracts over 12,000 tourists a day during its peak season – April to mid-November! Although it costs almost three times as much-about 220 Yuan- to visit during the peak season, a lot of the trails are not available for hiking during the off-season, making your trip to Jiuzhaigou National Park a lot shorter.
Jiuzhaigou National Park is located near Songpan, China. There is are bus stations in the northern and southern parts of the city, which is a very nice way of getting there. There are various budget-friendly and upscale accommodations in the area and lots of delicious food options. The bus ride from Songpan to Jiuzhaigou National Park is about two hours, so make sure that you plan that into your daily travel time. Most people walk from place to place inside the town, but there are tricycle taxis and horses as other forms of transportation. The city of Songpan itself is a very beautiful and cultured place definitely worth the visit!
The next location is the Zhangye Danxia Landform in Zhangye, China. There is a newly built airport about 13 km south of the city for easy travel. Flights happen four times a week from a few airports, so that is a nice option when traveling to Zhangye, China. In the city, you can travel by taxi or bus, as these are the two most common forms of transportation. The actual landform was named a nature preserve in 2005 and a lot of the tourist aspects of it (viewing decks etc.) were unfinished as of May 2014! It is truly a beautiful landform and deserves to be visited!
The mountains are known for their beautifully colored rocks, which are smooth, sharp and several hundred meters tall. The unique landform is the result of deposits of sandstone and other various minerals over the course of over 20 million years. These mountains are connected to the tectonic plates that are responsible for the Himalayan mountains. Wind, rain and time sculpted the unbelievable landforms called Zhangye Danxia today, which include towers, pillars and ravines each in their own patterns, colors and sizes. The best time to visit Zhangye Danxia is June to September due to weather conditions. Entry into the park is 60 RMB, but that includes transportation inside the park. Overall, Zhangye Danxia is one of the most beautiful locations in all of China and is definitely worth the visit.
Every time I look at the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park I think of the magical floating mountains featured in the beautifully cinematographic Avatar. In fact, one of the pillars was named “Avatar Hallelujah Mountain” after the film in 2010. The mountains in the film were inspired by these mountains, and I cannot blame the designers. These mountains are in Zhangjiajie City, China and were named China’s first national forest park in 1982. The weather in the area is moist year-round and in turn, there is a lot of greenery. A lot of the erosion is caused by the ice that forms on the pillars and then causes foliage to grow. The climate of the region usually fairly pleasant, which attracts visitors year-round.
The entrance fee to the park is CNY 245+ CNY insurance, but this includes almost all areas of the park. This ticket is valid for three days, which makes it a better deal then buying the places individually. Each of the locations for a single day are anywhere from CNY 38 to CNY 100; and if they were purchased for all three days, it could end up costing more than the package deal. All of the locations in the park are beautiful and I would try to visit as many as possible. Additionally, I would recommend traveling to Zhangjiajie from a city that flies directly there to make it easier. Some airports that fly direct are Chengdu and Xi’an, and are good options if you plan on visiting other cities in the country. If not, flying into one of the more major airports is a better option. For accommodations, staying just outside the park in Wulingyuan is just as good as staying in Zhangjiajie itself. If you’re looking more for the scenic factor, staying in Zhangjiajie is more likely to be the better option. The local food is a very spicy and strong flavor, so if that’s not your thing, bring snacks!
The last location is Detian Falls in Daxin County, Guangxi. Although not all of the park is in China, it is right on the border of Vietnam and China and totally worth a visit. It is the fourth largest waterfall on a national border, and a truly beautiful sight it is. There are actually two waterfalls that make up the Detian Falls and during the wetter summer months they can join to become one waterfall, which can make visiting in the summer months a more interesting experience. If you have a limited time at Detian Falls, I would recommend taking a tour- it should cost around 200 RMB and will save you a lot of time. If time is not an issue, you can take a bus from Naning to Daxin and be on your way to the falls. It is a little more time-consuming, but totally worth it. Most travelers pack a lunch with them when visiting the falls, as the nearby restaurant is nothing special. There aren’t too many nice hotels in the area, but a few are advertised as 3-star, which are nice options.
When many people plan their vacations, they don’t tend to think about the natural beauty they can see in the areas they visit. The next time you plan a vacation, try to add in an area of natural beauty to appreciate the world we live in.
If you have a country/location you’d like me to write about, comment it down below. I’d love to know what my readers are interested in learning about.