Best Natural Sites of Western China

When going on a trip and looking for places to visit, it’s easy to create an itinerary with all the man-made tourist attractions. For example, many tourists in China flock to see the Great Wall of China or Nanjing Road.

What isn’t always appreciated as much as it should be, though, is the natural wonders the world has to offer and there are plenty. Sometimes, in our busy, high-tech world, it’s worth it to take a day and see what the world gives us. To help you get started, here are some natural sites in Western China that you can check out on your next trip.


The first natural beauty that we will look at is Jiuzhaigou, located in the north of the Sichuan Province. Jiuzhaigou is a nature reserve and national park. In fact, UNESCO has declared it both a World Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage Site.

In all, Jiuzhaigou valley includes a portion of the Min Mountains at the edge of the Tibetan Plateau.

When visiting Jiuzhaigou, you can expect to see a number of sites. For instance, Rize Valley exists on the south-western branch of Jiuzhaigou. In it, there is the Primeval Forest, Swan Lake, Grass Lake, Arrow Bamboo Lake, Panda Lake, Five Flower Lake, Pearl Shoal, and Mirror Lake.

The two other valleys that makeup Jiuzhaigou are Zechawa Valley in the south-east and Shuzheng Valley in the north. These also boast a number of lakes as well as the Nuorilang Falls in Shuzheng Valley which measure in at over 65 feet high and more than 1000 feet wide.

42 km west of Jiuzhaigou you can also see the Fairy Pool. Not only is this a beautiful sight in and of itself, but it is also home to one of the densest areas of arrow bamboo in Sichuan as well as one of the best preserved virgin forests.

Dongchuan Red Land

Another impressive site is the Dongchuan Red Land in the Yunnan Province, 25 miles southwest of Kunming City. This site is a stunning 77,000 square mile landscape. It gets its name from the deep, beautiful red soil.

The color is due to iron oxidation in the soil. This is thanks to the subtropical climate of the region.

The real beauty of this is highlighted by the scenery around. These reds only seem richer by the white flowers, golden wheat, and green barley. This is even further highlighted on clear, blue-skied days.

The best times to visit the Dongchuan Red Land is between May and June or September and November. This is when the colors around are brightest, creating the best contrast.

Yaunyang Rice Terraces

While you’re in the Yunnan Province for the Dongchuan Red Land, you should make the trip to see the Yaunyang Rice Terraces. These rice terraces are dug into the southern Ailao Mountains. This has been done by the Hani people over several centuries. The Hani people haven’t left either; they still farm the terraces and hold onto their ancestor’s traditions.

The Yaunyang Rice Terraces are particularly impressive thanks to how large they are. They cover over 12,500 hectares – over 30,880 acres! – and reach as high as 6,500 feet above sea level.

The coloring of these terraces is also impressive. They are often times a beautiful green but when filled with water, they reflect the sky above them to an impressive degree.

Echoing Sand Mountain

In Gansu, there is a pair of sights to see. To start, let’s look at the Echoing Sand Mountain.

This isn’t actually a singular mountain of sand. Instead, it is a series of dunes in the Gobi desert along the Silk Road in north-west China. These dunes stretch 25 miles long and reach 12 miles across. While they vary in height, the tallest dune is 800 feet at the peak.

The name comes from the sound they make or, rather, the haunting sound the wind makes whistling through them.

The second sight to see here is Crescent Lake. This lake that is surrounded on all sides by the dunes of the Echoing Sand Mountain and derives its name from its Crescent shape. At odds with the surrounding dunes, a beautiful garden sits on the shores of Crescent Lake.

Qinghai Lake

For those interested in outdoor adventure along with their site-seeing, you might want to take a trip to Qinghai Lake in, aptly, Qinghai, China.

The most notable fact about Qinghai Lake is that it is the largest lake in China. In fact, it measures in about 1,616 miles.

For visitors, the best time to come is in June or July. This is because that is when the most activity is seen by migratory birds on Bird Island, on the western shore of Qinghai Lake. Aside from this, the landscape of around the lake mixes rolling hills and farmland where animals like sheep can be found.


Leave a comment