Fantastical mountainscapes and well preserved villages make Ānhuī (安徽) the perfect antidote to the brashness of China’s larger cities. The main attraction is unquestionably Huángshān, a jumble of sheer granite cliffs wrapped in cottony clouds that inspired an entire school of ink painting during the 17th and 18th centuries. But the often overlooked peaks of nearby Jiǔhuá Shān, where Buddhists bless the souls of the recently departed, have a hallowed aura that offers a strong contrast to Huángshān’s stunning natural scenery.
At the foot of these ranges are strewn the ancient villages of the province formerly known as Huīzhōu. With distinctive whitewashed walls and black-tiled roofs augmented by lush surroundings of buckling earth, bamboo and pine forest, they are among the most picturesque in the country.
Ānhuī's top sights are clustered in its southeast corner. Easy to navigate and within striking distance of Shànghǎi, this is rural China at its accessible best.