Laohei Shan

Top choice in Heilongjiang

Laohei Shan is the humble zenith of a prehistoric landscape washed clean by hardened lava where ghost-like trees snake up from dormant craters, and brilliant blues shimmer off a cloud-strewn lake.

It's also user-friendly, with mostly easy walking apart from the mainly uphill 1km stair climb to the summit of Laohei Shan itself, one of the area’s 14 volcanoes. Do a circuit of the windy crater lip for panoramic views of the lakes and other volcanoes dotting the landscape.

Taxis drop you at the ticket booth, from where park shuttle buses take you to a large car park. To the left is the trail up the mountain. Returning down the same path, this time take the right path from the drop-off, along a boardwalk to the aptly named Shi Hai (石海, Stone Sea), a magnificent lava field.

Back in the car park smaller green shuttle buses take you to Huoshao Shan (火烧山) and the end of the road at another collection of weirdly shaped lava stones. This stretch is one of Wudalian Chi’s most enchanting, with lava-rock rivers, birch forests, grassy fields, ponds around Third Lake and more wide stretches of lava fields.

There are only two (expensive) shops, so bring water and snacks.