Top ChoiceNational Park in Zhangjiajie

Zhangjiajie National Forest Park

Among China’s crop of surreal landscapes, Zhangjiajie has got to be a contender for one of the most impressive. A forest of spectacularly weathered spires rises up out of a verdant valley that's filled with...

Top ChoiceOld Town in Hongjiang Old Town

Qianyang Old Town

If you've made it all the way to Hongjiang, don't overlook nearby Qianyang, another historic river town with a completely different architectural style. In contrast to Hongjiang's narrow alleys and high walls,...

Top ChoiceOld Town in Hongjiang Old Town

Hongjiang Old Town

The old town can be visited in half a day, and undulates in a delightful, higgledy-piggledy, often steep, maze of narrow stone-flagged alleys and lanes. English and Chinese signposts point the way to the more...

Mountain in Heng Shan

Heng Shan

Heng Shan

Seventy-two peaks spanning 400km comprise the Heng Shan range, but most visitors focus on Zhurong Peak, rising 1290m above sea level.The lung- and knee-busting 13km ascent up winding paths, steep staircases and,...

National Park in Zhangjiajie

Tiānzǐ Shān

This area is at the top of the plateau near the Wulingyuan entrance, and enjoys many of the park's more spectacular viewpoints. It can be reached directly by cable car (¥72), which makes the main lookouts quite...

National Park in Zhangjiajie


Located on the backside of the park is this unexpectedly fun hike, which descends into a valley (beneath a cable car) before climbing back up a series of narrow crevices to reach an old Tujia courtyard home (乌龙寨,...

National Park in Zhangjiajie


Located near the top of the Bailong Elevator (白龙天梯; Báilóng Tiāntī; one way ¥72), this scenic trail is a succession of one incredible panorama after another: best of all is the No 1 Highest Natural Bridge (天下第一桥,...

Area in Zhangjiajie

Binglang Valley

Binglang Valley

If you speak some Chinese and want to get well off the beaten track, this staggeringly beautiful mountain valley and its caves, natural arches and vertiginous cliffs, 90 minutes by bus from town, makes for a...

Waterfall in Dehang

Liusha Waterfall

This lovely waterfall – very thin, but very tall indeed – concludes a lovely walk beyond the village. You can climb up behind the curtain of water, which is fun (although slippery). It takes about two hours to...

Historic Site in Shaoshan

Former Residence of Mao Zedong

Former Residence of Mao Zedong

Surrounded by lotus ponds and rice paddies, this modest mud-brick house is like millions of other country homes except that Mao was born here in 1893. By most accounts, his childhood was relatively normal, and he...

National Park in Zhangjiajie

Golden Whip Stream

Golden Whip Stream

On the canyon floor, the Golden Whip Stream area is a peaceful, flat trail meandering 5.7km east from the Forest Park entrance to the Bailong Elevator (白龙天梯, Báilóng Tiāntī; one way ¥72), a cliffside lift rising...

Waterfall in Furong Zhen

Furong Zhen Waterfall

Furong Zhen Waterfall

These dramatic falls give the town its unique character, especially when they're in full spate. The waters fall from one level to another before crashing down into the river below. The admission ticket to the...

Museum in Changsha

Hunan Provincial Museum

Changsha's main attraction is this modern museum. There's a special focus on the Mawangdui Tombs, which were excavated nearby in the early 1970s, revealing a trove of Han dynasty lacquerware, figurines, textiles...

Bridge in Fenghuang

Hong Bridge

In the style of the Dong minority’s Wind and Rain bridges, this attractive structure vaults the waters of the Tuo River and is illuminated at night. Like some other sights in Fenghuang, it's best viewed from a...

Bridge in Fenghuang

Stepping Stones

Stones laid out for crossing the river. Not a great idea to cross them after too many glasses of the local strong stuff.

Buddhist Site in Changsha

Kaifu Temple

This large and active temple in the north of town dates originally to the Five Dynasties period, with many additions during later dynasties. The imposing Hall of the Three Kings (三圣殿; Sānshèng Diàn) at the front...

Mountain in Zhangjiajie

Tianmen Mountain

Visible from anywhere in Zhangjiajie City, this distinctive mountain range features Tiānmén Dòng (天门洞), a prominent keyhole cut through the mountainside. The seriously lengthy 7km-long Tianmen Mountain Cable Car...

Park in Changsha

Tangerine Isle

The most famous of the city’s parks is a 5km-long sliver of an island smack bang in the middle of the Xiang River. A reflective 32-year-old Mao immortalised it in 'Changsha', probably his best-regarded poem,...

Historic Site in Changsha

Yuelu Academy

Students have been cramming for exams at the base of Yuelu Mountain west of the river since AD 976, when the academy was established as one of China’s four institutions of higher learning. The Song-era grounds...

Gorge in Zhangjiajie

Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon's primary attraction is the world's highest (300m) and longest (430m) glass bridge, which famously closed a mere two weeks after opening in 2016 when officials realised that visitation was going...