Eastern Qing Tombs (Hebei): This rural tomb complex offers more to the visitor than the better-known Ming Tombs, but sees a fraction of the visitors. Though difficult to reach, the effort is rewarded many times over by the Qianlong emperor's breathtakingly beautiful tomb chamber, Yu Ling, and an (unintentionally) drop-dead funny photo exhibit of the much-maligned dowager empress Cixi.
Changbai Shan (Jilin): This long-dormant 2,600m-high (8,500-ft.) volcano is home to Tian Chi, a deep, pure, mist-enshrouded crater lake that straddles the China-North Korea border and is sacred to both Koreans and Manchurians. The northern approach to the lake, with its trail that climbs alongside the thundering Changbai Waterfall, is best in the fall. The western approach is ideal in early summer, when its vast fields of vibrant wildflowers are in full bloom.
Hulun Buir Grasslands (Inner Mongolia): Located just outside the remote border town of Manzhouli, the Hulun Buir's grasslands are the most pristine in China. This expanse of gentle emerald hills, perfectly punctuated with small streams and rocky outcrops, is all the more attractive for how difficult it is to reach.
Langmu Si (Gansu): This Tibetan monastic center is still largely unknown to Chinese tourists, and the tranquil mountain village is reminiscent of Lijiang before it was "discovered." The town is home to two major Tibetan monasteries, housing around 1,000 monks whose chanting of the scriptures may be heard throughout the day. Ramble through narrow ravines and moraine valleys crowded with wildflowers, or take a horse trek up Flower Cap Mountain to obtain stunning views as far as the holy mountain of Amnye Machen.
Karakul Lake (Xinjiang): On the highway between Kashgar and Tashkurgan lie stark, jagged mountains surrounded by a pristine lake at an altitude nearly 4,000m (13,120 ft.). Come here for some peace and quiet and a change of scenery from the dusty Uighur towns along the Silk Road.
The Bamboo Forests of Anji (Zhejiang): Vast oceans of bamboo, immortalized by the kung-fu acrobatics of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, this is a part of the county that will appeal to the emerging generation of eco-travelers. Apart from mystical, secluded groves, the bamboo museum highlights a plant that is receiving more and more attention as we begin to recognize the importance of sustainable lifestyles.
Yandangshan (Zhejiang): A less well known, but equally stunning collection of spectacular peaks that rival any other area in the country but as yet do not have the same stratospheric ticket prices.
Around Lijiang (Yunnan): This area offers a wide variety of countryside experiences, from riding a chairlift up to the glacier park of the magnificent, snowcapped Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, to hiking the sheer-sided Tiger Leaping Gorge while the Yangzi River rages below.
The Tea Horse Caravan Trail (Yunnan): The ancient caravan town of Shaxi has been restored and renovated with great care an attention by a Swiss architecture institute. The old town is a welcome relief from the usual hordes of domestic tourists, with authenticity and history replacing the usual souvenir shops and cafes.
Jiuzhaigou (Sichuan): This national park has dense forest, green meadows, rivers, rapids, ribbon lakes in various shades of blue and green, chalky shoals, and waterfalls of every kind. Of cultural interest are six Tibetan villages of the original nine from which this valley gets its name.
Wulingyuan & Zhangjiajie (Hunan): This scenic area is made up of three subtropical parklands, with quartzite sandstone peaks and pillars to rival Guilin's scenery. There are plentiful rare plants and insects, swarms of butterflies, a large cave with calcite deposits, and stunning views through bamboo, pine, and oak forests.
Amnye Machen (Qinghai): The route around this holy mountain, for a while believed to be the world's highest, must be clockwise -- turning back is sacrilegious. So once you start on the 4- to 5-day horse trek, or the 7- to 10-day walk with the aid of a baggage-carrying yak, there's no turning back. But the scenery around the 6,282m (20,605-ft.) peak, and the company of sometimes entire villages of Tibetans, make the trek well worthwhile.
Everest Base Camp (Tibet): Whether by 3-hour drive from the village of New Tingri, or by a 3- to 4-day trek from Old Tingri, the trip to the tented base camp (at 5,150m/16,890 ft.) or to rooms in Rongbuk Monastery (at 4,980m/16,330 ft.) offers unbeatable vistas of the world's toothiest snowcaps set against a startling cobalt sky.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.