Yanbian (Jilin): A lush, achingly pretty hilly region perched on China's border with North Korea, parts of which have only recently been opened to tourism, Yanbian is home to the largest population of ethnic Koreans outside the peninsula itself. Independent-minded travelers have the opportunity to explore one of the few truly bicultural societies in China.
Pingyao (Shanxi): Chinese tourists have discovered Pingyao, but the number of Western tourists is still relatively low at what is one of the best-preserved Ming and Qing towns in China. An intact Ming city wall surrounds clusters of elegant high-walled courtyard residences, some of which are also guesthouses.
Yi Xian (Anhui): Often visited en route to or from Huang Shan, this UNESCO World Heritage county is famous for its Ming and Qing dynasty memorial arches and residential houses. Structures with ornate brick, stone, and wood carvings are like a peek into an architectural past that is quickly being destroyed in China's booming cities.
Bama, Poyue, Fengshan, and Leye (Guangxi): Difficult to reach as yet, but this is what the countryside around Guilin wants to be when it grows up. There are limited facilities, but caves and peaks that will amaze even the most experienced travelers.
Yushu (Qinghai): Khampa areas within the Tibet "Autonomous Regions" are closed to the individual traveler, but here these fiercely proud Tibetan warriors trade in a traditional market town beneath a stern gray-and-red monastery. The long-discussed airport is due to open shortly which will make this remote destination far more accessible.
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.