When considering the most heavily populated country on Earth, you may potentially overlook the possibility for adventure due to the fact that so much of China is developed and industrialized; indeed, China has over 160 cities with populations over a million. The problem with this thinking is that you'd be overlooking the vast tracts of land that exist away from the overstuffed and over-smogged urban conglomerates that clog the eastern seaboard. There are manifold mountains of religious significance and others that have lived head and shoulders above the clouds with the duty of isolating this great civilization. There are the ancient rivers and canyons around which this civilization arose, and the numerous adventures had along the Great Wall and the Silk Road that retread the footsteps of the ancient millions that made this the heart of the Eastern world.
China's most famous adventures can very well be its most fulfilling. Although the sections of the Great Wall of China nearest Beijing are quite the tourist affair, there are also a number of sections that, although not as well maintained, will bring visitors in touch with the ancient placidity of this remarkable structure. Also, despite having been worn to dust by ages of neglect, there are portions of the Silk Road in the southern reaches of the Gobi Desert that still reminisce of this international trade route's epic significance. Then again, despite it being an ever-popular cruise package, the voyage down the Yangtze River to the port of Guilin is to be seen at least once for the gorgeous river canyons, beautiful karst formations, and concentration of adventure activities (rock climbing, caving, hiking, and much more). Finally, there is Mount Everest, which, despite being more frequently accessed from the Nepalese side, has a base camp in Tibet about 17,000 feet above sea level and is a fantastic chance to see one of the greatest mountains on Earth.
Speaking of mountains, there are a number with both Buddhist and Daoist significance, combining the beauty of nature with the heights of human spirituality. Some highlights include Tai Shan (the most climbed in China), Emeishan (long treks in the Sichuan Province), the hundreds of jagged peaks on Lushan, Huashan (the “most dangerous hike in the world”), and Mount Kailash (the most holy of Tibetan pilgrimages). Other places of immense beauty and grandeur include Changbai Nature Reserve, a volcanic mountain-top on the border with North Korea upon which Tianchi Lake shines; the Jiuzhaigou and Wolong Nature Reserves, where you'll enjoy the rare chance to see the Giant Panda in its natural setting; Yarlung Zangbo, a vast canyon that ranks among the largest in the world and can be traveled to from Lhasa; the Zhangye Danxia landform, a Technicolor dreamscape that seems as if it shouldn't exist in this world; and the Dashiwei Tiankeng, a massive, rare sinkhole in the karst topography known as the largest of its kind. As much as we're enjoying our semi-colon usage, we think you get the idea. There are plenty of stupendous things to explore in all corners of China.
When in mega-cities like Beijing or Hong Kong or Shanghai, you may lose sight of the fact that there is so much to engage and excite the active traveler. The phenomenal open spaces and less-traveled avenues of Yunnan, Qinghai, Sichuan, and Tibet make up a huge part of this country; it is your duty as an intrepid adventurer to find them. Take a look at our adventure listings and the adventure tour operators that have also been provided and start making plans for your own trek into the vastness of China. This is what it means to embark!