Happy World Heritage Day! Other than the famed Forbidden City and Great Wall, how many of China’s 48 World Heritage sites come to mind? Here are some of the hidden gems on the list that might not be at the tip of your tongue, but definitely belong on your bucket list:
Kaiping Diaolou and Villages, Guangdong (Fortress-homes)
With their Western architectural and decorative style, you might be surprised to find a Diaolou in the middle of a Chinese rice field in Guangdong. These multi-storeyed defensive houses embody the complex fusion of foreign architectural styles brought back by returning Chinese, with local rural traditions.
Huanglong Scenic and Historic Interest Area, Sichuan (Terraced Turquoise Lakes)
The Huanglong valley in north-west Sichuan is known for its multi-colored pools, waterfalls, hot springs and snow-capped peaks. Thousands of years of geological evolution have given Huanglong its spectacular terraced pools. The region’s forests are also home to a number of endangered plants and animals, including the giant panda and Sichuan’s golden snub-nosed monkey.
Immerse yourself in some of China’s finest natural landscapes on a journey to Sichuan.
Xinjiang Tianshan (Heaven’s Mountains)
Xinjiang Tianshan is part of the Tianshan mountain system that runs through Central Asia. It is comprised of Tomur, Kalajun-Kuerdening, Bayinbukuke and Bogda, and presents a towering landscape of ice-capped mountains, red bed canyons, beautiful wetlands, meadows and steppe. The mountain range is an important habitat for rare and endangered flora species.
Fujian Tulou (Earthen Villages)
The tulou are earthen dwellings distinctive to the local Hakka communities of rural Fujian province. Each house is it’s own self-contained village, with larger tulou housing up to 800 people. Several stories high, these large, enclosed buildings are usually circular or square in form, built with thick rammed-earth walls for defense against outside intrusions.
Explore Fujian’s Hakka communities on a Fujian Tour.
Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Areas (Source of Asia’s Mighty Rivers)
Asia’s three mightiest rivers – Yangtze, Mekong and Salween – flow from the region of the Three Parallel Rivers, creating an epicenter of biodiversity. The rivers run through an exceptional range of scenic landscapes including deep river gorges, glaciated peaks, alpine karst formations and verdant forests.
Go back 600 years in time to the streets of Xidi and Hongcun villages, where pre-modern rural settlements have been beautifully preserved. The overall layout, landscape, architectural form, decor, and construction techniques of the villages retain original features of 14th to 20th century Anhui villages.
Wander the ancient village labyrinths on a tour of Anhui.