China is a huge nation with several unknown wonders. With a chequered history, breathtaking structures and interesting culture, there are a number of unusual things to do in China. Its list of attractions comprises of some bizarre yet wonderful sights that must not be missed during holidays in China.
Here are 20 unusual things to do in China:
Hanging Temple of Hengshan
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Around 60 km southwest of Datong, Hanging temple clings to a cliff of Hengshan Mountain. Appearing to be defying the laws of gravity, the temple is constructed on the cliff side, around 75 meter above the ground level. The complex comprises of 40 rooms, pavilions and cabinets that are connected by a labyrinth of passageways. The temple built on wooden beams that are drilled into the mountain, was commissioned by Liao Ran, a monk in 491. The temple was restored in 1900.
Hanging temple is dedicated to three religions- Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism. It has 80 statues in iron, copper, stone, and terracotta, and has some stunning carvings all throughout. Also known as Hanging Monastery, it is a wonderful specimen of outstanding artistry and technique of building.
Ticket– 130 Yuan per person
Timings– 08:30 hours-17:30 hours (winter); 08:00 hours-18:00 hours (summer)
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Three Natural Bridges
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A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Three natural bridges continue on their spot after the sinkhole. Named as Sky Dragon, Azure (or Green) Dragon and Black Dragon, these are natural stone bridges that initially were caves till the ground collapsed, giving way to sinkholes (tiankengs), and limestone arches (Tiānshēng Sān Qiáo). Pretty waterfalls gush down from the high walls. There is an old building between the first and the second bridges that was originally used for a shot in the movie ‘Curse of the Golden Flower’.
These unique Three Natural Bridges are the highest in the world but are not walkable. If you take a walk below the bridge through the lush gorge floor, the time taken is around 2 hours. There are high glass elevators to take you into the gorges. After you are back, there are cars and electric trams for further journey.
Ticket– 135 Yuan
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Huanglong Travertine Pools
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Declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the year 1992, the Huanglong Travertine Pools are terraced hot spring pools. Formed naturally, these calcite pools in Southern China flow between forests and craggy mountains. Meaning Yellow Dragon, this pool valley is made from limestone with springs on different levels. Vast forests, home to Giant Pandas and Golden Snub-Nosed Monkeys, form the backdrop of this water-body.
The most beautiful part of Huanglong valley of 2.2 miles, starts from the Benbo temple, making way towards the Xishen Cave Waterfalls in the end. The surrounding snow-clad peaks look stunning. This scenic spot is a part of the Huanglong Nature Reserve. There are around 3400 pools in different shapes and sizes.
Peak season– April to November
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A lesser-known tourist attraction in China, Lexiaguo surely fits in the list of attractions if you are planning your vacation to China. Crops on vibrant soil makes a beautiful ‘Red Land’ in Southern China. The base color of the earth here is red with touches of oxidized iron with addition of dark brown hue. The place looks like a dreamland above 2600 feet above the sea level. The white flowers, oil vegetables, corn, and potatoes add a beautiful contrast.
Lexiaguo region though has been blessed with this wonderful feature but has been left underdeveloped. It is located on a remote location in south west of Kunming, and has minimum infrastructure and accommodation. But, a visit to this place surely is memorable. Early mornings here are breathtaking.
Best time– September to November
Dixia Cheng – Beijing’s Underground City
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Also known as the ‘Underground Great Wall of China’, Dixia Cheng is the underground city in Beijing, which was actually created due to nuclear attack suspicion. An interesting site, it consists of empty iron bed frames, white passageways full of debris, and rotting vegetables in chamber and a tunnel network. The city spreads in an area of 33 square miles of underground vaults. The local citizens, in 1970’s, had dug the tunnel complex by hand to get shelter from nuclear attacks and air raids. There were over 90 entry areas for this, located in the back of offices and homes.
There were classrooms, roller skating rink, movie theater, restaurants, barber shops etc. Special chambers were made for storing weapons and grains along with other supplies. Proper spaces were allotted for growing crops that did not needed sun, such as mushrooms. However, this never came into use and was lost in oblivion. Dixia Cheng was closed in 2008 for renovation but now is one of the most popular attractions in Beijing.
Ticket– 20 Yuan per person
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Opened for tourists in November 2011, Tianmen Skywalk is the first glass skywalk on the Tianmen Mountain. Also known as ‘the Walk of Faith’, or ‘Coiling Dragon Cliff’, this glass path lies at an altitude of 4,700 feet. It has been named after the huge hole in the middle of the rock that looks like doorway to another world. Perfect for adventure lovers, it towers above the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park.
Tianmen Skywalk has been made around the mountain’s vertical cliffs offering thrill, excitement and spectacular views. On some days, it looks like one is walking on clouds with mist-clad surroundings. Closed in the winter season due to snow, this walkway is definitely not for the faint-hearted. Another nearby attraction is the world’s longest cable car ride in the national park.
Location: Zhangjiajie – around 200 m from the top of the cableway
Altitude: 1,400 meters (4,600 feet)
Dimensions: 60 meters (197 feet) in length, 1.6 meters (5 feet) in width
Red Sea beach
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The largest marshland in the world, Red Sea beach in Panjin is a stunning sight with over 260 avifauna species and 399 species of wild animals. The vast red-weed landscape looks breathtaking and similar to that found on Mars. This ethereal appearance is because of a form of Chenopodium (flowering plant). The red crowned crane, among the rarest cranes in the world, can be spotted here. Not the whole but a small part of the beach is open for tourists.
This beach is placed on the banks of Ribera Liaohe. During the autumn season, this area of 26 km with nature reserve turns into a beautiful red color. This phenomenon occurs due to a kind of sea weed called Sueda. Panjin sea beach is protected by the government. Special wooden walkways have been installed over this area so that the visiting tourists can take a walk and admire the wonderful magic of nature. Shallow tideland and seas allure various migratory birds here from all around the world.
Highlight– World’s largest Wetland
Ticket– 80 Yuan
Shilin Stone Forest
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Around 270 million years old, Shilin Stone forest made up of stone is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Located on the Yunnan Province, this wonderful stone topography has an outwardly appeal. This is a natural world wonder that has been caused on its own due to water and wind erosion and seismic activity, giving way to limestone formations. The maze of huge stalagmite-like pillars feature ponds, caves, waterfalls, an underground river and a lake. Two smaller stone forests, Naigu Stone Forest and Suogeyi Village, are a part of this South China Karst.
In the Greater Stone Forest, stone formations are in the shape of flowers, lions, trees, people and birds, and in the Lesser Stone Forest, there are trees, bamboo and grassy meadows. Shilin stone forest, every year, on 24th June becomes the venue of Torch Festival at Shilin. Lion-dancing, bull fighting, wrestling, A-xi Moon Dance and dragon playing are some of the highlights of this festival.
Timings– 08:00 hours to 18:00 hours
Ticket– 175 Yuan
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Also known as the ‘Gateway to Heaven’, Tianmen Shan is a massive hole in the Tianmen Mountain, which is accessible through 999 stairs (Tianmen stairs). Placed within the Tianmen Mountain National Park, this whole looks like an entryway to some outwardly sight. The hole lies at an altitude of 4100 feet, and looks replete with dense fog and sunlight.
This slit in the cave is 180 feet wide and 420 feet high. The hike up to Tianmen Shan is quite taxing. The hole is accessible through an old path that has carved stone stairs, which are sprinkled with tiny wooden huts. The views from the top are remarkable. If you are searching for equally stunning natural and man-made wonders, you can head to Hong Kong and Macau.
Dimensions- 420 feet in height and 180 feet in width
Bund Sightseeing Tunnel
Connecting the junction of the Bund waterfront, with the Oriental Pearl TV Tower on the eastern banks of River Huangpu and the Esast Nanjing Road on the western banks of the River, this is the world’s first under-river pedestrian tunnel. Opt for a hallucinating trip through the tunnel which is 646.7 m in length. It lies under the legendry Oriental Pearl Tower. One of the most popular tourist attractions in Shanghai, it definitely is one of the 20 unusual things to do in China.
As you get into a tiny hi-tech rail car inside the Bund Sightseeing tunnel, get ready for a ride in this tunnel with pulsating lights. These colorful flash lights coupled with menacing soundtrack, give an eerie yet exciting space-like feel. This ride with some extraordinary light show is for 5 minutes. The sounds also change as the landscape in the tunnel changes.
Ticket– One way / Round trip Yuan 50 / 00
Timings– 08:00 AM – 10:30 PM (1st May – 31st October); 08: 00 AM – 10:00 PM (1st November – 30th April)
Perched on the top of the southern-most peak of the holy mount Hua of China, Huashan teahouse was originally a Taoist temple. This cup of tea is not for faint-hearted as the hike to the teahouse is quite challenging and scary. One of the most dangerous hikes in the world, it consists of cliff-side mountain hike. The site has been considered holy since 2nd century BC and has been habitat of nuns, monks and pilgrims. There are 5 separate peaks with a temple on each. The temple on the remote peak on the south is now a teahouse, the world highest teahouse.
First, the hikers walk on ‘Heavenly stairs’ (a series of stairs). As one is on the top, there is a shaky gondola ferry taking you the mountain valley. Then one ascends on a very thin rickety path made from scrap wood stapled together. There are chains to hold. After sometime, even these planks disappear, and one has to walk on pegs and chains. After this section, there are damaged stairs leading to the temple.
Harbin Ice and Call of Duty Festival
If you love snow art, do not miss visiting the Ice and Call of Duty Festival organized annually in Harbin. It is one of the largest ice festivals in the world, which has display of beaming sculptures and carvings for around a month. Generally the event is from 5th January till 15th February but sometimes it can run till March if the weather is right. The festival has a different theme each year. In the past, there have been themes like Beijing Olympics, Friendship between China and Russia, etc.
Sculptures and carvings like terracotta warriors, pagodas, massive Buddhas, the Great Wall, Disney castle have always been a part of the Harbin Ice Festival. This is mainly a competition where teams from France, United State, South Africa, Japan, Canada, Russia and other nations participate. Slides, ice lanterns, castles, historical and mythological sculptures, architectures etc. are illuminated in a beautiful manner. Fireworks is the highlight of the evening. Some of the other popular activities are ice archery, Yabuli alpine skiing, ice golf, swimming in Sogua River, and ice-lantern competition.
Highlight- Snow sculptures and carvings in -15 degree Celsius weather
One of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in China, the remote Jiuzhaigou Valley has panoramic views, and snow-covered peaks. Placed along the borders with the Tibetan Himalayas, this dream-like valley has nine villages, gushing waterfalls, azure greenish lakes and with multi-hued mountain slopes. Lying in the Eastern China Highlands, the valley spreads in area of varied elevation- 6,500 to 14,500 feet above sea level.
Carbonate rocks and thousands years of earthquakes led to the formation of this wonderful landscape. The water present here is sans calcium carbonate leading to absolutely wonderful views of the lakes’ depths. One can have stunning views of the underwater floating forests. Also known as Jiuzhai Valley, this also has a national park with more than 220 avifauna species and various endangered plant as well as animal species.
Highlight– Incredible landscape
Fengdu Ghost City
Comprising of statues of demons, ghosts and humans, monasteries, temples and other structures depicting about the Chinese vision of the afterlife and hell, Fengdu Ghost City lies on the Ming Hill. This attraction lies on the northern end of the River Yangtze. It is believed that the city was founded around 2000 years ago, dating back to the Han Dynasty (206 BCE-220 CE). Also called the ‘City of Ghosts’, it has famous landmarks that have a connection with afterlife such as Ghost Torturing Pass, Nothing-to-be-Done Bridge, and Last Glance at Home Tower.
An amalgam of a haunted house and a theme park, Fengdu Ghost City has some daunting works that showcase the terrors of afterlife. ‘The Giant King’ is a massive face in the hill with a Guinness World Record for being the ‘biggest sculpture carved on a rock’. This place becomes the venue of the yearly temple fair, between 3rd to 5th March, comprising of cultural performances and activities.
Highlights– Statues and Structures
Ticket– 80 Yuan
Timings– 09:00 hours to 17:00 hours
Beijing’s version of Disneyland, the Wonderland is completely abandoned and majorly destroyed, making it one of the 20 unusual things to do in China. Around 45 minutes away from the city, it was perceived as the largest amusement park in Asia, in 100 acres, more than a decade ago. After disputes on land and money, the project was left in midway and today it looks like a lost city. The project was on an advanced stage and thus there were huge castles, streets with beautiful exteriors and more.
Looking like a shooting location of a horror movie, China’s Wonderland has a half-finished medieval-style tower staring dauntingly. The construction of this amusement park was completely stopped in 1998. Brief efforts were made to restart the construction in the year 2008 but the plans were shunned again. There are now tree branches, abandoned buildings and crops grown on their own due to floods.
Highlight– An eerie feel like a horror movie
Shanghai’s 1933 Slaughterhouse
The last slaughterhouse on earth, Shanghai’s 1933 Slaughterhouse is a 4-storey huge solid concrete labyrinth that was constructed in 1933 in pre-Communist Shanghai. One of the largest slaughterhouses in the East, it has a massive inspirational structure with Gotham-Deco beauty. Designed by British architects, it was constructed by Chinese developers by using British concrete, steel and glass. It was also used as medicine factory and cold storage facility during its zenith.
The 1933 Slaughterhouse of Shanghai is a maze of bridges, ramps, corridors and staircases mingled into each other. Lattice work on the windows outside looks wonderful and offered air circulation. The building was renovated in 1998 but its new purpose has yet to be decided.
Highlight– The mammoth structure
One of the most famous tunnels in the world, Guoliang tunnel has been dug by hand on the side of a mountain to form an access to Guoliang village. For many years, these villagers were cut from civilization. After years of asking the government, they took the matters in their hands and constructed a tunnel on their own. They sold their belongings and 13 strong men built this tunnel in 5 years, which was completed in 1977.
There are unpredictable turns in Guoliang Tunnel and only one car can pass through it at one time, making it quite challenging. It is now one of the most popular attractions in China. The tunnel is 1.2 km in length, 5 m in height and 4 m in width. The tunnel has around 30 windows so that one can enjoy the scenery. It also is one of the steepest roads in the world.
Highlight– Hair-raising twist and turns
World Joyland Theme Park
Popularly known as the Warcraft and Starcraft-themed amusement park, World Joyland Theme Park was opened to public in 2011. The park is segregated into two sections. While one part is science fiction world with games similar to Starcraft, the other half of the park looks like the famous MMORPG game like World of Warcraft. The former is called the ‘Universe of Starship’, and the latter is called, the ‘Terrain of Magic’. Probably the first video-game-themed park in the world, it spreads in an area of around 600,000 square meters and is segregated into 7 sections. Its cost of construction was 200 million Yuan.
World Joyland Theme Park features larger than life statues from popular games and fantasy world, done in different colors. There are elves, warriors, demons and satyrs. Orcish huts and castles look splendid and towering. Most of the joy rides here are different theme versions of those rides which can be seen in an amusement park including roller coaster and log fumes. The park offers a wonderful time to both kids and adults.
Timings– 09:00 AM to 10:00 PM
Highlight– An amusement park with theme of Warcraft
A mammoth structure belonging to the Tang Dynasty, The Giant Buddha in Leshan is the biggest Buddha statues in the world with a height of 71 meters. Overlooking Dadu and Min Rivers in the central Sichuan region, the statue is engraved into a cliff, offering protection to travelers in the river. The statue was carved in 730 AD under the supervision of Chinese monk Haitong. The statue got completed in 803 AD after his death. This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Also known as Dafo, the statue shows Maitreya Buddha or Future Buddha in a seated form with his hands rested on his knees. He is looking towards the river with heavy-lidded eyes. The Leshan Giant Buddha is generally a part of sightseeing in Boat tours. One can hike up by using a narrow staircase that is stuck along the cliff, just adjacent to the statue. Weather and pollution has shown their ill-effect on the statue but its magnificence has remained the same.
Ticket: 90 Yuan
Timings: 09:00 AM to 04:50 PM
Highlight– World’s tallest Buddha Statue
Looking like a scene straight out of the movies, Crescent Lake is a verdant desert oasis that is in the shape of a narrow crescent. One of the best things to do in China, this is a 2000 year old lake that lies amid vast sand desert hills, near Dunhuang. The lake is around 15 to 25 feet deep. Also known as the Crescent Spring or the Yueya Spring, it lies at the northern foot of the Echoing-Sand Mountain. The lake was named Yueyaquan in the Qing Dynasty.
Crescent Lake is 218 m in length from east to west and 54 m in width from north to south. Water in the lake comes from pure spring water or is filled by the government. There is a traditional pagoda just next to this water body. There also are a number of souvenir shops. Tourists visiting the lake can enjoy came ride in the sand dunes during sunset or sunrise, along with other activities like shooting arrow, sand sliding, and grass skiing.
Timings– 05:00 hours to 20:30 hours
Best time– June to August
Echoing-Sand Mountain & Crescent Lake: 120 Yuan (1st May to 31st October); 80 Yuan (1st November to 30th April)
Came Ride- Round way trip- 100 Yuan