Dear GoMad Nomad,
I am wondering if you can advise me on good places to visit in China, off the beaten path, where the prices are low, the people are friendly, the women are beautiful, and the scenery is breathtaking.
Symour in Pasaic
Great timing on this one—I’m in the middle of three-month trip to China. On this trip I’ve stuck to Hong Kong/Macau, Guangxi Province (in the south), and Yunnan and Sichuan Province (in the Southwest) so my knowledge doesn’t go too far beyond that.
As a general rule, China is less expensive in the south and southwest and pricier in the north and east. So I’m going to steer you towards Guangxi, Yunnan and Sichuan.
There are very few foreigners traveling through China, so much of the time you’ll feel like you’re off-the-beaten-path. But watch out for the Chinese tourists—Lijiang, for example is inundated with masses from throughout China. My advice would be to spend as little time there as possible.
The backpacker trail in Yunnan (Kunming, Dali, Shaxi, Lijiang, Tiger Leaping Gorge, Shangri-la) is popular, but for good reason—it is a fantastic place to travel. (But as I said earlier, there are few western tourists). Breathtaking scenery—check! Friendly people—check! And as far as the beauty of the people—I’ll let you decide that for yourself.
These aren’t majority Han Chinese in much of Yunnan—but many of China’s ethnic minorities. This makes travel here more culturally diverse and interesting due to the individual dress, food, and customs of each nationality.
As far as expenses, I just published What it costs: Traveling in Yunnan Province.
After Yunnan Province, I headed up to Sichuan Province mainly for three reasons—tea houses, Giant Pandas, and food. The costs of travel in Sichuan are nearly the same as in Yunnan. There is distinct Sichuanese cuisine, incredible landscapes, and the chance to witness Tibetan culture without the hassle and expense of going to Tibet. The western half of Sichuan is situated high in the Tibetan Plateau and many of the towns there are ethnically Tibetan.
There are plenty of historic towns in Sichuan as well and the most laid-back of China’s huge cities—Chengdu (home of the Pandas).
The following posts might inspire you:
- The astounding Tiger Leaping Gorge
- Yuanyang Rice Terraces of Yunnan Province
- The 17-Arched Twin Dragon Bridge of Jianshui (Yunnan Province)
- The scenery surrounding the Li River near Yangshuo (Guangxi Province)
- A great local market near Dali, Yunnan.
- Tasting Tea in Kunming video
Happy Travels! Let us know when you make it to China!