Though China enjoys a vast land and diverse climate, it is wildly recognized that autumn (September ~ November) is the best season to travel. Because the weather is always comfortable with fresh air, cool temperature and less rain. No matter you want to hike, photograph or sightsee, you can get a very wonderful experience. It can be said that all destinations can be visited in autumn, especially in early and middle autumn (September ~ October). Here we list the top 15 places to visit in China in autumn to help you figure out your most wanted destinations and plan a better autumn holiday. They may feature with excellent autumn scenery, or interesting autumn experience, or superb cultural splendors with autumn fun. Feel free to contact us for more details if you have any other ideas. Just browse these destinations and get inspired for you 2021 autumn holiday now.
Please Note: Xian and Shanghai are two top destinations whenever you visit China. Though they offer less autumn colors, there are world-class cultural wonders in ancient Xian and alluring cityscape in modern Shanghai. If it is your first time to visit China, don't miss them.
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Shuzheng Lakes at Jiuzhaigou
Autumn View of Jiuzhaigou Valley
Jiuzhaigou Valley, literally meaning Nine Villages Valley, gets its name because of nine Tibetan fortified villages in the valley. It is a UNESCO-recognized World Natural Heritage site world-famous for its incredibly mystic waterscape, including popping, waterfalls, crystal blue and green lakes, glittering and translucent lakes, flowing springs and forest-covered mountains. Its natural landscape makes travelers, photographers and nature lovers hankering in an endless stream. When autumn comes, the forests in Jiuzhaigou Valley, get dressed with the its most enthralling colors from red to golden, orange and scarlet. The seaweeds at the bottom of the lakes also present a strong hue. Seen from above, it seems like the color of autumn is poured into the water, making Jiuzhaigou Valley the real fairyland in the world. If you want to enjoy the best autumn scenery of China, Jiuzhaigou Valley is undoubtedly one of the best choices.
Huanglong National Park, attractive with magic landscape of lime formations and calcified terrace ponds, is always traveled with Jiuzhaigou Valley. The distance between them is about 110 km and it needs about 2.5 hours' drive. The best gateway to Jiuzhaigou is Chengdu and you can get there from Chengdu by drive or flight. Some travelers also choose to fly to Jiuzhaigou tour from Chongqing or Xian.
Colorful autumn scenery in Yellow Mountain
Tachuan Village with Colorful Village Scenery
Huangshan is named after beautiful Huangshan Mountain (also known as Yellow Mountain). It's is not difficult to learn that Yellow Mountain is the biggest highlight of this city. There are five wonders in the mountain, namely odd-shaped pines, spectacular rocky peaks, sea of clouds, hot spring and winter snow. In fact, Huangshan is suitable to visit all the year around, but visiting in autumn delivers you a more far-reaching vista because of the high visibility. There are four cable cars and several trekking routes equipped in Yellow Mountain. No matter you are a sightseer or a hiking enthusiast, a spectacular experience in the mountain will enjoyed.
More than Yellow Mountain, Huangshan offers many other things to see and to do. What you can't miss is the featured village with white walls and gray titles. Top recommended villages are Hongcun Village and Xidi Village. But you prefer more quiet and low-key ones, Nanping Village, Bishan Village, Chengkan Village… are also remarkable. Traveling in autumn, it is also available to enjoy the picturesque scene of Shaiqu (crops drying). Besides, it is available to take part in many interesting activities, like hiking between the peaceful villages, learning to make local dessert, join in a inksticks-making class,, being a local farm a day, etc.
Magnificent Badaling Great Wall
Summer Palace in Autumn
Beijing, the charming capital city, is always China's No.1 destination for the first timers. So many cultural wonders preserved in this city to make you jaw-dropping, such as Great Wall with unique precipitousness and spectacularity, Forbidden City full of imperial stories, Summer Palace for royal families, twisting Hutong alleyways, numerous treasured collections in various museums, etc. Of course, you won't fail to savor the modern charm in Beijing. There are supertall skyscrapers towering in Beijing Central Business District and superb architectures in Olympic Park to appreciate. There are also may first-class fashion shows, modern dramas, acrobatic show… taking place in Beijing.
Beijing shows more antique flavor with the warm-toned autumn view. The Great Wall extending into the colorful forests strikes visitors endless imagination. The best sections of the Great Wall to catch an extraordinary autumn scenery include Mutuanyu Great Wall, Badaling Great Wall, Huanghuacheng Great Wall and Jinshanling Great Wall. Apart from the Great Wall view, the contrast between yellow gingko tree leaves and red walls in Forbidden City is also a distinctive sight. If you want to see the red leaves, Xiangshan Park (Fragrant Hill Park) is a popular place.
Qutang Gorge in Misty Morning
Amazing Yangtze River Cruise
Don't hesitate to take a Yangtze River Cruise if you are interested view magnificent China in a relaxing way. Navigating between Chongqing and Yichang, a 4 or 5 days' downstream or upstream cruise takes you to discover the natural scenery, culture and history of central China along the Yangtze River. Different kinds of ships equipped with advanced facilities, satisfying entertainment, delicious Chinese and western food and friendly staff give you a super holiday. Every detail is taken care of and the only thing you need to do is enjoy.
In the your cruise trip, the scenery contains mountains, rivers gorges and villages. In the late autumn, the mountain are covered with red maple trees, especially Three Gorges which offers a fascinating view. Late October and November are the best time to enjoy flaming leaves. In addition to a comfortable stay and sightseeing experience on the cruise, you will also enjoy wonderful shore excursion. Lots of opportunities will be given to you to enjoy architectures, culture, history and folk customs.
Recommended Yangtze River Cruise Trips in Autumn
Panoramic View of Kanas Lake
Amazing Autumn Forest in Kanas
Kanas means "beautiful and rich, mysterious and unpredictable" in Mongolian, and it is worthwhile to name this land with "Kanas". With the beautiful scenery of lake and surrounding dense alpine forests, Kanas is honored as Oriental Switzerland and Photographers' Paradise. There is a collection of dazzling glaciers, tranquil lakes, virgin forests, snow-capped peaks, verdant grasslands and ethnic customs to discover.
September is the best time to visit Kanas Lake while the autumn foliage against the emerald color of lakes creates such an appealing sight to behold. The weather is comfortable as well because it is not so cold. The scenic area will be closed after the Golden Week in October because of the cold weather. It is available to take a cruise or walk along the lake to enjoy the lake view. Kanas Lake also have several hiking routes. The most popular hiking route is to hike up to Fish Viewing Pavilion where you can enjoy a bird-eye's view of the lake, the snow-capped friendship Peak, and nearby grasslands. To shoot the best scenery of Kanas, photographers always choose to travel between two of Kanas, Wuerhe and Burqin.
Jiaju Tibetan Village in Autumn
Yading Nature Reserve in Autumn
Wester Sichuan, mainly composed of Aba and Garze, is an undeveloped and gorgeous region of Sichuan. It has epic mountain vistas, Buddhist monasteries, grasslands peppered with yaks, traditional Tibetan houses… In every autumn, there are numerous travelers and shutterbugs flocking into this region.
It takes more than 10 days to have an in-depth discovery of the whole land of Western Sichuan, and many travelers choose to travel to the most beautiful and challenging part - Daocheng Yading. Yading Nature Reserve is the main highlight in Daochengaocheng and it owns sacred snow mountains, blue high plateau lakes, idyllic pastures and scenic hiking routes above 4,000 meters. Besides, there are some other enchanting attractions, like Haizi Mountain, Red Grassland, Golden Forest and Benpo Monastery, which enrich your understanding of this pure and primitive land.
Other than Daocheng Yading, you can visit Siguniangshan - oriental alps, Jinchuan - an intoxicating wonderland, Danba - a place with hundreds of ancient watchtowers, Bamei - magic town with incredible Stone Forest, Xinduqiao - a paradise to shoot idyllic Tibetan countryside scene, Mount Gongga - the King of Sichuan Mountains, Hailuogou Glacier - China's only glacier forest park… Once you take an unbelievable trip in autumn, you will be praised with an unforgettable memory of the core Western Sichuan dyed into golden yellow and more brilliant Autumn colors!
Recommended Western Trips in Autumn
Ejina Populus Euphrates Forest
Ejina Populus Euphrates Forest
Ejina is a small city located at the western edge of Inner Mongolia. Many travelers love to visit Ejina in autumn for the dazzling golden Euphrates poplar leaves, boundless grasslands with running sheep and vast deserts with camels. Ejina Populus Euphrates Forest, one of the only three Populus Euphrates forests in the world, covers a large area of 3,800 square kilometers. There is a number of types of trees in forest and they turn yellow and golden from late September. Together with the blue sky and vast desert, it attracts lots of travelers and photographers.
To the south of Ejina Populus Euphrates Forest lies Badain Jaran Desert which features colorful spring-fed lakes and hundres of singing dunes. Besides, we suggest you visit Juyanhai Lake which shapes like a long narrow crescent moon. The sunrise is amazing here. Heicheng Historical Site is another place recommended for its cultural significance.
Recommended Ejina Trips in Autumn
Jinkeng Rice Terraces Autumn View
Guilin Li River
Have you ever heard these words - “Guilin scenery is the best in the world”? The typical karst landform, thousands of limestone mountains, winding river and picturesque countryside make Guilin much more dramatic than many other scenic cities in China. Cruising along Li River from Guilin to Yangshuo is the best way to enjoy Guilin landscape. Both cruise boat and motor-driven raft are available. As you reach Yangshuo which is famous for its relaxing life pace and stunning idyllic scenery, you get a lot of interesting to do, such as bamboo rafting, countryside biking, rock climbing, etc. We strongly suggest you spend a half day enjoy the original, natural, pure and primitive scenery in Yulong River. When autumn comes, the fall foliage dresses the river and countryside to a romantic place. Longsheng Rice Terraces is a can't-be-missed attraction. Main attractions include Jinkeng Red Yao Terraced Fields, Pingan Zhuang Terraced Fields, Longji Old Village Cultural Terraced Fields and many other minority villages. After the maturity of the rice in late September, all the terraced fields become golden. Late September to October is the best time to see and take a photo of golden terraces.
Recommended Guilin Trips in Autumn
Zhangjiajie National Forest Park in Autumn
Sea of Clouds at Tianzi Mountain
There are various world-class attractions deserving a visit. You can enjoy an indelible trip to your fullest by visiting the Avatar mountains in Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, challenging yourselves over one of the world's most spectacular bridges in Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon, getting a thrilling experience in the longest cable rope in Tianmen Mountain, capturing the best view of ever-changing mysterious Tianzi Mountain. After your visual feast in Zhangjiajie, we also suggest you to extend your tour to Fenghuang Ancient Town for a short cultural break.
Wuyuan Morning Fog
Known as China's most idyllic village, Wuyuan explains to you what a utopian home looks like: horse-head walls shrouded in faint smokes, abstract lines of terraces, cows and horses walking in the twilight, yellow rape flowers or fiery red maple leaves in different seasons.
Most travelers choose to go to Wuyuan in spring and autumn. Wuyuan in autumn is full of warm colors. Changxi Village and Shicheng Village are two hot places to view or take photos of flaming maple leaves. Besides, the sunset in Changxing and fog in Shicheng are outstanding. Huangling Village, a hilltop village featured with Huizhou-style architecture and surrounded by mountains, is the favorite place for painters and photographers. Every autumn, the harvested crops on roofs constitute a spectacle for the village.
Recommended Wuyuan Trips in Autumn4 Days Yellow Mountain Wuyuan Scenery Photography Tour
Dongchuan Red Land
Meili Snow Mountain and Golden Sunrise
Yunnan is the one of the most attractive provinces with mesmerizing natural scenery and extraordinary mix of people. Its unique scenery contains snow-capped mountains, stone forests, old cities and towns, captivating lakes, deep gorges and layered terraced fields and so on.
After a large amount of rainfall in summer, the color of Yunnan becomes much brighter. The forests and meadows in Shangri-la show visitors their most polychrome faces. Many travelers take a challenging hiking to Yubeng Village or Tiger Jumping Gorges. For a better heart-shaking experience, visit Meili Mountain to get a heart-shaking scene of sunrise shining upon13 snow peaks. If you want to marvel at the uncanny workmanship of the nature, don’t miss Dongchuan Red Land - a magic palette with green, yellow, white, purple, red, etc. Of course, the golden triangle cities Kungming, Dali and Lijiang are the must-be-visited top three destinations in Yunnan.
Featured Villas in Gulangyu Island
Tianluokeng Tulou Cluster in Autumn
For a relaxing autumn holiday, Xiamen and Fujian Tulou Clusters are also recommended. Xiamen is a coastal city with attractive beach and island view. There is a fascinating mixture of old and new in Xiamen, architectures ranging from olden temples to high-soaring skyscrapers and roads from narrow alleys to multi-lane boulevards and highways. Gulangyu Island is the premier sight you need to visit in Xiamen. Offering red-tiled colonial architectures, gentle sea breeze and interesting museums to appreciate, it is reputed as Garden on the Sea.
Fujian Tulou is a unique kind of earthen building of Hakka minority. It is constructed into round and square appearance with high and thick exterior wall for defensive function. More than its featured architecture, many Tulou clusters also have delightful natural vista, especially golden rice terraces in early autumn. It is also available to see the interesting harvest scenes in middle autumn. You may see the local villagers reaping crops, hanging red persimmons, drying crops or vegetables in the sun.
Leifeng Pagoda in the Sunset
Fish Viewing at the Flower Pond
Hangzhou has long been an attractive city since ancient times and West Lake with poetic charm is its main lure. In addition to the stunning lake view, you will see plenty of other attractions around the lake to kill your time, like gardens, pagodas, temples and bridges. Other than West Lake, Hangzhou provides travelers with many other interesting experiences as well, such as exploring famous Longjing Tea, learning about silk culture, tasting yummy Hangzhou dishes, strolling in the old streets, watching wonderful lively shows, etc.
In autumn, you will savor the fragrance of Osmanthus flowers and the fall foliage around the lake in the whole city. You also get an opportunity to enjoy the full moon, especially in the Mid-autumn Festival. Moreover, it is a good time to watch Qiantang River Tide Bore. Lingyin Temple, a love Buddhist temple close to West Lake, enjoys a beautiful autumn view as well.
For a better autumn trip, it is advised to extend your Hangzhou tour to Suzhou and Nanjing. Suzhou is the famous garden city and silk city where you can have a memorable garden exploration and see how silk is made, while Nanjing is an old capital city with historical sites which become more charming with the decoration with autumn colors.
Tang-styled Architecture by Crescent Lake
The splendid civilizations of East and West were connected by the ancient Silk Road for centuries, and Gansu is the heartland of this network of trade routes. Stretching from east to west along the Hexi Corridor, Gansu offers an entrancingly rich cultural and geographic diversity. The historical relics keeping the memory of the ancient Silk can be found in the whole land of Gansu. In the west is world-renowned Dunhuang, housing Mogao Cave - one of the most important collections of Buddhist art in the world. The far west is Jiayu Pass who guarded the narrow pass for hundreds of years. In the central area, Zhangye will surprise you by the swirling orange, yellow, white and brown lunar landscape of Danxia Geopark. In the southern Gansu hides the fancinating Buddhist center of Amdo Tibetan Region - Labrang Monastery. In the east, you will find another worth-seeing Buddhist grottoes - Maijishan.
Autumn is the most recommended season for you to explore stunning desert views along the Silk Road. The ideal destinations are Dunhuang, Jiayuguan, and Lanzhou.
Recommended Gansu Trips in Autumn:
Hanging Temple in Autumn
Rishengchang Former Bank
With a long history of over 3,000 years, Shanxi is acknowledged as one of the cradles of Chinese civilizations. For travelers who are interested in authentic Chinese ancient civilization, Shanxi offers you quite a different experience. In Datong, you can meet Buddha with diverse styles in Yungang Grottoes and get amazed by Hanging Temple - a magic architecture clinging to the dangerous cliff. Visiting Pingyao Ancient City - an iconic ancient city in China permits you to discover the essence of Shanxi culture and enjoy the folk customs and some local activities. Wutai Mountain is also a great place where you be immersed in the peaceful nature with strong Buddhist atmosphere. Hukou Waterfall is also a natural wonder showing the majesty of the Yellow River.
Though the cultural beauty of Shanxi is never affected by weather, autumn is the best season providing more enjoyable experience with comfortable weather, bluer sky and golden autumn views. Many shutterbugs come to join Pingyao International Photography Festival which is held in mid-September.
Recommended Shanxi Trips in Autumn:
Choose A Destination According to Your Interest: It is comfortable to travel to most destinations in China in autumn, so you just need to choose a destination according to your interest. If you want to explore more about China’s history and culture, Beijing, Xian, Shanxi, Shandong and Gansu are all recommended. If you want to view or photograph the best autumn colors, we suggest you go to Jiuzhai Valley, Kanas, Western Sichuan, Wuyuan, Dongchuan Rid Earth and some other forests or mountains or grasslands with colorful autumn views. If you want to stretch your legs and enjoy natural landscape in the same time, Yellow Mountain, Zhangjiajie, Jiuzhai Valley and some other mountains are perfect. If you want a relaxing journey with some autumn landscape, we advise you take a Yangtze River Cruise and visit some beautiful cities like Hangzhou, Nanjing, Xiamen, Chengdu, etc.
Try to Avoid Traveling in China’s Golden Week: China’s Golden Week usually starts from the first day to the seventh or eighth day in November. It is the longest national holiday in China and most tourist destinations will be crowded with domestic travelers. If you have to travel in these days, we suggest you visit some remoter areas in Yunnan, Western Sichuan, Guizhou, Tibet, etc. and avoid Beijing, Xian, Shanghai, Guilin, Jiuzhai Valley, etc.
Pack and Dress According to the Climate in Destinations: Generally, the weather of autumn is mid and comfortable, warmer in September and cooler in November. Because of the vast land, there is a large temperature difference between two cities in northern China and southern China. If you go to Kanas in September, you need to prepare sweaters and down coat. If you go to Haikou in November, T-shirt is enough.
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