15 Most Amazing National Parks in China

15 Most Amazing National Parks in China: China’s land area is 9.6 million square kilometers, ranking third in the world. Various topography and landforms were born on this vast land, including plateaus, hills, mountains, and plains. The fertile land not only creates various magnificent natural landscapes but also rich animal resources. That’s why China has so many beautiful national parks and nature reserves. It could take a lifetime to see all those national parks. Here, we’ve listed the 15 best national parks in China that travelers should pick one or more during their China tour, no matter for a first-time trip or in-depth trip.

Located in the northwestern part of Hunan Province and in the hinterland of the Wuling Mountains, Zhangjiajie National Forest Park became China’s first national forest park, which enjoys the reputation of “the original of Chinese landscape painting” and “mini fairyland, enlarged bonsai”. In 2010, the first 3D movie “Avatar” was shot in Zhangjiajie, which made Zhangjiajie’s gorgeous scenery famous around the world.

15 Most Amazing National Parks in China

1. Zhangjiajie National Forest Park

Zhangjiajie National Forest Park
Zhangjiajie National Forest Park

Located in the northwestern part of Hunan Province and in the hinterland of the Wuling Mountains, Zhangjiajie National Forest Park became China’s first national forest park, which enjoys the reputation of “the original of Chinese landscape painting” and “mini fairyland, enlarged bonsai”. In 2010, the first 3D movie “Avatar” was shot in Zhangjiajie, which made Zhangjiajie’s gorgeous scenery famous around the world.

The natural scenery of Zhangjiajie National Forest Park is amazed by peaks, quiet by valleys, and beautiful by forests. In the meantime, there are more than 3,000 strange peaks, which look like human beings, beasts, utensils, or other objects, with vivid images and spectacular momentum. April to June and September to November are the best time to travel to Zhangjiajie. We recommend that travelers spend 3-5 days to explore the stunning scenery together with other top Zhangjiajie attractions.

2. Jiuzhaigou National Forest Park

Jiuzhaigou National Forest Park
Jiuzhaigou National Forest Park

Jiuzhaigou National Forest Park is located in Aba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan Province, more than 300 kilometers away from Chengdu. Named after nine Tibetan villages, Jiuzhaigou is a ravine valley with a depth of more than 50 kilometers, a total area of ​​64,297 hectares, and a forest coverage rate of over 80%.

Green and blue lakes, stacked waterfalls, colorful forests, snow peaks, Tibetan customs, and blue ice are known as the six wonders of Jiuzhaigou National Forest Park. In addition to the beautiful scenery like the fairy tale world and the unique Tibetan architecture and culture, it is rich in animal and plant resources, full of virgin forests, and inhabits more than a dozen rare and precious wild animals like giant pandas. September to November are the best time to travel to Jiuzhaigou, it’s highly recommended to spend 3 or 4 days sightseeing to cover Jiuzhaigou National Forest Park and Huanglong National Geopark together. Huanglong scenic area is also a World Natural Heritage Site, about 100km apart from Jiuzhaigou.

3. Huangshan National Forest Park

Huangshan National Forest Park
Huangshan National Forest Park

Located in southern Anhui Province, Mountain Huangshan has 72 peaks, the highest main peak Lianhua Peak is 1,864 meters above sea level. Huangshan’s most beautiful “Five wonders” include the strange pine, peculiar rocks, sea of ​​clouds, hot springs, and winter snow. Huangshan is not only a beautiful natural mountain but also a rich art treasure house. Since ancient times, people have visited Huangshan and praised Huangshan, many paintings and poems about Huangshan have been recorded and passed down.

Spring from March to May and Autumn from September to October is the best time to visit Huangshan mountain when the climate is pleasant and with fewer tourists than in summer. In addition, Winter from November to February is another good time to see the sea of clouds, winter snow, rime, ice hanging, etc., however, many other attractions will be closed in winter due to the safety factors during this period. Besides, the  Tunxi Old Street (with thousands of years of history) and many ancient Huizhou style villages around Huangshan are all worth visiting. We recommend that travelers plan a 3-4 day trip to visit Mount Huangshan and surrounding villages.

4. Guilin Li River (Lijiang) National Park

Guilin Li River (Lijiang) National Park
Guilin Li River (Lijiang) National Park

Guilin Li River (Lijiang) National Park is the world’s largest and most beautiful karst landscape tour area. Located in Guilin, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Li River flows through five cities and towns: Xing’an, Lingchuan, Guilin, Yangshuo, and Pingle. The Lijiang River is like a green silk belt, winding between ten thousand peaks, with strange peaks sandwiched between the bank, lingering water, and the green hills. It looks like a beautiful and still picture, not just the real scenery.

The main ways to visit the Li River are by cruising, bamboo raft, and hiking along the bank. Either way, you will enjoy the reflections of peaks, clear water, green vegetation. Besides, you will see fishermen’s leisure fishing and simple rural houses along the way, all of which are so picturesque and poetic. June-November is the best time to visit the Li River. For the rest of the time, the water level will rise in the rainy season and it is not suitable for travel, or the navigation will be closed due to the dry season in winter. We recommend travelers spend 3-4 days sightseeing to connect Guilin and Yangshuo, to fully enjoy the gorgeous Li River, the magnificent terraces, as well as some ancient villages and the local families.

5. Potatso (Pudacuo) National Park

Potatso (Pudacuo) National Park
Potatso (Pudacuo) National Park

Potatso (Pudacuo) National Park is located in Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Yunnan Province. Located in the central area of the Great Shangri-La Scenic Area, it is an important part of the World Natural Heritage “Three Parallel Rivers”. It has geological landforms, lakes, wetlands, forests, meadows, river valleys, streams, rare animals, plants, etc., and the original ecological environment is well preserved.

The best time to come here for sightseeing or photography is in summer and autumn, as the scenery during this period is especially beautiful. The suggested sightseeing time is half a day.

6. Stone Forest National Park

Stone Forest National Park
Stone Forest National Park

Stone Forest National Park is located in Shilin Yi Autonomous County, Kunming City, Yunnan Province, 78 kilometers from Kunming City. It has been rated as “World Geopark” and “World Natural Heritage Scenery” by UNESCO. The main types of geological relics in the park are karst geological landforms, a karst geological park dominated by stone forest landforms.

The stone forest preserves and displays the most diverse karst forms. The tall sword-shaped, mushroom-shaped, column-shaped, and tower-shaped limestone columns are typical representatives of the stone forest. Moreover, the karst caves, stalactites, cliff waterfalls, dissolution lakes, cone-shaped peaks, natural bridges, etc. are also concentrated here forming a panoramic view of karst geology landforms, travelers can see almost all karst forms in the world. It is good for visiting here in any season, and the recommended sightseeing time is 4-5 hours.

7. Sanjiangyuan National Nature Reserve

Sanjiangyuan National Nature Reserve
Sanjiangyuan National Nature Reserve

Sanjiangyuan National Nature Reserve is located in the hinterland of Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and in the south of Qinghai Province. It is a nature reserve of wetland type. The total area of ​​the reserve is 395,000 square kilometers, with many people living nearby. Among them, the Tibetan population accounts for more than 90%, there are also ethnic groups such as Han, Hui, Salar, and Mongolia.

The Sanjiangyuan National Nature Reserve is the birthplace of the three major rivers of the Yangtze River, the Yellow River, and the Lancang River. The altitude ranges from 3,335 meters to 6,564 meters. The main objects of protection are Tibetan antelope, snow leopard, orchids, and other plants. The reserve is densely covered with rivers, lakes, and marshes, and the snow-capped mountains and glaciers are widespread. Due to the special geography and climate, the best time to travel is June to August, because the rest of the time will be very cold. Tourists generally arrive in Xining first, ride from Xining to Maduo County, and then enter the Sanjiangyuan Nature Reserve from Maduo County. It takes about 10 hours to drive more than 500 kilometers.

8. Narat National Forest Park

Narat National Forest Park
Narat National Forest Park

Narat National Forest Park is located in Yining, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, at the intersection of National Highway 217 and 218, with convenient transportation. The park is a forest tourist resort with a natural and humanistic landscape as its main feature, integrating sightseeing, vacation, entertainment, recuperation, fitness, expeditions, scientific investigation, and other functions.

The dense forests and vast grasslands in Narat National Forest Park provide a superior environment for the survival and reproduction of wild animals, making it an area with the most abundant wild animal resources. The major protected animals are ibex, snow leopard, red deer, argali, snow rooster, etc. In addition to the beautiful natural scenery, you can also see Kazakh ethnic musical instruments playing, singing, dancing, horse racing, wrestling, bonfire party, and other activities. The cuisine here should also not be missed. We recommend making a day trip here during the best travel time from June to September.

9. Xinjiang Altay Prefecture National Park

Xinjiang Altay Prefecture National Park
Xinjiang Altay Prefecture National Park

The Altay area is the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, under the jurisdiction of the Yili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture, which is located in the north of Xinjiang, bordering Russia, Kazakhstan, and Mongolia. The landforms are complex and diverse, mainly divided into mountains, hills, plains, and deserts. There is plenty of sunlight and abundant animal and plant resources. The vast territory and abundant natural resources here have also created a number of national parks, among which the three most famous are Kanas Scenic Area, Jiadengyu National Forest Park, Baihaba National Park.

Kanas, it often refers to Kanas Lake and Kanas area including Jiadengyu National Forest Park. The Kanas Scenic Area is a national park integrated with natural landscapes such as mountains, rivers, forests, lakes, and grasslands, plus historical and cultural relics such as Genghis Khan’s west army point tower and ancient rock paintings. Jiadengyu National Park is the entrance of Kanas Scenic Area, and visitors to Kanas will pass through here. They have lived on the fertile grasslands of the Altay region for centuries, and have been grazing for generations. The best time to travel to the Altay area is from June to September, sometimes it will snow in October. We recommend travelers spend 1-week sightseeing here to cover the main highlights.

10. Giant Panda National Parks

Giant Panda National Parks
Giant Panda National Parks

China currently has 13 nature reserves and national parks for giant pandas, the main targets of protection are giant pandas and forest ecosystems. Most of these nature reserves or parks are not open to the public. We recommend two giant panda parks in Sichuan province for a visit, both of which have a certain ecological scale, inhabit by large numbers of giant pandas, and are very easy to reach with convenient transportation.

Wolong Nature Reserve is located in the southwest of Wenchuan County, Aba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan Province, 130 kilometers from Chengdu. The number of giant pandas here accounts for about 10% of the total number in China. In addition to creating an ecological environment for giant pandas in the original environment, there are also giant panda wild domestication areas, giant panda production areas, and giant panda wild release transition areas. Another Giant Panda National Park is located in the Bifengxia Scenic Area in Ya’an City, Sichuan Province, about 150 kilometers away from Chengdu. It is also the China Conservation and Research Center for Giant Pandas, with more than 20 laboratories and sites such as panda breeding area, Giant panda kindergarten, Giant panda Hospital, and Giant Panda Research Institute. Both are suitable to visit all year round, and travelers can spend a morning on regular sightseeing or a day to do the volunteer program.

11. Changbai Mountain National Forest Park

Changbai Mountain National Forest Park
Changbai Mountain National Forest Park

Changbai Mountain National Forest Park is located in Erdaobaihe Town, Antu County, Jilin Province, adjacent to North Korea in the southeast. Changbai Mountain is the boundary mountain between China and North Korea. Changbai Mountain is a dormant volcano, which formed the current landscape after several eruptions.

Changbai Mountain is best known for the Heavenly Lake (also named Changbai mountain pool in the sky) at the top of the mountain, and many tourists come here to get a full view of the largest crater lake in China. In addition, Changbai Mountain National Forest Park has magnificent waterfalls, beautiful jade pools, and quiet valley forests. The best time to travel here is July, August, and winter. In winter here, you can not only enjoy the fairyland covered by snow but also experience many snow sports. It is recommended to spend a whole day exploring Changbai Mountain National Forest Park.

12. Ejina Populus Euphratica National Natural Reserve

Ejina Populus Euphratica National Natural Reserve
Ejina Populus Euphratica National Natural Reserve

Ejina, located in the westernmost part of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, is an area inhabited by ethnic groups with a long history and profound cultural heritage. Here is the hometown of Populus euphratica, also a resident in the desert. The 260 km² of Populus euphratica forest here is one of the only three natural rivers Populus euphratica forests remaining in the world today.

There are 8 different Populus euphratica viewing areas in the Ejina Populus euphratica Forest Reserve, which is a paradise for photographers. Populus euphratica is a magical and changeable tree species, green in spring and summer, yellow in late autumn, and red in winter. This is a tree with strong vitality, the old saying “Born to be immortal for a thousand years, to die for a thousand years, but to be immortal for a thousand years”. There are also various dining and entertainment facilities such as camping sites, restaurants, sand skiing, and SUVs desert surfing in the reserve. The best time to travel here is from September to October, we suggest travelers spend 1 – 2 day sightseeing due to the large scale.

13. Kuqa Grand Canyon National Geological Park

Kuqa Grand Canyon National Geological Park
Kuqa Grand Canyon National Geological Park

Kuqa Grand Canyon National Geological Park is located in Kuqa County, Aksu Region, Xinjiang. The geopark is characterized by the canyon developed in the red sandstone of the Cenozoic, and there are other glacial relics of the Quaternary period and Yadan landscape. It is also a gathering place for civilizations of the western regions, a shining place on the ancient Silk Road.

The mysterious Grand Canyon was formed by the erosion of wind and rain and the erosion of mountain torrents for hundreds of millions of years. Kuqa Grand Canyon National Geological Park is a collection of grand, breathtaking, quiet, mysterious. There are also grottoes on the cliff at the entrance of the Grand Canyon. The murals of Buddha in the grottoes still retain the details of the original composition, with gorgeous colors and vivid images. The best time to travel here is from September to October, and we suggest travelers spend 3-4 hours sightseeing.

14. Pangong Lake National Park

Pangong Lake National Park
Pangong Lake National Park

Pangong Lake is located in the Ngari Prefecture of the Tibet Autonomous Region, with an average altitude of 4,400 meters. The lake covers an area of 604 square kilometers, of which 413 square kilometers in China, 191 square kilometers in the Kashmir area that is controlled by India. The distribution of lake water quality is characterized by freshwater in the east and saltwater in the west. The natural resources here are rich, the water is clean and green like jade.

With a good ecological environment, all kinds of birds and bird eggs are everywhere in the Pangong Lake National Park, among the rocks, in the grass, on the lake, and on the shore of the lake. In this world’s highest altitude of bird paradise, you will see blue sky, white clouds, snow mountains, gorgeous lakes, pastures, and meadows. A large natural barrier separates this place from the outside world, completely preserving this special natural landscape of the Ngari plateau. From May to September, it is the best season for bird watching and traveling. We suggest travelers spend 3 – 4 hours sightseeing here.

15. Hainan Tropical Rain Forest National Park

Hainan Tropical Rain Forest National Park
Hainan Tropical Rain Forest National Park

Located in the southernmost part of China, Hainan Province is an island across the sea from Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei, and Malaysia. Hainan has a tropical monsoon climate, so the tropical rainforest here is an important part of the world’s tropical rainforest. Hainan Tropical Rainforest National Park occupies about 1/7 of the land area of ​​Hainan Island, covers 9 cities and counties, and covers and connects 9 nature reserves and 10 forest parks.

Hainan Tropical Rain forest National Park is the most concentrated, best-preserved, and largest contiguous tropical rainforest in China, with many species of animals and plants unique to Hainan. In addition to the original tropical rainforest landscape, there are also natural landscapes such as canyons, streams, and rolling mountains. Due to the pleasant climate, Hainan is a great place to travel all year round. It is recommended to spend 3-5 days on this island to explore the mysteries of the tropical rainforest and enjoy the sunshine, beach, and sea.

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