International backpacking has become increasingly popular over the past few decades. But with this new popularity, many destinations have become heavily commercialized. 

Here are a few equally beautiful but lesser-known backpacking spots in China.

Note: All recommendations come from personal experience. There are no paid or requested advertisements in this guide.

  1. 1 Dragon’s Den Inn - Longsheng, Guangxi Province

    Though Longsheng is a fairly well-known destination for backpackers, the mountainous rice terraces are a must-see.

    Scenic hikes are plentiful in Longsheng’s beautiful Tiantouzhai Village.

    Dragon’s Den Inn is located atop an enormous hill in Tiantouzhai Village. It offers 360 degree views of pure beauty with countless hiking paths nearby. 

    Whether you’re after adventure or a scenic spot to relax, Longsheng’s Dragon’s Den Inn is the perfect place for you.

  2. 2 Xingping, Guangxi Province

    From Longsheng, backpackers can take a bus to Yangshuo and then to Xingping. 

    Yangshuo, a nearby town with similar attractions, has recently become a tourist hotbed. Like Yangshuo, Xingping offers countless hikes surrounded by magnificent limestone karst structures. 

    Unlike Yangshuo, Xingping is yet to be overrun by travelers and the inevitable commercialization that comes with.

    Xingping is full of scenic karst structures.Be sure to give yourself at least a day for hiking in Xingping. 

    With beautiful sites such as 九吗画山 (jiǔ ma huà shān, Nine Horses Fresco Hill) and 大面山 (dà miàn shān, Da Mian Mountain), Xingping is a must on any backpacker’s itinerary.

  3. 3 October Inn Hostel - Lijiang, Yunnan Province

    After taking in all Xingping has to offer, take a bus back to Yangshuo and then a train into the big city, Guilin. From there, take the long train ride to Kunming and then another long train to Lijiang.

    The beautiful Lijiang skyline

    Lijiang’s October Inn Hostel is another stunning hostel atop a tall hill. It is the perfect place to experience China’s “Capital of Romance” from a distance. 

    Within reach of the hostel are many hiking paths that take you through the nearby forest. At every clearing, be sure to take in the charming views of the city and its surrounding landscapes.

  4. 4 Yading Nature Reserve - Daocheng County, Sichuan Province

    From Lijiang, make your way over to Shangri-La. Don’t miss the world-famous Tiger Leaping Gorge on your way! 

    This town is a commercialized tourist destination but it is a good launching point for Daocheng. Be sure to bring a book or two, as the bus takes about ten hours to get there! 

    From Daocheng, head over to Riwa, where buses are offered to the entrance of the Yading Nature Reserve.

    This very well may be the highlight of your trip.

    Travelers walk the paths of Yading Nature Reserve.

    There is nothing in the world like Yading. From bright, green meadows to snow-capped mountains, this nature reserve has it all. 

    Be sure to get a good night’s rest before your day in Yading. Though endlessly beautiful, it takes quite a bit of strenuous hiking to see it all.

  5. 5 Litang, Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province

    From Daocheng, take a bus over to Litang.

    If you’re looking for a taste of Tibetan culture without leaving China, Litang is the place for you.

    A pagoda sits atop the Litang skylineThe locals are happy to share their ancient Tibetan traditions with foreigners. Be sure to try out a few food products of their sacred animal, the yak.

    Also in Litang, travelers can attend a sky burial. As this is equivalent to a funeral service, be sure to maintain the utmost respect.

  6. 6 Tagong, Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province

    From Litang, make your way over to Tagong. Backpackers can get there by a variety of methods, but I recommend hitchhiking. Yes, hitchhiking. 

    Unlike in the Western world, hitchhiking is very common — and very safe — in this part of the world. 

    Tagong is another gem of Tibetan culture. The village contains beautiful monastery complexes along with one of the world’s few all-female monasteries just outside of town.

    One of the many colorful monasteries of Tagong

    Though this guide presents a feasible route, I encourage all backpackers to make your own adventure! 

    China is a beautiful country with a large variety of different landscapes and cultures. It is best traveled with the spirit of adventure. 

    Happy backpacking!


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Tommy Barnes

Tommy Barnes is a student majoring in Film Production and Chinese Studies at Oakland University. Tommy loves Asian art, especially Chinese and Taiwanese film.
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