When you move to China, it’s easy to get swept up in the culture (and you should)! Studying the language, finding the best parties in your new city, receiving affordable massages, eating dumplings, eating hot pot, eating fresh cucumber … Wait, what was I talking about again?
These are all aspects of living in China that I looked forward to before moving there. However, I quickly realized that all that studying, partying, and binge eating was starting to make me feel a little sluggish. It was time to get back into exercising.
My favorite way to exercise in China? Hiking.
When I think of China, I don’t typically think of hiking. But climbing a mountain isn’t only a great way to exercise—it’s also one of the most unique ways to explore your new home.
Here are 5 hikes in 5 areas of China. Each of these day hikes will give you a new outlook on your city.
1. Shenzhen: Mount Wutong
Shenzhen is a Tier-1 city in South China. Living in a big metropolis, it’s easy to forget about all the natural beauty to explore. But Mount Wutong is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the area.
This hike takes around 6 hours round-trip, so you should dedicate an entire Saturday or Sunday to the adventure. The path includes several bridges, flower beds, and tiny waterfalls. At the top, you can enjoy a 360-degree view of Shenzhen.
2. Guilin: Moon Hill
Moon Hill is actually located in Yangshuo, a suburb of Guilin and probably the most scenic section of the city.
This mountain earned its name from the natural arch near the top. If you just want to hike to the arch, you’ll hike up steep terrain for about 20 minutes. If you want to reach the mountain’s peak, plan for a two-hour hike round-trip.
Whether you stop at the arch or peak, you’ll have a stunning view of the region’s karst mountains.
3. Beijing: The Great Wall
You knew the Great Wall of China had to be on this list! Especially because there are multiple parts of the Great Wall that you can hike.
The Mutianyu section is an easy hike that isn’t too crowded (compared to other sections of the wall, that is.) The Huanghuacheng section is even less well-known, so you won’t get caught up in masses of tourists.
Whichever route you take, you should dedicate an entire day to the trip.
4. Zhangjiajie: The Avatar Mountains
You might not recognize the name of this city, which really is quite a mouthful. Zhangjiajie is a city in Hunan Province, home to Zhangjiajie National Forest Park.
What you might recognize are the mountains in this park. Yes, those are the mountains from the movie Avatar! To avoid trying to sound out this difficult Chinese name for the park and city, foreigners refer to the mountains as the Avatar Mountains, to honor the film.
I wanted to visit these mountains so badly when I lived in China, but due to scheduling conflicts, I never got to go. To say I’m disappointed is an understatement.
5. Guangzhou: Baiyun Mountain
There are several good day hikes in the southern city of Guangzhou, but Baiyun Mountain is the best option for beginner hikers. Most of the previous paths on this list are little grueling, but this option is fairly relaxed.
There are many scenic areas on this hike. If your main goal is sight-seeing, I recommend walking for a while, then taking the cable car to the rest of the picturesque spots.