The impressive diversity of China’s landscapes makes it the perfect outdoor playground for those obsessed with all things active.
Mountains for climbing, rice terraces for hiking, city walls for cycling, bays for kayaking, seas for swimming and more. There’s no end to the active adventures that await you in China and to help you decide where to start I’ve whittled them down to a handful of highlights.
Running the Great Wall
Since 2012, avid runners from around the world have flocked to the famous Jinshanling section of the Great Wall to test their endurance in a race like no other. Travellers can choose whether to take part in a 10k, half or full marathon, running or in some cases clambering this punishing route over several hours. But running the Great Wall isn’t your only opportunity to experience it, walking helps you to really grasp its magnitude and the incredible scenery that it winds through.
Kayaking around the islands of Hong Kong
Bustling Hong Kong is best known for its bright lights and soaring skyscrapers. But sprinkled along its coastline you’ll also find luscious green islets, vast limestone caverns and unspoiled golden beaches. The Sai Kung peninsula is an ideal starting point for an island-hopping excursion, so jump in your kayak and start paddling. This is a brilliant way to access some of Hong Kong’s oldest and most remote fishing villages and to engage with the locals that call these places home.
Hiking across the Longji Rice Terraces
Nicknamed the Dragon’s Backbone because of its semblance to dragon scales in spring, the Longji Rice Terraces are some of the most impressive on the planet. Dating back as far as the Yuan Dynasty, the late 13th century, these paddies have a long history. There are plenty of trails to try out, but perhaps the best known is the one connecting Ping’an and Dazhai. On your hike, you’ll likely come across people going about their daily business, a brilliant window into life in these rural parts of China.
Climbing Emei Shan
Home to China’s first Buddhist temple, Emei Shan is one of the four sacred Buddhist mountains across the country. Towering at over 3,000 metres you can take a three-hour hike up the misty peaks to a monastery enveloped by wispy clouds. Spending the night here is a truly unique experience, as you wake to the sounds of drums and prayers. If you’re not up to the climb, there’s the option to ride the cable car marvelling at the country’s natural beauty as you inch higher and higher above ground.
Cycling the Xi’an City Wall
Travellers often label Xi’an as a highlight of their Chinese travels. Irresistibly charming, it’s guarded by a city wall that was built in the 1300s. The 14km paved route offers a great way to soak up the ancient capital’s sights and gets your street food appetite going. There are plenty more opportunities to explore China on two wheels though. From cycling through the dramatic karst-dotted countryside of Yangshuo to riding passed the many abandoned watchtowers of Kaiping and pedalling to the Ming tombs in Miyun.
Learning kung fu in Beijing
Legend has it that Chinese martial arts originated as many as 4,000 years ago. There are loads of forms of Kung Fu, with Shaolin, Wing Chun and Tai Chi being some of the most widely practised. A lesson with a local master is a must. Get ready to pick up the basic principles, shake off common misconceptions and discover how this age-old practice relates to Zen traditions as you’re shown a handful of simple moves.
Whether you travel for food, family, festivals, local experiences, active adventures or anything else for that matter – there will be an Intrepid Travel small group tour of China to suit you!