China is the world’s third most ecologically diverse country and has a vast biodiversity only topped by Australia and Brazil. No wonder why this country in the Far East is one of the most beloved by nature lovers. However, ecotourism had long been overshadowed by famous historical sites like the Great Wall and The Forbidden City. But the past decade saw China embracing ecotourism, attracting tourists to natural destinations like Qinghai Lake and the Tianmen Mountain. In this article, we’ll show you some of the best places for ecotourism in China.
With around 3,000 nature reserves, the ecotourism in China needs to be monitored, especially with the influx of tourists. Even with the notorious Beijing pollution, the country is still one of the most visited destinations in the world. With that in mind, the growing optimism about this nation’s tourism development also extends to its ecotourism. Beyond the towering buildings and notable attractions, it’s filled with natural landscapes and breathtaking flora and fauna. More than half of the country’s reserves make up the total ecotourism in China, and here are some of them.
1. Mount Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve
As the highest mountain in the Guizhou Province, Mt. Fanjingshan is a renowned spot for Buddhists. The reserve stretches up to 567 km² (218.92 sq mi) and is considered as the most preserved sanctuary in the country. It became a national nature reserve and part of UNESCO’s International Reserve Net of Man and Biosphere in 1986. You can visit it all year round but don’t forget to bring an umbrella because the weather is unpredictable. The 8000 steps going to the mountain would take around 3 to 4 hours, depending on your pace. Admission rates range from 90 to 110 yuan (13.3 to 16.2 US dollars), depending on the season.
2. Wolong National Nature Reserve
Wolong Nature Reserve (Wenchuan County, Sichuan Province) is home to hundreds of pandas and other endangered species. This panda sanctuary covers an area of around 200,000 hectares, making it the largest panda reserve in the country. Unlike most zoos, Wolong Reserve preserves the natural environment for the pandas and other rare animals and precious plants.
Hence, you may come across adorable pandas and wild creatures like the white-lipped deer and golden monkeys during your tour. This makes it one of the best places for ecotourism in China, worth visiting and supporting. Admission rate plus entrance fee to the Giant Panda Zoo costs around 35 to 45 yuan (5.17 to 6.65 US dollars).
3. Mount Qomolangma National Nature Reserve
Mt. Qomolangma (or popularly known as Mount Everest), holds the record as the highest mountain in the world. Highlighting an altitude of almost 9,000 meters, the south slope belongs to Nepal while the north part is China’s. This famed natural reserve also shelters more than 2,000 plants, 300 animals, and 200 bird species. The best time to witness the soul-stirring landscape is from March-May and September-October. You need a Tibet Travel Permit to enter the place, which is normally free with Tibet Visa.
4. Shennongjia Nature Reserve
Situated at the western part of Hubei Province is the awe-inspiring Shennongjia Nature Reserve. Shaped with its virgin forest and diverse peaks, the place is the home for over 3,000 plant species. Aside from the greenery, there are around 600 different animals sheltering within the vast landscape. The breathtaking peaks and canyons also add to the already spectacular sight of this nature reserve. The highest peak listed is standing at 3,052 meters (1.89 miles) above sea level, while the others at around 3000 meters.
Also part of the UNESCO Man and Biosphere Reserve, the area is best explored from June to September. It is during these months that you can witness the spectacular landscape of high mountains and lush scenery. The place is divided into six different areas with a total admission rate of around 130 to 269 yuan (19.21 to 39.76 US dollars).
5. Kanas Nature Reserve
Established in 1980, Kanas Nature Reserve is a beautiful sanctuary of vibrant trees, flowers, animals. This stunning national forest park located in Xinjiang Province is a favorite spot among hikers and mountaineers alike. And it’s not just because of its breathtaking beauty but also the mysterious folktales that it inspired. Take a glimpse and experience firsthand the splendid Kanas landscape during the months of June to October. The entrance fee is 150 yuan (22.16 US dollars) and another 80 yuan (11.82 US dollars) if you want to ride a sightseeing bus.
6. Altun Shan National Nature Reserve
An expansive national reserve in northwest China, Altun Shan is characterized by high-altitude, alpine peaks, sand dunes, and lush fields. Because of its unspoiled charm, it is considered as one of the largest and most protected reserves in the country. Accordingly, the area is highly restricted and permits are needed before you can enter the place. A permit costs approximately 10,000 yuan (1476,85 US dollars), which is the most expensive from this list. The next things to consider are the strong altitude and the wild animals on the loose, both making it harder to stay there for a longer time.
Embracing Ecotourism in China
Whether you’re a tourist or a local, one of the simplest ways to support ecotourism is by respecting nature. These natural reserves are home to endangered species and it’s only but fitting to revere their habitat. Take away nothing but memories, support the move for lesser commercial tourism and embrace ecotourism. Ecotourism in China may not be that fully developed yet, but it’s slowly and surely making an impact. The growing trend of ecotourism needs to be boosted worldwide, not just to help countries, but also to preserve nature.
Have you visited a natural reserve before? Have you ever been to China? Comment on the box below your most memorable experiences during your trip.