What are some interesting (rural?) areas to visit in China for seeing nature and wildlife? I'm looking to go for short hikes on relatively untouched (or restored) natural areas, get a chance to see local wildlife/birds, and preferably avoid big crowds (which is probably difficult in China). Perhaps something similar to what one might find in some US national/state parks.

I'm looking for relatively accessible and affordable places, which rules out the obvious choices of Tibet (extra visa needed) and probably Xinjiang too. The question is general for all of China, but I'm particularly interested in places close or in Hubei.

I would prefer answers based on personal experience (from people who've been there).

  • en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_national_parks_of_China Seems you have 7 options in/near Hubei – Bernhard Jun 22 '14 at 14:46
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    @Bernhard The problem is that just because it's called "national park" in Chinese doesn't mean that it offers the experience I describe. Having been to Wuhan, East Lake seems both crowded and commercialized. That is why I asked here. I'm hoping for some answers based on personal experience. – Szabolcs Jun 22 '14 at 15:06
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    True, but you might be able to narrow it a bit more down than you did in your question? – Bernhard Jun 22 '14 at 15:14
  • @Bernhard Of course the list is still worth checking out. I just want to avoid the typical places with crowds streaming in, crowds streaming out, full of people trying to make money on the crowds along the way, developed/paved/high-heel friendly, and zero chance of seeing any wildlife. – Szabolcs Jun 22 '14 at 15:16
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    @gerrit You mean going west, right? Of course I can find a lot of empty land on Google Maps, but I was asking about something practical, i.e. relatively accessible. I'm not sure how to get there, where to stay, how to make it relatively affordable :-) – Szabolcs Jun 23 '14 at 14:41

Consider seeing HuangShan (Yellow Mountain). As with most major mountains in China it's not going to be a completely wild experience (there are still cablecars, paved paths, and hotels on the top), but compared to other Chinese mountains I've seen it's much less developed and crowded, especially if you stay up there overnight. There are also some out-of-the way / longer paths where you'll likely be the only person there, especially in the off season (I was there in November - it was beautiful). Also, it is not considered a sacred mountain so there are no temples there, etc (and also I didn't see any souvenir vendors and such, the only commercial places were the few hotels and cablecars). As for wildlife, I've managed to see wild monkeys there! As well as smaller animals (I think there was something like a chipmunk or a squirrel, don't remember exactly). Oh, and don't confuse HuangShan with HuaShan : )

  • Unfortunately, my experience on Huangshan in June 2017 was a dense queue of people in front of me and behind me as far I could see. – Szabolcs Oct 28 '19 at 9:47

Maybe consider some place like Zhangjiajie Forest Park, but in the winter time- it should be less crowded.

  • I found Zhangjiajie amazing and beautiful, however it was crowded and there was even a McDonalds and the top somewhere. A bunch of paved paths and stairs, people, cablecars, small souvenir/food/drink shops every 300m. That was the case this summer so I don't know about winter time. It was still an awesome experience, but you should know to expect these things. – Lewis Mar 11 '16 at 8:31

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