China’s backpacker paradises

Yangshuo, photo by chinaoffseason on Flickr

China is vast and full of attractions, both natural and cultural, so it’s hardly a surprise that backpackers are drawn to China like flies to honey. The sheer variety of places you can see and experiences you can have make this country a favorite haunt of backpackers and adventurers who are always on the lookout of excitement. But when it comes to backpacker magnets, beauty and fun are not enough, because prices are also an issue. For a backpacker, the cheaper a place the better, because it means that little money can buy you a longer stay, or the opportunity to visit more than one place. Not all towns or cities in China are accommodating for tighter budgets, but there are more than enough destinations that are both affordable and interesting. Here are some of China’s backpacker paradises, for travelers on a shoestring.

Lijiang, Yunnan

Lijiang is often called the Venice of China, thanks to its location at the point where the Jade River splits into three main branches and several canals. The waterways are crossed by small old bridges, and colorful traditional buildings line the canals and alleys. Since the eighties, Lijiang has been one of the foremost of China’s backpacker paradises. Lijiang is also a minority town, so backpackers interested in Naxi culture can satisfy their curiosity here.

Langmusi, Sichuan

Lijiang, photo by Tom Thai on Flickr

The small village of Langmusi on the border between Sichuan and Gansu is a colorful cultural melting pot, where Han Chinese, Hui and Amdo Tibetans live peacefully. The main attractions of the village are two temples, who often compete in terms of popularity and influence: Sertri Gompa in Gansu and Kirti Gompa in Sichuan. Add some beautiful mountains in the mix, and you get the perfect backpacking destination.

Yangshuo, Guangxi

Yangshuo hardly nBeeds any introduction – it is not only a backpacker magnet, but a renowned tourist destination on its own. The magnificent karst mountains that made Yangshuo famous have caves and hiking trails aplenty, while the town if rife with small shops and eateries where you can gorge yourself on delicious food for affordable prices.


Beijing, photo by Giorgio Minguzzi

Surprisingly enough, the Chinese capital is not a bad place for a backpacker to visit. The cultural and historical attractions like the coryuntless temples and the stunning Forbidden City make Beijing a must-see for everyone who visits China, and there are quite a few hostels and backpacker guesthouses where you won’t have to pay through your nose.

Zhaoxing, Guizhou

Zhaoxingther delightful minority village – it belongs to the Dong people. The province is not on the beaten tourist track, which means that there is more for you alone to explore. The terraced rice paddies near the village are just as interesting to see as the village itself.

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