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Top off the beaten path places in China II

7. Kashgar and Turpan, Xinjiang – China’s western-most province has taken quite the hit in tourists and a destination of Silk Road adventure. This is a huge tragedy, because Xinjiang is easily one of China’s highlights. I spent my May holiday centred around the cities of Kashgar and Turpan this past year, and I simply fell in love with both locations. Kashgar is simply a complete other world from Eastern China, and is an excellent base to explore the Taklamakan desert and the Khartoum Pass. To be honest, I wish that I had spent more time in and around the Khartoun pass, and would love to go back and make it all the way into Pakistan. Turpan, with its ancient desert ruins is an amazing treasure trove of Silk Road history and is well worth a few days. If you are interested in more details of this trip of mine please check out the feature I wrote for back in July. Of course, be sure to check up on current events before heading to a location with such a recent history of violent outbreaks, although I believe that both Kashgar and Turpan would be safe.

8. Macau – I know, I know, this is hardly removed from the beaten path. However, I have gotten the sense that most people only go to Macau as a day (or night) trip from Hong Kong. I really do not think that this is very fair to China’s “other” SAR which is a great destination in its own right. While most visitors go to the glitzy casinos, a short stroll across the peninsula to the area around the Church of St. Paul will feel like an entirely different world. The relaxing islands of Taipa and Coloane will feel even more removed from the high rollers at Lisboa and Sands.

9. Emei Shan, Sichuan – Need to add a bit more to your trip to Chengdu which is a hot destination included in popular China tour package to see giant pandas? Well Emei is certainly worth a trip! One of China’s four sacred Buddhist mountains, there are enough dramatic cliffs, beautiful temples, and wild monkeys to keep you busy. I spent two days hiking up the mountain, and I certainly wish that I had reserved another day to explore it further. There are a host of dorms (including several at the temples) that provide cheap lodging. The sunrise across the “Sea of Clouds” is worth the leg cramps you get from the thousands of stairs.

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