Shaanxi province is famous for three places – Xi’an city, Terracotta army and Hua shan (Flower mountain). These three tourist spots lies very close to each other so it’s very easy to visit them. But Shaanxi offers lot more than this! Let me introduce you places that are no less interesting but not so touristic as they are not on top list of travel agencies. It might be a bit difficult to get there but nothing is impossible and these places are definitely worth to see…
CUI HUA SHAN
Cui hua shan is beautiful national park about one hour driving from Xi’an. It’s very easy to get there without travel agency. There is a bus no.905 from Xi’an TV tower metro station. And the national park is the terminal station so you don’t need to be worry where to get off.
Cui hua shan is a huge geo park. There are three hiking routes. The longest one takes 8 hours. The other two take about 4 hours. Even if this park supposed to be within 10 top tourist attraction in Xi’an the place is very quiet. First time we have been there we met just a few tourists. Second time I visited this place with my sister and we hiked the middle trail which hasn’t been used for long time or only very little.
The park itself is just stunning. Unusual rock formations, caves where the temperature drops to the zero, beautiful lakes and great views. I can’t recommend this place enough. If you are in Xi’an DON’T MISS IT!
There are plenty of restaurants outside of the park but you can find some inside as well. My sister and I were slowly finishing our hike when we found a few houses with rooftop terraces. It was sleepy mini village. We stepped inside in one of the houses and suddenly there was whole family started to serve us. The menu was all in Chinese so I asked them to recommend us their specialty. They suggested chicken dish and we agreed. One guy then gave me a shout to come downstairs to the backyard. Then he pointed at couple of roosters running around wanted me to choose one. I was a bit surprise so he did the job for me and caught the first rooster passing by and kill it right there in front of me. My sister was watching the scene from the terraces, shaking her head as she – using her own words -never experienced anything like this before. Well in 20 minutes we had great chicken dish on the table. 100% fresh and organic…. 🙂
This national park lies about 100 km south from Xi’an city in Zhashui county. First I must say that there are many national parks around Xi’an. The whole surrounding is created by beautiful mountains and forests. But most tourists visit only Hua shan. It’s such a shame but on the other hand is actually good because then the other places are not so crowded 🙂
Jiutian shan is a small but lovely national park with couple of waterfalls and a ski slope (which is obviously used only in winter). It wants maximum two hours to hike it so it’s a good choice for half day trip. It wouldn’t be China if there wasn’t any ”artificial” entertainment. On the way up you will pass all animals of Chinese zodiac. Not alive ones of course. They are iron structured statues covered by synthetic green turf. No comment on this. It’s just a Chinese style kind of fun…
A bit further following the same road you can reach the Zhashui cave. Nice cave with almost no tourists. That’s quite unique. Chinese people love caves. But not because of its beauty but simply because there is an echo inside and they love to hear echo of their own voices. Here is a big chance to enjoy the cave without big noise. The entrance of the cave is up on the mountain. It’s not so high so you can walk the steps or there is a special elevator but you have to pay for it.
To go back to Xi’an city we chose driving through the mountains instead of using highway again. And it was a good choice ( if I forget the Chinese drivers who have absolutely no idea how to drive correctly on mountain narrow roads). It was one of our nicest drives so far. We drove through few ordinary villages but one was very special. Every single house at that village was selling bacon and sausages. It was so weird. The smell of it was everywhere. We couldn’t resist to bought some. Very delicious. But it was only this particular village selling it. We didn’t see anything like this in any other village
This place is not really in near surrounding of Xi’an. It’s actually quite far away. 400 km up north at the border of Shaanxi province. I guess there are travel agencies to take you to this place because when we arrived there were couple of tourist buses but they were all Chinese. No foreign tourists (except us). The journey from Xi’an is long but we drove almost all the way on very new highway with absolutely no traffic. It was pleasant change from the crazy traffic in Xi’an city. But (it wouldn’t be China if there is no BUT…. ) there was 70km/h speed limit! On the new highway where you hardly meet a car! Well what can you do if there is camera every second kilometer checking the speed limit. Just enjoy the landscape…..
Anyway the Hukou waterfall supposed to be one of the most beautiful waterfalls in China. I don’t know if it is the most beautiful waterfall I’ve ever seen but it’s definitely one of the most interesting ones. The waterfall itself is actually a boarder of two provinces – Shaanxi and Shanxi (yeah they are two provinces with almost identical name) The landscape around is wild but don’t expect any lush green vegetation. All you can see are slate rocks.
And the waterfall? I actually don’t know how to describe it. The river flows on the wide plateau. It’s seems as it doesn’t have any proper corridor and suddenly there is a narrow drop so all the calm water changes to wild eval beast! Then continue further to the canyon which looks more like a scar in the ground. Like if the ground was teared in two pieces. It’s strange. The waterfall is not big, the canyon is not very deep, the surrounding is just dry and brown but despite of that this place is somehow fascinating and deserves to be on the list of the most beautiful places in China. Definitely worth to visit!