Get away from it all with a long, scenic walk in China’s third-largest metropolis
Best for: Geology enthusiasts
Looking for a weekend getaway? Lianhua Mountain is great for a short camping trip, but you’ll still get a lot out of a hiking day-trip. The main draw here is the cluster of over 40 hills, including one that reaches a height of 108 meters. The area was once a stone quarry and a mining site for years, and today you can still see towering man-manipulated rock structures that look right out of James Cameron’s Avatar.
Getting there: Take metro line three in Guangzhou to Shiqiao station. From here, board the bus to Lianhua Shan. Then, make your way to the entrance to Lianhua Mountain, about 15 minutes on foot.
Best for: Beginners who don’t want anything too intense
Also known as White Cloud Mountain, Baiyun Mountain spans approximately 28km2, so day-trippers really have to pick and choose your stops to see all the different green spaces and photo ops — many of which feature stunning views and mini art exhibits. Most routes are well paved, but if you want to mix things up, you can always hike a little and board the cable car (RMB25 one way) or the mini bus (RMB10 one way) to get to places like the popular Moxing summit.
Getting there: Take bus 199 from Guangzhou’s city center to Baiyun’s south gate. The entrance fee is RMB5 and opening hours are 6am to 5pm daily.
Huolu Mountain Forest Park
Best for: Introverts who want to avoid the crowds
Located close to the city, Huolu Mountain Forest Park is great for a short hike without the crowds you encounter in places like Baiyun Mountain. Accessible via either the north or south side, Huolu Mountain Forest Park is mostly lined with stone or concrete steps, with some parts getting quite steep. Near the entrance on both sides, there are small restaurants and vendors selling snacks — great for a pre-hike fueling session or a post-hike pick-me-up.
Getting there: The easiest way to get here is from the south side of the park, where you can take bus numbers 20, 581, 901 and and plenty others, from Tianhe, Zhujiang New Town or other central Guangzhou districts. This is a free-to-enter zone.
Best for: Experienced hikers and serious nature lovers
Those who appreciate a combination of lush greenery, cool rivers and gorgeous waterfalls will like Wangzishan Forest Park. The place is extremely tranquil and worth an overnight stay if you have the time. It is also home to an incredible variety of flora and fauna, including pangolins and spinulose tree ferns, the latter being a protected plant in China.
Getting there: It’s best to drive or take a taxi to Wangzishan Forest Park as it’s about 36km from downtown Guangzhou and a 20-minute drive from Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport.
Shimen National Forest Park
Best for: Photographers and hot springs addicts
When fall arrives, the colors of Shimen National Forest Park in Conghua transform from a vibrant green to a brilliant shade of red. This is what attracts hikers and photographers alike year after year, particularly from mid-October through January. Within the park you’ll find a few hotels, some of which are home to hot springs so you can unwind after a long day of exploring the stunning foliage.
Getting there: It’s best to drive or take a taxi here, but if you prefer to take public transport, you can make your way to Conghua from Guangzhou or Shenzhen (there are many services to choose from). Once you’re in Conghua, hop on the Conghua Daling Forest Farm shuttle bus.
Photos from shutterstock.com