When most people think of China, they picture the Great Wall, rampant pollution and hectic driving, not tents, campfires and three-day-old underwear. That being said, The Middle Kingdom, and specifically Guangdong province, harbors no shortage of unique camping locations. Despite this, camping is not a popular pastime, partly because doing the relevant preparatory research can be difficult. This month, we at That’s decided to do the legwork for you and showcase seven of the best camping spots the South has to offer.
1. Ruyuan Grand Canyon, Shaoguan
Image via Xianyi Shen/Flickr
This is the place to enjoy some of Guangdong’s best hiking. The imposing Ruyuan Grand Canyon is an ideal adventure location and has been previously recognized as one of the top 10 tourist destinations in the province. The canyon is more than 300 meters deep and 15 kilometers long.
Camping here also means you can enjoy crystal-clear water and the thunderous roar of waterfalls, the most imposing of which is Tenglong Great Fall, which plummets 200 meters into the valley below.
Understand: It can get cold at Ruyuan Grand Canyon, so be sure to pack plenty of clothing. A warm sleeping bag is also advisable during cold winter nights.
Must do: Taste the local delicacies, such as fried river snails and fried sour bamboo shoots.
Getting there: Take a train or coach to Shaoguan and transfer to a line 3 bus headed to Xihe bus station. From there, a bus goes to Ruyuan every 15 minutes from 7am-5pm.
2. Yingde Grassland, Tianmengou Scenic Area, Qingyuan
Image via Kinshuk Sunil/Flickr
This scenic location is perched on a mountaintop, at an altitude of 1,100 meters, and is said to be the site of one of China’s first primitive villages.
Set your tent up amongst the flowers and enjoy the local scenery, which includes the behemoth 136-meter-high Tianmen waterfall. The area also boasts numerous geothermal features, including hot spring baths to help you unwind after a long day of exploring.
Yingde Grassland is perched at a reasonably high altitude - temperatures and weather will fluctuate - so bring appropriate clothing. Dressing in layers and packing waterproof gear would be wise.
Understand: Be forewarned, Yingde Grassland does not come with flush toilets or showers.
Must do: See the Tianmen waterfall; sample the renowned Kowloon tofu and Yingdehong tea.
Getting there: Trains to Yingde Xi Station can be boarded from Shenzhen Bei and Guangzhou Dong, both taking roughly 90 minutes. Once in Yingde, take bus 11 to Chengxi Passenger Station, then take the shuttle towards Boluo and get off at Jiuzhou Yizhan scenic spot.
3. Shimen National Forest Park, Conghua District, Guangzhou
Image via llee_wu/Flickr
Located only 86 kilometers away from Guangzhou, Shimen National Forest Park is easily accessible, with abundant road access and parking lots.
The park is also home to Conghua’s hot springs and, let’s be honest, who doesn’t love relaxing in warming mineral water?
Understand: Shimen National Forest Park is popular in the fall with those wishing to enjoy the park’s foliage transformation from green to a brilliant red. Expect crowds from mid-October to mid-January.
Must do: Unwind with a cold beer in Conghua’s hot springs.
Getting there: There are several buses from Guangzhou and Shenzhen to Conghua, leaving from different passenger stations. Once in the city, board the Conghua Daling Forest Farm shuttle bus.
4. Lianhua Mountain, Panyu District, Guangzhou
Image via @justtouristing/Instagram
Located at the convergence of the Lion River and the Pearl River in Panyu District, Lianhua Mountain offers accessible camping in a complex that is comprised of 48 unique red hills, including one that rises to a height of 108 meters.
This location makes for an ideal weekend camping getaway due to its close proximity to urban areas, its modern amenities and its natural beauty.
Understand: In ancient times this site was a stone quarry, which was mined for hundreds of years. As a result, visitors are presented with a unique combination of natural beauty and human-manipulated rock.
Must do: Be sure to check out the enormous statue of Guanyin, which stands a staggering 40.88 meters tall. It is made from 120 tons of bronze and is coated in 9 kilograms of gold. It’s allegedly the tallest gilded bronze statue of Guanyin in the world.
Getting there: Once in Guangzhou, take metro line three to Shiqiao station and then hop on the bus to Lianhua Shan. From the stop, the entrance to Lianhua Mountain is approximately a 15-minute walk.
5. Xichong Beach, Dapeng Peninsula, Shenzhen
Image via @superlena213/Instagram
Affectionately referred to as “Hawaii in Shenzhen,” Xichong beach is located on the Dapeng Peninsula. With views overlooking Hong Kong, the 130-kilometer stretch of beach boasts clean(ish) water, fresh(ish) air and sand worthy of popping a tent on.
Xichong offers city-weary expats surfing, sunbathing, fishing, beach volleyball and coastal hiking. The site’s amenities include camping for RMB40 per night, flush toilets, an outdoor shower, picnic tables, a basic store and a snack bar.
Understand: Trekking the coastline of the Dapeng Peninsula is not always easy. Some sections require local knowledge and proper footwear. Be sure to inquire before setting out.
Must do: Go fishing and have your catch cooked at one of the many local seafood eateries on Dapeng Town Seafood Street. Alternatively, chow down on some fresh lobster.
Getting there: From downtown Shenzhen, it takes roughly two hours. Take the 360 bus to Nan’ao Hotel to connect with the 989 minibus. The minibus runs from Nan’ao Hotel to Xichong from 6am-5pm daily.
6. Fangji Island, Maoming City
Image via @sarazhuang/Instagram
Fangji Island, located in Dianbai District, is the largest island near Maoming (14.5 kilometers southeast, to be exact). The island is home to a 122-meter-high peak that is ideal for hiking when you inevitably get bored of splashing around in the water.
Tent camping starts at RMB35 a night and takes place on a beautiful, 5.96-kilometer-long natural sand beach. Site amenities include picnic tables, fire pits, flush toilets and outdoor showers.
While beach camping on Fangji Island, you need not worry about running out of food. The site hosts a small store and a snack bar, and you can also have any fish you catch cooked at a local seafood eatery (if you’re resourceful enough).
Understand: This retreat is a resort area, so camping here won’t be like Sean Penn’s 2007 film Into the Wild.
Must do: Surfing and snorkeling, as the island offers some of the best opportunities in the neighborhood to engage in these activities.
Getting there: Take the bus from Guangzhou to Maoming Hedong bus station, then take the 201 bus directly to the beach area.
7. Nankun Mountain Nature Reserve, Longmen County, Huizhou
This is where you come when you’re tired of starless nights. Nankun Mountain Nature Reserve covers 1,077 hectares and is home to the legendary 1,219-meter Heaven Peak (the highest summit in the region).
The reserve is one of Guangdong’s elite hiking and camping locales, with unusual rock formations, lush bamboo forests and rushing rivers. It is also home to 176 species of butterflies.
If roughing it isn’t your thing, consider staying at the highly acclaimed Crosswaters Ecolodge and Spa.
Understand: Nankun Mountain requires warm clothing and waterproof camping gear to combat large temperatures swings and unpredictable weather.
Must do: Ascend Heaven Peak or, if hiking isn’t your deal, go butterfly spotting.
Getting there: Take a bus to Conghua passenger station, then take a taxi to a campsite upon arrival.
• Sleeping bag
• First-aid kit, containing the necessary medication to and treat insect bites and clean wounds (antibiotic cream, antiseptic and band aids for cuts and scrapes). Tweezers should also be included in your kit to remove splinters.
• Insect repellant
• Bottled water
• Toilet paper
• Pocket knife
• Basic hygiene essentials, such as a toothbrush and deodorant
• Appropriate clothing and footwear
Where to buy camping equipment:
The easiest place to by essentials is, as with almost anything, Taobao (provided you can read Chinese or know someone that can) or Baopals (English Taobao). That being said, quality cannot be guaranteed. If you would like to purchase equipment that you can examine beforehand, check out one of these locations:
VAFox Outdoor Equipment 深圳火狐狸户外用品
See listings for VAFox Outdoor Equipment.
See listing for Decathlon.
See listings for Decathlon.
This article originally appeared on Thatsmags.com in January 2016. It has been updated and republished on August 15, 2018.
[Cover image via @ootdgals/Instagram]