Thursday, March 31, 2022

5 of China’s coolest outdoor activities

 China is not famous for adventure tourism, but it’s actually one great destination to seek a new adrenaline high. And here are five ways to travel the Middle Kingdom with a new heart rate.

1. Diving, Zhejiang

With only a high-powered flashlight to guide you through the murky, dark waters, it’s easy to lose your dive partner and be stranded in the vast abyss of Qiandao Lake (aka Thousand Island Lake).  

However, intrepid divers will understand the appeal when they descend to 24 meters and bump into a wall that surrounds a giant dormant city.

The 1,300-year-old gated Lion City was evacuated more than 50-years ago due to a deliberate flood started to create a reservoir, yet the eerie and forgotten remains, including detailed pai fangs, houses and intact furniture, still sit under the water waiting to be discovered once again.

Move in the shadows on this fascinating adventure dive and snap away at the gruesome gargoyles guarding the gateway, which pop out of the sinister surroundings, and discover new routes through the remarkable sunken buildings.

Price: Three-day, two-night dive trips to the lake cost from RMB 3,280 (US$525), including equipment, accommodation and meals.

2. Mountain biking, Yunnan

One of the rides of your life consists of a challenging climb up to 1,900 meters on two wheels.

Cycling around 40 kilometers per day on varied terrain, from cobbled streets, tricky dirt tracks and sheer cliff faces, you’ll snake past incredible sights such as the ice-capped Jade Dragon Mountain and one of the world’s deepest river canyons -- Tiger Leaping Gorge. 

Along the way you’ll meet the friendly Nakhi people wearing striking tribal costume and find farmers carrying firewood, collecting wild herbs and mushrooms.

Soak your aching muscles and blisters in Shaxi at Bailongtan natural spring, surrounded by lush vegetation where it’s possible to spot mustached laughing thrush and spot-breasted parrotbill.

Price: RMB 13,650 (US$2,150) including a guide and accommodation. RMB 1,000 for bike hire.

3. Kiteboarding, Fujian

If you crave speed, like getting wet, and are willing to tear up your life-insurance, then this full-throttle activity, which fuses sailing, windsurfing and wakeboarding, must be attempted at least once.

The sport only made it to China a few years ago, but the locals have chucked themselves into it (quite literally).

There’s now a kiteboarding epicenter along Xiaman’s sandy enclave -- where ferocious winds create the perfect conditions to pull off spins, flips, loops and mega-jumps, while riders hurtle along at up to 92 kph. Learn the ropes in less than 10 hours.

Price: Kiteboarding courses start from RMB 3,000 (US$445) for eight hours of tuition, including equipment hire. 

4. Parkour, Shanghai

A core group of enthusiasts have turned Shanghai into an urban gymnasium -- flipping, spinning and traversing high towers, walls and obstacles effortlessly. Now you can join them.

If you’ve got the balls, it’s possible to learn how to handstand on the side of the Jin Mao Tower or back flip off of the Oriental Pearl Tower. Shangahi Parkour Center offers the chance to learn these moves, plus how to use your body as effectively as possible to cross our modern and varied landscapes.

They’ll teach a variety of climbing, martial arts and acrobatic techniques. And, while you’re at it, you get to see one of Asia’s most iconic cities from an entirely different perspective.

Price: Free.

5. Surfing, Hainan

Mellow glassy swells or three-meter peeling rides are available at this untouched teardrop-shaped island.

The surf scene in this laid-back tropical setting is how we imagine Hawaii in the 1960s, with a super-friendly Beach Boys vibe.

Here you can carve uncrowded waves all day.

We recommend the mellow beach break at Houhai Bay (great for longboarders and beginners) or Riyuewan (where the annual Hainan Surf Open is held) for a decent rock-bottomed point break. 

Price: Rental from RMB 40 (US$7), surf lessons from RMB 300 (US$50, for two hours).

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