Put the pedal to the metal on these adventures

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Shanghai Daily, September 11, 2014
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As the fourth largest country by area, China has a massive variety of landscapes ranging from plateaus and deserts to grasslands and mountains. With the country's infrastructure improving all the time, China is a great place for planning some amazing road trips.

Those who pack up their vehicle and hit the road will be rewarded in other ways. Some of the best road trips take travelers to China's hinterlands like Tibet, Inner Mongolia and Xinjiang autonomous regions. In these areas, the distinct cultures and customs of minority groups showcase the country's impressive diversity.

Here's a quick look at some of China's best routes.

Route 1: Chengdu to Shangri-la

Starting from Chengdu in Sichuan and head to Shangri-la in Yunnan, this is a journey covering mostly mountainous terrain and gorgeous valleys.

The ideal route from Chengdu to Shangri-la includes Rilong, Danba, Tagong, Litang and Daocheng.

Xiangcheng County, whose name means beads in the hand of Buddha in Tibetan languages, is a relatively low altitude area in the region. The villages in the area dotted along the Shuoqu River like beads. The locals make good use of it by growing a variety of fruits and other crops.

Yading Scenic Area is worth visiting, time permitting, of course. Some say the snowy peaks stand against the blue sky are incarnations of three bodhisattvas, Chenrezig, Chenadorje and Jampayang watching over their world.

Route 2: Beijing to Xi'an, via Hohhot

Clocking more than 2,000 kilometers, this road trip can be broken down into several sections. It takes roughly 12 days, but travelers can spend more time in places they like. Start in the capital and head to Datong via Jingzang highway, Tanqinxia tunnel, Jingxin highway and Dayun highway. Datong is famous for its Buddhist frescoes.

From there head to Yinchuan in the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region along Jingxin highway, the longest stretch of this route at 967 kilometers.

If time permits, take a detour to Hohhot, Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region, to savor the beauty of its vast grassland. In Yinchuan, travelers can get a look at the Yellow River, considered the cradle of Chinese civilization. Motorists will encounter mountain and desert scenery along the way from Yinchuan to Pingliang on Fuyin highway. The final section takes you to Xi'an, an ancient capital. Xi'an is, of course, famous for the terracotta warriors, its Muslim Quarter and ancient city wall. Take a few days to explore the city.

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