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Red leaves in Guangdong
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As the summer heat finally gives way to the cool breezes from the north in November, scenes of autumn gradually take the stage in Shenzhen. But autumn isn't just a feeling in the air -- it's there to see in nature. If you go far enough north in Guangdong Province, you can easily find the most cherished signs of autumn, such as red and orange leaves.

Red leaves in Guangdong may not be as splendid and overwhelming as those in North China, but hidden shyly and dotting the green mountains in northern Guangdong with their pure and delicate color, they are surprisingly beautiful for lovers of autumn. Here are some of the best places for fall leaf-watching in Guangdong.

Nanling National Park (南岭国家公园)

Best time for red leaves: Mid-November to January

Lying in the northern tip of the province, Nanling National Park is probably the best place to start our journey through autumn in Guangdong. Home to the biggest primitive forest and the top three highest peaks in Guangdong, this is the place where visitors can expect to see snowfalls every year in Guangdong. As the cool fall breezes are just barely felt in the south part of the province, Nanling is already immersed in deep autumn.

As the crisp air creeps over the peaks, the forest in Nanling turns from green to gold, orange and then fiery red. The climax of the spectacular redness usually arrives in mid-November. The best places to see red leaves in Nanling are at the base of Xiaohuangshan Mountain, the gate of Chengwu Hotel and the entrance of Qinshui Valley.

But another unique view visitors shouldn't miss in Nanling is the blue pine tree. A rare and endangered species native to China, the blue pine trees grow only in highlands at an elevation of 800 to 1,600 meters. The blue pine leaves are the highlight of the dominating redness over the mountains. The lower the temperature, the sharper blue the pine leaves are.

Driving route: Shenzhen--Shenzhen-Guangzhou Expressway--Guangzhou--Conghua--Fuogang--Yingde--Shaoguan--Ruyuan--Dongping--Daqiao

Public transportation: Shenzhen--Shaoguan--Ruyuan--Wuzhishan Township

Shimen Forest Park (石门森林公园)

Best time for red leaves: Late November to early January

Lies in the Tiantangding Mountain in Conghua, around 100 kilometers north of Guangzhou, Shimen Forest Park is much less known than its famous neighbor, the Nankun Mountain tourism resort. But in this forest lies over two square kilometers of maple trees.

The trees leaves turn red every year from late November to January, earning Shimen the title of "Fragrant Hills in Guangdong." Fragrant Hills Park is a famous scenic resort in the northwestern part of Beijing that attracts thousands of tourists with its spectacular view of fiery red leaves in autumn.

Views in Shimen are not confined to red leaves, however. With winding streams running through the forests and waterfalls toppling off cliffs, the park offers a natural escape from the hectic world. As a bonus, visitors can see the white plum flowers in full blossom side by side with red leaves when the weather gets really cold in late winter.

Driving route: Shenzhen--Shenzhen-Guangzhou Expressway--Guangzhou--105 National Highway--Conghua

Public transportation: Shenzhen--Conghua. Take a taxi from Conghua Railway station to Shimen Forest Park.

Longwan (龙湾)

Best time for red leaves: December to January

Longwan natural resort in Luoding City in Yunfu is a place where visitors can expect not only autumn views like red leaves, but also precious animals like giant slamanders and egrets. Following the stone-paved lanes leading to the deep forest with red leaves of differing shades, Longwan offers one of the best autumn landscapes one can imagine. Adventurers can explore the forests and look for plants that have been flourishing here for over 200 million years.

Driving route: Shenzhen-Guangzhou-Zhaoqing-Yunfu-Nanchong village, Fuhe Township in Luoding

(Shenzhen Daily November 18, 2008)

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