Despite being the most populated country in the world, China still manages to hide some of its most awe-striking and spectacular natural wonders. Ditch the mainstream Chinese itinerary to follow nature’s route in discovering what it has bestowed China with. P.S. Be Ready for a whole lot of surprises! By Shubhanjana Das

1. Jiuzhaigou National Park

The massive lake at Jiuzhaigou is no ordinary one. Sit by it for just a couple of minutes and you will see it changing colours. The phenomenon is caused by a combination of the algae and the calcified rocks that lie on the riverbed. The best time to visit Jiuzhaigou is autumn when you will be welcomed by not just 3-4 but the whole spectrum of rainbow colours. The landscape, reflected on the lake, is a sight that will be hard to get over.

2. Zhangye Danxia Landform

Zhyangye is going to challenge what you understand by a mountain range — starting from its shape, formations and even down to its colour! This section of the Gobi Desert in Danxia is also referred to as the ‘painted mountains’, a title it has earned owing to the folding of layered oceanic crust, which created exposed rock layers of a range of colours and textures. As for the shapes, some resemble cones while some look like natural towers. The mountains get their stripes from years of sedimentation and the wonders of the natural agents of change — wind and rain. Is it any surprise that it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site?

3. Dongchuan Red Land

One thing is for sure — the Chinese landscape sure likes changing colours and isn’t satisfied with the usual hues of the mountains, the water, or even the soil! 77,000 sq. mile area of Donchuan Red Land is all warm hues of golden, red, green, etc. The region has a subtropical climate, which causes iron to oxidise and deposit in the soil, imparting a deep red colour to it. When seen from a distance, the land is like a painter’s palette of green, golden, white and blue. May to June or September to November is the best time to visit when the crops are at their ripest.

4. Echoing Sand Mountain and Crescent Lake

The northwest of China, along the Silk Road in the Gobi Desert, is the series of sand dunes called the Echoing-Sand Dunes. These dunes stretch for more than 25 miles long and 12 miles wide, reaching the highest altitude of 800 feet. What is daunting about these dunes other than their intriguing shapes is the echoing sound they produce when strong winds blow over them. As for the crescent lake, it is a crescent-shaped lake surrounded by the dunes with verdant greenery on its shores, offering a pleasing yet striking contrast to its surroundings.

Related: Great Wall Of China’s Most Popular Section Gets A Visitors Cap