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Autumn leaves draw out nature lovers

Yang Feiyue
Updated: Oct 28,2015 8:49 AM     China Daily

An autumn scene at the Shuiguan section of the Badaling Great Wall in Beijing.[Photo provided to China Daily]

The curtain might have fallen on the golden week of the National Day holiday, but the golden season has just begun.

Major cities across China are luring tourists with autumn’s magnificent scenery.

Trips to Sichuan, Yunnan, Shaanxi and Jiangxi provinces have enjoyed brisk sales, China’s biggest online travel agency Ctrip says in a statement.

“We saw great enthusiasm in tour registration,” says Yan Xin, the agency’s publicity manager, adding that the autumn travelers tend to be older on average and have time on their side, so many booked their trips early.

In addition, rates are favorable at this time of year. Some popular destinations for autumn have seen tour prices being marked down, some by 30 percent, as compared with the holiday period, he claims.

Tourists who love nature and photography are particularly keen to travel now.

“They can go hiking or paddling in water while taking in the autumn scenery,” says Yan.

Leaves are turning red in major scenic spots in the capital city Beijing, drawing many visitors.

Fragrant Hills Park and Baihua Mountain in the west of the municipality, as well as the Baili Landscape Gallery and the Badaling National Forest Park in Yanqing county in the northwest are all ideal places to savor the autumn vistas.

South Korea’s Soraksan National Park attracts visitors for its autumn landscape color.[Photo provided to China Daily]

Li Guoquan, a postgraduate from the Peking University, went hiking at the Fragrant Hills Park on Oct 23. Nice weather, fresh air and colorful leaves all motivated him to go out with his friends.

He chose the park because he knew “the park was named one of the four best sites to savor the red autumn leaves,” he explains.

The park is home to more than 30 varieties of trees with leaves that turn red in the fall. It’s a top sightseeing destination when nature paints it in multiple hues.

The fall color can usually be enjoyed from mid-October to mid-November in the park. About 40 percent of the leaves had turned by last week and park officials expect the trees to go fully red this week.

Although the leaves were not all red during Li’s visit, he found the park packed with sightseers. Tourists are advised to avoid weekend visits, because of the crowds, and choose other scenic spots in the city.

Beyond the capital, Jiuzhaigou Valley in Sichuan province is an ideal place for autumn visits. The valley looks its best in October and November.

Polychromatic leaves and their reflections in blue lake water, all surrounded by snow-topped mountain peaks, offer tourists a surreal sightseeing experience.

Travel prices to the valley are generally 10-15 percent less than in the same period last year, Yan says.

Ctrip’s six-day airborne group trip covering Chengdu and the valley from Beijing or Shanghai now costs roughly 2,800 yuan ($441) for late October and November.

Apart from the autumn mountain scenery, cruising down the Yangtze River is a popular choice, too. The Three Gorges Dam has been storing water since October, so there is water in the upper reaches of the river.

Watching autumn landscape vistas on the river banks is a treat, Yan says.

A four-day, three-night luxury cruise experience on the river from Chongqing is now priced at around 1,500-2,000 yuan on Ctrip’s website, down 30 percent from 2014.

Yuntai Mountain and Shaolin Temple in Henan province, and Wuyuan county in Jiangxi province, could be just the cup of tea for those who favor less-crowded scenes. These places might be less-known but offer panoramas of colorful leaves and grand sunsets.

“They have become new favorites for professional and amateur photographers,” Yan says.

Magnificent autumn scenery is also being enjoyed beyond China. South Korea’s Soraksan, Jirisan and the Bukhansan national park all promise refreshing autumn landscape color.

If tourists book trips early, four-day trips to Seoul or Jeju Island can be booked for under 2,000 yuan for November and December with Ctrip.

Japan’s Hongshu maple leaf season kicked off in late October, and its Kansai and Hokkaido areas are dyed with autumn tints.

Flower fields and maple leaves could be seen in Hokkaido in autumn and the weather is not cold, says Beijing U-tour International Travel Service’s publicity manager, Li Mengran.

Li’s company has also arranged tours to Aomori and Sendai, as well as local hot springs, farmlands and pastures in Japan. Thousands of group tourists have signed up for U-tour’s Japan trips that last from five to seven days.

At the moment, there are abundant individual and group travel products from domestic travel agencies that cover the two nearby countries.

Moreover, travelers with their minds set on long-distance travel can go for Australia, where it’s spring at the moment. Utour has reported significant bookings to Australia so far.

“The best season to visit Australia is now, from autumn to the Spring Festival,” says Li.

Trips combining Australia and New Zealand are always popular, and they usually last for more than 10 days, she adds.

Ocean views, wild animals and the Universal Studios are among the highlights on the road.

Parent-child interaction elements are thrown into the trip.

“Children and their parents can get close to nature and animals together, including catching crabs and watching kangaroos and koala,” Li says.

Current prices range from 15,000 to 24,000 yuan but will peak at 30,000 yuan around the Spring Festival, Li adds.

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