Chinese New Year known in Chinese as ‘Chun Jie’ or Spring Festival, marks the beginning of the new lunar calendar. This year, we are welcoming the Year of the Rooster, an animal that loves to rise with the sun! In celebration of the upcoming festivities, we’ve made of list of radiant sunrises you should catch across China.
With Chinese New Year falling the earliest it has in years, paired with the coming of the year of the Rooster, we felt there was no better time to share with you the best places in China to make an early start and catch the sunrise.
In a nation where you can find every landscape and ambiance, there is no shortage of impressive sunrises to choose from. Here we’ll look at five of the finest places to wake with the rooster’s call and see in the very beginning of the lunar year.
Yuanyang Rice Terraces, Yunnan
Yuanyang Rice Terraces (Yunnan)
Ronald Tagra via flickr
The most widely recognized characteristic of the Rooster is its penchant for an early start. So we’ll begin with an option that is not for the everyday traveler. This sunrise requires a strong sense of wanderlust.
Yunnan is resplendent in beautiful hiking routes and exquisite scenery, and the Yuanyang Rice Terraces embody the quintessential Chinese countryside vistas. After spending the night in a small local minority village, remember, “the early bird catches the worm”. Set out while it is still dark to give yourself enough time to hike up to your desired vantage point. Settle in with blankets and snacks, and let your eyes feast on this beautiful sunrise.
Ancient City Wall, Xi’an
Xi’an City Wall
Michael Davis-Burchat via flickr
According to the Chinese Zodiac, Roosters are also known to be incredibly observant. People born in this year have a keen attention span. Make like the rooster and use your observation skills to watch the city of Xi’an wake up to a new day. Before the sun comes up, you can pedal your way around the ancient city wall. Then, just before sunrise, you can settle down and watch the city come to life.
Looking for some breakfast after your early start? Hop off at the beautifully maintained southernmost gate ‘Yongning’ and walk over to the Muslim quarter of the city centre. A sensory explosion of mouth-wateringly good food awaits you.
Tiananmen Square, Beijing
The Raising of the Flag (Beijing)
Don McCullough via flickr
If you are in the north capital over Chinese New Year prepare for an abundance of fireworks crackling throughout the streets. Beijing is home to a one-of-a-kind daily ritual: each day to mark the sunrise the flag of The People Republic of China is ceremoniously raised in Tian’anmen Square. This event often goes unnoticed by overseas visitors, but is incredibly popular with domestic tourists.
On special occasions great crowds are drawn to the spectacle. There is a truly unique Chinese experience in participating in the raising of the flag looking towards the ancient Forbidden City. It is also a great opportunity to be one of the first to enter the Palace Museum, missing the crowds and gaining the opportunity to feel what it was like all those centuries ago to be an emperor in his own private city.
Yulong River, Yangshuo
The Yulong River (Yangshuo)
Qeqertaq via Wikimedia Commons
One of the many New year resolutions I am sure we’re all often hearing is the promise to be better with money, spend more wisely and save for the important things – like traveling to China! Take some inspiration from the scenery emblazoned on the 20 Yuan note – Yangshuo. Not only a great place to spend responsibly but also a great place to engage in some responsible tourism.
The popular Li River is often crowded and has an abundance of scheduled motorised vehicles. Instead, we recommend you take the slow pace of the Yulong River. Exclusively navigated by bamboo rafts manned by local people, you can float along at the pace of the sunrise and really take in your surroundings.
Ready to ring in the Year of the Rooster. Let’s plan your Essence of China trip where you’ll get to visit Yangshuo and Beijing.