The Grand Canyon is probably one of the most highly raved places in the world, bearing millions of visitors every year. If you’re living in Asia and heading to the United States seems too far, why not visit the Yun Tai Mountain (云台山) in China?
Although the size of Yun Tai Mountain is slightly less than half of the Grand Canyon, this scenic resort has been crowned the national AAAAA tourist attraction!
The lush greeneries, oddly shaped rocks and stunning views at the Yun Tai Mountain made me fall in love with Mother Nature over and over again.
Yun Tai Mountain boasts 11 scenic spots – Red Stone Valley, Tanpu Valley, Quanpu Valley, Zhuyu Peak, Diecai Cave, Macaque Valley, Zifang Lake, Wanshan Temple, Baijia Cliff, Qinglong Valley and Fenglin Gorge. It is impossible to complete all of them in a day or two so here’s 3 of the main spots I’ve managed to cover in 2 days!
Red Stone Valley (红石峡)
Crowned the most scenic valley out of the 11 scenic spots, the Red Stone Valley topped my list when I first reached Jiaozuo, China. My long walk began from the 400 step descend into the valley, and I was thankful I only brought my bare necessities for the day. Most of the walkways had railings, other than bridges that cross the waterbodies.
The sound of gurgling streams and glistening waters made me feel so calm and at home. I was thoroughly in awe of the breathtaking sceneries along the way, especially the red quartz sandstones that gave the cliffs a red tinge. Everything felt surreal and dreamy as I immersed myself in Mother Nature’s gift.
Isn’t this gorgeous?
The water bodies glittered invitingly under then Sun, offering an escape from the unforgiving Sun. The temptation to dive in is real (I didn’t). Every twist and turn in this valley offered something new, and equally mesmerising.
As I visited the Red Stone Valley on a weekday, I was able to enjoy less human traffic when trekking across the place. Nonetheless, there were times where I had to endure people shouting into my ear or wait for people to move out of my camera frame. That being said, this place will definitely get more crowded during weekends; you know what to do!
Keep in mind this nature trek is about 400 steps below ground level, so do be prepared to conquer those steps and uneven walking grounds by wearing comfortable walking shoes. I was covered in a film of sweat, and my feet were sore by the time I crawled out of the valley.
If the waterfalls in the Red Stone Valley have not impressed you yet, check out the Tanpu Valley! Just a short bus ride away from the Red Stone Valley, this valley houses a range of waterfalls and deep ponds.
Be prepared for yet another refreshing walk and enjoy the cool breeze. I loved how this route is littered with mini attractions along the way for tourists to spot! From the Qingren Waterfall (above) to the Y Waterfall (below), I had quite a bit of fun identifying and guessing the names of each place!
Similarly, this 4km walking loop is filled with steps so do remember to pack light! The clear water bodies and cool breeze was really amazing as we trekked to the midpoint of the loop.
Many were spotted giving their feet a break by dipping into the waters… and I had to give it a go myself! It was one of the best decisions I’ve made, lowering my aching feet into the ice cold soothing waters. I would love to stay there forever ~
There were young children splashing around in the waters as well as this area was rather shallow! Others were spotted drinking and washing their faces from the waterfalls, especially from the longevity waterfall. I left that out because we all know better what goes into the water right?
An ambitious climb to me, this huge rock was tilted and supported by the natural structures below. I found out later that this would not have been possible if I had visited Tanpu Valley in other seasons, as it was part of a waterfall! The trek was definitely easier and shorter than the Red Stone Valley, so you might want to try this one instead if you’re not physically or mentally prepared for a longer trek!
Back at the central area before I embarked on the 4km loop around Tanpu Valley, there is also a water body where people can rent bamboo rafts (10RMB) to paddle around!
The Grand Canyon Skywalk – a horse-shoe glass bridge extending over the rim – is also a popular tourist spot. The entire walkway is mostly transparent, allowing visitors to literally look at the world beneath their feet.
Similarly, Yun Tai Mountain has its very own glass bridge! It opened in September 2015 – a fairly new attraction, near the Zhu Yu Peak. Visitors would be asked to rent shoe covers at 5RMB/pair before stepping onto the transparent bridge, which I consider very affordable, even though the design of the covers will never be a personal favourite.
The thought of stepping on the bridge was daunting even though I never knew or acknowledged any fear of heights. Acting garang on the way up to the bridge was not of much help as my friends prodded me to step on the bridge first. I began to plaster myself against the cliffs. Grappling on the rough surfaces as if it would save my life should the bridge collapse, I advanced forward at a snail’s pace. (Honestly, if the bridge collapsed, I’d definitely be going down with it.)
Seems like I was not the only one with the fear of heights…
Viewing the mountains from the glass bridge was simply marvellous – a 360 view of the place. Although the glass beneath my feet was not crystal clear, it provided a clear view of what laid beneath my feet. Everyone was bold in posing for photos on the bridge, I even spotted one laying on the bridge and taking a relaxed shot!
The only downside to this Glass Skywalk is that bridge only stretches for about 100m long, a little too short in my opinion to fit all the visitors. Nonetheless, it was a wonderful experience being closer to Mother Nature and devouring all the scenic views!
There are also a handful of positive reviews out there on how amazing Yun Tai Mountain is. Some reviews deeply resonated with my thoughts that the place is so incredible that visitors will fall in love with, regardless of whether they are nature lovers!
I fell completely in love with Yun Tai Mountain and would definitely go there again to check out the other scenic spots, or even revisit my favourite spot – Red Stone Valley! If you’re budget strapped or would like to visit an alternative to the Grand Canyon, do plan your next trip to Jiaozuo, China!
Entrance charge: 120 RMB (March – November) and 60 RMB (December to February)
Transportation fees within the mountain: 60 RMB
Tigerair Takes You There
I loved how easy it is to fly over to Zhengzhou in just 6 hours flight time! Tigerair is the only carrier that offers non-stop flights between Singapore and Zhengzhou, 3 times every week. My on-board experience was also pleasant, with friendly flight crews and a tasty in-flight meal (:
Zhengzhou’s famed Shaolin Temple can be easily reached upon arrival, where you can immerse yourself in the history of chinese martial arts. Furthermore, it was really convenient to visit the different cities in Henan from Zhengzhou. Cities like Kaifeng, Luoyang, Anyang and Jiaozuo were only a couple of hours away. As a popular chinese saying goes “Work in Zhengzhou, Live in Luoyang, Eat in Kaifeng”, you will be in for a treat when you fly over!
I have also written an article on the foods you have to try in Kaifeng night market. Do check it out for some mouthwatering treats!
Have you visited the other scenic spots in Yun Tai Mountain? Share with us in the comments below!
Lim Ding Yi
On a perpetual hunt to satisfy her food cravings, DingYi loves to travel and shares her adventures through her visual journal on Instagram (@dingsleepy)!