For the love of China: Romantic destinations in the Middle Kingdom

A couple at Lugu Lake, in Xiaoluoshui village, Lijiang. Pic: SweetRiver/Shutterstock

DON’T limit yourself to beach resorts and Europe when it comes to a romantic holiday.

This Valentine’s Day, scour these Chinese destinations that offer the perfect backdrop for love and romance.

Lijiang, Yunnan

A pretty canal in the old town of Lijiang. Pic: martinho Smart/Shutterstock

A UNESCO World Heritage site, Lijiang in Yunnan has an authentic charm about it. From the Snow Mountains and Naxi ethic villages to Dayan Old Town and the numerous teahouses atop beautiful hilly landscapes, there’s an air of romance in this city which earned it a spot in National Geographic’s latest book, The World’s Most Romantic Destinations.

A perfect place for honeymooners, couples can start at Dayan Town which features quaint streets lined with little shops selling arts and crafts along with intimate cafes and restaurants serving up Naxi delicacies like baba shortbreads and sugarcoated goat’s cheese.

Short hikes outside the city are also a key highlight – walk hand in hand and take in the breathtaking scenery of Mt. Elephant and Mt. Golden Row in the north and the Mt. Lion in the west.

Stop for a pot of green tea at one of the teahouses that look out to the snow-capped Yulong (Jade Dragon) Mountain and don’t miss a trip to the Yufeng Buddhist monastery which houses the famous 500-year-old camellia said to produce 10,000 blossoms every year.

It is believed that if couples take a photo together in front of the camellia, they will be with each other in the next life.

SEE ALSO: Contemplating the devastating romance of China’s Guilin by way of poetry

The Bund, Shanghai

The Bund is a popular destination for couples. Pic: GuoZhongHua/Shutterstock

In the last century, The Bund is one of the most romantic places in Shanghai; today this waterfront promenade remains a favorite destination for couples looking to immerse in the city’s glamorous east-meets-west atmosphere.

At the banks of the Huangpu River is the famed 1,700 meters flood-control wall nicknamed the “lover’s wall,” a popular love hotspot in the past where lovers had their rendezvous.

Go on the Huangpu River Cruise from here and capture the distinctive city skyline, which is quite a sight, especially after dark where colorful lights over the river and flashing lights across the waters illuminate the waterfront.

Sweeten the evening further with a candlelit dinner at one of Shanghai’s iconic restaurants – the romantic rooftop fine dining establishments, Three on the Bund or M on the Bund offer world-class dining with magnificent views of the river from above.

SEE ALSO: The redevelopment of Shanghai’s iconic Suzhou Creek


Couples can walk along Yalong Bay for some alone time. Pic: Khazova Evgeniya/Shutterstock

For young couples desiring a more casual romantic getaway, Sanya, which is known as the “Hawaii of China“, is the ideal romantic destination with its myriad of hip attractions amidst a modern tropical setting. Many come for its long stretches of beaches like Sanya Bay or Yalong Bay.

There’s a range of water sports to choose from including jet skiing, scuba diving or snorkeling and boat rides. To catch a breather, have a picnic under the coconut trees that line the beachfront, or just take a long cozy stroll along the bay.

Apart from the beaches, the 80-acre Sanya Romance Park with its ten themed zones also offer plenty of things for couples to do together, ranging from cultural experiences to amusement zones, seafood stalls and different artistic performances.

If partying is your thing, Sanya’s night scene is brimming with bars and clubs of different styles and vibes. You’d also be spoilt for choice when it comes to romantic resorts in Sanya.

The Sanya Marriott Resort and Spa is a popular choice due to its many modern five-star facilities while the Mangrove Tree Resort at Yalong Bay offers intimate and serene Balinese style accommodations for plenty of quiet time with your significant other.


An majestic ice building in The 17th Harbin China Ice and Snow World. Pic: aphotostory/Shutterstock

Located close to Siberia, Harbin‘s wintry climate offers a snowy, cozy romantic vacation to remember. Well known for its Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival which runs from December 20 to February 15 every year, couples can check out the many attractions held at different venues during Valentine’s Day.

For instance, massive snow sculptures are on display at Sun Island Scenic Spot and Grand World of Ice and Snow while at Zhaolin Park, more than 1,000 illuminated ice lanterns fill the place with a magical atmosphere.

SEE ALSO: China’s Harbin kicks off annual ice and snow festival 

If you and your loved one enjoy skiing, head over to the Yabuli Ski Resort located on top of the Changbai Mountain Range where slopes meander across picturesque landscapes.

When you’ve has enough of the mountains, come back down to Harbin Central Street and experience the city’s unique cultural blend of Russian and European influences seen on its exotic buildings, food and handicrafts.

At the Chinese-Russian Market for example, you can find a variety of imported Russian goods like vodka, furs, jewelry, chocolates, and of course, Russian dolls.

SEE ALSO: Romanticizing the city of Busan through the sets of soppy Korean dramas