The Bizarre Reason China's Highest Waterfall Is A Total Tourist Trap

Visitors to China often encounter fake designer bags and other counterfeit products displayed in shops and stalls in just about every major city. However, Gucci bags and Apple AirPods aren't the only things that might be fake in China. Believe it or not, nature is sometimes a sham, too.

That turned out to be the case with Yuntai Mountain Waterfall, which is said to be the tallest waterfall in the country. The site, located in Henan province's Yuntai Mountain Park, is spectacular, with water flowing uninterrupted from over 1,000 feet up. Some may even consider it one of the most mesmerizing places on Earth. Millions of people flock to the area each year to see the waterfall in person and to visit the park's caves and temples.

Unfortunately, tourists may be taking selfies with a glorified water hose when stopping by Yuntai Mountain Waterfall. It has been revealed that the spectacular attraction is at least somewhat artificial, as one visitor who goes by Farisvov revealed in a viral video posted to Chinese social media platform Douyin. Shots from the video exposed pipes with water gushing out, suggesting that the waterfall isn't as real as visitors were led to believe.

Water pipes were placed to boost the fall's appearance

After netizens realized Yuntai Mountain Waterfall isn't entirely authentic, representatives quickly responded with an explanation. A park staff member told Dingduan News (via South China Morning Post) that the waterfall was formed naturally, though water pumps are turned on as needed, particularly when there isn't as much rain in the region. "The pipes are just auxiliary water diversion equipment built at the waterfall's source to ensure its attractiveness during the dry season," the staff shared. "During the dry season, our waterfall has less water flow, which is common for northern waterfalls. However, many tourists still come from afar at this time of year, so we do this to enhance their experience."

Yuntai Mountain Park officials also posted a statement (link in Mandarin) online, admitting that a "small enhancement" is made to the waterfall to please visitors. There seems to be no hiding Yuntai Mountain Waterfall's artificial features — at least not after they've been exposed on social media. Still, it's unclear just how much of the waterfall's flow is authentic and when exactly the water pipes are used.

Is Yuntai Mountain Waterfall still worth visiting?

One reason to visit the Yuntai Mountain region is to admire the towering, natural waterfall. However, given that some of its cascading water is fabricated, it's easy to write the site off as just another tourist trap to avoid when traveling to China. Ultimately, the choice to visit Yuntai Mountain Waterfall or not is a personal one, though keep in mind that the site is less likely to rely on the water pipes during the rainy season in July and August. If you want to see the real thing, it might all come down to timing.

There are also other sites and activities to check out at Yuntai Mountain Park that can make the trek worthwhile. It's the ideal spot for hiking and outdoor exploring, with lush forests and a variety of flowers and herbs. There are breathtaking natural pools and springs, plus other waterfalls besides the now-infamous Yuntai Mountain Waterfall. Tourists also visit the park for its stunning Red Rock Gorge, Zhuyu Peak, Wanshan Temple, and the monkey-filled Macaque Valley.

If you're still hesitant to visit Yuntai Mountain Park, don't worry. China is home to plenty of other natural waterfalls and aquatic sites. Our recommendation: Take a break from city life and visit the beautiful lake and falls at Jiuzhaigou National Park in Sichuan — here's hoping you don't discover any hoses attempting to "enhance" your experience.