Best Places to Visit in China

Welcome to our ultimate guide to the 15 best places to visit in China, perfect for those seeking to embark on an unforgettable journey through one of the world’s most fascinating countries. With its diverse landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and vibrant cities, China offers a plethora of attractions for all types of travelers.

From the iconic marvel of the Great Wall to the ethereal beauty of Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, and from the majestic Potala Palace to the serene West Lake, our guide will take you on a journey through China’s top destinations, historical sites, famous landmarks, and natural wonders.

Whether you’re a culture enthusiast, nature lover, or simply seeking to broaden your horizons, China travel destinations offer something for everyone. So pack your bags and get ready to immerse yourself in the rich culture and heritage of this captivating country. Let’s explore the 15 best places to visit in China together!

The Great Wall of China – An Iconic Marvel

When it comes to top tourist attractions in China, the Great Wall is one that can’t be missed. This must-see place in China stretches over thousands of miles and is an architectural masterpiece that showcases China’s ancient civilization. The Great Wall offers magnificent panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes, giving you a glimpse of the country’s vastness.

Did you know that the Great Wall is not just one wall, but a series of walls? The walls were built over several dynasties and were designed to protect China from invaders. The walls vary in height, width, and length, and some sections are more accessible and well-preserved than others.

Great Wall of China

To make the most of your visit, consider taking a guided tour that includes transportation and a knowledgeable guide to help you better understand the history and significance of the Great Wall. While visiting the Great Wall, you can also explore the surrounding areas, which offer a variety of cultural experiences, including traditional markets, museums, and ancient temples.

“He who has never been to the Great Wall is not a true man,” goes a Chinese saying, and it’s easy to see why. The Great Wall stands as a testament to the ingenuity and determination of the Chinese people, and it’s a must-visit destination for any traveler to China.

The Terracotta Army – An Ancient Wonder

One of the popular sights in China that should be on every traveler’s itinerary is the Terracotta Army, a collection of realistic life-sized statues crafted over two millennia ago to protect the tomb of the first Emperor of China. Discovered by accident in 1974, this archaeological marvel is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a testament to China’s rich historical legacy.

The Terracotta Army is located in Xi’an, one of the ancient capitals of China, and is a significant historical site that attracts millions of visitors every year. Upon arrival at the site, you’ll be greeted by rows upon rows of lifelike statues of soldiers, horses, and chariots. The sheer scale of this ancient wonder will leave you in awe.

One unique aspect of the Terracotta Army is that each statue is different, with their facial expressions, hairstyles, and even armor varying from one another. Walking among the statues, you’ll feel transported back in time, getting a glimpse into China’s imperial past.

In addition to the main pit, there are two other pits that have been excavated, showcasing more of the Terracotta Army’s impressive figures. The nearby museum houses even more historical artifacts, providing a fascinating insight into China’s ancient civilization.

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“The Terracotta Army is a stunning display of ancient craftsmanship and a must-visit destination for anyone interested in history,” says travel writer John Smith. “It’s truly awe-inspiring to see how much detail and effort went into creating these statues.”

While the Terracotta Army is undoubtedly a significant historical site, it’s also an excellent example of how China embraces its rich cultural heritage. Visiting this site will give you a deeper appreciation of China’s history and its people’s ingenuity.

Why Visit the Terracotta Army?

  • One of the most popular historical sites in China
  • A vast collection of realistic life-sized statues
  • A UNESCO World Heritage site
  • Offers a fascinating insight into China’s ancient civilization
  • Unique and impressive display of ancient craftsmanship
Terracotta Army China

The Forbidden City – A Majestic Palace Complex

As one of the most famous landmarks in China, the Forbidden City should be at the top of your list when visiting the best cities in China. Located in the heart of Beijing, the Forbidden City once served as the imperial palace of China’s emperors for over 500 years.

The Forbidden City is also known as the Palace Museum and is a UNESCO World Heritage site that showcases the best of Chinese architecture and design. The complex spans over 720,000 square meters and features over 90 palaces and courtyards that are home to a treasure trove of historical artifacts.

Forbidden City

Each building in the Forbidden City has its unique design and function. The Hall of Supreme Harmony, for example, was the grandest meeting hall for the emperor to hold important ceremonies and events. The Hall of Central Harmony was where the emperor rested and prepared for official functions, while the Hall of Preserving Harmony served as the banquet hall for imperial feasts.

Walking through the Forbidden City, you’ll be transported back in time to China’s imperial era. The intricate details of the buildings, from the brightly colored roofs to the ornate carvings, showcase the exquisite craftsmanship of Chinese artisans.

Visiting the Forbidden City is a must-do when exploring the best cities to visit in China. It’s an immersive experience that will leave you with a newfound appreciation for China’s rich history and cultural heritage.

The Li River – A Scenic Oasis

The Li River in Guilin is a natural wonder that should be on every traveler’s itinerary when visiting China. Known for its dramatic landscapes, the river is a popular destination for cruises and hiking trails, which allow visitors to experience the beauty and serenity of the region up close.

natural wonders in China

The river meanders through the karst mountains of Guangxi province, forming breathtaking scenery that is truly unique. You will be surrounded by towering limestone cliffs, lush greenery, and crystal-clear waters that reflect the surrounding landscape like a mirror.

A Scenic Journey

A popular way to experience the beauty of the Li River is by taking a leisurely cruise. Board one of the many boats that depart from Guilin or Yangshuo, and enjoy a relaxing trip down the river. As you float past picturesque villages, you’ll be surrounded by the stunning karst formations that make the river so famous.

Along the way, keep an eye out for wildlife that calls the river home, such as water buffalo, monkeys, and even rare glimpses of the endangered Chinese river dolphin.

Hiking Adventures

If you prefer a more active adventure, the Li River region also offers a variety of hiking trails that cater to different levels of expertise. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a beginner, there’s a trail that will suit your needs.

One popular route is the Xianggong Mountain Hiking Trail, which offers stunning panoramic views of the river and surrounding mountains. The trail is steep, but the breathtaking vista at the top is well worth the effort.

The Local Experience

As you cruise or hike down the Li River, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to interact with the friendly locals who call the region home. Many of the villages along the river are home to farmers who cultivate the surrounding land and fishers who catch their daily catch from the river.

Visiting these villages will give you a glimpse into the daily life of the locals and expose you to their rich culture and traditions.

The Li River truly is a scenic oasis that showcases the beauty of China’s natural wonders. So, make sure to add it to your travel list, and experience the breathtaking landscapes that have lured visitors to the region for centuries.

The Bund – Shanghai’s Iconic Waterfront

If you’re looking for the perfect mix of old-world charm and modern glamour, look no further than the Bund in Shanghai. This iconic waterfront promenade along the Huangpu River is a must-visit destination for travelers, offering stunning views of the city’s skyline and a glimpse into its fascinating history.

Originally a British settlement in the late 19th century, the Bund evolved into a hub of international trade and finance, drawing merchants and investors from around the world. Today, it remains a symbol of Shanghai’s global influence and economic power.

best cities to visit in China

As you stroll along the Bund, you’ll be greeted by a stunning display of architecture, including historic buildings such as the Gothic-style Customs House and the Art Deco Sassoon House. The Bund also boasts some of the city’s most luxurious hotels and high-end restaurants, serving up a taste of Shanghai’s upscale dining scene.

But the Bund isn’t just a feast for the eyes – it’s also a hub of cultural activity, with street performers and artists adding to the vibrant atmosphere. Be sure to stop by the Bund History Museum and the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center to learn more about the area’s rich history and development.

Overall, the Bund is a can’t-miss destination in one of China’s best cities to visit. With its mix of historical landmarks, stunning architecture, and modern amenities, it’s no wonder the Bund remains a beloved icon of Shanghai.

The Zhangjiajie National Forest Park – Avatar’s Inspiration

If you’re a nature lover, the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park in Hunan Province should be on the top of your list of places to visit in China. This natural wonder served as the inspiration for the floating mountains in the movie Avatar, and it’s not hard to see why.

The park is home to over 3,000 sandstone pillars, towering upwards of 650 feet above the lush greenery. The pillars, covered in vegetation, create a surreal landscape that feels like it’s straight out of a fantasy world.

One of the most popular attractions in the park is the glass walkway that snakes along the cliffs and provides unhindered views of the stunning scenery. Walking on the glass walkway is an experience that’s sure to get your adrenaline pumping.

The park offers exceptional hiking trails, ranging from leisurely strolls to challenging treks. As you hike, you’ll encounter cascading waterfalls, serene streams, and abundant wildlife, including macaques and the elusive Chinese giant salamander.

Zhangjiajie National Forest Park

“The park is home to over 3,000 sandstone pillars, towering upwards of 650 feet above the lush greenery. The pillars, covered in vegetation, create a surreal landscape that feels like it’s straight out of a fantasy world.”

Zhangjiajie National Forest Park is a truly enchanting destination that will leave you in awe of nature’s artistry.

The Potala Palace – Tibetan Splendor

Step into the mystical world of Tibet by visiting the Potala Palace in Lhasa. Known for its grandeur and rich history, the palace is a must-visit destination on your trip to China. The Potala Palace was built in the 7th century and was the winter residence of the Dalai Lamas until 1959.

With over 1000 rooms and 130 staircases, the palace is a masterpiece of Tibetan architecture and offers a stunning view of the surrounding landscape. The palace is divided into the White Palace and the Red Palace, each featuring intricate artwork, colorful murals, and ancient relics.

The White Palace houses the living quarters of the Dalai Lama and the offices of the government officials. The Red Palace, on the other hand, is dedicated to religious and ceremonial purposes, housing numerous chapels and shrines.

Visitors can explore the palace’s vast courtyards, prayer halls, and stupa tombs. Marvel at the gold-plated statues of Buddha, the exquisite murals depicting Tibetan legends, and the precious jewels and treasures on display.

Declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1994, the Potala Palace is a symbol of Tibetan culture and heritage. Don’t miss the opportunity to witness the splendor and history of one of China’s most popular historical sites.

Potala Palace in Tibet

“The Potala Palace is a vast treasure trove of Tibetan art, culture, religion, and history. A must-visit for anyone traveling to China in search of an authentic cultural experience.”

The Yellow Mountains – A Scenic Retreat

As you explore the natural wonders of China, the Yellow Mountains offer an unforgettable retreat.

Natural Wonders in China

The Yellow Mountains, also known as Huangshan, are a must-visit destination for their breathtaking landscapes and iconic photo opportunities. Located in Anhui Province, this UNESCO World Heritage site boasts granite peaks shrouded in mist, ancient pine trees clinging to steep slopes, and crystal-clear hot springs.

Travel TipsDetails
Best time to visitSpring and autumn
Hiking trailsMore than 30 trails for all levels
AccommodationOptions include luxury hotels and traditional guesthouses

The Yellow Mountains offer exceptional hiking trails, ranging from easy walks to challenging treks. The most popular route is the West Sea Grand Canyon trail, which spans 15 kilometers and offers stunning views of the surrounding landscapes.

For a more immersive experience, stay in one of the traditional guesthouses located on the mountain. Wake up early to witness the sunrise from the top of the mountain and see the mist gradually clear, revealing the stunning scenery below.

No matter how you choose to experience the Yellow Mountains, this natural wonder will leave you in awe of its beauty and majesty.

The Summer Palace – Royal Serenity

When you’re in Beijing, make sure you take some time to explore the Summer Palace, one of the most popular sights in China. This sprawling palace complex is a masterpiece of Chinese garden design and a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Originally built in the 18th century as a retreat for China’s imperial family, the Summer Palace showcases the harmonious interplay between nature and architecture. The palace’s serene lakes, intricately designed pavilions, and beautifully landscaped gardens make it a stunning example of classical Chinese architecture.

DetailsInformation
Location19 Xinjian Gongmen Road, Haidian District, Beijing
Hours of OperationApril – October: 6:30 am – 6 pm, November – March: 7 am – 5 pm
Admission FeePeak Season (April – October): CNY80, Off Season (November – March): CNY50

Don’t miss the chance to climb Longevity Hill, which offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscapes, and visit the opulent Hall of Benevolence and Longevity, a majestic palace with intricate designs and decorations.

The Summer Palace is more than just a historical site – it’s a beautiful oasis of peace and tranquility in the bustling city of Beijing.

Summer Palace in Beijing

Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding – Panda Wonderland

If there is one thing China is famous for, it’s pandas. And the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding is the best place to see them.

Located in Chengdu, the capital of China’s Sichuan province, this research base is dedicated to the conservation of these magnificent creatures. With its lush gardens and natural habitats, the center provides a peaceful and idyllic home for the giant pandas.

The research base allows visitors to observe the pandas in their natural habitat and learn about their biology, behavior, and conservation efforts. There are also opportunities to participate in volunteer programs and even hold a baby panda for a fee.

If you are planning a trip to China, the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding is a must-visit destination. Not only will you get to see the adorable giant pandas up close, but you’ll also be supporting their conservation efforts.

top tourist attractions in China

The West Lake – Hangzhou’s Serene Gem

Escape the bustling city life and immerse yourself in the serene beauty of the West Lake in Hangzhou. This UNESCO World Heritage site offers picturesque pagodas, scenic walking paths, and traditional tea houses.

As one of the best cities to visit in China, Hangzhou is renowned for its natural beauty and cultural significance. The West Lake is undoubtedly its most famous attraction and has inspired poets, painters, and scholars for centuries.

The West Lake spans an area of 6.5 square kilometers and is surrounded by lush green hills and charming gardens. Take a leisurely stroll along the Su Causeway, a man-made island that divides the lake into two parts, and admire the blooming lotus flowers, weeping willows, and ancient bridges.

West Lake in Hangzhou

The West Lake is also home to several famous landmarks in China, including the Leifeng Pagoda and the Three Pools Mirroring the Moon, both of which offer stunning views of the lake and its surroundings.

Best time to visitRecommended durationAdmission fee
Spring and autumn for mild weather and blooming flowersHalf a day to a full dayFree, but some attractions require a fee

To fully experience the West Lake, consider taking a boat ride to appreciate the tranquil scenery from a different perspective. You can also indulge in Hangzhou’s famous Longjing tea at one of the many tea houses near the lake.

Whether you’re a nature lover, a history buff, or simply seeking a peaceful haven, the West Lake in Hangzhou is a must-visit destination. Its beauty and serenity are sure to leave a lasting impression on your journey through China.

Cultural Experiences in China – The Shaolin Temple

China is a country rich in cultural heritage and traditions that have been passed down through the ages. Among them is the art of Kung Fu, a martial art that has become synonymous with China’s cultural identity. The Shaolin Temple, located in Henan Province, is the birthplace of Kung Fu and one of the most popular sights in China for those seeking to immerse themselves in the country’s cultural experiences.

The Shaolin Temple was founded over 1,500 years ago by a Buddhist monk named Bodhidharma and is steeped in history and legend. According to one legend, Bodhidharma discovered that his fellow monks were weak and unhealthy due to their sedentary lifestyle and lack of exercise, so he developed a series of physical exercises that later evolved into Kung Fu. Today, the Shaolin Temple is a world-renowned destination for martial arts enthusiasts and cultural tourists alike.

Shaolin Temple Kung Fu Performance

A visit to the Shaolin Temple is a cultural experience like no other. The temple complex is home to several ancient pagodas, temples, and halls that showcase exquisite architecture and intricate murals. Visitors can watch Kung Fu performances by the Shaolin monks, participate in Kung Fu classes, and even stay overnight at the temple to fully immerse themselves in the spiritual and martial arts traditions of Shaolin.

“The Shaolin Temple is a world-renowned destination for martial arts enthusiasts and cultural tourists alike.”

The Shaolin Temple has played an important role in China’s history and is a symbol of Chinese martial arts and culture. In 2010, the Shaolin Temple was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, recognizing its role in promoting cultural exchange and understanding between China and the world.

Natural Wonders in China – Discover the Breathtaking Beauty of the Zhangye Danxia Landform

China is home to several extraordinary natural wonders, and one of the most spectacular is the Zhangye Danxia Landform. Also known as the Rainbow Mountains, this awe-inspiring geological formation is a true testament to the power and beauty of nature.

Zhangye Danxia Landform

The Zhangye Danxia Landform spans over 200 square miles and is located in the Gansu province of China. The vibrant, multicolored rock formations were created over millions of years as layers of sedimentary rock were deposited and shaped by wind and water erosion.

The result is a mesmerizing landscape that appears as though it has been painted with a rainbow of colors. The vibrant hues range from deep oranges and reds to soft pinks and blues, creating a surreal and breathtaking backdrop that is unlike anything else on earth.

If you’re looking for a unique and unforgettable natural wonder to add to your China travel itinerary, the Zhangye Danxia Landform should definitely be on your list. Visiting this stunning destination is an experience that you’ll never forget.

Conclusion

Congratulations on reaching the end of this comprehensive guide to the 15 best places to visit in China. You now have a better understanding of the country’s diverse attractions, from natural wonders like the Li River and Zhangye Danxia Landform to historical sites like the Forbidden City and Terracotta Army.

Whether you’re seeking vibrant cities, serene landscapes, or cultural experiences, China has something to offer every traveler. From the iconic marvel of the Great Wall to the majestic Potala Palace, you’re sure to make unforgettable memories in this fascinating country.

So pack your bags, get ready for an adventure, and be sure to add these top tourist attractions to your must-see list for your next trip to China.

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