Best Places to Visit in China
Since the world discovered China over 700 years ago through the writings of the adventurer Marco Polo, the powerhouse of Asia has been seen as the embodiment of all that is mysterious and exotic. Even now, after decades of economic growth, the sprawling country has lost none of its appeals. In fact, the contrast between ancient Chinese traditions and the burgeoning new ultra-modern nation only increases fascination with cultures dating back thousands of years.
It is a culture that the Chinese themselves are very fond of, as evidenced by the preservation of important historical sites such as the Forbidden City and Summer Palace in Beijing, each reminiscent of the days of the Chinese emperors. Of course, there are also the famous Great Wall of China, stretching for 6,700 kilometers from the Yellow Sea to Central Asia, and numerous temples that reflect the spirit of ancient Eastern religions.
China is a vast region and its tourist attractions are endless. Whether you choose to take a luxury cruise through the picturesque Three Gorges, visit a bustling city, or seek the tranquility of an ancient temple, the country is full of incredible experiences and sightseeing possibilities.
Have a look at our list of the Best Places to Visit in China and make your trip enjoyable.
Top 12 Best Places to Visit in China
Here are the top 12 Most Beautiful and Best Places to Visit in China:
1. Great Wall of China
The Chinese saying “you can’t be a true hero if you don’t climb the Great Wall” clearly demonstrates the importance given to this unique ancient monument.
Known as the “Great Wall of China” or “The Great Wall of China” in China, the magnificent Great Wall stretches for more than 6,000 kilometers, passing through Hebei, Tianjin, Beijing, from Shanhaiguan Fort in the east to Jiayuguan in the west. Visit the best preserved part of the city wall — Inner Mongolia, Ningxia and Gansu.
The walls averaged 6 to 8 meters high but were as high as 16 meters – wide enough for 5 horses or 10 people to pass – with numerous trenches and watchtowers in the walls. Some of the oldest of the city walls date back to the 7th century BC, with the most famous site being added around 210 BC when parts of it were joined.
Today, the most visited part of the city wall is near Badaling Pass in northwest Beijing, easily accessible by public transport or organized tours. Other restoration sections worth visiting include the section near Gubeikou, 130 kilometers from Beijing, and Mutianyu, 70 kilometers northeast of Beijing.
Location: Huairou District, China
Official website: www.mutianyugreatwall.com/homePage/toIndexEn
2. The Forbidden City & the Imperial Palace, Beijing
China’s largest and most important building, the Forbidden City (Zǐjìnchéng) – also known as the Forbidden City – is located in the heart of Beijing and is one of the must-see attractions when visiting the country. Construction began during the Yuan Dynasty between 1271 and 1368, and most of the complex seen today was built between 1406 and 1420. There are indeed many ornate palaces, this sprawling complex was the residence of the 24 Ming and Qing emperors whose existence forbade anyone but the royal family and their prostitutes to enter.
Covering an area of approximately 720,000 square meters, the huge complex is protected by 10-meter-high walls and watchtowers and a large moat and includes ceremonial and administrative areas as well as private residences used by the emperor. While it may take hours to see it all, highlights include the five white marble Jinhe Bridges, the 35-meter-high Hall of Supreme Harmony with the throne, and the elegant Imperial Banquet Hall (Baohe Hall); and the Palace Museum. With a large collection of Ming and Qing-era art and relics (museum tours are available in English).
Other major attractions near the Forbidden City include the famous Tiananmen Square and the 15th-century Temple of Heaven, one of the country’s most important religious sites.
Address: No. 4, Jingshan Front Street, Dongcheng, Beijing, China
Official website: https://en.dpm.org.cn
3. The Terracotta Army, Xi’an
In the 1970s, while digging a well on the outskirts of Xi’an, farmers stumbled upon the most important archaeological find in China at the time: the Terracotta Warriors. Spread over three massive underground pits built to protect the First Emperor’s mausoleum, it contains more than 8,000 life-size warriors, about 520 horses and over 100 chariots, as well as many other non-military figures.
While some have been severely damaged over the years, many of the statues that have been uncovered have been painstakingly reassembled as evidence of the emphasis placed on the emperor and the afterlife. Part of the Qin Shihuang Mausoleum Ruins Park, one of China’s top tourist attractions, the site is unforgettable, as standing in front of this group of soldiers and horses is like watching a centuries-old military parade. English-speaking guides are available.
Address: Lintong District, Xi’an City, Shaanxi Province, China
Official website: www.bmy.com.cn/2015new/bmyweb/
4. Summer Palace, Beijing
Just 15 kilometers from Beijing, the flamboyant Summer Palace (Yíhé Yuán) is one of China’s most popular attractions, set in a beautiful park spanning more than 700 acres. Although the palace itself was built in 1153, its large lake was added in the 14th century to enhance the royal gardens.
Highlights include the magnificent Renshou Hall (Ren Shou Hall) and the beautiful Grand Theatre, a private three-story building built-in 1891 to satisfy the throne and the royal family’s love of opera. This historic venue is still used for traditional Chinese theater and musical events and is well worth a visit.
Other highlights include the Hall of Happiness and Longevity (Leshoutang), with its beautiful gardens and courtyards and miles of picturesque trails and hiking trails. If time permits, try visiting the Yuanmingyuan ruins, said to be one of the most elegant and architecturally attractive palaces in the country. Unfortunately, this once impressive building was destroyed by colonial forces in the mid-1800s.
Address: No. 19, Gongmen Road, Xinjiang, Haidian District, China
Official website: www.summerpalace-china.com/English/index.htm
5. Cruising the Li River, Guilin
Located in the northeastern corner of Guangxi, the town of Guilin has some of the most beautiful countrysides in China and is famous for the Li River that runs through the town and the surrounding karst mountains. Over the centuries, this unique landscape has attracted poets and artists, has been the subject of countless fairy tales and legends, and today it is popular with tourists from all over the world who want to see the magnificent sight of this nature up close.
The best way to enjoy the area is to take a boat trip along the Li River. The most popular section is Yangshuo, from Guilin to Yangshuo, where the river wanders peacefully through some 80 kilometers of extraordinary rock formations and caves with romantic names such as Jumeishan, Elephant Trunk Hill, and Reed Flute Cave. Depending on the type of boat used – you can choose a tourist cruise or a small bamboo raft – the trip can take from a few hours to a few days.
6. Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Research Base, Sichuan
No visit to China would be complete without at least one panda experience. While China’s top zoos have many exquisite specimens of these fascinating animals, the best place to view them close to their natural habitat is the excellent Giant Panda Breeding Research Base in Chengdu, Sichuan Province. Here, you’ll have the opportunity to watch up to 80 pandas go about their daily lives, from foraging to playing games in the resort’s large park-like setting.
In addition to seeing these magnificent animals up close, you can learn a lot about them from the many permanent exhibits detailing the conservation efforts to protect their future.
If possible, try to schedule feeding times in the morning when the panda is most active. Better yet, enroll in a unique, experiential volunteer program that involves you in feeding and feeding these adorable animals, and maybe even keeping a baby panda. English tours are available.
Address: No. 1375, Xiongmao Avenue, Chenghua District, Chengdu City, Sichuan Province, China
Official website: www.panda.org.cn/english/
7. The Three Gorges and the Yangtze River
The vast Yangtze River, known in China as the Yangtze River (“Chang River”), stretches for more than 6,000 kilometers and is the longest and most important river in China and the third longest river in the world after the Amazon and Nile.
The Yangtze River begins in Tibet in the west, passes through eight provinces in the east and reaches Shanghai in the east. It has been China’s main traffic artery for over 2000 years (about 2,700 kilometers of travel). With its 700 tributaries, the large catchment area covers about one-fifth of the country’s total area and includes a quarter of the country’s agricultural land.
While its immense length makes the river to be visited in many parts of China, by far the most popular with tourists is the beautiful Three Gorges – Qutang, Wu and Xiling – a 200km stretch between the towns of Fengjie and Yichang. between the river. Where rapids and dangerous shallows mix, rivers meander between canyons, cliffs and high peaks in a landscape as dramatic as the Grand Canyon.
There are many excursion options to choose from, from luxury cruises that focus on the area’s many historic sites and scenic locations, to challenging adventure tours along the most dramatic stretches of the river.
8. The Classical Gardens of Suzhou, Jiangsu
Considered one of the most important historical gardens in the world and thus a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Suzhou Classical Gardens should be at the top of your China itinerary. Located in Suzhou, a historic city in Jiangsu province, these magnificent gardens were built with more than 270 gardens planted here in the 11th century when the city was experiencing unprecedented growth.
The most famous of the surviving restored gardens are the Delightful Lingering Garden, a 7-acre site built in 1800 on the site of a park created during the Ming Dynasty. One of the most famous garden complexes in China, the garden features a pool, several fascinating buildings, a man-made hill, a peach grove, and a beautiful covered pathway with more than 300 stone tablets hanging on the walls.
Also worth a visit is Canglang Pavilion Garden, a two-acre garden with many unique features, including a double arcade that connects the inside and outside.
Address: No. 178, Northeast Street, Gusu District, Suzhou City, Jiangsu Province
9. Potala Palace, Tibet
Another of China’s most recognizable historical buildings is the magnificent Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet. It is the castle and residence of the Dalai Lama and has been the center of political and religious power for centuries and houses many of the religion’s most important treasures.
The first of the two Potala Palaces, the Red Palace was built in the 17th century and contains the most important mausoleum in the complex. These can be found in the Hall of the Round Table, the walls of which are covered with murals depicting scenes from the lives of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan king. Other highlights of the Red Palace are the elegant shrines (called “stupas”) of most of the Dalai Lamas, along with its many great halls dedicated to religious teachings.
Completed in 1648, the equally impressive White House, including the bedrooms, study, and reception room, has remained largely untouched since the Dalai Lama fled Tibet in 1959. Be sure to visit the amazing Gem Garden in Lhasa. Part of the Dalai Lama’s Summer Palace, these 90-acre gardens were built in the 1840s and contain everything from grand palaces and pavilions to delightful lakes.
Address: No. 35, Beijing Middle Road, Lhasa, Tibet, China
10. Shanghai Promenade: The Bund
Outstanding initiatives in smart city planning and conservation can be spotted at Shanghai’s magnificent riverside promenade, perhaps Zhongshan Road, better known as The Bund. Wandering through this expansive pedestrian zone along the Huangpu River, you’ll almost forget you’re in the heart of China’s largest city.
The Bund is known for its European flair, a fact attributed to the past of the region that is home to the city’s international settlement; The Bund is known for its 52 well-preserved British and French-influenced buildings, now popular with many restaurants, cafes, shops, and art. galleries. Representing influences from Gothic to Renaissance styles, including many Art Deco buildings, the building features highlights such as the old harbor customs office with its bell tower and the magnificent Peace Hotel.
For the best view of the Bund, visit the 468-foot East Pearl Tower on the other side of the Huangpu River. If time permits, be sure to visit Yu Garden. Affectionately known as the “Garden of Happiness”, this not-to-be-missed garden dates back to when it was laid out in 1559. Most of the original structures have been preserved to this day.
Address: Zhongshan East Road, Bund, Huangpu District, Shanghai, China
11. Hangzhou’s historic West Lake
Few cities in China are as densely populated with magnificent monuments and ancient temples as Hangzhou (Hangzhou). In the capital of Zhejiang Province, located at the southernmost end of China’s famous Grand Canal, many of these rich collections are centered around the beautiful West Lake, a six-square-kilometer body of water in the center of the ancient city. hills, pagodas and temples.
An 11th-century man-made causeway divides it into five distinct sections and crosses from one body of water to the next, making this a great area to explore on foot just to stumble upon another beautiful set of ancient Architecture. Especially in the spring, it is very comfortable for the peach flowers to bloom.
Part of the fun is lingering on the lake’s many beautiful old bridges, the best being the Broken Bridge (Duanqiao) connecting Baidi Embankment to the beach and exploring Little Paradise Island and four mini lakes connected by zigzag bridges.
Be sure to hop on one of the many boats and small yachts that will give you a dip in the lake. If time permits, attend the fun musical fountain show that takes place every evening.
12. The Mausoleum of Light: The Northern Imperial Tomb, Shenyang
The ancient city of Shenyang is located in the mountains of Northeast China. This important commercial and cultural center is home to the Guangming Tomb (Zhaoling), also known as the Northern Emperor’s Tomb. One of the most important historical sites in northeastern China – the Mausoleum of the Ming and Qing Emperors, a UNESCO World Heritage Site – the mausoleum is distinguished by its unique architectural style: a combination of traditional Chinese cemetery and castle-like architecture of Early Qing architecture.
Emperor Huang Taiji, who ruled from 1626 to 1635, is buried here, covering more than 180,000 square meters and taking eight years to complete. The site is known for its “Path of the Spirit”, a street lined with stone pillars and statues of the emperor’s favorite horse.
Another highlight is the magnificent early Qing Imperial Palace, the second largest fully preserved palace complex in China after the Forbidden City in Beijing. The complex was once the residence of the first emperor of the Qing Dynasty and includes several ornate courtyards surrounded by numerous buildings, including the Chaozheng Hall (Chongzheng Hall) dedicated to his throne.
Location: Huanggu District, Shenyang, China
Hope you like our choice of the best places to visit in China. If you think there are some more beautiful places to visit in China, we should cover them. Write us below in the comment box.