Top 20 Tourist Attractions in China
No tourist would ever want to visit China and leave without visiting at least one of the most popular sites. Fortunately, you can visit many attractions during your tour to this populous country.
The tourist sites range from natural attractions to exciting cultural sites.
1. The World Famous Great Wall of China
The Great Wall of China is not only an engineering feat, but it’s also a beautiful sight to behold. It stretches from Gansu Province, all the way to Shanhaiguan. This makes a total of 5,000 km.
Often, tourists go sightseeing on the best-preserved part, close to Beijing. This is where you can enjoy the sight of such a magnificent structure in its true glory.
There was a time when it protected the Chinese Empire from hostile nomadic tribes, from the north. The wall was built in that period. It also had to be rebuilt at some point, apart from the much-needed maintenance to keep it sturdy.
2. The Amazing Terracotta Army in Xi’an
This significant archaeological site was only uncovered as recently as 1974. Farmers who were digging a well just stumbled upon the remarkable discovery. It’s now ranked among the greatest in the world.
By 1987, the Terracotta Army attained the status of a Cultural Heritage Site. It’s a well-deserved status, considering that it lay underground for well over 2,000 years. The hundreds of life-size models is an indelible record of the Warring State Period, from 475 to 221 BC. They represent the army that conquered all other Chinese armies. This led to the formation of a united China.
3. The Enchanting Li River
Fantastic scenery surrounds the Li River. In fact, the beauty of such a natural landscape has often been depicted in numerous paintings, and even praised by many poets.
If you’re looking for the perfect photography destination, this should be among your choice locations. Moreover, it’s also a place that radiates calm and peaceful seduction – a place where you can enjoy the beauty of nature.
A particularly enchanting section of the river spans from Guilin to Yangshuo. The landscape around it features beautiful bamboo groves, steep cliffs, and startling hills. No wonder the American National Geographic Magazine lists it among the “World’s Top Ten Watery Wonders”.
4. The Beautiful Forbidden City
This was once a “palace city” that forbade entry of ordinary people. No wonder the name: Forbidden City.
It’s a construction made up of 980 buildings, built in the 15th century. During the Ming and Qing dynasties, the city was home to Chinese emperors. This lasted for approximately 560 years, with a total of 24 emperors having lived there. Such a rich cultural history is probably the reason why locals refer to it as ‘the Palace Museum’.
But that’s not the only thing which makes it so intriguing. It offers a vibrant display of ancient Chinese architecture. Whereas, the elegant golden roofs will captivate you. Huge numbers of tourists come to view this majestic building every year.
5. The Intriguing Yellow Mountains
If you go to Eastern China, you’re sure to enjoy the spectacle that is Mount Huang. It’s also called Huangshan, meaning Yellow Mountain.
Here, you’ll view beautiful sunsets, interesting granite peaks and even a captivating view of clouds from above. The most intriguing aspect is the appearance of the mountain peaks as if they were floating on clouds. They have such fanciful names as Lotus Flower Peaks, Paint Brush, and Celestial Capital.
If you fancy a trek to the top, you can do that on the 60,000 stone steps carved into the mountain. Alternatively, a ride on one of the cable cars would do.
6. Giant Pandas in Chengdu, Bifengxia and Dujiangyan
You certainly shouldn’t leave China without seeing the cute and adorable pandas, right in their natural habitat. It’s a more fulfilling experience than seeing them in zoos.
The Chengdu Panda Breeding and Research Center is a common choice for many tourists in search of the pandas. However, you can view pandas in two other locations: Dujiangyan Panda Valley and Bifengxia Panda Base. Bifengxia, in particular, offers a more natural habitat with many more pandas.
If you feel like it, why not take a volunteer program either in Bifengxia or Dujiangyan. That’s certainly one way to get into close contact with the adorable pandas.
7. Potala Palace, a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site
Any tourist itinerary focused on cultural sites should certainly include the Potala Palace. It’s not just a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site, but also the ultimate symbol of Tibet.
This palace houses many types of Buddhist statues, antiques, murals and other religious jewelry. That’s a bountiful collection of materials representing the rich Tibetan history, culture, art, and religion.
Having been the Dalai Lamas’ living quarters, the building possesses more than 1,000 rooms. You’ll also find sumptuous golden tombs where the Dalai Lamas rested upon their death. The palace only ceased being the Dalai Lamas’ residence in 1959, following the Chinese invasion.
8. Picturesque View of Victoria Harbor From Victoria Peak
If you want an iconic and picturesque view over Hong Kong, you should visit Victoria Peak, overlooking Victoria Harbor.
You’ll have a breathtaking bird’s eye view of Hong Kong. Whether day or night, the view is so captivating. Above all, the buildings surrounding the busy Victoria Harbor will amaze you. This is even more captivating at night, when an array of lights adds to the beautiful view.
The harbor itself is quite a sight to behold, being one of the busiest in the world. Hundreds of junks, ferries and speedboats come in and go out every single day. To have a better experience of this, you can take a trip on the Star Ferry.
9. The Impressive Leshan Giant Buddha
The Leshan Giant Buddha statue may not be among the top ten biggest Buddha statues, but it’s certainly the most impressive. Built approximately 1,200 years ago, the Leshan Buddha is unlike the larger ones. The larger ones are only 20 or 30 years old.
A monk called Haitong constructed this historical monument. He initiated construction of the 71-metre tall statue in the year 713. This is a phenomenal feat of ingenuity, carved right out of the hillside.
The statue was built to calm down the waters of Dadu River, a river passing through Leshan. The river was notorious for turbulent waters affecting shipping boats. Fortunately, this problem was resolved, since stone remnants carved from the statue fell into the water.
10. The Bund
The Bund is a waterfront that’s 1,500 meters in length. You’ll find it on the West Bank of Huangpu River, starting from Waibaidu Bridge all the way to Nanpu Bridge.
The thing that makes it a renowned architectural symbol of Shanghai is the range of 26 buildings on its west side, showcasing Gothic, Romanesque, Baroque, Renaissance, and Classicism architectural styles. Most of all, the buildings and skyscrapers around it house world leading business districts. Its flood-control wall also has a reputation of having been the most romantic corner in Shanghai.
11. The Chinese Garden-Style West Lake
You shouldn’t miss a trip to Hangzhou, China’s “paradise on earth”. It’s a beautiful place surrounding the expansive West Lake, offering a peaceful atmosphere that you’re sure to enjoy.
That’s one place where you can capture breathtaking pictures that will live on with you long after your trip to China.
The Chinese garden-style parks for recreation are the inspiration for the lake’s design. That’s clearly the hallmark of such a beautiful lake, as evidenced by its verdant islands, tree-lined walkways, as well as Chinese-style and pagoda arched bridges.
You’ll almost feel as if you’re completely detached from the hassle of modern life. Only a silhouette of urbanity would be visible on the northeast horizon. Beautiful mountains frame the other three sides.
12. The Long Yangtze River and Breathtaking Three Gorges
The Yangtze River is an incredibly long water body, only second to the Amazon and the Nile. No wonder locals refer to the 6,000 km river as Chang Jiang, meaning Long River.
This famous river flows through no less than eight provinces, starting from Tibet all the way to Shanghai. Considering that 2,700 km of it is navigable, it has served as China’s major transportation route. Not only that, but it’s also noted to have a significant influence on the country’s agricultural landscape, since its vast catchment area covers one-quarter of China’s agricultural land.
The most populous tourist locations along the long river are the Three Gorges: Qutang, Xiling, and Wu. Here, you have the option of enjoying its captivating beauty or engaging in challenging adventure tours along the dramatic, raging torrents.
13. The Incredible Classical Gardens of Suzhou
The Classical Gardens of Suzhou are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Once you get to Jiangsu province, you should certainly visit the gardens in Suzhou city. About 270 gardens were set up during the 11th century. The Garden of Lingering is the most famous of the currently surviving and restored gardens. It’s laid out on a seven-acre site, featuring: attractive buildings, a pool, a man-made hill and a grove of peach trees. You’ll also find a covered pathway with three hundred stone tablets hanging on its walls. The tablets have ancient Chinese characters engraved on them. This should be the perfect location for history enthusiasts and archaeological tourists.
14. The Mausoleum of Light: The Northern Imperial Tomb
The Northern Imperial tomb is commonly referred to as Zhaoling or Mausoleum of Light. It’s located in China’s Northeastern region.
This is Emperor Huang Taiji’s burial place. It’s a vast 180,000 square meters, befitting an emperor who reigned from 1626-35. The emperor’s favorite horses are depicted in sculptures and columns lining a laneway, called the “Path of Souls.” Due to the intricate designs of this beautiful site, it took eight years to complete.
This location also features the Imperial Palace. It dates back to the Qing era. The palace has several beautiful courtyards, offering you the chance to sample the splendor that was once only reserved for great emperors.
15. The Enchanting Jiuzhaigou Valley
There’s no shortage of incredible, natural beauty in China. This is exemplified by the enchanting beauty of Jiuzhaigou Valley.
This is a valley hidden within a mountainous region of southwest China, specifically in Sichuan province. When you visit this place, you’ll be amazed by the beautiful waterfalls, as well as the enchanting crystal-clear glacial lakes.
If you want the best experience, you should take the park’s hop-on-hop-off bus. This will help you explore the main scenic areas, as it stops on such strategic locations. However, if you prefer, you can opt for off-the-trail hiking to explore various areas, but only to a limited extent.
16. The Beautiful Landscapes of Yangshuo
Yangshuo is a beautiful tourist location in Guilin. This is a place that draws many visitors simply because of its amazing views. Interestingly shaped green hills frame the horizons. It also has rivers and waterfalls, making it an ideal location for numerous types of fun activities.
You can rent a bike to explore the beautiful trails meandering through the landscape. This will give you an excellent opportunity to take in as much of the scenery as possible, especially if you don’t fancy walking. Alternatively, you can view the landscape right from the Yi River, simply by hiring a boat.
17. The Longmen Caves
Going to the south of Luoyan City, you’ll find the incredible Longmen Caves, also called Longmen Grottoes.
The Longmen caves offer you the opportunity to catch a glimpse of history, through the few surviving Buddhist rock carvings.
These carvings date back to the fifth century. Apparently, the practice of carving them lasted for 200 years. An incredible 100,000 stone Buddhist statues were carved out in 2,000 caves. You’re sure to enjoy the amazing spectacle, observing it from the bank of the Yi River. The entire display is 1,000 meters long, from north to south. Moreover, tons of historical material are kept here, featuring: music, art, calligraphy, religion, costume, medicine and architecture.
18. The Ming Tombs
The Ming Tombs consist of 13 imperial tombs, set up during the Ming Dynasty. They aren’t all in one place, but scattered throughout a 40-square-kilometer area. Fortunately, you don’t have to travel far from Beijing to get there, since they are close.
Each tomb has its unique architecture, and one of the most interesting is Emperor Yongle’s tomb. Make sure to visit Emperor Ding Ling’s tomb too, for the opportunity to see what a tomb looks like inside.
You’ll have an easier time visiting both the tombs and the Great Wall, since they are close.
19. The Amazing Karst Mountains
Apart from the interesting sites of human ingenuity, the Karst Mountains present a display of unusual natural formations.
This is where you’ll find amazing naturally forged Karst hills and caves. In fact, they aren’t just a modern attraction, since inscriptions dating back to the Tang Dynasty have been found in the hills and caves. You’ll get an excellent view of the beautiful natural masterpieces from Yangshuo.
20. Zhangye’s Danxia Landscape
Danxia is often called “Rainbow Mountains” due to the curvy, multicolored formations on its landscape. It presents a beautiful setup for any photographer to capture the thrilling beauty of nature.
The vibrant, red rock formations make for a beautiful view as the sun shines. Hence, visiting between June to September would be an ideal time to savor this incredible beauty truly.
Considering the rich variety of natural, historical and cultural attractions in China, every traveler is sure to find something they enjoy. Just make sure to plan your itinerary beforehand, to ensure you don’t miss out on any tourist attraction in your trip.