China is a communist nation located in East Asia. It is also the most populous country in the world. There are many diverse places to visit in China. After all, it is a huge country that encompasses grassland, lakes, mountain ranges, rivers, desert and 14,500km of coastline. There are many places in China that will enthrall you. One of the main tourist spots in China is Beijing. It is the ancient capital city of China that mixes modern architecture with historic sites including sprawling Tiananmen Square. And then there is Shanghai, the largest city of China. Not to mention the most famous tourist spots in China, the iconic Great Wall.
China is the guardian of the world’s oldest continuous civilization. So many places to visit in China and there are many things to do in China including visiting the famous Forbidden City, the Great Wall, and the Terracotta Army.
Best Places to Visit in China:
It is becoming increasingly easier to travel to the top tourist attractions in China. But it is quite exhausting rather than difficult considering the vast size of the country. Here is a list of the top tourist attractions in China for your convenience.
10. Pudong Skyline
Among the many places in China, Pudong is one of the most fascinating places to visit in China. Pudong means “East of Huangpu”. The name literally describes the location of the city. In its East are the East China Sea and the Huangpu River in the West. It is definitely one of the top tourist attractions in China with a beautiful skyline of gleaming skyscrapers. Pudong is a large district and is known to have a flourishing economy. There are many skyscrapers here including the symbolic Oriental Pearl Tower, the Jin Mao Building, the Shanghai World Financial Center and the Shanghai Tower.
The Oriental Pearl Tower allows a visitor a breathtaking view of the Pudong skyline. The Chinese are proud of the Oriental Tower. It is the tallest building in Asia after all; and 3rd tallest tower in the world. Aside from the Pearl Tower, the Jin Mao Building also completes the eye-pleasing character of one of the best places to visit in China. The Jin Mao Building is the home of a 5-star hotel boasting 555 rooms with sceneries that take you higher than the ground level. And there is the Shanghai Hotel which claims to be the highest hotel worldwide. This famous hotel boasts of having the longest laundry tube, the highest swimming pool, and has the highest nightclub, called “Cloud 9”, in the world.
The Pudong skyline is great to be observed at night when the evening backdrop of the surrounding Huangpu River is contrasted by the city lights. Teeming with activity with different establishments open 24/7, the nightlife of Pudong can only be equaled by Las Vegas and New York. Experiencing modern China in Pudong is one of the things to do in China. Don’t miss going to one of the most exciting places to visit in China.
9. Mogao Caves
The Mogao Caves is one of the best places to visit in China. This famous place is also known as the ‘Caves of the Thousand Buddhas’ (Qianfodong). Located in the desert, about 15 miles south-east of the town of Dunhuang in northwestern China, the Mogao Caves form a system of 492 temples. The caves comprise the largest, most richly endowed, and longest used treasure house of Buddhist art in the world, which makes it one of the top tourist attractions in China.
A Tang Dynasty inscription records that the first cave in the Mogao Grottoes was made in 366 A.D. and represents the grand accomplishment of Buddhist art from the 4th to the 14th century. Despite erosion and man-made destruction, the 492 caves are well preserved with frescoes covering an area of 45,000 square meters, more than 2,000 colored sculptured figures and five wooden eaves overhanging the caves. There are many pavilions, temples, courtyards, pagodas, towers, palaces, towns and bridges in the murals, which supply precious resources for the study of Chinese architecture. There are other paintings depicting Chinese and foreign musical performances, acrobatics and dancing.
The ‘Cave for Preserving Scriptures’ contains more than 50,000 sutras, documents, and paintings covering a period from the 4th to the 11th centuries. These priceless relics are of great historical and scientific value. Along with the Longmen Grottoes and Yungang Grottoes, the Mogao Caves are one of the three most famous ancient rock-cut temples and best places to visit in China.
8. Leshan Giant Buddha
One of the best places to visit in China is the Leshan Giant Buddha. The Leshan Giant Buddha is a statue of Maitreya (a Bodhisattva generally represented as a very stout monk with a broad smile on his face and with his naked breast and paunch exposed to view) in sitting posture. It is the tallest stone Buddha statue in the world, which has been carved out of a cliff face by an 8th-century monk in southern Szechuan province. This famous Buddha is located at the convergence of three rivers: Min River, Dadu River, and Qingyi River; and faces the sacred Mount Emei. Begun in the year 713 during the Tang Dynasty, the statue was not completed until the year 803. The Leshan Giant Buddha stands about 71 meters (233 feet) high and has three meters (11 feet) long fingers on each of its enormous resting hands.
As one of the top tourist attractions in China, many tourists visit the Giant Buddha. Visitors stare in awe at the Buddha from the tourist ferries and from a terrace next to his ear. There is a modern statue of the monk Haitong on one side of the terrace. The Lingyun Temple Museum is located behind with exhibits on the construction and renovations of Dafo. Wuyou Si is in the South of the Giant Buddha that visitors pass on the way from the ferry to the Buddha. It is a pink-walled monastery founded in 742 AD. A tiny ancient courtyard is its heart. There is a hall to one side up a hill dedicated to the “Wuyou Buddha.”
It is a fearsome arcane figure said to have been cast in India in the Tang Dynasty and after which the temple was named. And there is also a “500 Arhats Hall” with marvelously-painted life-sized clay figures of 500 of the Buddha’s disciples. And of course, there is also the magnificent bridge that acts as a shortcut to the Wuyou Si from the Giant Buddha. It will be a terrible mistake not to visit the Giant Buddha, one of the best places to visit in China.
7. Mount Huang
You might be wondering if there are any other places in China apart from temples and such. Well, one of the best things to do in China is traveling to the Mount Huang. Mount Huang, also known as Mount Huangshan (Yellow Mountain), ranks among the Great Wall and the famous Terracotta Warriors as one of the most luring tourist attractions in China. Located in southern Anhui Province, it is one of the best places to visit in China. Among Huangshan’s many peaks, the three most widely known is The Lotus Peak, The Celestial Capital, and The Brilliant Top Mountain. All the three peaks rise a striking 1,800 meters above sea-level.
Huangshan is known in China as “The Number One Mountain under the Heaven”. The jutting rocks, sparkling pools, gurgling waterfalls and the transient clouds that make up the mountain’s dreamlike ambiance are sure to cite images of the most famous Chinese art. The Granite Mountains are dotted with enormous natural stone columns, webbed with deep crevices, and feature the jutting peaks so often illustrated by Chinese artists. The gnarled pines sprout forth from many rocks. These attributes change along with the seasons rather than diminishing in splendor.
Spring is marked by blossoming flowers that adorn the slopes in a riot of pastels. Spring is attended by a sonata of scents and wildlife followed by the luxuriant slopes of summer. And in the autumn and winter, the mountains are bejeweled in glowing reds and purples as the maple leaves turn. It is peaceful and inspiring in a classic winter with frost, ice and silver branches. It is the loveliest places to visit in China.
6. Li River Cruise
One of the best things to do in China is a river cruise in Li River. With the most popular and picturesque scenery, Li River is one of the best places to visit in China. A cruise from Guilin on the Li River is a grand retreat from city life and a tranquil way to see Yangshuo China. Breathing the fresh air, feeling the gentle breeze and absorbing the fabulous landscape on both sides of Li River makes cruising on Li River a delighted thing. It is really a wonderful experience. The landscape is decorated with amazing hills, steep cliffs, incredible caves, and farming villages, and is lined with bamboo groves.
Li River is most certainly one of the best places to visit in China. The most amazing thing about Li River is its beauty changes with passing seasons. The classic picture in people’s mind is the Li River in the mist which mostly appears from April to June. The best time, however, is from July to October. During sunny days you can see the inverted reflection of the hills on both sides in the water. Winter is the low season, but it’s much quieter. Along the river, you can see stunning Karst hills, bamboo groves, and villages.
You can also see the river bottom and rocky shoals. Highlights along the way include Nine Horse Fresco Hill, 20-Yuan Bill Hill, Yellow Cloth Shoal and Xingping Town. With its awesome scenery and flavor of a life far removed from the concrete metropolis, the vista along the Li River is one of the top tourist attractions in China.
5. Terracotta Army
One of the best things to do in China is watching the Terracotta Army. The Terracotta Army (Terracotta Warriors and Horses) are the most momentous archeological excavations of the 20th century. This famous army can be found in around 1.5 kilometers east of Emperor Qin Shi Huang’s Mausoleum in Lintong, Xian, Shaanxi Province. The Terracotta Army is a collection of terracotta sculptures depicting the armies of Qin Shi Huang (221 BC-206 BC), the first Emperor of China.
It took 11 years to finish it. It is the most popular tourist attraction in China. There are over 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses and 150 cavalry horses in the three pits containing the Terracotta Army, the bulk of which are still buried in the pits.
The State Council authorized to build a museum on site in 1975, which has become one of the best places to visit in China. Life size terracotta figures of warriors and horses arranged in battle formations are the star features at the museum. You can see a whole army which would accompany its emperor into immortality. All the officers and soldiers were positioned in a grand ancient army formation in firm accordance with the ancient directives on the Art of War. What’s most fascinating about the army is every figure differs in facial features and expression, clothing, hairstyle, and gestures, providing abundant and detailed artifacts for the study of the military, cultural, and economic history of that period. It truly is one of the best places to visit in China.
4. Victoria Harbor
Victoria Harbor is one of the most exciting places to visit in China. It is a major tourist attraction in China and one of the deepest container ports in the world. Victoria Harbor is located in China between Hong Kong Island and the Kowloon Peninsula. While you take a stroll along the Victoria Harbor esplanade you can enjoy fantastic views of Hong Kong’s skyline. People are attracted to the harbor because it offers a beautiful scenic view of Hong Kong. During the second night of the lunar year, this area displays spectacular fireworks. It is also used for recreation like swimming and water polo.
As one of the best places to visit in China, Victoria Harbor is a popular gathering place for tourists as well as for locals. You should not miss the daily night show “A Symphony of Lights”, awarded by the Guinness Book of Records as the “World largest permanent light and sound show”. The stunning light and laser shows feature more than 40 different buildings and skyscrapers on both sides of the harbor. This fabulous show will take your breath away while you watch and enjoy the lights synchronizing with the beautifully composed music. One of the most enthralling things to do in China is taking a trip on the Star Ferry, which is the best way to enjoy the beauty of the Victoria Harbor.
3. Forbidden City
The Forbidden City is one of the best places to visit in China. It is a famous palace located in the center of Beijing. The Forbidden City was the seat of supreme power for over five centuries (1416-1911). It was the imperial palace for twenty-four emperors during the Ming and Qing dynasties. The Forbidden City is China’s largest and best-preserved collection of ancient buildings and the largest palace complex in the world. The palace was and still is called The Forbidden City because it was off limits for 500 years until the abdication of Puyi, the last Emperor of China. The construction of the palace began in 1406 and it took 14 years to finish it. There are 980 surviving buildings with 8,707 rooms surrounded by a six meter (20 ft) deep moat and a ten meter (33 ft) high wall.
Today the Forbidden City is a museum and one of the most popular tourist attractions in China. There are five entrances to the gate – the central one reserved for the emperor. Only on her wedding day, the empress was allowed through it only once. When you enter through it you will see the Golden Stream, which is shaped to resemble a Tartar bow and spanned by five marble bridges. Walk through it and you will reach the magnificent Gate of Supreme Harmony.
The main attractions of the Forbidden City are the Three Great Halls, the glorious heart of the Forbidden City raised on a three-tier marble terrace with balustrades. There are other fabulous things to see in the Forbidden City including the Calligraphy and Painting Gallery, Ceramics Gallery, the Palace of Heavenly Purity, the Hall of Union and many more. As one of the most famous places to visit in China, the Forbidden City will take your breath away.
2. Potala Palace
The Potala Palace is one of the most beautiful places to visit in China. The Potala Palace is situated on the Red Hill of central Lhasa. Reaching 3,767.19m (12,359.55ft) at the topmost point, it is the highest ancient palace in the world. Named after a holy hill in South India, Potala is a Sanskrit word meaning “Abode of the Avalokitesvara (Buddha of Mercy).” According to legend, the Tibet King Songtsen Gampo built a 9-story palace with a thousand rooms up on the Red Hill and named it Potala in the 7th century, to greet his bride Princess Wen Cheng of the Tang Dynasty (618B.C. – 907B.C.) of China. Construction of the present structure began during the reign of the fifth Dalai Lama in 1645 and by 1648 the PotrangKarpo or White Palace was completed. Between 1690 and 1694, the PotrangMarpo or Red Palace was added.
As one of the most fabulous places to visit in China, your first sight of the towering and fortress-like walls of the Potala Palace is a moment you’ll remember for years. It is an architectural marvel even by modern standards. Pilgrims and tourists alike shuffle open-mouthed through the three-storeyed, trying to take in the dozens of splendid chapels, murals, golden stupas, statues, rare sutras, thangkas and prayer halls.
Potala Palace has other annexes including the School of Buddhist Logic, the Printing House, the seminary, courtyards, gardens, and even the jail. To see the Potala Palace from afar is the best way to appreciate the vista of this impressive building. The best sites are the roof of Jokhang Temple (east of the palace) and Chakpori (southwest of the palace). Don’t miss seeing one of the best places to visit in China.
1. Great Wall of China
There will be no argument about the fact that the Great Wall of China is the best tourist spots in China. It is one of the best places to visit in China. The Great Wall of China is one of the greatest wonders of the world and was listed as a World Heritage by UNESCO in 1987. The Great Wall of China actually consists of numerous walls and fortifications, many running parallels to each other. This famous wall is 5,500 miles long. Between the 3rd century BC and the 17th century AD, the great wall was built and rebuilt to protect the northern borders of the Chinese Empire from the attacks of nomadic tribes from the north.
Originally conceived by Emperor Qin Shi Huang (c. 259-210 B.C.), the majority of the existing wall were built during the Ming Dynasty. The best-known and best-preserved section of the Great Wall was built in the 14th through 17th centuries A.D. (1368-1644 AD). Truth be told, the wall never stopped the Mongol invasion, but it functioned as a psychological barrier between Chinese civilization and the world. The condition of the Great Wall of China ranges from excellent to ruin.
The most popular area of the Great Wall is at Badaling. The Nan Pass section is 20 miles closer to Beijing and is considered to be one of the three best sections of the wall, with the other two being the Jiayuguan and Shanhaiguan. The most notable feature of the Nan Pass is the Cloud Platform. Built during the Yuan Dynasty, the Cloud Platform is a watchtower. You can have a wonderful view of natures all around the Wall from there.
The beautiful tower is constructed of white marble and includes both statues of gods and Buddhist writings inscribed on either side of the doorways. Also renovated but less touristy are Simatai and Jinshanling. Thrill seekers visiting the Great Wall won’t want to miss paragliding at Simatai. The most notable activities tourists engage in at the Great Wall is hiking along sections of the wall and occasionally camping overnight. The Great Wall is surely one of the best places to visit in China.