Top 10 places you must visit in China
If you’re fortunate enough to be planning a vacation to China, the question isn’t where to go — it’s how much can you see in the time you have there? This is a nation of wondrous beauty and ancient destinations like the Great Wall, a country filled with modern architecture, amazing history, sumptuous cuisine and other glorious discoveries awaiting you. Whether you’re an art hound, a history buff, a shopping addict or a nature lover, China is filled to the brim with beauty and imagination, and no matter where you go and how many sights you see, there is always more waiting at the dawn of a new day. In fact, you are likely to run out of ‘holiday dawns’ before you get to see everything China offers! But not to worry…we have here a roundup of some of its best, most prized attractions, whether it’s walking, shopping, gawking or any other tourist activity you want to indulge. So….get packing!
Beijing: As the country’s capital city, Beijing offers more than any visitor can take in during two or even three weeks. First off are your accommodations: the city has it all, from ultra-luxurious to plain, clean and simple. Do a little research and you’re sure to find a room that suits you to a tee. Note: in the more sophisticated hotels, all the staff speak English very well, so if that’s important to you, pony up a few extra pounds and indulge in a great room! (For a detailed list of Beijing hotels, and the top places to visit please see our lists: Top Hotels, and Top 10 Spots To Visit In Beijing.)
Once you’ve settled in, go off to the Great Wall — everyone’s “must see and walk” in Beijing. So is the Beijing Zoo — it has hundreds of animals, many of them rare breeds indigenous to China. And of course going to the Forbidden City is another “must do” in Beijing, along with the Temple Of Heaven, where locals now do their morning exercise routines! Spectacular!
Xi’an: This city is filled with ancient, historic places to visit, as it once served as China’s capital. There’s the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, one of the oldest Buddhist temples in China. The Ancient City Wall offers more than 20 kilometres of walking and biking trails, and the Terracotta Army is the world’s oldest imperial maze of tombs, dating back to 206 B.C.
Guilin: This may be the most gorgeous spot in all of China, although it’s very hard to choose just one! But this city’s landscape is unique in that it’s made of limestone, so you won’t get views anywhere else like the ones you’ll get in Guilin. The spectacle of the Li River is breathtaking, and the rural beauty of Yangshuo is not to be missed. The Longji Terraced Fields are massive rice terraces — just the place to discover local food and tea.
Chengdu: This is the home region of Giant Pandas! Need we say more? If your children are travelling with you, a visit to Chengdu is an absolute must, so you can all learn about this amazing creature we’ve all come to see as the national symbol of China. One more thing not to be missed here — the Leshan Giant Buddha statue, carved straight into the side of a cliff. It stands more than 70 metres tall, and is a truly awesome sight to behold.
Hangzhou: This place is right at Shanghai’s back yard, and you can get there on one of China’s ultra sleek, modern high-speed trains in no time. Visit the Grand Canal, the longest running canal system in the world. And stop at the Lingyin Temple, home to many Buddhist pagodas and temples.
Shanghai: We’ve written about this marvellous city before, but it bears repeating! Shanghai offers just the right blend of sophistication and old world charm, and has many historical sights any trip to China must include. Shop till you drop, take in the many Buddhist temples and pagodas, and enjoy the cuisine that is unique to Shanghai. For detailed info about this great city, please see our blog, “top 10 spots in Shanghai.”
Hong Kong: Okay, so Hong Kong is in a wee bit of an uproar at the moment, we all know that. But this city is one of the world’s greatest, cosmopolitan cities, not just China’s. Depending on when you’re going, a stop in Hong Kong is a vital part of any trip to China. Go to Victoria Harbour and take in the view, and Lantau Island, which offers a theme park, a la Disney. And of course Hong Kong is famous for its silks and tailors, so indulge a little and get a suit made to order! There are no finer craftsmen in the world. Hong Kong has a unique blend of British and Chinese cultures, so getting a pot of tea and a scone is easy, affordable and delicious!
Huangshan: This region is known for its mountainous, rural beauty, and if you’re in need of a calmer pace for a few days, be sure to put this district on your list. Go to the villages of Xidi and Hongcun so you can truly experience China’s rural communities. Have tea, indulge in yummy local cuisine, and stroll around the beautiful terrain, taking in the landscape’s beauty. Ah…as the Buddhists would say…bliss!
Suzhou: This region in China is famous for its fabrics (like silk), calligraphy and horticulture. You will soon adapt to the area’s less frenzied pace, and the gardens and warm locals will lull you into a calm, relaxed spirit. This district is built entirely on waterways, and it’s filled with gardens — something the Chinese do best! It’s definitely the place to go when you want to see how the other half of China lives — the unhurried, welcoming and warm folks who live in the area.
Lhasa: This is the doorway to Tibet, the Tibet we imagine and see in movies, in which you can see stunning Mount Everest around every corner. Its shopping district, Barkhor Street, is the place to go for souvenirs, and be sure to stop at the Potala Palace, which is where the Dalai Lama spends his winter months. This is the capital city of Tibet, and everywhere you go oozes with the spirituality and calm of the famous Buddhist leader.
China is a spectacular country with a great deal to see, do and experience. There are historical places to visit and hike; great cuisine in which to indulge, and enough shopping venues to make the most die hard retail enthusiast shriek with glee. It’s a great place for couples, families, or
solo travellers who want to go somewhere different, somewhere new somewhere exciting. China offers a glimpse of one of the world’s most ancient cultures, but it’s also a modern, high-tech wonder only a plane ride away. Whether you’re a big city lover or a nature and rural enthusiast, China has something for everyone. So what are you waiting for? Plan your trip, tick off your “must see” places, and get to that packing!