beijing old man

10 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in China

Beijing China
Beijing China

My first trip to China was in January 2010, and it was not the best time of the year to visit it. Like many people, when you think about China the first thing that comes into your mind is “the Great Wall”, but China has also a lot more to offer.

China is a country filled with unexpected surprises. To truly visit China you would need a lifetime, but here’s a list of what we loved and what we think are the 10 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in China.

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Never too far with a camera. Who has never wished to travel the world and bring fabulous pictures of his amazing journey? Roman started traveling at the age of 22 years old through Vietnam and Cambodia, the travel bug began, and since his hunger to see the world never stopped.

1- The great Wall of China

greatwall china
Badaling great wall of china

“Nobody can be a true hero unless he has been on the Great Wall” of China. The magnificent Great Wall of China (known in Chinese as “Changcheng,” or the “Long Wall”) stretches more than 6,000 kilometers. It begins from the fortresses of Shanhaiguan in the east all the way to Jiayuguan in the west – passing through Hebei, Tientsin, Beijing. The best-preserved sections of the wall can be visited —Inner Mongolia, Ningxia, and Gansu.

Today, the most visited section of the wall is near Badaling Pass northwest of Beijing. It can easily be reached by public transport or organized tours. Other restored sections worth a visit include the section near Gubeikou, 130 kilometers from Beijing, and in Mutianyu, just 70 kilometers northeast of Beijing.

Accommodation: Where to stay in Beijing


2- See the Pandas in Chengdu

Panda of Chengdu
Pandas in Chengdu

No trip to China is complete without seeing the pandas at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding. The research base, dedicated to only one animal “the panda. Not to mention that is easily the biggest contributing factor to giant pandas no longer being an endangered species.

In addition to its research and preservation efforts, the center also offers up-close looks at giant pandas and red pandas. The enclosures imitate the natural habitat of the giant panda. The visitors would be able to see the natural habits that they wouldn’t normally see at a zoo.

A morning visit gives you a good chance to see most of it. The pandas climbing bamboo trees, rolling around in the grass, and being goofballs. Visitors can also take a peek at the nursery, where the newborns and little ones sleep in incubators.

Accommodation: Where to stay in Chengdu

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3- Hangzhou’s Historic West Lake

Hangzhou's Historic West Lake
Hangzhou’s Historic West Lake

The Historic West Lake is an iconic, symbolic sight in Hangzhou and is regarded as one of the most beautiful sights in China. Its beauty is the subject of many poems and paintings. Legends originating in West Lake add to it an aura of romance.

Here are the highlights and popular ways of visiting West Lake for your inspiration.

  • Chinese: 西湖 Xī Hú /shee hoo/ (xi is ‘west’; hu is ‘lake’)
  • Location: southwest of downtown Hangzhou, 180 km southwest of Shanghai
  • Area: 6.5 square kilometers (2½ square miles)
  • Highlights: The Ten Scenic Sites of West Lake, boat cruises, biking, scenic walks, Impression West Lake night show
  • Recommended length of visit: 1 day

Accommodation: Where to stay in Hangzhou


4- Leshan Giant Buddha

Leshan Giant Buddha
Leshan Giant Buddha

The mountain is a Buddha and the Buddha is a mountain.” As the Chinese saying. Started in AD 713 by a Buddhist monk and completed 90 years later, this important religious icon is carved entirely from a stone cliff-face and is the largest Buddha sculpture in the world (71-meter-tall).

Representing the Buddha Maitreya, the statue is even more dramatic given its location overlooking the river that it was designed to appease. The Leshan Giant Buddha is designated by the UNESCO World Heritage, it draws huge numbers of pilgrims from across the globe and it is one of China’s must-visit attractions.

The attraction is easily accessible from the city of Chengdu, and can also be reached by a fun ferry trip from the public docks in Leshan. In addition, the scenic park in which the Buddha is set is also worth exploring, so be sure to allocate sufficient time in your itinerary.

Accommodation: Where to stay in Leshan

10 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in China | Discover Evolution


5- Bike the Old City Walls of Xi’an

Bike the Old City Walls of Xi’an
Bike the Old City Walls of Xi’an

Don’t just go to Xi’an for the Terracotta Warriors. In the end, you’ll find that one of the best experiences you can have in the western Chinese city is a simple bike ride atop the old city walls. The walls themselves are quite impressive but don’t forget to look down for a bird’s eye view of everyday city life.

Accommodation: Where to stay in Xi’an


6- Zhangjiajie National Forest Park

Zhangjiajie National Forest Park
Zhangjiajie National Forest Park

When you first set eyes on Zhangjiajie National Forest Park in Hunan province, it’s certainly not difficult to see how filmmaker James Cameron was able to draw inspiration from it.

Cameron’s box office hit, Avatar, could well have been set in this area of stunning natural beauty, its many unique pillar-like rock formations looking like some incredible alien landscape right out of a sci-fi movie. In fact, one of the tallest pillars, standing at an impressive 1,080-meters, has in fact been renamed “Avatar Hallelujah Mountain”.

This is one of the lesser-known places to visit in China. In addition to its many natural wonders, which can best be explored as part of an organized tour, the park boasts a number of new man-made attractions.

Accommodation: Where to stay in Zhangjiajie

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7- The Forbidden City and the Imperial Palace, Beijing

The Forbidden City and the Imperial Palace, Beijing

China’s largest and most important building is the Forbidden City. In fact, it covers 720,000 square meters and protected by a 10-meter-high wall with watchtowers. The monument is situated in the very heart of Beijing and is a must-see when visiting the country.

The construction started during the Yuan Dynasty between 1271-1368, while the complex seen today was built between 1406 to 1420. This massive complex consists of areas set aside for ceremonial and administrative purposes, as well as a private residence used by the emperor.

An other important attractions in the vicinity of the Imperial Palace include the famous Tiananmen Square, and the Temple of Heaven, one of the country’s most important religious sites, which dates back to the 15th century.

Accommodation: Where to stay in Beijing


8- Ride a Camel Across Dunhuang Dunes

Ride a Camel Across Dunhuang Dunes

One of the lesser-traveled areas of western China is certainly not to be missed. While for most people China does not include camels in the desert. However, the “City of Sands” holds a firm place in China’s history as a stop on the ancient Silk Road.

Dunhuang is a city in Gansu Province near the border of Xinjiang. It is a city surrounded by desert, and it is known for its sand dunes, camel rides, and the Mogao Caves where you can see some ancient artwork and carvings.

Accommodation: Where to stay in Dunhuang

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9- Take a Gondola Through One of China’s Ancient Water Towns

Take a Gondola Through One of China's Ancient Water Towns

Venice has its canals and gondola rides, but China’s canals are much bigger and probably much older. You can see preserved canals with old buildings and bridges in several cities such as Shanghai and Hangzhou. This is precisely what you will experience by visiting Zhouzhuang in Shanghai or or any of Shanghai’s historic water towns.

Accommodation: Where to stay in Shanghai


10- See Mount Everest and the Tibetan Interior for Yourself

See Mount Everest and the Tibetan Interior for Yourself

If you decide to go to Tibet, you really should venture well outside Lhasa. A trip to see Mount Everest or another part of the Tibetan interior will bless you with awesome scenery and a sense of natural vastness and serenity that can only be found in the remotest parts of the planet.

But remember that you’ll need to arrange a group tour with a government-approved agency according to the recent guidelines.

Accommodation: Where to stay in Lhassa

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