China is enormous; it’s one of the largest countries in the world, so there are countless places to visit across this vast land. Some of them, due to their beauty, historical significance or other unique qualities, simply must be seen on a trip to China. Here’s a list of 12 important tourist attractions in China, keep it in mind when you plan your journey so that you won’t miss any of the most important points.
Table of Contents
1. Great Wall of China
This is something that probably doesn’t have to be reminded of. The Great Wall of China is the country’s landmark and one of the world’s most admired wonders. Many anecdotes about this site are being repeated worldwide, such as the one claiming the Wall is visible from the Moon. Unfortunately, this romantic tale is probably not true, yet luckily you don’t have to go to the Moon to see the Great Wall.
The construction of the fortifications started in 5th century BC and lasted for following centuries until the 16th century (with a lot of maintenance on the way, building, rebuilding, fixing, etc.). Parts of the fortifications are now ruined, but some were renovated and are well-preserved. The most famous section is Bādálǐng, near Zhangjiakou. Sections around Beijing municipality are popular too. Jinshanling, on the other hand, isn’t as popular as them, but worth seeing as it is one of the most scenic parts of the Great Wall.
2. Li River in Guilin
The landscape with rolling hills, Karst Mountains, steep cliffs and mysterious caves makes the Li River in Guilin one of the most charming tourist attractions in China. You can go on a cruise from Guilin to Yangshuo, sit in a bamboo raft and sail the river while these breathtaking views surround you.
3. Terracotta Army
The Qin Tomb Terracotta Warriors and Horses is a special treat for all history and art-lovers. The collection of sculptures presents the armies of the first China’s emperor, Qin Shi Huang, and it dates back to the third century BC. The sculptures mostly depict warriors, chariots, and horses, but there are some non-military figures as well (acrobats, athletes, musicians and officials). It’s a form of funerary art, created to protect the emperor after his death. The emperor is buried in the mausoleum together with his treasures. Imagine the astonishment of local farmers who discovered this site in 1974. They were digging a well for water when they came across this amazing gem.
4. Forbidden City
The name “Forbidden City” sounds intriguing, doesn’t it? It’s a translation of Chinese name “Zijin Cheng,” which means “Purple Forbidden City.” The purple refers to the North Star (because its Chinese name includes the word “purple”) that according to Chinese astrology was a place of emperor’s residence in heavens. Why forbidden? Probably because when the emperor lived in the Forbidden City, nobody could neither enter nor leave the palace without his permission. It’s the biggest palace in the world and covers 72 hectares. The whole complex includes 980 buildings. Right now the palace is a museum with extensive imperial collections and one of the most impressing tourist attractions in China.
5. The Bund in Shanghai
The Bund area is one of Shanghai’s landmarks. Art Deco, Romanesque, Renaissance, Baroque and other architectural styles can be seen there, altogether 52 buildings being a proof of architects endless creativity. There are both European colonial buildings and modern skyscrapers. The area is sometimes being called “a museum of buildings.”
6. Yangtze River
The Yangtze is one of the biggest rivers in the world, it’s over 6000 kilometers long, and hence on its banks are numerous sites and cities. Between cities Chongqing and Yichang, in the Three Gorges area, there’s a stunning cruise ship route.
7. Yellow Mountain
This scenic area is a paradise for all mountain-lovers. The scenery consists of beautiful Huangshan Pine trees. Peculiarly-shaped rocks and magically looking clouds you can see from above. There’s no doubt that the Yellow Mountain is one of the greatest natural tourist attractions in China. It has inspired many Chinese artists and poets. There are approximately 60 000 steps carved into the side of the mountain. If you don’t fancy climbing the stairs, you can also use a cable car to reach the summits.
In Tibetan Lhasa means “the land of gods.” and it’s also a perfect name for this wonderful place, the capital of Tibet. Even though it’s now a region of China, once you enter Lhasa, you can still feel the Tibetan spirit. The majestic Himalayas surround the mysterious, yet fascinating city. There are numerous sites in Lhasa, but one you surely can’t miss is the Potala Palace. The palace, a former residence of the Dalai Lama, lies scenically 130 meters above the Lhasa valley.
9. Mogao Caves
The system of Mogao Caves consists of 492 Buddhist temples. The construction probably started in the 4th century, when Lè Zūn, a Buddhist monk, had a vision of thousand Buddhas bathed in golden light. The inspired monk therefore decided to build a cave. The construction he had begun went on for centuries. Rock-cut temples are full of wonderful Buddhist artworks, and it makes them a fantastic tourist attraction. In China, there are two more examples of similar ancient temples, Longmen Grottoes and Yungang Grottoes.
10. Leshan Giant Buddha
This gigantic statue stands 71 meters high and is carved out of a cliff face. The locals use to say: “The Mountain is a Buddha and the Buddha is a mountain.” You’ll find the statue in the Sichuan province, not far from the city of Leshan. Leshan Giant Buddha faces the scenic Mount Emei. The whole area is beautiful and also historically significant with its Buddhist temples.
11. Summer Palace
The Summer Palace lies in Beijing and is an excellent ensemble of gardens, temples, bridges, pavilions, lakes and palaces. The Kunming Lake, the Summer Palace’s central point, and the 60 meters high Longevity Hill are dominating the landscape. Emperor Qianlong built the complex was in the 18th century, and it was a beautiful summer residence for imperial families.
12. Victoria Harbour
Hong Kong has a striking skyline that you can see from Victoria Harbour. Besides that, it is also one of the greatest modern tourist attractions in China. While you visit the Victoria Harbour, you can see the skyscrapers of Hong Kong and also the Tsim Sha Tsui shoreline.
The bay is a strategic location, which sits between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon. It used to be an important part of the British Empire. Now Victoria Harbour is a highly busy harbor, a major tourist point and a center of China’s foreign trade.