Discover China's rich cultural heritage through its iconic landmarks, breathtaking natural landscapes, vibrant cities, and top tourist attractions.
Chinese history is filled with things to marvel at, from ancient palaces, a forbidden city, and temples to modern skyscrapers and beaches. The country's tourist attractions include multiple UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Need to be convinced? We present the top 20 places to visit in China that will enrich your experience and create lasting memories.
The Great Wall of China
Discover one of China's most famous landmarks‒the Great Wall of China. Stretching over 13,000 miles and dating back over 2,000 years, the Great Wall was built to protect the country from invaders and is now a top tourist destination. Explore sections of the wall, admire the scenic views, and learn about its history.
Forbidden City, Beijing
Immerse yourself in China's rich history at the Forbidden City in the heart of Beijing. The former imperial palace of the Ming and Qing Dynasties, the Forbidden City, boasts over 9,000 rooms, courtyards, halls, and gardens that offer a glimpse into China's cultural heritage.
Terracotta Army, Xi'an & Shaanxi
The Terracotta Army of Xi'an is a must-see for all visitors to China. Dating back to the third century BC, these warriors were created to protect the tomb of China's first emperor and are now a popular tourist attraction. Admire the engineering and artistry of these incredible sculptures.
You should also visit the Xian Terracotta Warriors Museum. It is located in Shaanxi province and is dedicated to preserving and displaying the famous Terracotta Army. The museum, one of the world's largest archaeological sites, offers visitors a unique opportunity to learn about China's rich history and culture.
Visitors can see the warriors up close, explore the museum's many exhibits and interactive displays, and learn about the incredible history of this fantastic site.
West Lake, Hangzhou
West Lake in Hangzhou is renowned for its natural beauty, cultural heritage, and serene atmosphere. Surrounded by rolling hills and featuring temples, gardens, and the iconic Leifeng Pagoda, the lake is perfect for a leisurely boat ride, scenic walk, or peaceful relaxation.
Summer Palace, Beijing
Escape to the peaceful surroundings of the Summer Palace in Beijing, once the summer residence of the imperial court. Explore the sprawling park and palace complex, surrounded by tranquil gardens and lakes, for a glimpse into the lifestyle of China's imperial rulers.
Yellow Mountain, Huangshan
Admire the stunning beauty of Yellow Mountain in Huangshan, a scenic mountain range known for its unique geological formations. Hike along scenic trails, enjoy panoramic views and discover unique plant and animal species as well as cultural and spiritual sites, including temples and monasteries.
Leshan Giant Buddha
Discover one of the most remarkable engineering feats of ancient China‒the Leshan Giant Buddha. Carved into a cliff in Sichuan province, this statue of Buddhae stands over 200 feet tall and was built over 90 years ago in the 8th century. Take a boat ride along the river to see the statue up close.
Some places offer a one-day tour to see the Leshan Giant Buddha and the famous giant pandas in Chengdu.
Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong
Experience the vibrant energy of Hong Kong at Victoria Harbour, one of the world's most famous harbors. Enjoy scenic walks along the water's edge, take a ferry ride across the harbor, and admire the stunning views of the city's towering skyscrapers and bustling port.
Temple of Heaven, Beijing
Visit the sacred complex of temples and parks at the Temple of Heaven in Beijing, used by the emperor to offer sacrifices to the gods and pray for a good harvest.
Built in the 15th century, this magnificent structure symbolizes the Ming and Qing dynasties and is renowned for its stunning architecture, intricate carvings, and beautiful gardens. It is a popular spot for locals and tourists to relax, stroll, and soak up Beijing's rich cultural heritage.
Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, Hunan
Zhangjiajie National Forest Park is in Hunan province and China's first national forest park.
It is known for its unique sandstone pillar formations and diverse vegetation. The park, which inspired the floating mountains in the movie "Avatar," offers breathtaking views and scenic hiking trails.
Visitors can explore the park's many caves, waterfalls, and scenic overlooks and take in the natural beauty of this unique landscape.
Lijiang Old Town, Yunnan
Lijiang Old Town is a historic town in Yunnan province. It is known for its well-preserved traditional architecture, charming canals, and rich cultural heritage.
The town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, offers a glimpse into China's traditional way of life and is a popular tourist destination.
Visitors can explore the town's many ancient buildings, shops, and restaurants and take in the relaxed atmosphere of this charming community. You can also visit the stone forest less than 20 minutes from the town.
Pingyao Ancient City, Shanxi
Pingyao Ancient City is located in Shanxi province and is considered one of the best-preserved ancient cities in China.
The city, a major trading center in ancient times, offers a glimpse into China's rich cultural and economic history. Visitors can tour the city's ancient walls, temples, and traditional courtyards and take in the unique atmosphere of this historic place.
Mount Everest Base Camp, Tibet
Mount Everest Base Camp in Tibet, also known as the North Base Camp, is situated on the northern side of Mount Everest at an altitude of 5,150 meters (16,900 ft). It is a popular destination for trekkers and mountaineers who come to experience the majesty of the world's highest peak.
You can take the scenic route from Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, to the small town of Tingri, passing through spectacular high-altitude landscapes along the way. From Tingri, you will need to take a 4WD vehicle to get through the rugged terrain to reach the Base Camp.
The Potala Palace, Lhasa
While in Tibet, visit the majestic and iconic Potala Palace in the capital city of Lhasa. As one of the most recognizable landmarks of Tibet, it is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Potala Palace is a symbol of Tibetan Buddhism and was the residence of the Dalai Lama until 1959 when he fled to India. It was constructed in the 7th century by the Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo. The fifth Dalai Lama later expanded it in the 17th century. The Palace is built on a hill at an altitude of over 3,700 meters, making it a prominent landmark in Lhasa.
Huashan Mountain, Shaanxi
Huashan Mountain is located in Shaanxi province and is one of the five sacred mountains in China. The mountain, known for its stunning beauty and challenging hiking trails, offers visitors a chance to experience this iconic site's natural beauty and spiritual significance.
Visitors can hike along scenic trails, take in breathtaking views, and experience the spiritual atmosphere of this important site.
The Silk Road, Xinjiang
The Silk Road is a historic trade route that connected China to the rest of the world. It played a significant role in the region's cultural exchange and economic development. The road, which spans over 4,000 miles, offers visitors a chance to experience this influential trade route's rich history and cultural heritage.
The maritime Silk Road comprised two major routes: the East China Sea Silk Route and the South China Sea Silk Route.
Visitors can explore the many ancient cities, trading posts, and cultural sites along the Silk Road and take in the unique atmosphere of this historical trade route.
Guilin and the Li River, Guangxi
Guilin and the Li River are located in Guangxi province. They are known for their stunning natural beauty, including towering karst formations and serene rivers.
The area, a popular tourist destination, offers visitors a chance to experience this scenic region's natural beauty and tranquility. A must-see in Guilin is the Reed Flute Cave. Visitors can also take a leisurely boat ride along the Li River, enjoy scenic walks along the riverbank, and take in the unique beauty of this region.
If you enjoy exploring rivers, you can also visit the Yangtze, the longest river in Asia, and the Huangpu River. In fact, the Yangtze River cruise is widely praised as an unforgettable experience.
Talking about Huangpu River, you should also visit Bund or Waitan. The famous waterfront area in Shanghai, China, is located on the western bank of the Huangpu River and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the city.
Bund is famous for its historic architecture that reflects Shanghai's colonial past. The buildings, which date back to the 1920s and 1930s, feature a blend of Western and Chinese architectural styles.
Mogao Caves, Dunhuang
The Mogao Caves, located in Dunhuang, is a series of Buddhist rock-cut temples that were built over a period of 1,000 years and is considered one of China's greatest treasures.
The caves, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, contain over 492,000 square feet of murals, sculptures, and other artifacts, offering a unique glimpse into the country's rich cultural heritage and spiritual traditions. Visitors can tour the caves, view stunning artwork, and learn about the history and significance of this fascinating site.
The Palace Museum, Taipei
The Palace Museum, located in Taipei, is a former imperial palace that was once the home to the emperors of China and is now a museum showcasing the country's rich cultural heritage and art collections.
The museum, located in the heart of Taipei, is one of the city's top tourist destinations and offers a range of exhibits, including precious jade and porcelain pieces, ancient bronze artifacts, and much more.
Bonus: Confucius Temple, Qufu
The Confucius Temple, located in Qufu, is a temple complex dedicated to Confucius, the legendary philosopher and teacher of ancient China.
The temple, surrounded by tranquil gardens and parks, is one of China's most revered cultural and spiritual sites and offers a glimpse into the country's rich heritage and traditions. Visitors can tour the temple, stroll through the gardens, and learn about the life and teachings of Confucius.
China has an abundance of famous tourist destinations that are sure to leave a lasting impression on visitors. Best of all, you can reach most of them via China's major transportation route–trains.
What do you need to travel to China?
Visiting China can be an exciting and enriching experience. The country offers a rich blend of history, culture, spirituality, and natural beauty that appeals to travelers of all interests. However, before you embark on your journey, it's important to remember that you may require a China visa to enter the country.
There are several visa options available, including tourist visas, business visas, student visas, and work visas, each with specific requirements and criteria depending on the purpose of your trip.
To ensure a smooth and hassle-free trip, please read our Ultimate Guide to China, which provides you with all the information you need to choose the right visa option for your specific needs and successfully obtain your visa. Additionally, the guide offers valuable insights and tips to help you navigate your visit to this wonderful country.