China has a rich cultural background, with over 5,000 years of recorded history! For thousands of years, the nation lived in relative isolation, passing from one monarch to the next. Splendidly diverse in its geographic, ethnic, culinary and social make-up, China is a nation on the march. Highways are built every day, traditions are re-written, socio-economic reforms are implemented. Travellers will not only find a gateway to the past but catch a glimpse of the future.
Developing at a rate unmatched in human history, already huge cities are adding sprawling suburbs and cutting-edge architecture on a day-by-day basis, even as an ever-expanding web of high-speed rail ties the country together. Nevertheless, this apparent modernity is based on a civilization that has remained intact, continually recycling itself, for over four millennia. Chinese script reached perfection during the Han dynasty, and those stone lions standing sentinel outside sleek new skyscrapers first appeared as temple guardians over three thousand years ago. Indeed, it is the tension and contrasts between change and continuity that make modern China so fascinating.
Top 10 Places to visit in China
1. The Great Wall of China in Beijing – As the majority of the world’s travellers would tell you, you haven’t been to China if you haven’t climbed the Great Wall of China. Besides being the longest wall in the world, it is also one of the most iconic symbols of China. The Great Wall is an awe-inspiring and magnificent feat of ancient defensive architecture and ensures some of the most jaw-dropping views in the country over the rugged countryside and steep mountains. The Great Wall of China definitely deserves the place of one of the New Seven Wonders of the World and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The best-preserved sections of the wall are located close to the capital Beijing.
Some useful resources for The Great Wall of China – find recommended transport routes and tours, Beijing Great Wall Map, the most visited sections of the Wall and the most popular sections with fewer tourists:
2. The Terracotta Army in Xi’an – Do you want to meet a 2000-year old underground army? Well, don’t worry, it is not an army that is alive but a one gathered by hundreds of life-size models representing the army that triumphed over all other Chinese armies in the Warring States Period. Despite the fact that the army has been recently discovered in 1974 by farmers from underground where it was buried for over 2000 years, this historical and archaeological sight in Xi’an is definitely one worth visiting. If you are interested to learn more about the terracotta warriors check out this useful resources:
3. The Forbidden City, Beijing – A “palace city” back in the past where ordinary people were forbidden to enter and only royalties had an access, The Forbidden City in Beijing is a pretty extravagant showcase of the Chinese architecture, culture, and history. The palace has over 8000 rooms with golden roofs and elegantly decorated and painted in yellow and red. The Forbidden City was the main imperial palace for 560 years up until 1911 and 24 emperors lived and ruled their land from there.
4. The Bund, Shanghai – Being one of the most popular and recognisable symbols of Shanghai, the Bund used to be one of the Shanghai’s most prosperous area in the late 19th century and early 20th century. Nowadays, the Bund area in Shanghai still showcases the world some of the classic Chinese traditions in architecture, however, the contrasting juxtaposition of the surrounding colonial European style buildings and the cutting-edge modern skyscrapers make the place even more interesting.
5. Li River, Guilin – Generations of Chinese poets and painters are impressed and inspired by the idyllic and picturesque karst landscape along the delta of the Li River in Guilin. In fact, this lush and fertile piece of land can easily win over your heart with the beauty of the surrounding nature. The breath-taking natural scenery is now a popular hotspot for photographers from all around the world. The most beautiful section of the Li River delta is the 83-kilometre-long one between Guilin and Yangshuo. The Li River was listed as one of the “World’s Top Ten Watery Wonders” by America’s National Geographic Magazine.
Some interesting facts about Li River:
- Total length: 437 kilometres, with the 83-kilometre-long section between Guilin and Yangshuo as the highlight, where the karst mountains and river sights highlight the famous Li River cruise.
- Location: South China
- Best time to visit: April to October
6. Pandas in Chengdu – The giant panda is not only a cute fluffy animal loved by the Chinese and, actually, from all people all around the globe but also a symbol of the country. There are many zoos in China where you can meet the rare and beautiful animal but Chengdu is the panda’s “hometown”. For a close up meeting with the pandas, make sure to go to Chengdu Panda Breeding and Research Center, Dujiangyan Panda Valley, and Bifengxia Panda Base.
7. The Yellow Mountains – Located close to Shanghai and Hangzhou in eastern China, the Yellow Mountains Scenic Area is yet another hotspot for tourists and visitors of China. The natural wonder will impress you with its five memorable wonders: the sunrises, the sea of clouds, the oddly-shaped rocks, the twisted pine trees, and the hot springs. The Yellow Mountains are the most popular peaks in the country and one of China’s three best national parks.
8. The Potala Palace – In 1994 the Potala Palace was declared a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site and there is no wonder why. The beautiful building is a treasure chest of the culture, art, religion, and history of Tibet, storing a lot of impressive and precious sculptures, murals, scriptures, Buddhist statues, antiques, and jewellery.
9. Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong – The same way visiting and climbing the Great Wall of China is recommended to the tourists and visitors of China, the view over Victoria Harbour from Victoria Peak is a must for all visitors of Hong Kong. This iconic overview of Hong Kong will simply be carved in your mind for the rest of the time. In fact, Victoria Peak is the hotspot for a bird’s eye view of Hong Kong and its high-rise buildings and skyscrapers and the Symphony of Lights show at night.
10. West Lake, Hangzhou – Hangzhou is known as China’s “piece of paradise” because of its picturesque and idyllic scenery. West Lake is, in fact, a man-made one created after the Chinese love for garden-style parks. This is a place of tranquillity, peace, relaxation, and harmony, where the hectic urban lifestyle is lest as a background far away together with the cityscape.
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