In recent years, China has become one of the highly visited countries in the world. Due to its vastness, the country boasts of several tourist attractions. Check out the list below to plan your getaway to the Middle Kingdom.
Location: Northern China
No matter how cliché it is, one must not miss the chance to hike the Great Wall of China while visiting the country. Aged more than 2,300 years old, this tourist destination is the world’s longest wall spanning a total area of 13,170.7 miles. Marvel at the awesome defensive architecture while hiking the winding path.
Located in Northern China, the Great Wall of China was built as a defensive wall by different dynasties as a protection for different territorial borders.
Location: Dongcheng Qu, China
Another must-not-miss stop in China is the Forbidden City. This popular spot served as the residence of the imperial rulers. The Forbidden City is divided into an inner and an outer court, the sprawling city is the largest imperial palace in the world that covers an area of 0.28 square miles. About 15 hectares of the palace serve as the floor area. It has 70 compounds with 980 total buildings and more than 8,700 rooms. All four sides of the city have a moat surrounding it. This palace took 16 years to complete and has huge estates with five main gates.
Home to imperial rulers and considered a divine place, the palace is forbidden to ordinary individuals, hence the name.
Location: Lintong, Xi’an, Shaanxi, China
Officially named the Qin Tomb Terracotta Warriors and Horses, this army of warriors were built to escort the tomb of China’s First Emperor in the afterlife. These detailed and life-sized sculptures symbolise the army that brought China together as a nation during the end of the Warring States Period.
The Terracotta Army an archaeological feat included in the greatest discoveries of the 20th century. The museum has three vaults, named Vault One, Two, and Three as they were unearthed. The most impressive of all is the Vault One consisting more than 6,000 (only 2,000 in display) terracotta figures. Vault Two contains the array of ancient army and Vault Three serves as the Command Post as all the figures represent officials.
Location: Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China
Regarded as one of National Geographic’s Top 10 Watery Wonders in the World, Li River is a must-see while in China. The 86-kilometre cruise from Guilin to Yangshou will treat tourists to rows and rows of beautiful scenery including sights of water buffalos, villages on the hill base, and farmers tending to the crops.
Aside from the cruise, tours to the Li River include bamboo rafting, cormorant fishing, hiking, photography, and watching the night show – Impression Liu Sanjie.
Location: Central China: Shaanxi, Sichuan, and Gansu Provinces
Giant Pandas serves as the national emblem of China. These endangered species are considered a national treasure of the country. In the wild, only 1,864 giant pandas exist and most of them can only be found in the remote and mountainous bamboo forests of Shaanxi, Sichuan, and Gansu Provinces. Head to Chengdu in Sichuan Province, home to natural reserves to see baby pandas, get close to adult pandas and track them.
Location: Datong, China
Located roughly 65 kilometres from downtown of Datong in the Shaanxi Province, the Hanging Temples of Hengshan is among the forgotten wonders of the world. Improbably built in the 5th century, these temples were said to be built by Liao Ran, a monk of the Northern Wei Dynasty. The temple is clinging to a precipice of the Hengshan Mountain, one of the five most sacred mountains in the country, by drilling holes into the cliff. It has 40 rooms connected by passageways.
The temple is home to 78 statues and carvings that represent the three religions of Taoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism.
Location: Panjin Shi, China
One of the largest wetlands in the world is in Panjin Shi. The beach is surrounded by red plants of Chenopodium, which can survive in an alkaline soul. Also known as the “Home of Cranes,” the Red Beach is home to the rare red-crowned crane, which symbolises fidelity, longevity, and luck.
The area is protected by the government but guests are allowed to walk along the rare reeds through a wooden walkway.
Location: Aba Zangzuqiangzuzizhizhou, China
Dubbed as the Fairy Land on Earth, this naturally formed terraced hot spring pools in Huanglong Valley is an awe-inspiring destination. These travertine pools were formed from limestones as the hot springs elevated to different heights allowing water to cascade into the rugged mountain.
Location: Tianmen Mountain, Zhangjiajie, Hunan Province, China
Also known as the Gateway to Heaven, this cave slit stands 420 feet in height and 180 feet in width and is visible from any distance below the cave. It has stairs with 999 steps that lead to the slit where legends claim as the exact place where gods meet the world of the mortals.
Location: Wulong Xian, China
These natural bridges used to caves that have since collapsed. The collapse left sinkholes and amazing limestone arches that now look as if they are bridges. In Chinese, the names of the three bridges translate to Azure Dragon, Sky Dragon, and Black Dragon.
Catch the train from Pudong Airport to head to the City Centre and you will truly feel the modernity of Shanghai. The Maglev train has a top speed of 431 kph, which can cover 19 miles in only eight minutes, without you feeling anything. Whilst at the station, visit the Maglev Museum to learn more about this engineering feat.
The Bund is a must-visit whilst you are in Shanghai. This is where you can have a bird’s eye view of the city’s skyline ranging from colonial architecture to towering skyscrapers. Head to The Bund via the ferry cruise of the 500-metre wide Huangpu River, the “Mother River of Shanghai.” It snakes through the city of Shanghai, dividing it into Puxi in the west and Pudong in the east.
The cruise depends on your preference. You can choose to ride ferries with modern bars or the ones with traditional Oriental decorations. The tour length ranges from 30-minutes to 3.5 hours. The most popular tour for tourists is the classic cruise lasting for 50 minutes. For the cruise alone, tickets cost US$18.
After visiting The Bund, head to the Yuyuan Garden. This is the only Ming Dynasty garden left in Shanghai. It is revered in Shanghai for its majestic beauty. It has colourful pagodas, intricate bridges, and exquisite enclaves with dragon wall partitions.
Whilst at the Yuyuan Garden, visit the Exquisite Jade Rock, which is believed to belong to Song Emperor Huizong’s personal collection.
Shanghai Circus World is home to a wide variety of local and international live performances ranging from musical competitions to acrobatics show. It regularly hosts a myriad of lively animal performances including cockfighting and sea lion performances. Some of China’s modern innovations are also often exhibited here.
Hutongs are Beijing’s narrow passageways that link historic traditional courtyard dwellings. Exploring the hutongs will give you an idea of how it is to live in Beijing in the olden time. To immerse in the traditional Beijing lifestyle, visit the alleyways via a rickshaw.
One of the best preserved imperial gardens in the world is the Summer Palace. It epitomizes the gardens of ancient China. This artificial landscape was first built several hundreds of years ago. If you want to enjoy discovering the wonders of Summer Palace, do so via a dragon boat on Kunming Lake.
The Temple of Heaven is a royal and sacred altar where emperors of the Qing and Ming dynasties went to worship heaven. It is considered to the holiest of all the imperial temples in Beijing. You may not be worshipping heaven whilst there, do not forget to revel at the magnificent architecture and landscape of the place. It is also a great place to watch the Chinese locals as they go about their morning routines. People often play chess, practice dance, and do Tai Chi at the plaza in front of the temple.
One of the cultural treasures of China is the Beijing opera. Everything about it including the face masks, the make-up, the vocal talents, the challenging choreography, and the intricately designed costumes make the opera a venue for world-class entertainment. For the most authentic and enjoyable Beijing opera experience, head to the Li Yuan Theatre located at 175 Yong’an Rd. Xichen Qu, Beijing.