Top 20 things to do in China

The Countryside of China

There are a million reasons why China makes for the perfect holiday destination. Not only is it home to the Great Wall of China, Rainbow Mountains, the Forbidden City, and Tongli Ancient Water Town, but every corner of the country is filled with beauty, enchantment, and history.

It is an amazing country which should be on everyone's travel list because adventurers of every age and with any preference will find something perfect for them. So, if you're looking for an exotic place to go that is stimulating and fun, keep reading to find out why you should book your ticket to China immediately.

Explore the Great Wall of China

Jingshangling Great WallJingshangling Great Wall

The Great Wall of China is one of the greatest architectural marvels in the world and a visit to China would be incomplete without witnessing its glory. Originally built as an ancient defense mechanism, today, visitors come from far and wide to walk this amazing man-made structure and check it off their travel bucket list.

You can hire a guide and learn all about the history of the wall, bring a camera and take some amazing photographs of the wall and its surroundings, or test your endurance by hiking through the steep steps and sharp slopes. If you're not up for a walk, take a tram ride to the top and enjoy a fantastic view of the landscape while you're at it.

  • Location: Beijing, China
  • Opening Hours: 07:30 - 17:30
  • Visiting Time: 3 to 5 hours
  • Ticket Price: CNY40 to CNY180 according to differnt section
  • Best Time to Visit: Later March to June, September to early November.
  • How to Get there: Take a taxi from downtown Beijing to Mutianyu, Juyonguan, Badaling, Simatai or Jiankou Great Wall, the driving time will be from 1 hour to 2 hours to different sections.

Visit the Forbidden City

Forbidden CityForbidden City

Explore splendid halls and magnificent palaces which were once only open to royal families and high officials during a visit to the Forbidden City. The imperial palace complex is one of the largest and best preserved in the world, comprising more than 90 palace quarters and courtyards, 980 buildings, halls, pavilions, towers, and belvederes.

The Forbidden City is a masterpiece of Chinese architecture and you'll be able to see astounding details which reflect Chinese culture such as rows of animal statues which were placed on the ridge of the roofs to invoke good fortune as well as the world's largest collection of well-preserved medieval wooden structures.

  • Location: Beijing, China
  • Opening Hours: April to October: 08:30 - 17:00, November to March: 08:30 - 16:30
  • Visiting Time: 3 hours
  • Ticket Price: April to October: CNY60, November to March: CNY40
  • Best Time to Visit: Anytime
  • How to Get there: Take a taxi or bus from downtown Beijing to it.

See the Terracotta Warriors

Terracotta WarriorsTerracotta Warriors

There is nowhere else in the world where you will be able to see over 2,000 clay statues of an army in distinct detail than at the site of the Terracotta Warriors in China. Over 2,000 years old, the statues which guard the tomb of China's first emperor were not discovered again until 1974.

The museum has many exhibits and artifacts to see, but the three pits where the warriors are on displays are definitely the main attraction. Pit 1 is the most impressive as you see row after row of the life-size warriors complete with ancient weapons and ornaments; the other two pits are composed of archers, chariots, and the command post among others.

  • Location: Lintong Area, Xian, China
  • Opening Hours: 08:30 - 16:30
  • Visiting Time: 3 hours
  • Ticket Price: CNY120
  • Best Time to Visit: March to May and September to October
  • How to Get there: Take bus(shuttle bus line2, bus No.266, 306, 914, 915) from Xian to Terracotta Warriors, the driving time will be around one and half hour

Take a boat ride on the Li River

A Boat on Li RiverA Boat on Li River

The National Geographic once listed the Li River as “one of the world's top ten watery wonders”, and rightly so, as it is one of the most beautiful bodies of water you'll ever see. The best way to experience the river and the surroundings fields, and karst peaks is through a boat ride.

The river offers the best vantage point to also see breathtaking scenic views, stalagmite-filled caves, and ancient towns. Luckily, you'll find several companies who offer boat cruises and bamboo raft tours, many of which last hours and will take passengers from Guilin to Yangshuo.

  • Location: Guilin, China
  • Opening Hours: 08:30 - 17:30
  • Visiting Time: 1 to 4 hours
  • Ticket Price: CNY80 to CNY450 according to different boats
  • Best Time to Visit: Late March to May and late September to November
  • How to Get there: Take the half hour taxi from downtown Guilin to the Cruise Dock to take the Cruise, or take the 1 hour bus from Guilin to Yangdi to take the boat

Look out on to the Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice TerracesLongji Rice Terraces

If you've traveled to other Asian countries, chances are that you've seen rice paddies along the way - but travelers often find that none of them compare when it comes to the beauty of the Longji Rice Terraces. The 600+ year old terraces are easily one of the best things to see when in China.

If your visit is just right in autumn, you may even be able to see the terraces before and after the harvest. Be sure to grab your camera and head up to the highest viewpoint, West Hill Music, so you can get the most gorgeous panoramic views of your surroundings.

  • Location: Longsheng, Guilin, China
  • Opening Hours: 24/7
  • Visiting Time: 3 to 5 hours
  • Ticket Price: CNY100
  • Best Time to Visit: May to June, September to October
  • How to Get there: Take the 3 hours bus from Guilin to Longsheng

See pandas in Chengdu

Two Pandas in Chengdu Panda BaseTwo Pandas in Chengdu Panda Base

It doesn't matter how old you are - once you see the playful and cuddly giant pandas in Chengdu, you'll feel just as happy and childlike. China's lovable national icon can be found in panda reserves throughout Chengdu. You should definitely make the time to visit at least one of them because there's no other place in the world that will offer such a unique and memorable experience.

The reserves allow visitors to not only see the pandas in their natural habitat, but to also take in the picturesque views, have fun and learn at their museums, and to even try their hand at being a panda keeper for a day.

Learn More Places to See Pandas

Visit Tongli Ancient Water Town

Tongli Ancient Water TownTongli Ancient Water Town

Visitors of all ages will love a visit to the poetic Tongli Ancient Water Town, which is full of rich old rivers, historic buildings and bridges, and so much history and culture. One of the most popular places to explore in Tongli is Tuisi Garden - a secretive, ancient outdoor space filled with lush greenery, bridges, corridors, pools, and stunning buildings.

Another unique experience that people love to indulge in is to go on a rickshaw or boat tour; these unique modes of transportation are a fun way of traveling and the drivers/ guides are usually full of interesting facts.

  • Location: No. (68), East Yingyan Road, Tongli Town, Wujiang District, Suzhou, China
  • Opening Hours: April to October: 07:30-17:30, November to March: 07:30-17:15
  • Visiting Time: 3 hours
  • Ticket Price: CNY100
  • Best Time to Visit: April to October
  • How to Get there: Take Bus from Suzhou Train Station or Suzhou Bus Station to Tongli
  • Phone Number: 400-698-2990

Take a Yangtze River cruise

Yangtze River cruiseYangtze River cruise

Journey through the heart of China on board a Yangtze River cruise, passing by spectacular landscapes of sheer gorges, misty mountains, and serene riverbanks. You can choose to take the 10-day journey for the entire 1,400-mile stretch of the river from Chongqing to Shanghai.

Most people opt for a 4-5 days cruise between Chongqing and Yichang, where you will have the chance to visit the Three Gorges. Popular attractions and excursions you can stop and see along the way include a visit to Fengdu Ghost City, White Emperor City, Shibaozhai, etc.

  • Visiting Time: 4 to 5 days
  • Best Time to Visit: April to November
  • How to Get there: Take the Cruise from Chongqing for downstream cruise or from Yichang for upstream cruise

Walk through Potala Palace

Potala PalacePotala Palace

The highest ancient palace in the world, Potala Palace is one of the must visit attractions in Tibet. You'll see the gold roofs soaring high above the town long before you get there. Once you do, you'll be taken aback by the architectural marvel which houses the living quarters of the Dalai Lamas and their stunning golden tombs after they passed away.

There are over a thousand rooms and hundreds of elaborately decorated shrines and chapels you can explore in what is now a state museum. As you walk the halls, take in the thousands of gilded statues and works of art which are housed throughout the palace.

  • Location: No.35 Middle Beijing Road, Chengguan District, Lhasa
  • Opening Hours: 09:30-15:00
  • Visiting Time: 2 hours
  • Ticket Price: May to October: CNY200, November to April: CNY100
  • Best Time to Visit: May to June, September to October
  • How to Get there: Take Bus No.8 from downtown Lhasa to Potala Palace

Go underground in Mogao Caves

Mogao CavesMogao Caves

Mogao Caves, or Caves of the Thousand Buddhas as it is popularly known, is considered to be one of the most valuable cultural discoveries in recent history. At its peak, you'll come across nearly 1,500 monks, nuns, and countless translators, calligraphers, and other artists.

Inside the 492 caves is where the real beauty is though; as you explore this underground beauty, you'll see 2,415 painted statues and over 45,000 square meters of breathtakingly beautiful murals. It is one of the largest and richest Buddhist caves in the world and is definitely worth the visit when in China.

  • Location: Dunhuang, Gansu Province, China
  • Opening Hours: April to November: 08:00 - 18:00, December to March: 09:00 - 17:30
  • Visiting Time: 2 hours
  • Ticket Price: CNY238
  • Best Time to Visit: May to October
  • How to Get there: Take Bus 12 from downtown Dunhuang to Mogao Caves

Experience the sun rise from Yellow Mountain

Sun rise from Yellow MountainSun rise from Yellow Mountain

Make the most of your travels in China by visiting one of the country's most revered landscapes: Yellow Mountain. Fames as China's loveliest mountain, you'll have a magnificent journey to a place that has been acclaimed in Chinese art and literature for centuries.

Start this adventure by ascending the mountain's forested granite peaks via cable car, from which you can see panoramic views of the region including Lion Peak and Flower-Scattering Peak. Once you've reached the summit, you'll be taken aback by the vistas, but don't let that be the end.

Instead, spend the night at one of the accommodations atop the mountain so that you witness the magnificent sunrise over the mountain surroundings early in the morning.

  • Location: Tangkou Town, Huangshan District, Huangshan city, Anhui Province
  • Opening Hours: March to November: 06:30–17:00, December to March: 08:00–16:00
  • Visiting Time: 1 to 2 days
  • Ticket Price: March to November: CNY190, December to March: CNY50
  • Best Time to Visit: April to November
  • How to Get there: Take a 1-hour bus from Huangshan city to Huangshan Scenic Area

Hike through Zhangjiajie National Forest Park

Zhangjiajie National Forest Park Hiking PathZhangjiajie National Forest Park Hiking Path

Zhangjiajie National Forest Park was popular with nature lovers, hikers, and photographers long before it became the filming site of the award-winning move, Avatar. There is so much for you to see and do in the 11,900-acre park.

Your ticket will give you access for four consecutive days, allowing for more than enough time to visit Avatar Mountain in Yuanjiajie, the Golden Whip Stream, the 10 Mile Gallery, and several other places.

This relatively easy walk along the edge of the steam takes a bit over two hours from one forest entrance to the other and will give you the opportunity to see lots of wildlife (especially monkeys) as well as stunning scenic views of the riverside. Also, make time to take the cable car to Tianzi Mountain or to take a ride on the world's tallest outdoor elevator.

Learn More About Zhangjiajie National Forest Park

  • Location: Wulingyuan, Zhangjiajie, Hunan, China
  • Opening Hours: 07:00 - 18:00
  • Visiting Time: 1 day
  • Ticket Price: CNY248
  • Best Time to Visit: March to June, September to November
  • How to Get there: Take a 1-hour bus from Zhangjiajie Central Bus Station to Zhangjiajie National Forest Park

View the Shanghai Skyline from the Bund

Shanghai Skyline from the BundShanghai Skyline from the Bund

Shanghai is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and one of the best ways of experiencing that beauty is by viewing its iconic skyline from the Bund. The Bund is a waterfront promenade that can be found on either side of the Huangpu River in both the Old Town (Puxi) and the New Town (Pudong).

It is lined with award-winning restaurants, world-class clubs, historic colonial architecture, and much more. Bring along your camera and keep an eye out for futuristic structures such as the Shanghai World Financial Center or Oriental Pearl Tower.

  • Location: Bund, Shanghai
  • Opening Hours: All Day
  • Visiting Time: 1 hour
  • Ticket Price: Free
  • Best Time to Visit: Anytime
  • How to Get there: Take subway line 2 or 10

Take a magical walk through Stone Forest

Kunming Stone ForestKunming Stone Forest

Imagine walking through a magical forest, not of the usual towering trees and lush greenery, but rather strong and tall gray limestone pillars. At Shilin, or Stone Forest as it is more commonly known, you'll find yourself amidst these towering pillars which resemble giant trees.

The unique sight offers for one of the more stranger things you will experience while in China and is definitely worth the visit. Follow the footpath through the “concrete forest”, take pictures with pillars over 30 meters tall, and enjoy famous sites in the area such as Lotus Peak, the Sea of Romance, and the Lion Pavilion.

  • Location: Kunming, Yunnan Province, China
  • Opening Hours: 07:00 - 18:00
  • Visiting Time: 2 hours
  • Ticket Price: CNY130
  • Best Time to Visit: March to October
  • How to Get there: Take the bus from Kunming Train Station or Kunming Eatern us Station to Stone Forest directly.

Head to the Rainbow Mountains (Danxia Landform) in Zhangye

Rainbow Mountains (Danxia Landform) in ZhangyeRainbow Mountains (Danxia Landform) in Zhangye

Visiting the Zhangye Danxia Landform Geological Park in China will put you in awe of nature's beauty. Lovingly known as ‘Rainbow Mountains', this colorful and breathtaking view is millions of years in the making and comprises layers of compressed differently colored sandstone and minerals - hence the colorful mountains.

The insane mountain formation gives off an array of technicolor hues from reds and yellows to greens and blues. During your visit to the Danxia Landform you'll be able to get some amazing photographs and get up close to this stunning natural marvel, so do not skip it!

  • Location: Nantai Village, Linze County, Zhangye City, Gansu Province
  • Opening Hours: 07:00 - 19:00
  • Visiting Time: 2 to 3 hours
  • Ticket Price: CNY74 including shuttle bus within the scenic area
  • Best Time to Visit: June to September
  • How to Get there: Take bus from Zhangye West Bus Station to Zhangye Danxia Landforms

Admire the Mt. Everest from the EBC

Mt. Everest, the roof of the world, is a dream destination for mountaineers. If you couldn't climb, you could get to the Mt. Everest Base Camp (EBC), which is the best place to admire the Mount Everest. The EBC is situated at an altitude of 5200m (17,056ft). The best time to go is May, June, September and October, when the weather is clear and dry.

Even if it is a long distance to travel from Lhasa to the base camp (about 800 km), you will be rewarded by the breathtaking sceneries varying from pristine high-altitude lakes, rivers, glaciers, farming valleys, the might Himalayan range and the world's highest monastery, Rongbuk Monastery.

  • Location: Dingri County, Shigatse City, Tibet
  • Opening Hours: All Day
  • Visiting Time: 2 to 3 hours
  • Ticket Price: CNY180
  • Best Time to Visit: April, May, September and October
  • How to Get there: Go with local agent

Take a High-speed train in China

Taking a high-speed, or bullet, train in China is one of the best ways to get around when exploring the country. Even if you have other modes of travel available to you, it's a great experience as the unique trains can reach speeds of 217 miles per hour.

The trains cover over 550 cities all across China such as Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Xi'an, and Guangzhou.

Benefits include being convenient because of its wide network, reasonable pricing compared to flights, being punctual since it is less influenced by traffic or weather, offering enhanced safety and comfort, and of course drastically reducing travel times. For example, a typically 15-hour trip from Beijing to Shanghai is only 4½ hours on a bullet train. So, what are you waiting for? Climb aboard!

Feast on Peking Roast Duck

Peking Roast DuckPeking Roast Duck

One of the best parts of visiting any country is indulging in the delicious local cuisine, and if you ask the Chinese what's the one thing you should try, it's definitely their Peking Roast Duck.

You'll find it almost anywhere in China from street side cafes to five-star hotel restaurants, but they all mostly comprise the same mouth-watering crisp skin on the outside, tender meat on the inside, and flavorful jams to accompany them. One bite of this fabulous culinary concoction and you're not going to want to eat anything else for the rest of your visit.

Feast on Chinese Hot Pot

Hot PotHot Pot

One of the most popular dishes you should try during your adventure is the Chinese Hot Pot, which is a meal served in a manner similar to a fondue. Rather than cheese, you'll find a simmering pot of soup stock in the middle of the table.

Surrounding the pot will be an array of thinly sliced meats, seafood, dumplings, wontons, tofu, and vegetables. Hot Pots rose to popularity in Chinese history mostly due to the Qianlong Emperor, who was very fond of it and had it every meal - it wasn't long after that people wanted to follow in his footsteps and see what all the fuss is about.

It's a great way to socialize as people gather around the pot for the delicious meal. You'll find hotpots in cities all across China, but some of the best places to have them are Chengdu and Chongqing.

Witness an Acrobatic Show in ERA Shanghai

You can experience Shanghai's culture through its myriad of on-stage performances from opera and dance to drama and puppets, but one of the best is the ERA Shanghai acrobatic show. This famous acrobatic theatre is home to an array of performers, all of whom come together to display near-impossible feats of strength, flexibility, endurance, and sheer willpower.

The multi-million dollar acrobatic extravaganza is an absolutely beautiful blend of modern technology and the more traditional art of Chinese acrobatic arts. In addition to the acrobatics, you'll see several elements such as music, drama, dance, and martial arts come together seamlessly.

  • Location: No.2801 Gonghexin Road, Jing 'an District, Shanghai
  • Opening Hours: 19:30
  • Visiting Time: 90 minutes
  • Ticket Price: CNY220 to CNY620 according to seats in different area
  • Phone Number: +86-21-66522395
  • How to Get there: Take Metro Line No.1 (#3 Exit, Shanghai Circus World Stop), or take Bus routes:95、46、253、912、916、114、893、210

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