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Home China Travel Guide Top Tourist Destinations in China

Top Tourist Destinations in China

Written by Asia Odyssey Travel|Updated: 2023-09-27

China is one of world’s largest tourist destinations. There are thousands of tourist cities in China, which boast their cultural relics, natural wonders, colorful costumes, or historical traditions. In addition to the must-visit places, such as Beijing, Xian, and Shanghai, you may also want to explore some areas where you did not hear before. The top tourist destinations listed as below might be helpful for you to plan a tour.

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  • triangleBeijing – The Capital of the Last Two Feudal Dynasties
  • triangleShanghai and Its Neighbors – The Richest Area in China
  • triangleXian – The Most Historical City in China
  • triangleYunnan – The Hometown of 25 Ethnic Minorities
  • triangleSichuan – Hometown of the Giant Pandas
  • triangleQinghai – See the Largest Inland Lake in China
  • triangleSilk Road – The Blend of Trade and Religions
  • triangleTibet – The Roof of the World
  • triangleZhangjiajie – Delve into the World of Avatar
  • triangleGuilin and Yangshuo – Painting-Like Karst Sceneries

Beijing – The Capital of the Last Two Feudal Dynasties

In the 5000 years’ history of China, there were nine feudal large dynasties, who united the whole China, and around 70 small feudal dynasties, who only occupied a small area of China. Most relics of these feudal dynasties were completely or partly destroyed during wars or wind erosions.

Fortunately, both the last two feudal dynasties, Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1636-1912), set their capital in Beijing, and Qing did not destroy too many relics of Ming after they overturned the Ming, oppositely, they repaired lots of the royal sites built by the Ming, so, we can still see the well-preserved royal legacy in Beijing today.

The Forbidden City, the royal residence and office for 24 emperors of Ming and Qing dynasties, is the most valuable ancient site in Beijing. You can easily learn about the luxury royal life via the deluxe palaces and halls in the City.

Most Great Wall sections in Beijing were built by the Ming to defend the Qing’s attack. The Qing did not destroy the Great Wall after they won over the Ming. Oppositely, the emperors of Qing took their offspring to the Great Wall to let them see the battlefields and show them their ancestors risked their lives to get the victory.

Great Wall in Beijing

Great Wall in Beijing

Shanghai and Its Neighbors – The Richest Area in China

The Yangtze River Delta, where includes Shanghai, Suzhou, and Hangzhou, has been the richest area in China for over 500 years. Shanghai, the center of the delta, is a very popular gateway city in China. It takes only 0.5 hour to go to Suzhou and one hour to go to Hangzhou from Shanghai by train.

Normally, tourists will visit the skyscrapers in Shanghai, such as the Shanghai Tower, World Financial Center, or Oriental Pearl TV Tower. Some museums and exhibition halls are also popular attractions. After the sightseeing in Shanghai, they will transfer to Suzhou to admire the exquisite sceneries in the ancient private gardens, or to Hangzhou to have a spectacular view of the West Lake.

West Lake in Winter

West Lake in Winter

Xian – The Most Historical City in China

Xian is the oldest city in the Yellow River area, where the Chinese civilization originated. There is an old saying “Every piece of tile in Xian is priceless.” If you see a piece of broken tile on a field in Xian, pick it up, because it might be priceless antique. The Terracotta Army, the most renowned tourist attraction in Xian, was discovered by a local villager who was digging a well near his house. This event proved the saying is right.

The ancient City Wall, Big Wild Goose Pagoda, Muslim Quarter, and Shaanxi History Museum are other historical sites in Xian.

ancient City Wall

Ancient City Wall in Xian

Yunnan – The Hometown of 25 Ethnic Minorities

“Colorful Yunnan” is the slogan of Yunnan Tourism and the best phrase to describe Yunnan, a southwest province, where lives 25 ethnic minorities. Their colorful costumes and cultures are the major attractions in Yunnan.

Most people of ethnic minorities built their villages on the terraced fields, so tourists can both learn about the colorful cultures and admire the terraced fields views in their villages. The terraced fields in Yunnan was named a world heritage site in 2013. Laohuzui, Duoyishu, Bada, and Qingkou Hani are the most recommended terraced fields in Yunnan.

People of Ethnic Minority in Yunnan

A Woman of Ethnic Minority in a Lacal Market

Sichuan – Hometown of the Giant Pandas

Although the Sichuan food and Jiuzhaigou Valley are also very attractive factors for tourists, most people travel to Sichuan for the lovely pandas. There are panda bases in Wolong, Bifengxia, Chengdu, Dujiangyan, and Shenshuping. You can apply to be a panda volunteer in these bases. Volunteers’ work includes preparing food and cleaning cabins for pandas. You need to listen to a lecture about pandas before working as a volunteer.

Panda Eating Bamboo

Panda Eating Bamboo

Qinghai – See the Largest Inland Lake in China

The Qinghai Province is the east end of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. The Qinghai Lake is lake a blue pearl on the plateau. Covering an area of 4543 square kilometers, the lake is the largest inland lake in China. It is still growing every year.

Tourists mainly visit this lake for wonderful lake views and bird watching. During summer, there are over 220 species of birds around the lake area.

Beauty beside Qinghai Lake

Beauty beside Qinghai Lake

Silk Road – The Blend of Trade and Religions

The ancient Silk Road was the channel to trade silk, tea, potteries, and other commodities between China and the Western world. The religions were also developed and exchanged during the trade. Nowadays, the relics of both the Buddhism and Islam can be found on the Road, such as the Mogao Grottoes in Dunhuang and the Grand Mosques in Xian and Lanzhou. Besides, the deserts and Danxia landforms are the natural wonders on the Road.

Mogao Grottoes

Mogao Grottoes

Tibet – The Roof of the World

Tibet is a dream place for many adventurers, not only for the sacred Tibetan Buddhism, but also for the world’s highest Mount Everest. The local people believe the sacred monasteries and lakes are the places to purify their souls. Non-Buddhist Tourists may also think their souls become cleaner after seeing the mirror-like lakes.

If you are a fit trekker, a Mount Kailash pilgrimage is an indispensable activity. You can see the believers of Tibetan Buddhism doing sacred worships during the pilgrimage, which is usually finished in three days.

Mount Everest Sunrise

Mount Everest Sunrise

Zhangjiajie – Delve into the World of Avatar

Do you like the movie Avatar? If yes, you should go to Zhangjiajie, where were used as a filming location for the world-famous movie. A mountain in the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park was renamed Mount Hallelujah after the movie hit the big screen in December 2009. In 2016, the world’s longest and highest glass-bottomed bridge was opened to enhance tourists’ Avatar experience.

Mount Hallelujah

Mount Hallelujah

Guilin and Yangshuo – Painting-Like Karst Sceneries

Guilin and Yangshuo are the typical places of karst landform. Tourists usually explore the karst caves in Guilin first, and then take a cruise on the Li River to admire the sceneries on the banks. When they arrive in Yangshuo, the destination of the cruise, they will rent bikes to cycle in the countryside of Yangshuo, where the sceneries are even more beautiful than Guilin.

Karst Hill

Karst Hill

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