Best Places to Visit in China

China has so many outstanding places to visit that it is difficult to choose among them. We know that your vacation time is both brief and valuable. Our recommendations for the best places to visit will help you find the right place for your vacation in China.

China is a country that feels as if it gives its treasures grudgingly to foreigners.  In part, this is because the country is so large and has  such a long, interesting, and geographically dispersed history.  You will need to research your destinations to ensure that you see the “face” of China that interests you.

China is justifiably proud of it modern cities and economic power: however, to most travelers, ” tourist” China is intertwined with the country’s  history.  It is little wonder that most travel is aimed at exploring the impressive monuments, palaces, and tombs representing China’s long and important history.

  • Beijing

    • A trip to China would not be complete without a tour of Beijing’s attractions. Beijing has long been the Capital of China and offers a number of world-class palaces, monuments, and mausoleums for the tourist’s inspection.   Be sure the see the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace, the Ming Tombs and
        • The Great Wall of China

          • Built as a defensive wall, construction started between two and four hundred years B.C. When finished, the Great Wall guarded approximately four thousand miles of border.
          • Although many sections of the wall have fallen into decay, there are numerous locations where you can see the Great Wall at its best:  the most commonly visited Great Wall site is north of Beijing in Badaling.
          • Click for Visit Beijing, the official tourism website of the Beijing Tourism Administration
Great Wall of China
Great Wall of China
  • Xi’An

    • Xi”An was the capital city of China during numerous dynasties. Among its many attractions, Xi’An is, perhaps, best known for the Museum/Tomb of Emperor Qin and the world famous Terra-cotta Warriors and Horses.
      • Other places to see include Xi’An’s Bell Tower, which was the start of the famous “Silk Road”.  If you have time, see the ornate Tang Murals in the Shaanxi Museum of History.
      • Click for the official tourism website of the Xi’an Tourism Administration for more details on visiting.
Terra-cotta Warriors
Terra-cotta Warriors
  • Shanghai

    • Shanghai is a historically significant city that has been earmarked as the “new ” Hong Kong.  In addition to numerous monuments and museums, Shanghai is a vibrant economic center, with great shopping , good food, and a mix of things to do  that are relatively unique in China.
      • To the west of Shanghai is the Suzhou, a city known for the Lingering Gardens, one of the most famous gardens in China
      • See the official tourism website for Shanghai   for more details on attractions and visiting.
City of Shanghai at night
City of Shanghai at night
  • Hong Kong

    • Hong Kong is a must see city.  It offers a spectacular setting, an upbeat mood, and an “electricity in the air” that cannot be found anywhere else in China.  Be sure to see Victoria Peak, ride the Star Ferry, tour Nathan Road, visit Repulse Bay, discover Stanley, and shop at the Temple Street Night Market.
Hong Kong Cityscape
Hong Kong Cityscape
  • Chengdu

    • Historic site of many beautiful palaces, temples and tombs, Chengdu is a pleasant stop on any China tour.  Many travelers are attracted here by Panda City, a national center for research related to the protection of the Panda Bear.
      • If you are traveling by train, note that the train station in Chengdu is a notorious den for pickpockets, who are reputed to operate with police protection. (Always wear a money belt while traveling.)
      • See the official tourism guide for Chengdu   from the Chengdu government for more details on visiting.
  • The Three Gorges

    • Much of China’s history is linked with the Yangtze River and the role it has played in the development of the country. The area known at the Three Gorges is comprised of magnificent valleys cut in the areas’ imposing limestone cliffs. The striking views are disappearing as a result of the Three Gorges Dam Power Generation Project.
      • The Three Gorges Dam was completed in 2009  and the Chinese government claims that the area is better for tourism than ever, due to access to new areas that could not be visited at the lower water level of the past.
      • If you are interested in visiting the Three Gorges, you will need to take a river cruise to do so.  Often, this area is best visited as part of a whole country tour that features river cruising.
The Three Gorges
The Three Gorges
  • Guilin

    • Guilin is one of the most beautiful and exotic areas of China. The karst topography provides unusual and attractive landscapes.  If you  have time, take a Li River cruise.
Guilin Mountains
Guilin Mountains
  • Nanjing

    • Nanjing has many attractions of significance but most travelers stop here to see the spectacular, thousand year old Confucian Temple.  In addition, be sure to see the Linggu Temple and The Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum.  The Ming is one of the largest imperial tombs in China.
      • See the Nanjing coverage in the official tourism website for Jiangsu Province , one of leading tourist destinations in Asia.
  • Tibet

    • Since 1959, Tibet has been administered by China as the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR)
    • Lhasa, the capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region, sits in a beautiful mountain valley and the city is topped by the world famous Potola Palace.
    • Many important temples and monasteries are in or near Lhasa and the city is a beautiful place to visit.
    • Be sure to inspect the wares at Barkor Street while on your way to the Jokhang Temple, regarded as the holiest of Tibetan temples.
    • Those interested in touring Tibet will need to work with the Chinese government, which must grant access.  A good place for tourist information is the official tourism website for Tibet   provided by the Chinese government.
Buddhist in Tibet
Buddhist in Tibet

Additional Resources

The official tourism website for China  is provided by the Chinese National Tourism Board.  The site provides additional details on places we recommend above, as well as locations that did not make our list.

In the page above, we provide links to the official tourism websites for the city or regions we cover.

For country facts on China, as well as travel information related to visas, driving rules, safety, medical conditions, visas and other travel-related information, see this page on China Travel from the Bureau of Consular Affairs of the U.S. State Department.  Regardless of your home country, we think you will find the information provided to be useful when planning a trip to China.