The ancient and varied provinces of China are home to some incredible tourist attractions, and they are quickly becoming one of the most famous places to visit on the planet. You will never be short of incredible sights to see in China, whether you plan to spend time in one of the country's sprawling cities or venture into its serene rural hinterlands.
With so much to see and do, compiling a definitive top ten list of China's major tourist attractions is difficult. But, after much deliberation and consideration, we've come up with a list of China's must-see tourist attractions. Others are simple, while others are a little more unusual, but they all serve to highlight the magnificence of one of the world's most fascinating civilizations.
The Great Wall of China
The Great Wall of China, the world's longest wall and an awe-inspiring feat of ancient defensive architecture, is one of the country's most recognizable landmarks. Its winding route takes in some spectacular scenery as it passes through rugged terrain and steep mountains. It is deserving of its status as one of China's "New Seven Wonders of the World" and UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The wall stretches for 5,000 kilometers (3,100 miles) from China's western border to the east coast, but the most integrated and well-preserved parts are close to Beijing. When people talk about the Great Wall of China, they generally say something like this.
Hiking or walking along China's Great Wall is the best way to see the country's most popular landmark. Walk over centuries-old bricks and through the remains of a watchtower. Take your time to allow the past to come alive for you.
Guilin and Yangshuo's Li River — China's Most Popular Scenery
Artists have been drawn to the karst landscape along the Li River. The beauty of nature there has inspired generations of Chinese painters and writers, who have used their pens and brushes to capture the breathtaking scenery.
It is now a popular photography location. When Chinese tourists think of natural beauty, they think of the Li River and Yangshuo.
The most beautiful part of the Li River is the 83-kilometer stretch between Guilin and Yangshuo. The riverbank is lined with bamboo groves and is adorned with stunning hills, steep mountains, and farming villages.
The Li River was named one of the "World's Top Ten Watery Wonders" by National Geographic Magazine in the United States. Former US Presidents Bill Clinton and George Bush (Senior), as well as Bill Gates, have also paid visits to the Li River.
You might try a SUP (stand-up paddleboard, also known as a mini raft) on the Yulong River, a bamboo raft, a bike tour through the countryside, or a thrilling drive in an all-terrain vehicle.
The Forbidden City & the Imperial Palace
The Forbidden City (Zjnchéng) - also known as the Imperial Palace - is China's largest and most important structure, located in the heart of Beijing and a must-see for anyone visiting the country. Most of the complex that can be seen today was constructed between 1406 and 1420 during the Yuan Dynasty, which lasted from 1271 to 1368. This sprawling complex, which included several magnificent palaces in one, was the home of 24 Ming and Qing Emperors, whose presence prohibited anyone other than the imperial family and their courtesans from entering.
This vast complex, which spans 720,000 square meters and is surrounded by a 10-meter-high wall with watchtowers and a large moat, consists of ceremonial and administrative areas, as well as the emperor's private residence. Highlights include the five white marble Golden River Bridges; the 35-meter-tall Hall of Supreme Harmony, which houses the imperial throne; and the magnificent emperor's banquet hall (the Hall of Preserving Harmony); and the Palace Museum, which houses a wide collection of art and objects from the Ming and Qing dynasties.
Cobbled Pedestrian Streets and Small Waterways in Lijiang's Old Town
Lijiang Old Town is known for its ancient cobblestone avenues, stone bridges, and flower-filled water-wheel-driven canals. Everywhere there are shops, cafés, pubs, restaurants, snack stalls, hotels, and hostels.
Lijiang Old Town is known for its large waterwheels. They will be visible when you reach the old town. They rotate due to the river that runs through the old town. Next to them is Bar Street, which gets really busy at night.
You can also see Naxi art at the Naxi Hieroglyphs and Painting Exhibition Hall. The Naxi are the only people in the world who still write in hieroglyphs.
Erhai Lake in Dali — One of the Most Stunning Lakes in China
Dali's most beautiful spot is Erhai Lake. It's a lake on a hill. Erhai Lake is named after its shape, which is that of an ear. This plateau lake is like a deep blue jewel in the midst of lush greenery. The lake's water is calm and clear. The gentle breeze by the lake will make you feel at ease.
Every December, flocks of black-headed gulls from Siberia arrive at Erhai Lake to spend the winter.
The fastest way to get around the lake is by bike. It's a great pleasure to capture the elegance of a landscape bathed in sunlight and breezes. Around Erhai Lake, there are two bike routes: Haixi (on Erhai's west shore) and Haidong (on Erhai's east shore).
The Potala Palace in Tibet — Heart of the Roof of the World
Tibet's Potala Palace is a landmark. It was designated as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site in 1994. It's a veritable treasure trove of Tibetan history, faith, culture, and art materials and articles. The valuable paintings, murals, scriptures, Buddhist statues, antiques, and religious jewelry housed inside the palace are well-known.
You could see the architectural marvel that houses Tibet's regal heritage, hear stories from Dalai Lamas who lived in the palace, and view the palace from four different perspectives.
The Jade Dragon Snow Mountains in Lijiang
Outside of the Andes, Jade Dragon (Yulong) Snow Mountain is the nearest snow-capped mountain range to the equator. In the hearts of the Naxi people, Jade Dragon Snow Mountain is sacred.
The most stunning scenery of the mountain is made up of glaciers, canyons, waterfalls, and colorful azaleas blooming at various elevations, not to mention its snowy summits.
The famous hiking destination of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. To get a closer look at the mountain's glory and experience its awesomeness, skip the cable cars and climb it step by step.
To get to a meadow at the southern foot of the mountain range, you'll have to cross a grassland and pass through a forest.