The 6 Tourist Attractions on China’s Banknotes

China is the big spender of world tourism, and China tourism is a big money spinner. That is perhaps why China has chosen to put six of its tourist attractions on its six biggest banknotes.

Most 2012 visitor arrivals statistics rank China third (57.7M) after France (83M) and the USA (67M), but if Hong Kong (23.7M), Macau (13.5M), and Taiwan (7.3M) are counted China easily comes top with 102,200,000 international tourists. China spent most on international tourism ($102B) in 2012, but was fourth for international tourism receipts ($50B), so you get good value for your converted RMB when you come to China!

Interestingly China didn’t choose its six most-visited sights for its banknotes, but six very varied sights scattered throughout the mainland. Below the six banknote sights are ranked according to popularity with international tourists.

Attraction

International Tourist Arrivals

World Rank

The Forbidden City, Beijing

12,830,000

15

Tsim Sha Tsui, HK

10,088,493

18

Victoria Peak, HK

10,088,493

19

The Great Wall of China, Beijing

9,000,000

26

HK Disneyland

5,200,000

45

Ocean Park, HK

5,100,000

47

2010 stats from the World Tourism Organization

The Great Hall of the People, Tian’anmen Square, Beijing (100 Yuan Note)

tiananmen squareThe Great Hall of the People

The Great Hall of the People is both first and last of the banknote sights for popularity with international tourists. Most people see it on a tour of China's most popular tourist city — Beijing, when they visit Tian'anmen Square, but few ever go in. It hosted a banquet for 5,000 in 1972 when Richard Nixon (one of our customers) visited China.

Not strictly a tourist attraction,  typically it is used for PRC government assemblies. But with Tian'anmen Square in front, the Forbidden City to the north, and the Chairman Mao Memorial Hall to the south, it is in the company of some of the most visited sights in the world.

Recommended tours:

The Li River, Guilin (20 Yuan Note)

xingping

With no banknote sights in Shanghai or Xi'an, the next most popular is the number one attraction of China's fourth tourist city, Guilin. The Li River is known as China's most beautiful river, with fantastic karst hills  reflecting in its crystal waters. Enjoy it by tourist cruiser, or bamboo raft with China Highlights.

Recommended tours:

“Three Ponds Reflecting the Moon”, West Lake, Hangzhou (1 Yuan Note)

hksic-26

With Hong Kong (unsurprisingly) neglected on RMB bills, despite it having four of China's six most-visited sights by international travelers, the third banknote sight is in Hangzhou, arguably China's sixth tourist city. West Lake is Hangzhou's star scenic attraction, a serene creation representing traditional Chinese architecture and landscaping on a grand scale.

Recommended tours:

Kui Gate, The Yangtze Three Gorges, Central China (10 Yuan Note)

kuimen

The Three Gorges are the most renowned stretch of China's greatest river, the Yangtze. Thanks to the world's largest dam you can cruise on placid waters from Chongqing to Yichang to discover the sheer natural spectacles and fascinating history of the Yangtze Gorges.

Recommended tours:

The Potala Palace, Lhasa, Tibet (50 Yuan Note)

potala palace

If it weren't for limits on visitor numbers and the restrictions on access to Tibet, the Potala Palace would have far more international visitors. The majestic seat of feudal power for the Tibetan people stands at the heart of breathtaking Tibet. Visit it to trace Tibet's history back to the first Tibetan king, 1,300 years ago.

Recommended tours:

Mount Tai, Shandong Province (5 Yuan Note)

Taishan Scenic Area

The first of China's "Five Great Mountains" is surprisingly little heard of outside China. Situated between Jinan (50 km north), Shandong's capital, and Tai'an (15 km south), it is a World Cultural and Natural Heritage Site and now a World Geopark. Enjoy spectacular sunrises and Shandong vistas from its 1,545 meter (5,068 foot) summit, as countless emperors and pilgrims have over the centuries.

Recommended tours:

And if there is not a tour to fit your requirements above, simply contact us to create your own tailor-made China tour, with unlimited free consultancy from our travel experts.

Hi, I'm Michael Yang
I updated this article on April 8, 2014
See all my travel articles
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