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The 10 Most Popular Tourist Destinations in China

At a time of economic recession, we fully appreciate that you are mindful of the costs associated with your vacation this year, and we are confident that you would not wish to waste your precious vacation time on a marginal destination. We have therefore selected for your consideration some of China's most popular destinations as follows.

10 Most Popular Tourist Destinations in China

1. Beijing — Ancient and Modern Capital

beijing

Beijing, China's capital city for over 700 years, is rich in history, both ancient and modern. There are many palace complexes in Beijing, as well as super-modern buildings.

It's very easy to get to Beijing, and it's one of the first choices for many first-time travelers to China. Flights and high-speed trains from Beijing to other popular cities are very convenient.

Beijing also offers a 72-hour transit visa-free policy for travelers from 51 countries. You can take a 3-day trip in Beijing if you have an onward flight ticket to a third country or area.

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2. Xi'an — a Window on China's Ancient Civilization

xian

As the second most famous of China's ancient national capitals (after Beijing), Xi'an was the first capital of a united China in 221 BC (the Qin Dynasty). Thus Xi'an is blessed with a great number of precious relics and historical sites.

Xi'an was also the starting point of the Silk Road, an ancient trade route that extended from Asia to Europe and played an important role in economic and cultural exchange between the East and the West in ancient times.

Xi'an also has a 72-hour transit visa-free policy.

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3. Shanghai — China's Prosperous Largest City

shanghai

Shanghai, China's biggest city, oozes an atmosphere of vitality which can rival New York and Paris in terms of modernity. As one of the world's leading economic and business cities, Shanghai's modernity is evidenced by the ambitious skyline.

Unlike Beijing, there are not many famous tourist attractions in Shanghai. However, the beauty of visiting Shanghai lies not in scurrying from site to site but in the feel of the city's modern atmosphere.

Shanghai has a 144-hour (6 days) transit visa-free policy, and you can extend your trip to Hangzhou, Suzhou, and Nanjing. What's more, the policy is valid for travelers who reach Shanghai by boat, train, or flight.

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4. Guilin — China's Top Karst Landscape

guilin

Guilin, with its marvelous limestone scenery, is renowned as one of the most beautiful places on earth. During his visit, former US President Nixon was inspired by Guilin's picturesque natural scenery and remarked: "I have visited more than eighty countries and over a hundred cities. I have found that no city can surpass the beauty of Guilin."

Guilin is 72-hour visa free for 51 countries, and 144-hour visa free for 10 ASEAN countries. Guilin is due west from Hong Kong, from which it can be reached by air in an hour. A tour of Hong Kong can be easily combined with a Guilin tour. It's popular to visit Guilin and then head to Hong Kong with these visa-free policies.

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5. Hong Kong — Like Nowhere Else on Earth

hong kong

Hong Kong is a

Hong Kong is a fusion of cultures. Remnants of its colonial past, British culture, share space with Chinese tradition. It is also a world-renowned shopping paradise, known for its tourist-friendly atmosphere and numerous options.

The huge shopping malls of Central and Admiralty and the street fashion factory in Causeway Bay are reasons for many travelers to make their Hong Kong trips. And if you have to transfer via Hong Kong, here are 5 things to do to make the most of your stopover time.

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6. Hangzhou — Next Best Place to Heaven

hangzhou

When Marco Polo came to Hangzhou in the 13th century, he declared it "the most beautiful and elegant city in the world". There is a popular Chinese saying: "Above there is heaven, below there are Hangzhou and Suzhou."

Hangzhou's "heavenly" beauty attracts hundreds of thousands of travelers, and it has a 144-hour visa-free policy. There are also convenient high-speed trains from/to Shanghai.

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7. Chengdu — Hometown of Giant Pandas

chengdu

Chengdu is the hometown of Giant Pandas. Although there are giant pandas in zoos in various places around China, the best place to see pandas is in Chengdu.

Besides giant panda, Chengdu is also famous for delicious Sichuan food like kung pao chicken and spicy hotpot. You can experience cooking the most authentic Sichuan cuisine with a local chef. And travelers can also enjoy the 72-hour visa-free policy in Chengdu.

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8. Huangshan — Majestic Beauty

huangshan

Huangshan is steeped in picturesque natural landscapes and history. Marvel at the peculiarly-shaped rocks and pines on the Yellow Mountains, appreciate the ancient-styled dwellings in Xidi and Hongcun villages.

The Yellow Mountains give people a stunning mountain views, and ancient villages present ancient China's elegance and tranquility with well-preserved ancient folk houses and flowing rivers.

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9. Lhasa — Gateway to Transcendent Tibet

lhasa

Lhasa, capital of Tibet, is the center of Tibetan cultural and religious life. Most tourists enter Tibet via Lhasa. Outside the city is Tibet's wealth of natural wonders and holy sites, from Lake Namtso to Mt. Everest, to Mount Kailash.

"Lhasa" is Tibetan for "place of the gods", and is revered as such. There are many sites and religious sites in the city proper and its suburbs. At Barkhor Street, visitors can go souvenir hunting, rub shoulders with locals, and experience the sacred "one step one bow" way to religion.

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10. Suzhou — Elegant Water Towns and Gardens

suzhou

Suzhou is famous for the water towns around it and its traditional Chinese gardens. The gardens harmoniously mix man-made landscapes with natural scenery: architecture, painting, calligraphy, and horticulture are combined, and enclosed like pearls by walls. China's water towns hold the quintessential image of traditional Chinese villages.

30 minutes by high-speed train from Shanghai, 5 hours from Beijing, it is very convenient to combine Beijing, Shanghai, and Suzhou in a tour.

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Visit China with China Highlights

the great wall

It is not easy to organize an itinerary to all these attractions on your own. For a first trip to China, most choose to visit the Great Wall and Forbidden City in Beijing, view the Terracotta Army in Xi'an, and see the Shanghai skyline and enjoy stunning scenery in Guilin

These are our bestsellers, featuring the best cities to visit in China:

  • The Golden Triangle – See Beijing, Xi'an, Shanghai with their highlights and no rush thanks to our 8-day, time-smart itinerary.
  • China's Classic Wonders – The most popular destinations in China with all the highlights

There are many options for return trips to China, you can get inspirations from these top places provided on this page, or tell your interests to our travel advisor, and they will help you tailor make a China trip!

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