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The Top 10 China Travel Destinations

Where in China should you go next year? Here we recommend ten of the most popular tourist destinations to help you seek ideas and spark planning for your 2019 tour

The top 10 destination are 1) Beijing, 2) Xi’an, 3) Shanghai, with Suzhou and Hangzhou, 4) Chengdu, 5) Zhangjiajie, 6) Huangshan, 7) Guilin, 8) Hong Kong, 9) Pingyao, 10) Chongqing. 

We have also linked our top related tours for your convenience.

most popular tourist destinations in China

1. Beijing — See the Forbidden City and the Great Wall

beijng

Beijing is the most popular tourist destination in China every year. In 2019 Beijing should continue to be the best seller, where you can get the maximum experience of Chinese culture and history for one destination. The Forbidden City and the Great Wall draw millions of visitors every year.

Top Things to Do in Beijing

  • Visit the Forbidden City to see the spectacular ancient architectural complex.
  • Hike on the Great Wall to be a "real man" (according to Chairman Mao).
  • Take a bike ride in the hutongs (narrow alleys) to experience Beijing's traditional culture.
  • See more travel information on our Beijing Travel Guide.

2. Xi'an — See the Terracotta Army

xian

One of the most popular China destinations among foreign travelers, Xi'an particularly attracts tourists on their first trip to China.

The Terracotta Army in Xi'an is considered one of the greatest archaeological sites in the world. More than 6,000 life-size terracotta warriors and horses have been unearthed, all with different expressions and poses. Many remain interred.

Top Things to Do in Xi'an

  • Visit the amazing Terracotta Army.
  • Bike on the Ancient City Wall.
  • Hang out and snack in the Muslim Streets.
  • See more travel information on our Xi'an Travel Guide.

3. Shanghai, Suzhou and Hangzhou — 1 Hour by Bullet Train

Shanghai, Suzhou and Hangzhou

High-speed rail gives you some new comfortable and convenient China tour options. Suzhou and Hangzhou are now only an hour's travel by bullet train from Shanghai!

Enjoy ancient culture, gardens, and water towns from modern Shanghai, a top gateway city. The traditional gardens are quiet and inspirational places for escaping from busy city life.

Top Things to Do in These Cities

  • Enjoy a leisurely boat tour, and explore an enchanting old water town.
  • Appreciate traditional, captivatingly-landscaped Chinese gardens: Yu Garden in Shanghai, Humble Administrator's Garden in Suzhou, West Lake in Hangzhou …
  • More on Shanghai, Suzhou, and Hangzhou.

4. Chengdu — the City of Cute Giant Pandas

chengdu

Giant pandas are so cute, and many travelers want to see, or even hug, these lovely animals. Although there are giant pandas in zoos in various places around China, the best place to see and hug pandas is in Chengdu. Visitors can also take part in volunteer programs to take care of giant pandas.

Top Things to Do in Chengdu

5. Zhangjiajie — Pandora on Earth!

Zhangjiajie

Zhangjiajie is famous for its precarious peaks, limpid streams, dense forests, large karst caves, and biodiversity. It is one of the must-see scenic areas in China.

It was thrust into foreign travelers' eyes via the movie Avatar. The Hallelujah Mountains were inspired (in part) by peaks like Heavenly Pillar in Zhangjiajie National Forest Park.

Top Things to Do in Zhangjiajie

  • Hike among the amazing pillars and peaks of Zhangjiajie National Forest Park.
  • Take a cable car on 'Heaven's Doorway' Mountain to enjoy fantastic views, and experience the chilling cliff-side glass path.
  • See How to Plan a Zhangjiajie Tour for top guidance and tips.
  • There's much more helpful travel information on our Zhangjiajie Travel Guide.

Suggested itinerary: 4-Day Zhangjiajie National Park and Tianmen Mountain Tour — See the highlights of Zhangjiajie your way.

6. Huangshan — the Magical Yellow Mountains

Huangshan

Legendary natural scenery is the highlight of Huangshan. It has "the most beautiful mountains in China". The Yellow Mountains, with their seas of clouds, oddly-shaped rocks and pines, and hot springs at the mountain foot, attract many many visitors.

Besides the enchanting mountains, you should also see the beautiful surrounding countryside, with its celebrated spring vistas, fall hues, and ancient villages.

Top Things to Do in Huangshan

  • Ascend the Yellow Mountains and see the spectacular rocks and seas of clouds.
  • Visit the "artists' muse" — the beautiful village of Hongcun.
  • See How to Plan a Huangshan Trip for insider tips and guidance.
  • There's plenty more travel information on our Huangshan Travel Guide.

Suggested itinerary: 3-Day Huangshan Tour — See the highlights of the Yellow Mountains and the nearby villages.

7. Guilin — The Place to Go for Classic Chinese Countryside

Guilin

"East to west, Guilin is best." Guilin's idyllic scenery draws millions of tourists from near and far every year. Its marvelous limestone scenery is renowned as "the most beautiful on earth". The fresh air and countryside scenery make it an ideal place to escape industrial pollution.

The Li River is the top highlight of Guilin, and the Longji Terraced Fields attract many photographers in spring and fall.

Top Things to Do in Guilin

  • Take a cruise to see the picturesque Li River.
  • Photograph the Longji Terraced Fields and experience minority culture in Longsheng.
  • Discover the awe-inspiring and colorful Reed Flute Cave in Guilin City.
  • For many more suggestions and helpful tips see our Guilin Travel Guide.

8. Hong Kong — Classy and Scenic, a Shopping Paradise

Hong Kong

Hong Kong is a luxury product shopping paradise. The huge shopping malls of Central, Admiralty, and the street fashion factory in Causeway Bay, are reasons for many travelers to make their way to Hong Kong. Hong Kong also has some amazing beaches and natural sights for outdoor lovers. And it's near Macau, so many travelers take a day trip by ferry to this former Portuguese Port.

Top Things to Do in Hong Kong

  • Shop for relatively low-priced luxuries.
  • Take a bird's eye view of Victoria Harbor from Victoria Peak.
  • Plan a one-day trip to Macau for casinos and colonial architecture.
  • There's much much more on our extensive Hong Kong Travel Guide.

Suggested itinerary: One-Day Macau Tour from Hong Kong — Enjoy a top-value coach tour of the cream of Hong Kong and Macau.

9. Pingyao — a Wonderfully-Preserved Ancient City

Pingyao

Pingyao is actually only a town nowadays, but it was once an important city. The well-preserved ancient buildings and city wall of the Ming (1368–1644) and Qing (1644–1911) dynasties attract many visitors in search of how China used to be. Pingyao is an especially popular destination on the route from Beijing to Xi'an.

See "the first bank in China" — Pingyao was the financial center of China in the 19th century, while its history dates back 2,700 years.

Top Things to Do in Pingyao

  • Visit the Qiao Family Compound — a quintessential 18th-century North China residence
  • See old banks and shops in the ancient town.
  • For more travel information, see our Pingyao Travel Guide.

Suggested itinerary: Pingyao Highlights Tour — See the most highlight attractions in Pingyao and surrounding in 2 days.

10. Chongqing — Best Place to Start the Yangtze Cruise

Chongqing

Chongqing, biggest city in China's "west", is popular for being the most popular port for the Yangtze Cruise.

The first impression of Chongqing for most visitors is that it is a huge "Mountain City", with its buildings built up against the surrounding mountains. It's magical that in some buildings, after you push the '8' in the elevator, you walk out at ground level again!

Top Things to Do in Chongqing

Suggested itinerary: Essence of Chongqing and Yangtze Cruise Tour — Explore "the mountain city" and the enchanting Yangtze Three Gorges.

Start Planning Your China Trip

Read our ideas and suggestions on How to Plan Your China Trip.

Recommended Itineraries 

Below are recommended China tours itineraries for you, including the most popular places from the list above. All of our tours can be tailor-made. Tell us your requirements and interests, and we will help you create your own China tour.

For a different combination of China cities, or to tour more of China your way, contact us with your favorite China highlights and we'll tailor-make your dream tour.

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