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15 Best Places to Visit in China (2024)

Written by CindyUpdated Mar. 1, 2024

China, a captivating blend of history and natural beauty, beckons travelers with its incredible destinations.

From ancient wonders to modern marvels, there is no shortage of incredible places to explore in this vast nation.

These 15 places we've selected are great ideas for your annual family trip, birthday trip, anniversary trip, bucket list trip, or any other big milestone trip.

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1. The Great Wall — Top Landmark of China

The Great Wall is an absolute must-see when visiting China, particularly for first-time travelers. This ancient and magnificent military defense project, spanning tens of thousands of kilometers, continues to emanate a distinct allure.

Aside from the option of visiting the Great Wall via cable car, embarking on a hike along the Wall would also serve as a fantastic means of exploration.

For those with ample time and a penchant for adventure, camping on the Great Wall could be an exhilarating experience.

During summertime visits, it is highly recommended to explore the Great Wall at night to escape the heat. Alternatively, witnessing the sunset and indulging in a prepared picnic would make for a delightful experience.

If you are planning a trip to China and want to make an itinerary based on your interests and requirements, feel free to contact us. Our tour services are personalized.

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2. Beijing — The Ultimate Destination for First-Time Explorers

Beijing, the capital of China, is the most popular tourist destination in China every year. You could get the maximum experience of Chinese culture and history from one destination.

There you could learn some stories about Chinese emperors by walking in the Forbidden City, which was once their home.

For foodies, Peking Duck is not to be missed, and there are plenty of hidden snack bars in the hutongs.

If you want to experience the bustling (or leisurely retired) life of Beijingers, you could visit a Beijinger family in the hutongs or walk around a local community with markets and parks.

3. Xi'an — Embrace the Essence of Culture in a City Steeped in History

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 most significant 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.

For a richer experience and better understanding, we would arrange a hands-on experience of making your own clay warriors. Here you could get more ideas for your China trip on Top 10 Unique Experiences in China You Won't Miss

If you are looking for outdoor activities with your kids, we recommend a bike ride along Xi'an's 600-year-old Ancient City Wall where you could have a good all-around view of the city.

Hanging out and snacking on the Muslim Streets could also be a wonderful choice.

4. Chengdu — A Captivating Haven for Panda Enthusiasts

To make your first trip to China complete with a panda encounter, Chengdu cannot be missed.

Chengdu is the best place to see pandas in China. You could also take part in volunteer programs to take care of giant pandas.

During the program, you would get to go into pandas' bedrooms for daily cleaning duties, make their favorite cakes, watch them being fed, and get a souvenir certificate. See more on How Long to Spend in Chengdu.

5. Tibet — A Bucket List Favorite

Tibet

Tibet is a sacred place for Buddhists as well as a bucket list destination for many travelers.

It is overflowing with rich Tibetan culture, characteristic Tibetan architectural structures, and unspoiled plateau scenery. Read more on How Long to Spend in Tibet.

There you could explore the Potala Palace, which is an iconic landmark in Tibet, travel to Everest Base camp and stand in front of the "Apex" of the Roof of the World, and gaze at the beauty of Yamdrok Lake and Namtso.

If you are traveling with kids and want to have some special experience, we recommend an interesting camp experience with a nomadic family on their pasture and working together with them. All our tours are customized.

6. Zhangjiajie National Forest Park — Nature Lover's Paradise

Zhangjiajie

Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, featuring precarious peaks, limpid streams, dense forests, large karst caves, and biodiversity, 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 the park.

Experience the breathtaking beauty of a sea of clouds by taking a cable car to the mountaintop. Walk along the steps, and you'll witness spectacular views unveiled before your eyes, offering a unique perspective from various angles.

Additionally, the cool and refreshing air will rejuvenate your mind, making it an ideal summer retreat.

7. Guilin — A Family Adventure Awaits in Nature's Playground

Guilin

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.

Relax on a Li River cruise and enjoy its stunning karst landscapes. Go to Yangshuo, the tourism-magnet town near Guilin. You could also enjoy some time relaxing on a bamboo raft ride, bicycle, and/or sidecar tour to explore the countryside.

If you are seeking an adventurous experience with your kids, explore a wild limestone cave or discover a beautiful valley that is still mostly unknown, even to locals.

Going kayaking to enjoy the cool water and appreciate the karst scenery along the river could also be a wonderful family activity, especially in the summer.

8. 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!

In Shanghai, explore the Bund in-depth and its historical buildings and visit the world's biggest Starbucks and see how AR (augmented reality) is used in the store.

In Hangzhou, you could visit a tea plantation to see how farmers pick tea leaves and discover the process of making tea.

A trip to Suzhou will let you appreciate the charm of traditional Chinese gardens and water towns. See more on How to Plan a Trip to Shanghai, Hangzhou, and Suzhou.

9. Huangshan — Where Majestic Mountains Paint an Unforgettable Landscape

Huangshan

The 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 could also see the beautiful surrounding countryside. Escape to a rural utopia in Bishan village and see how artists have turned this small area into a rural paradise.

10. The Silk Road — Embark on an Unconventional Journey Through History

Dunhuang Mogao CavesDunhuang Mogao Caves

The Silk Road would show you a different China. It was once the most prosperous trade route in China. Even if it is no longer as prosperous as before, it is still proud to show its unique charm, waiting for every visitor to find its brilliance.

You would see marvelous landscapes with unique Danxia landforms, pristine deserts, and crystal lakes. Visit the old Mogao Caves to see fine murals and learn about how Buddhism entered China. See more on How Long to Spend on the Silk Road.

Feel its exotic culture in Xinjiang by visiting its lively bazaars, and mosques, and meeting friendly locals.

11. The Greater Bay Area (Guangdong, Hong Kong, and Macau) — Unveiling a Visa-Friendly Paradise

With its unique blend of cultures, this vibrant region offers many attractions.

From exploring the bustling streets of Hong Kong and admiring the skyline, to experiencing the glamorous Portuguese architecture in Macau and indulging in delicious Cantonese cuisine in Guangdong, there is something for everyone.

Besides, you could explore more in Guangdong to discover its Lingnan culture, such as watching amazing lion dancing and learning the Wing Chun style of kung fu in Foshan.

Hong Kong and Macau offer visa-free access to numerous international tourists, while Guangdong province also allows visitors to make use of the 144 visa-free transit policy.

12. Yunnan — Where Outdoor Adventures Meet Serene Natural Beauty

Yunnan

Located in Southwest China, Yunnan enjoys pleasant weather, warm in winter and cool in summer.

It is the most diverse and colorful area in China. There you could hike across Tiger Leaping Gorge, which is one of the deepest gorges on the planet, visit the majestic Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, enjoy a lazy time in the old towns, visit a non-public dormitory of Songzanlin Monastery, bike with the refreshing breezes of Erhai Lake...

All our tours can be customized. Contact us to create a trip according to your group size, time, budget, interests, and other requirements.

13. Jiuzhaigou — Immerse in the Serene Splendor of Lakes and Natural Beauty

Jiuzhaigou, located in Sichuan province, is a must-visit destination in China, especially for nature enthusiasts.

Its colorful lakes, cascading waterfalls, snow-capped peaks, and unique ecosystem make it a fairyland.

Take leisurely walks along the wooden boardwalks, immersing yourself in the serenity.

14. The Yangtze River — Embrace Serenity and Rekindle Your Affinity as Couples

The Yangtze River, the longest river in China and Asia, would offer stunning and diverse landscapes along its course.

A cruise offers leisurely couple time and provides several typical China-culture-related onboard activities.

Embarking on a cruise along the Yangtze, you would be amazed by the majestic Three Gorges, featuring towering cliffs, misty mountains, and serene waters.

The mesmerizing scenery of the Gorges changes with the seasons, from vibrant greenery in spring and summer to enchanting autumn foliage. As the river continues, picturesque countryside and terraced fields unfold, showcasing the rural charm of China.

Along the way, cultural and historical sites such as Fengdu Ghost City and Shibaozhai Pagoda provide insightful glimpses into China's rich heritage.

15. Inner Mongolia — Uncover Extraordinary Landscapes and Adventures

Inner Mongolia, a vast region in northern China, is also a destination that should not be missed.

The grasslands, stretching as far as the eye can see, offer a unique opportunity to experience the nomadic way of life. You could also stay overnight in a traditional Mongolian yurt to experience their traditional lifestyle.

Adventure out into Kubuqi Desert's hinterland to escape crowds and enjoy all kinds of interesting desert activities.

If you want to explore Mongolian culture, don't miss the Naadam Festival.

Tour China with Us

Below are recommended China tour itineraries for you, including the most popular places from the list above.

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. All of our tours can be tailor-made.

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