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China is an ideal travel destination for young people. It’s easy on the wallet and you can explore one of the world’s oldest civilizations as well as one of its fastest developing countries.
Here is a complete guide to China for young adults, from where to visit to recommended China tours.
Young adults are full of energy and like exploring. The following destinations we have recommended can match all of your interests.
Beijing is the best gateway to China as its capital city. It has a convenient subway network so that you can travel to most of the attractions in a cheap and fast way. Most places will have signs in English. It is easy for you to travel around even if you cannot speak Chinese. There are many activities for young travelers to do there.
Start a wild hiking trip on the Great Wall from Jiankou to Mutianyu. Trek on the Great Wall ruins along the mountain ridges. Climb wooden ladders, step over piles of stone blocks, and descend a 50-degree slope on the wall.
Experience Beijing’s bar culture in Sanlitun: watch live band performances, watch football games on television, enjoy cocktails, and make friends with young people from different parts of the world. Cycle around the city to feel its dynamic vitality.
As one of the economically developed cities in China and China’s fashion capital, Shanghai has become the favorite destination for young travelers. There are towering buildings, a colorful nightlife, the newest Disneyland, and various shopping areas from luxury shopping malls to cheap local markets.
You can wander along the Bund to see the beautiful Shanghai skyline. Visit the Shanghai Tower with the world's highest observation deck. Take a convertible jeep ride to indulge in the bustling nightlife of Shanghai. Take a stroll along Nanjing Road — the popular shopping street lined with famous old-brand shops and authentic restaurants. Have fun in Shanghai Disneyland Park, which blends the magic of Disney and unique cultural elements of China.
Most people think Xi’an is a historical city. Young people may find history boring but there is not only history in this city — there are also some interesting experiences related to history. You can learn about the traditional Chinese costumes and try on Hanfu. You can also make mini terracotta warriors on your own and cycle on the ancient city wall.
Apart from this, you can have an adventure tour at Mount Hua, which is one of the Five Great Mountains in China, located 2½ hours' drive from Xi’an city. Walk on the cliffside narrow plank at South Peak. Explore temples and other religious structures nestled on its ridges and peaks.
Rich and colorful outdoor activities and picturesque scenery make Guilin a good destination for young adults.
Have a date with the landscape of Guilin. Take a bamboo raft ride to immerse yourself in the amazing views of the Yulong River. Go rock climbing on Moon Hill. Explore Yangshuo’s countryside by riding a bike or an electric scooter along the postcard-like karst hills and through the rice paddies filled with rapeseed flowers in spring. Stop to say hello to the farmers working in their fields and pass by some tranquil villages.
Huangshan is a good destination for hikers. Hike down to the less-traveled paths to appreciate the undisturbed beauty away from the tourists. Explore off the beaten path in West Sea Grand Canyon. Watch the beautiful sunset and sunrise. Bathe in a hot spring to wash away all of your fatigue.
You can also visit a rural artistic utopia, nestled among Bishan's century-old houses, green fields, and hills. Read in a cool bookstore, which has been transformed from an ancestral temple. Drink in a brewpub and enjoy a peaceful time.
Cute pandas and various delicious street foods make Chengdu a good place for young people. You can get close to the cute pandas as a one-day panda keeper. Feed them with your own hands and make a panda cake for them. When you go back home and tell your family and friends that you have touched pandas, they will be very envious.
Chengdu is a food paradise with many special dishes. Have you eaten skewers of meat or vegetables cooked in a spicy and oily hot pot broth, cold slices of mung bean jelly in a spicy vinaigrette sauce, or fried bean curd and beef with cayenne pepper? Start a food adventure with these special street foods!
Zhangjiajie’s precipitous mountains attract many young hikers. There, you can explore the Avatar Hallelujah Mountain and one of China’s largest karst caves — Yellow Dragon Cave. Take the world's longest cable car ride up to the top of Tianmen Mountain. Walk on Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass Bridge — the world’s rural artistic utopia glass-bottomed bridge.
Guizhou’s multi-minority culture is the biggest attraction. Its fast development also catches the attention of young people. The rice terraces in Guizhou are good places for young hikers because of their altitude and wildness.
You can learn Gejia batik and design your own batik work in Matang Gejia Village, and try your hand at silversmithing with a local master in Kongbai Miao Village. Pay a visit to FAST (Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical radio Telescope) — the world's largest aperture, at 500 meters, with an area equal to 30 soccer fields. Walk on solid flagstones, view rice paddies in the morning, and walk down from the top of the mountain on paths set through paddy fields.
The enormous Gobi Desert is a place where young people who yearn for freedom want to venture. Over 2,000 years ago, Chinese traders transported silk via the Silk Road to Central Asia and Europe. The Silk Road passes through the arid Gansu Corridor and remote West China. Explore the Mogao Caves, appreciate the Rainbow Mountains in the Zhangye National Geopark, ride a camel in the desert, enjoy the awesome natural beauty at Heavenly Lake, and visit a remote Muslim city.
Isolated on the remote Himalayan Plateau, Tibet is attractive for many young travelers because of its mystery. There are old Tibetan cultures and pure, beautiful scenery. Climb to Everest Base Camp to feel the thin air. Admire the Potala Palace. Take a stroll around Barkhor Street and see some Tibetan handicrafts. Visit Yamdrok Lake and enjoy a lakeside picnic on a sunny day.
Young travelers can have fun in China in each season. Spring (April–May) and autumn (September–October) offer good weather conditions and the best scenery. Summer is, in fact, the season with the most things to do in China, from city sightseeing and sunny mountain hikes to minority festivals. Winter offers beautiful snow-covered landscapes and ideal ski resorts, and traveling is cost-efficient during this season.
See more on the Best Times to Travel to China.
In this section, we will give you some information about how to arrange the transportation and accommodation, and how to eat like a local in China.
Taking a flight is the fastest way to travel, especially for long distances, but it is costly. Flights with unpopular landing times (such as landing in the early hours of the morning) tend to be cheaper.
High-speed trains are recommended for short journeys between cities. An overnight sleeper train or a slow train is cheap but time-consuming and uncomfortable. There are long-distance buses for more remote locations, short journeys, and even more economical intercity travel but this requires Chinese skills. You can choose a mode of transport within your budget.
For city transportation, there are also many choices ranging from subway trains to taxis and from buses to shared bikes. There is no doubt that taking a subway train is the fastest and most economical way to travel around a city. Using a shared bike, however, is also a good way for you to tour around with more freedom to explore.
See more on the Best Ways to Go to China and Travel Around.
Hostels have become many young travelers’ choice as they are economical. You can meet fellow travelers and interact with young Chinese people. You can find good accommodation on Airbnb.
If you want to find a hotel for a comfortable stay without spending too much, a 3-star hotel is suitable. It will provide you with a comfortable bed, a well-equipped guest room, air conditioning, free Wi-Fi, a flat screen TV with satellite channels, and free toiletries.
Try some street food! Street snacks are often the best part of a city’s culinary experience, and each of them only costs you a few yuan. Smelly tofu, spicy hot bean curd, eight treasures ice lolly, roasted chestnuts, a fried bread stick — challenge your taste buds! If you have no idea what to eat, you can see what the locals are eating. Their tastes are more suited to the authentic flavors.
In addition to your brick-and-mortar shops, China also has a really developed take-out (waimai) culture (with the help of apps, such as Meituan or Eleme). If you can dream it, it can be delivered to you, including groceries, pizza, and even medicine.
Traveling without a tour guide is feasible in China as you can make a tour plan by looking up information on the Internet. However, most of the information on the Internet is basic. All the travel guides will tell you that the Great Wall is a must-see attraction, but when you get there you may think that it’s not as interesting as the Internet states. This is because there is nobody to lead you to experience any fun activities there and tell you the stories and legends behind the Great Wall.
Therefore, in order to have an unforgettable China tour, we suggest booking a private tour. We can arrange many interesting activities that you cannot experience when traveling alone. Our private tours show you the real China you're looking for — travel at your own pace, make contact with some locals, get the chance to observe places in an unhurried and interesting way, and discover China through unique cultural activities.
Here are our recommended China tours for young travelers:
If the above tours are not what you're looking for, you can use our Create My Trip service and we'll tailor-make your own unique tour.