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Home China Travel Guide Top 15 Things to Do in China 2024/2025

Top 15 Things to Do in China 2024/2025

Are you planning a 2024/2025 China trip? For many people, this may be an overwhelming task given China’s vast territory of about 9.6 million square kilometers, diverse landscapes, long-lasting history and multiple cultures. This article introduces the top 15 things to do in China, which will help you to make the most out of your journey in China.

Forbidden City

 

Hike on the Great Wall of China in Beijing

For most foreign travelers, hiking on the Great Wall is one of the top things to do in China. As an iconic symbol of China, the time-honored Great Wall has been listed as a UNESCO Cultural Heritage in 1987. It is the largest man-made military fortification in the world, stretching over 210,000km along the rolling mountain ranges on the ancient border line.

There are many of the best Great Wall sections on the outskirts of Beijing, making the city the optimal choice when thinking of Great Wall hiking.

Mutianyu is highly recommended to first-timers and those who travel in China with family. Both are the most renowned wall sections in China with well-preserved walls and bacon towers, as well as perfect facilities such as cableway and tram.

For experienced hikers or adventurers, Simatai and Jinshanling can be the ideal destinations, both featuring unspoiled views of Great Wall with rugged terrains and original constructions that still remain dilapidated at some segments.

Recommended Great Wall Tours:

Mutianyu Great Wall
Mutianyu Great Wall

Glimpse into the Imperial History and Culture at Forbidden City

A visit to the Forbidden City is one of the top things to do in China and will leave an everlasting memory to both history enthusiasts and architectural admirers. Located at the heart of Beijing’s central axis, it used to be the living place for 24 emperors in the Ming and Qing dynasties (1368-1911), housing over 9,000 glamorous ancient imperial buildings.

Entering from the south gate, visitors can find three extremely grand halls lined up along the axis. As the places for ceremonial rituals and administrative affairs, these lofty palaces were all built with crimson walls, carved beams and painted rafters, as well as golden roofs and decorations, to showcase the regal dignity.

Step further, and tourists will encounter some exquisite courtyards which served as private residences for emperors and concubines in the past.

Travel Tips: It is highly recommended you rent an automatic guide at the entrance or travel with a professional guide for an in-depth understanding of the history and stories behind the Forbidden City.

Popular Tours including the Forbidden City:

 

Beijing Forbidden City
Forbidden City

Travel Through Ancient Hutongs by a Rickshaw

In contrast to the imperial Forbidden City, ancient hutongs in Beijing are where to look into an authentic slice of life and neighborhood culture of common citizens. These hutongs actually form a crisscross network connecting traditional courtyard compounds, making the dwelling districts just like a maze. Today, most hutongs are teemed with restaurants, interesting shops and time-honored brands for visitors to taste local food and pick special handicrafts as souvenirs.

Taking a rickshaw is the most popular way to explore hutongs. It used to be the major transportation means in Beijing, shuttling among every corner of the old lanes, but has now become a special tourist project. Visitors can take a rickshaw tour at Shichahai, South Luogu Lane and hutongs near Prince Gong’s Mansion to have a glimpse of traditional Beijingers’ lifestyle.

Beijing-Hutongs
Beijing Hutong rickshaw ride

Delve into Terracotta Army – Witness History over 2000 Years Ago

Widely recognized as “the Eighth Wonder of the World”, the Terracotta Warriors and Horses in Xi’an draws millions of travelers around the world every year. Tourists will admire over 8,000 life-sized sculptures of soldiers, chariots and horses here. All the terracotta figures are modeled on the real army of the Qin Dynasty (221-207 BC), aiming to protect Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of China, in his afterlife.

The visiting of the Terracotta Army usually takes about 3-4 hours. It is strongly suggested you travel with a local expert guide to get a deeper exploration of the unique funerary rituals of the Qin Dynasty, facts and legends about Qin Shi Huang, and how these figures were discovered.

Top Recommended Xian Tours with Terracotta Army:

Xian-Terracotta-Army
Terracotta Warriors and Horses

Walk or Cycle atop Xi’an City Wall – the Best-Preserved One in China

Xian City Wall is the No.1 landmark of the city and is the oldest and most complete one in the world. Once served as a military defense system, the wall was well equipped with a moat, watchtowers, ramparts and intricate drawbridges.

Now, it has become the borderline between the old town and new districts, offering different vistas of Xi’an. Inside the wall are lower buildings and historical sites like Bell and Drum Towers, and Muslim Quarter.  While the outer side of the wall is lined up with stylish high-rises. If you visit the City Wall late in the afternoon, don’t miss the chance to enjoy the different night scenes on the two sides of the wall, which will definitely make your trip worthwhile.

Travel Tips:

The City Wall is about 13.7km in circumference. Taking a walk around usually takes about 3~4 hours. Visitors can rent a tandem or a single bike near the South Gate for a more relaxing visiting experience.

Xian City Wall
Xian Ancient City Wall

Retrace the Past along the Ancient Silk Road

The Silk Road is an ancient trading route stretching from Xi’an to Xinjiang, and eventually extending to Central Asia, along which countless caravans, merchants and religious believers once facilitated the economic and cultural exchanges in the past. Today, the Silk Road is rather a popular traveling route endowed with a wealth of ancient architecture, religious sites, brilliant culture, as well as wild and breathtaking natural landscapes.

Along the way, you can enjoy unique frontier scenery at Jiayuguan Pass; Mogao Grottoes, as the world’s largest site presenting Buddhist arts, will impress you with splendid murals and statues; Zhangye Danxia Landform will feast for your eyes with gorgeous rainbow mountains stretching to the distance; the azure Crescent Lake embedded in the desert will present a totally different desert landscape…

Classic Silk Road Tours:

Echoing Sand Mountain Dunhuang
Echoing Sand Mountain

Get Close to the Adorable Pandas in Chengdu

For panda lovers, visiting Chengdu should be the top things to do in China. As a major habitat of giant pandas, Chengdu is the city you can get close to both adult pandas and cute cubs, and Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in the suburbs should be your first choice. It is home to over 120 pandas. An early morning visit to the base will offer you a chance to see the pandas at their most active and energetic.

If you are planning a side trip to Dujiangyan, you may consider visiting Panda Valley, which is less crowded than Panda Base in Chengdu. There, you can see a dozen pandas living in a more natural environment.

If you want to help to take care of giant pandas, you can join a full-day Panda Volunteering Program at Dujiangyan Panda Base, following an expert panda keeper to clean panda enclosures, prepare food and feed the pandas.

Recommended China Panda Tours:

Panda Volunteer Program

Explore Essences of Shanghai: Yu Garden & the Bund

Shanghai is one of the most developed cities in China, that impresses the world with stylish skyscrapers, fast-paced lifestyle and bustling atmosphere. Aside from fashion and modernization, Shanghai is also a historical city enjoying both profound Chinese culture and colonial background.

Culture lovers will find Yu Garden a good place to retrace the past. Constructed more than 450 years ago, it is a perfect showcase of Chinese architectural aesthetics with exquisite houses, pavilions and halls setting off with natural landscape like plants, ponds and rockeries. While the Bund will introduce you to some best examples of colonial European buildings, high-rising skyscrapers and stunning riverside views.

Recommended Shanghai Tours:

Shanghai Yuyuan Garden
Shanghai Yuyuan Garden

Marvel at Remarkable Karst Formations on a Li River Cruise

Being known worldwide for the unique karst landscapes, idyllic scenery and timeless charm, Guilin boasts some of the best natural wonders in China. And a Li River cruise offers you a chance to sit back and admire the essences of Guilin landscape in leisure. During the cruise, you can feast your eyes on continuous karst mountains on the two sides, all of which cast their reflections on the limpid water, making you feel like being in the midst of a natural painting.

Recommended Guilin Tours with Li River Cruise:

Guilin Li River Cruise
Guilin Li River Cruise

See “Avatar’s Hallelujah Mountains” in Zhangjiajie National Forest Park

Having been listed as a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site in 1992, Zhangjiajie Natural Forest Park is the paradise for natural lovers and photographers, endowed with breathtaking sandstone landforms. Its countless cloud-kissing pillar mountains are the inspiration for the floating “Hallelujah Mountains” in the famous Hollywood movie Avatar.

Setting out an exploration in the forest park is one of the top things to do in China. You can expect the following highlights during the hiking:

  • Zhangjiajie Glass Bridge– It is the longest and highest glass bridge in the world, spanning over a grand canyon;
  • Bailong Elevator– It is the world’s tallest outdoor elevator with a height of 335m against a cliff and only takes 88s to reach the top;
  • Tianzi Mountain– Visitors will marvel at a vast “forest” of sandstone peaks and sea of clouds here.
  • Tianmen Mountain– There is a naturally formed hollow running through a mountain, presenting the uncanny workmanship of the nature.

Recommended Zhangjiajie Tours:

Zhangjiajie Tianzi Mountain
Tianzi Mountain Zhangjiajie

 

Immerse in A Crystal-Clear World at Harbin International Ice & Snow Festival

The annual Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival is one of the four greatest ice and snow festivals in the world, opening on January 5th and lasting for about one month. During the festival, large-scaled glittering ice sculptures will turn Harbin Ice and Snow World and Starlin Park into a crystal fairy-tale land; the Sun Island will become a world of giant snow sculptures; and Zhaolin Park will amaze tourists with stunning ice lanterns…

In addition to the outstanding sculptures, there are also interesting competitions and activities waiting to delight you, such as winter swimming, ice hockey, snow football, skiing, photographic exhibitions, film festivals…

Popular Harbin Ice & Snow Festival Tours:

Harbin Ice and Snow World
Harbin Ice and Snow World

Relax on a Yangtze River Cruise for an Immersive Sightseeing Experience

As the third longest river in the world, Yangtze River is rich in natural and man-made scenery, as well as cultural and historical relics. Embarking on a Yangtze River cruise from Chongqing to Yichang or Shanghai is one of the top things to do in China and is widely accepted as the best way to discover the essence of this great river.

Taking the leisure cruise is like enjoying an endless scroll of landscape painting gently unfolded in front of you. During the journey, you can sit back on the deck feasting your eyes with magnificent scenery of Three Gorges, stop by some historical sites like Shibaozhai and White Emperor City, and witness the unraveled Three Gorges Dam…

Recommended Tours with Yangtze River Cruise:

First Bend of Yangtze River
The First Bend of Yangtze River

Soak in the Spirituality of Tibet: Lhasa & Mt. Everest

Setting out a trip to Tibet must be the top things to do in China, especially for adventurers and photographers. Nestled on “the Roof of the World”, the holy Tibet is blessed with awe-inspiring highland landscapes, such as Karola Glacier, as well as sacred lakes – Namtso Lake and Yamdorktso Lake. However, for experienced hikers and explorers, it would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience staying overnight at Everest Base Camp (EBC), admiring the magnificent scenery of Himalaya Mountains around.

Tibet, on the other hand, is also a realm rich in religious atmosphere. Lhasa, the political and religious center of Tibet, is full of grand complexes and monasteries, including Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple and Drepung Monastery, for tourists to feel the profound customs and culture of Tibetan Buddhism.

Travel Tips: Please notice that independent traveling is not accepted in Tibet. Foreign tourists are required to travel with a local agency.

Top Recommended Tibet Tours:

Tibet Prayer Flags

Hiking on Mt. Huangshan – the Most Beautiful Mountain in China

Hailed as one of the most beautiful mountains in China, Yellow Mountain, also known as Mt. Huangshan, has inspired a number of poets and painters with its iconic natural wonders – twisted pines, queer rocks, sea of clouds, hot springs and winter snow. Besides, the stunning sunrise or sunset on Huangshan presents another surreal scenery, when the golden glows of the sun shine over the silhouettes of distant peaks, turning the whole place into a perfect oil painting.

Travel Tips:

  1. The whole scenic area consists of over 50 peaks. Generally, visitors are suggested to distribute at least 2 days to cover the highlight sights.
  2. After hiking, it is recommended touriststake a side trip tothe nearby Hongcun and Xidi Villages to admire traditional Hui-style residences and idyllic rural landscape.

Top Recommended Huangshan Tours:

 

Yellow Mountain
Huangshan Mountain

Explore Ethnic Ancient Towns and Diverse Culture in Yunnan

Yunnan is a tranquil destination in southern China, that is usually synonymous with “vibrant” and “diverse”. Any tourist will spend a joyful holiday here due to its amazing natural landscapes, colorful minority cultures and stunning hiking trails.

There are a lot of ways to make your trip in Yunnan memorable:

  • If you want a leisure day tour, a trip to old towns in Dali or Lijiang enables you to both enjoy local slow-paced lifestyle and feel the ethnic atmosphere;
  • For nature lovers, the serene Erhai Lake, solemn Jade Dragon Snow Mountain as well as the mysteriousrain forests in Xishuangbannan will make for an unforgettable experience;
  • Tourists having penchant for hiking tour can also fulfill their needs by challenging some of the greatest hiking trails at Tiger Leaping Gorge.

Classic Yunnan Tours:

Yunnan Lijiang Ancient Town
Lijiang Ancient Town

If you are planning a China tour to any of the above destinations, please feel free to contact our expert travel consultants. They will be more than glad to help you customize your perfect trip based on your interests and requirements. You can also know more iconic attractions in Top 7 Tourist Landmarks in China.

Here we recommend you some Classical China Tour Packages for your reference:

 

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