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Top 7 Tourist Landmarks in China

China is blessed with rich history, diverse culture and breathtaking landscapes, making it a fascinating destination for travelers. The country boasts a wide variety of attractions – some of the world’s most famous landmarks that are worth lingering over, from ancient wonders like the Great Wall and Terracotta Army, to natural marvels such as Li River and sheer peaks of Zhangjiajie. In this article, we will explore seven of China’s top tourist attractions for you to feel the diverse charms of the ancient country. They are also highly-recommended for your first trip to China.

The Great Wall of China

Mutianyu Great Wall
Mutianyu Great Wall

The Great Wall of China stands as an iconic symbol of China, spanning over 21,000km along rugged mountain ranges from Shanhaiguan in the east to Jiayuguan in the west. Beijing is often the first choice for those who want to catch a glimpse of this ancient defensive fortress, as there are several famous sections distributed in the suburbs and each has its own distinctive features.

Badaling Great Wall enjoys the highest popularity among all the sections. It is the optimal choice for first-timers and those who want to enjoy the classic landscape of Great Wall. Besides, Badaling is well-equipped with cableway and tram, making it an ideal choice for family tour as well.

Mutianyu is, by far, the best-preserved Great Wall section in China. Hiking on Mutianyu is suitable for tourists that are full of energy, as the entire section measures 5.4km long and it takes about 5 hours to finish the whole hiking. However, if you travel with the old and children, you may consider taking the cableway up to the wall and tour around the essential segment from No. 14 to No. 20 beacon tower with gentle slope and also great vistas.

Simatai Great Wall, renowned for its unspoiled beauty, is the paradise for experienced hikers and adventurers. Unlike Badaling and Mutianyu, Simatai was built along precipitous mountains and some segments have been dilapidated after hundreds of years of erosion, presenting a primitive looking in front of hikers.

Recommended Tours:

2 Days Wild Great Wall Trekking & Camping Tour

Mutianyu Great Wall Day Tour

The Terracotta Army

Terracotta Warriors and Horses

Located in the outskirts of the city, the Terracotta Warriors and Horse Museaum, a celebrated China tourist attraction in Xi’an, showcases China’s remarkable craftsmanship of the Qin Dynasty (221-207BC). More than 8,000 life-sized terracotta warriors, horses and chariots buried with Qin Shi Huang – the first emperor of China – have been unearthed from three pits, still presenting the power of the once invincible army.

Pit 1 is the largest one presenting the grand infantry of Emperor Qin Shi Huang. And a more complicated formation is organized in Pit 2, consisting of infantry, cavalry, chariots and crossbow unit. Although smaller in size, Pit 3 is the military commander of the former two pits and is also the earliest material in the world that actually displays the headquarter of ancient troops in a more vivid method.

Recommended Tours:

The Forbidden City

Beijing Forbidden City
Forbidden City

At the heart of Beijing’s central axis, the Forbidden City stands as a testament to China’s imperial past and is regarded as one of the top tourist attractions in Beijing, China. As the home of 24 emperors of Ming and Qing dynasties (1368-1911), the Forbidden City offers a glimpse into the grandeur of Chinese imperial palaces adorned with crimson walls, golden roofs and intricately-designed glazed tiles.

It usually takes a whole day to tour around all the buildings in the Forbidden City. However, if you only have about 2 hours but still want to have a glimpse of the palaces, you may follow the central axis to view essential halls and the imperial garden.

For a half-day visit, you can appreciate not only essential palaces, but also galleries of treasure and clocks, Hall of Mental Cultivation as well as residential palaces for concubines.

Travel Tips: Photography is allowed in most areas of the Forbidden City, but flash photography is generally prohibited in certain sections to protect the artifacts.

Recommended Tours:

 The Li River

Guilin Li River Cruise
Guilin Li River Cruise

For nature enthusiasts, exploring the serene beauty of the Li River could be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It is where the essence of Guilin scenery lies in, wooing visitors with picturesque karst landscape. Section from Guilin to Yangshuo unveils the most captivating scenes of Li River.

Visitors can discover diverse charms of Li River in different ways. Taking a cruise ship from Guilin to Yangshuo is considered the best way to immerse in the tranquility of the river views. Along the way, you can enjoy a leisure journey to essential sights including Nine Horses Fresco Hill, Yellow Cloth Shoal and scenery on note CNY20.

If you want to explore more upon arrival in Yangshuo, sitting on a bamboo raft down the Yulong River would offer you a special experience with rolling mountains and idyllic landscape around you. But if you travel with the old or kids, it is not advised to tour in this way for safety reasons.

Or, you may rent a bike or scooter in Yangshuo and cycle along the country road all the way to the Ten-Mile Gallery to have an immersive sightseeing tour in the natural “oil painting”.

Recommended Tours:

The Potala Palace

Potala Palace
Potala Palace

Perched on a hill in Lhasa, Tibet, the Potala Palace stands as the summit of Tibetan architectural arts an also offers a spiritual journey into Tibetan Buddhism. The whole complex mainly consists of the Red Palace and White Palace. The Red Palace towers in the center and today, you can find sacred stupas of Dalai Lamas, the religious leaders of Tibetan Buddhism, worshipped here. And the White Palace used to be the residence and working place of Dalai Lamas.

While visiting, people can also observe various religious instruments, including golden statues, exquisite murals and Thangka paintings, and admire the panoramic views of the city.

Travel Tips:  

  1. 1. Independent travelling is not accepted in Tibet. Make sure you travel with a local travel agency.
  2. Visitors should be properly dressed to enter this religious site. Please respect local religious customs and traditions while visiting and note that taking pictures is forbidden in the hall.

Recommended Tours:

The Zhangjiajie National Forest Park

Zhangjiajie National Forest Park
Zhangjiajie National Forest Park

Nature lovers, hikers and photographers will definitely be captivated by the otherworldly landscapes of Zhangjiajie National Forest Park. Known as the inspiration for the floating mountains in the movie “Avatar”, the park’s towering sandstone pillars, lush greenery and misty valleys together create a surreal and enchanting atmosphere that makes visitors feel like stepping into a fantasy realm.

The entrance ticket of Zhangjiajie National Forest Park is valid for 4 days for tourists to have an in-depth exploration of its natural beauty. There are several hiking trails available in the park, ranging from short walks to multi-day treks. Generally, a classic 2-day sightseeing tour is widely accepted by most tourists, which covers the essential attractions of the park.

The first-day route offers a breathtaking vista of towering pillars from the mountaintop. Visitors can enter from the east gate and take Bailong Elevator to reach the top of Yuanjiajie, then follow the hiking trail or take a shuttle bus to Yangjiajie and Tianzi Mountain.

On the second day, still enter from the east gate and take a shuttle bus to Ten-Mile Gallery, then transfer to the sightseeing train to enjoy the views along the way. Afterwards, get on a shuttle bus to Golden Whip Stream (Jin Bian Xi) and then finish the hiking with Yellow Stone Cottage (Huang Shi Zhai).

Recommended Tours:

The Summer Palace

Summer Palace in Beijing
Summer Palace

The Summer Palace is hailed by locals as an ideal destination to escape the bustling city of Beijing. As the imperial resort hundreds of years ago, the Summer Palace shows a harmonious blend of natural scenes and architecture with magnificent palaces perfectly embedded in the Longevity Hill and major sights like the Long Corridor and Marble Boat embracing the tranquil Kunming Lake.

It will take about 3 hours to tour around Kunming Lake on foot. If you want a more leisure experience, you may consider taking a boat ride, which enables you to have a general view of pavilions and halls around the lake.

The top 7 tourist attractions and landmarks in China not only introduces the country’s splendid history and culture behind ancient wonders, but also leads visitors to feel the uncanny workmanship of the nature. Exploring these sites will leave you with unforgettable memories in the tours to China and a deeper understanding of China’s rich heritage.

See more China’s top attractions at Top 15 Things to Do in China. 

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