“Great souls have wills, weak ones have only wishes.” - Chinese Proverb
If you want to visit China, you need to stop wishing! Unsurprisingly, China is visited mostly by Asian tourists; there were 4.7 billion tourists in 2018. That said, it doesn’t mean British tourists can’t go. Europeans are fascinated by Chinese history and culture and more and more are going to see China.
Which are the most popular things to see in China? Which monument and buildings do you have to see?
In this article, we’re going to look at the cities you should visit, the most popular tourist attractions, natural parks, and unusual attractions worth visiting.
Which Cities in China Should You Visit?
China is a country in eastern Asia and it’s the one with the biggest population. It covers a huge area and is home to coasts, mountains, prairies, and deserts. In fact, China has over 8,000 miles of coastline!
Before we start talking about Chinese buildings, we need to have a look at China’s most important cities and the ones you should visit. There are massive metropolises, secondary cities, and iconic towns. For example, the most popular cities for international tourists include:
- Beijing, the Chinese capital.
- Hong Kong, a former British colony and world financial centre.
- Shanghai, a cultural and tourist centre.
- Hangzhou, a romantic city located on the Jing–Hang Grand Canal.
Here are some other noteworthy places to visit in China:
- Xiamen, a city in the south of China with many temples.
- Yangshuo, famous for its beautiful rice fields.
- Zhangjiajie, in a region of natural beauty.
- Suzhou, with its canals.
- Chengdu, a beautiful city in the centre of China with many historic remains.
- Guilin, home to limestone hills and colourful grottos.
- Lijiang (Yunnan Province) where you can see the Tiger Leaping Gorge, a great place for a trek.
Whether it’s for the beaches, impressive skyscrapers, historic sites, or the cuisine, the People's Republic of China has got it!
Keep in mind that China is divided into:
- Provinces, like Yunnan and Sichuan.
- Autonomous regions, such as Xinjiang.
- Municipalities, Beijing and Tianjin, for example.
- Special administrative regions, including Macao.
China’s a country with plenty of beautiful cities and places. For example, the Yunnan Province is famous for its beautiful treks in the lakes, rice fields, and mountains while Lijiang is home to ruins from the Song Dynasty.
The Sichuan Province, in the south of China, is famous for its breathtaking countryside by the Yangtze River, especially in the Jiuzhaigou Valley or the forest where the Leshan Giant Buddha resides.
As you can see, there’s a wealth of things to do and see in China. Now let’s see China’s most beautiful tourist attractions!
Find out more about the best cities in China.
China’s Most Beautiful Tourist Attractions and Monuments
Interested in travelling off the beaten path?
Luckily for you, China is full of ancient treasures and modern activities. Whether you’re in the north or south of China, there’s so much discover.
TripAdvisor lists plenty of things to do in China: 300 sites and monuments, 65 museums, and 151 outdoor activities.
Here are some of the best sites in Beijing, Shanghai, and Xi’an:
- The Great Wall of China, the most visited tourist attraction in China
- The Temple of Heaven, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
- The Forbidden City
- The National Museum of China
- Jingshan Park, a great place to relax after a day in the heat of the city
- The Bund, a pedestrian area on the banks of the Huangpu river
- The Jade Buddha Temple
- People’s Square
- The Shanghai Grand Theatre, where you can see many beautiful local shows
- The Yu Garden, a great place to relax after a long day
- The Pearl Tower, a television tower
- Lingyin Temple, a 4th-century Buddhist temple
- Leifeng Pagoda
- Qinghe Lane, a great place to shop
- Dreaming of the Tiger Spring, where you can have a nice walk
- Tianmushan Nature Reserve
- The botanical gardens.
In China, you can enjoy ancient customs and modern marvels next to one another.
Visiting China during the Chinese New Year is something else. Most of these sites can be visited at any time of the year. Whether it’s a day trip or a week in a resort, you can also go with a travel agent.
Do you prefer nature?
Visit China’s parks.
Find out more about planning a trip to China.
China’s Most Famous Natural Parks
China is a modern country but it’s also very rural, agricultural, and home to many national parks that are worth visiting. The most impressive parks are in Zhangjiajie in the Hunan Province. It’s home to:
- Quartz-sandstone pillars (Zhangjiajie National Forest Park)
- Tianmen Mountain (in the Tianmen Mountain National Park)
- Baofeng Lake
- The Yellow Dragon Cave
There are 246 natural sites and natural parks in China including lakes, mountains, forests, and geological formations.
China’s most famous natural parks include:
- Huangshan Park, in the Anhui Region, where you can see the sunset over the “Sea of Clouds”.
- Mount Wudang National Geopark, in Hubei, where you can find magnificent Taoist temples.
- Zhangye Danxia National Geological Park, famous for its red cliffs.
- Li River National Park, in Guilin, whose river is considered to be “one of the ten wonders of the world”.
- Jiuzhaigou Valley, with its beautiful lakes.
There’s also the nature reserves in Wolong and Bifengxia where you can see wild pandas! These black and white fur balls can be seen in their natural environment and are cared for by researchers. There are 4 natural parks where you can see them and they’re all under 100 miles from Chengdu:
- The Wolong National Nature Reserve is home to 30 pandas.
- The Dujiangyan Panda Base, home to 20 pandas.
- The Bifengxia Panda Base, also home to 20 pandas.
- The Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, with 50 pandas.
These are all great places for tailored trips to China!
Find out more about how long you should spend in China.
Unusual Chinese Attractions for European Tourists
If you’re dreaming of taking a trip to China to discover something unusual, these sites should be worth a gander.
In the Fujian Region, visit Hakka, a town where you can find traditional roundhouses. The Hakka people, a subdivision of the Han people, still live here. These houses are UNESCO World Heritage Sites and you can even spend a night or two in them.
If you love photography, you might want to go to the Zhangye Danxia mountains where you can see coloured rock formations. They’re even more impressive at sunset and during the golden hour.
Do you love beautiful photos? Want to get some yourself?
If you’re looking for unusual places to visit, you might like the Panjin Red Beach in the north of China. This magnificent natural marsh is home to 300 wild species.
Its unique colour is due to marine algae, Suaeda, but do you know what’s even weirder?
It’s red in autumn but changes to green from April to August. It’ll take your breath away.
If you’re wanting to have a laugh during your trip to China, why not visit the country’s weirdest hotel?
The Tianzi Hotel in Yanjiao looks like three 416-metre tall Taoist characters. It got the award of China’s ugliest hotel in 2012.
With everything to see and do in China, there’s no shortage of unusual and breathtaking sights and attractions to enjoy.
So are you ready to pack?
If you'd like to learn some Chinese before you go to Shanghai, you could consider enlisting the help of one of the many talented tutors on Superprof! The tutors on the site offer three types of private tutorials to help you learn the lingo: face-to-face tutorials, online tutorials, and group tutorials.
Face-to-face tutorials are taught with one student and one tutor and tend to be the most costly per hour because you're paying for both bespoke lessons and a bespoke course. However, they're arguably the most cost-effective.
Online tutorials are similar to the face-to-face tutorials but take place either on a call or over webcam. Of course, online tutorials can lack intimacy and while not ideal for hands-on subjects, they're great for language lessons. Your tutor might even be from China!
Finally, group tutorials are more like the classes you'll have had in school with one teacher and multiple students. While these tend to be the cheapest per student per hour since the cost of the tutor's time is shared, you'll also get far less one-on-one time with your tutor.
Each different type of tutorial has its pros and cons and it's really up to you and your budget to decide how much you'll need to learn, how you want to learn, and what your budget is going to be for Chinese language lessons before you go.