A Visitor’s Guide to China: 15 Must-See Destinations and Things to Do
If you’re planning a trip to China and are looking for things to do while there, check out out visitor’s guide to China! We have 15 things you won’t want to miss while you’re there!
China, a land of antiquity, intrigue, and beautiful sights to see.
If a trip to China is in your near future then look no further than this comprehensive guide. There’s so much to do in this magical nation, you don’t want to miss out. Make sure you have a realistic plan and a complete list so you don’t miss out and can get the most out of your vacation.
Check out these 15 things to do in this guide to China to get you started.
Your Complete Guide to China
Your China itinerary can vary based on a couple of factors. Are you going for business or pleasure? Who are you traveling with? Are you bringing the kids? Below is a diverse list of destinations to get you started
1. Lantau Island and Giant Buddha
Catch a Lantau Island and Giant Buddha tour, this tour is filled with activity, so you don’t even have to think about the details. Ride on the Ngong Ping 360 cable car, drop by the Po Lin (Precious Lotus) Monastery, explore the Tai O fishing village, and of course get that photo in front of the Big Buddha statue.
The large bronze Big Buddha statue is actually fairly new, as it was just completed in 1993. A lot of these tours start with a hotel pick-up from either Hong Kong or Kowloon, making this exploration that much easier for you.
2. Great Wall of China
You can’t go to China, without visiting the Great Wall. This majestic wall spans over 5,500 miles and was built over the course of various dynasties over the span of thousands of years.
The wall, which is made up of stone, brick, earth, wood, and other materials, was built east-to-west on the northern borders of China. It was originally constructed to protect China against raids and invasions.
The most visited part of the Great Wall might be Mutianyu, which is just outside of Beijing. Go all out and do this tour with your own private tour guide who will drive you around, or embrace adventure and take the cable car or hike on your own.
3. The Forbidden City
The Forbidden City was built from 1406 to 1420 during the third Ming emperor Yongle when he moved his capital from Nanjing to Beijing. Located in the heart of Beijing directly north of Tiananmen Square.
Be aware, this place is very busy. It’s seen an average of 15 million visitors a year since 2012 and got more than 16 million visitors in 2016 and 2017.
Here you will find the Palace Museum, which is not at all like the standard American museums you’re used to. This spot houses a huge collection of artwork and artifacts from the Ming and Qing collections.
4. Terracotta Warriors Museum in Xi’an
This museum has three parts. Once you enter, become emersed in a 360-degree movie about this land and how the army was discovered. Next, you’ll explore shed that house the columns of soldiers and war chariots.
Don’t worry about getting a souvenir, this place has many built-in shopping opportunities where you can grab a replica of Terracotta warriors among many other gifts are memorabilia.
5. Shibaozhai Temple on the Yangtze in China
Take in the Yangtze River and the Three Gorges Dam on a relaxing river cruise. Here you’ll also see the Shibaozhai Temple, which is a miraculous 18th-century 12- gate, pavilion and a temple that was somehow built without using any nails.
The Pavilion’s shape is rather unusual as it almost looks like the shape of pyramids. Its stunning red exterior makes it stand out amongst the greenery it’s surrounded by. Before the pavilion was constructed in 1891, visitors had to be lifted to the top of the hill by chains.
6. The Bund
This is one of Shanghai’s most famous spots, that’s the perfect place to go for a relaxing stroll along the waterfront. Be sure to check out the far side of the promenade along the Huang Pu River. Or enjoy a meal al fresco, with the soundtrack of live music.
Be sure to walk through the newly renovated Fairmont Peace Hotel, if you’re there at night, don’t miss the Jazz Bar. Check out the HSBC building breathtaking restored lobby. If you’re hankering for some brunch or just a drink, do it at M on the Bund.
7. Yu Garden and Bazaar
This might be a little kitschy for some tastes, but the Yu Garden is a great spot to explore. Picture gardens as far as the eye can see, with renovated traditional Chinese architecture and the classical Ming garden.
Get lost in the alleys, where you’ll find all the souvenirs you could ever need like silk pajamas to traditional chopsticks. Don’t miss the Huxingting Tea House, which apparently inspired the design of the famous Blue Willow china pattern, you’ve definitely seen before.
8. Moganshan Road Art District
While traditional Chinese sights and architecture is a must, you can’t miss the contemporary art scene. Hop over to Moganshan Road which is right near Suzhou Creek. Over here you’ll find factories and warehouses that now house thriving galleries of all shapes and sizes.
Once you take in all the art you can, relax at a cute cafe where you can grab a coffee or tea.
9. Sundowners and Snacks at the Glam
Head to the seventh floor of 5 on the Bund where the Glam rests. This hot spot looks over Huang Pu, and after 5 PM, you can take in the view as you enjoy a refreshing cocktail or a delicious snack. If you’re lucky, you might even spy the sun bounce off the hot pink Oriental Pearl Tower across the river.
Xintiandi, which translates to “new heaven on earth” has it all. Restaurants, bars, clubs and shopping surrounded by Shanghai’s traditional shikumen architecture. If you’re unfamiliar with the shikumen style, think gray and red brick facades and plenty of ornamental front gates.
And the best part, this area is completely car-free, so you can really explore all you want.
11. The Shanghai World Financial Center
Be sure to take in the view when you’re in China. The Skyscraper view that is. Explore the top of The Shanghai World Financial Center (or SWFC) which is not only Shanghai’s tallest building but also the tallest skyscraper in all of China.
Up here you’ll find many viewing platforms, even one with a glass floor for those not scared of heights. You’re going to love seeing Shanghai from this high, but keep in mind it isn’t cheap.
You might also want to consider the Jin Mao next door. This is 88 stories with beautiful architecture. On a clear day, you really can see all of the city. You can even take in this view over a coffee or cocktail.
You can also take in the view with a drink at SWFC, but keep in mind they have a table charge in the lounge.
12. Taikang Road
If you want to really great shopping, but are over the tourist traps, try Taikang Road. A simple stroll down this road and you’ll really get a feel of local life. Here you’ll find street vendors selling fresh fruit and making fresh pancakes.
You may even spot women hanging up laundry, amongst the many shops and cafes. Here you can buy everything from traditional Chinese dresses to fun silver jewelry.
13. Dong Tai Road “Antique” Street
If you’re a fan of antiques, you can’t miss this small road near Xintiandi. This spot is lined with stalls and shops that have everything an antiquer’s heart desires. Brose Mao trinkets, porcelain pieces, old wooden rice buckets and even gorgeous painted opera masks.
This site is a must to take in on your trip, just be sure you come ready to bargain.
14. Star Ferry
You can’t visit Hong Kong, without going on the Star Ferry. The Star Ferry is to Hong Kong as the Eiffel Tower is to Paris. This ferry can take you from the Kowloon Peninsula to Hong Kong Island.
On this ride, you’ll see the scenic route of the entire city and you’ll find yourself in the center of Hong Kong’s famous skyline. Be sure to take advantage of the incredible photo opportunities, especially at night.
15. Victoria Peak
Another must in Hong Kong is Victoria Peak also known as “The Peak.” This attraction has breathtaking views, as it’s located on top of the highest point of Hong Kong Island. The peak is incredibly scenic, as you’ll take in skyscrapers along with beautiful blue waterways.
Here you’ll find plenty of photo opportunities that might feel overwhelming at first. So you may want to consider hiring a professional like Andy Beales, who’s known for his photography tours.
Plan That Trip!
Now that you have a guide to China, it’s time to plan that trip! Remember this is just a surface itinerary. Decide where you’re staying first to see which tours and destinations are convenient for you.
Don’t get overwhelmed with all the things you have to do and see, remember it’s called a “vacation” so make sure you also allow yourself to enjoy and relax. Be sure to book all necessary travel, tours, and accommodations before you make the trip!
For more travel tips and information, be sure to check out our blog.