China, once hidden from the outside world as a tourist destination is now one of the most visited in top 10 countries list. A country with vast landscapes encompassing grasslands, deserts, rivers, lakes, mountains, and much more than 14,000 kms of coastline. China is a country that is a mix of rich culture with a touch of modern architecture that never fails in evoking historical significance. To experience a true Chinese culture one must take a trip to all the major cities for at least a week. Though there are numerable things to explore, today we bring the Top 10 places for the best of Chinese experience.
1. Great Wall of China, Beijing
The first thing that comes to our mind when we talk about China is one of the wonders of the world, The Great Wall. Just like a dragon, the wall snakes its way across many provinces for 21,196 kms from Dandong in the east to Lop Lake in the west. Apart from being built for defense it also became a trading route for many. With the history of 2300 years this wall has been built by 6 emperors. Summer is the peak season where the popular sections get crowded. Winter is very cold and icy, but there’s no crowding. So plan your trip accordingly. Also there are lots of tourist guides who promise you the best of Chinese experience. Make sure to pick a private personalized tour if you wish to get a good experience of the Great wall. Also this is suitable as there are no direct busses or trains from Beijing. The good news is there is wheelchair accessibility on some major watch towers with elevators. Also camping in some of the wild areas is allowed for a night experience. At restored sections there are many hotels and restaurants providing local food. A lot of moderate hiking tour options are available for a day or 3 and so on. But in reality if you wish to conquer the great wall completely it takes about 18 months to trek the Great Wall!
2. Temple of Heaven, Beijing
Temple of heaven as the name suggests is not actually a temple but a huge park called as Tiantan Park where the literal translation means a temple of heaven. A temple located in the South eastern part of central Beijing is a popular temple constructed during the 16th century along with the other popular temples of Sun, Moon and Earth. The temple was mainly for ceremonies mostly comprising prayers for good harvests. More than a temple it’s actually a huge park composed of 3 main parts – Hall of Prayer, the Imperial Vault and Circular Mound altar. There are a lot of historical buildings that are a part of this huge park. To get a glimpse of proper Chinese holiday, it is preferable to visit the park by 7 am to see some Chinese doing various local activities like singing, dancing, playing instruments, playing chess, practicing Kung fu and Tai chi. Remember to purchase a guide book to this park as there a lot of things that’s not to be missed. One such is the Cypress groove with large trees avenue that are more than 600 years old. True to its sacred purpose, the temple reflects the mystical cosmological laws believed to be central to the workings of the universe. The mystical design is also one of the reasons why this is a must visit place.
3. Victoria Harbor, Hong Kong
The Victoria harbor is truly Hong Kong’s lifeline with its breath taking scenery. A trip to China is incomplete without a harbor cruise ride in Hong Kong. Be it in the early hours or evening, the skyline always amazes you with beautiful views. A perfect way to justify your visit to China is to witness the symphony of lights. A dramatic show with dancing lights that has been named the world’s largest permanent light and sound show by the Guinness World Records. Apart from the natural splendor of internal lighting, a number of buildings are embellished with computer controlled neon lights according to the sound track of the particular season. This 13 minutes display of 44 buildings illuminated in laser beam and colored lights is a treat to the eyes. The old European looking ferry boats are also an addition to this tour. To get a special bird’s eye view of the harbor there are 4 places which is a 108 story International Commerce Centre, the Avenue of stars, Central Plaza and the Victoria Peak. The Peak is the major landmark point to view the entire city at an altitude of 552 m. The scenes are different during the daytime and during the night the whole scene is dazzling like a fairy tale world. The best option to reach this peak is to take a tram that has an antique feel offering wonderful views. You can also choose to travel by bus or car. Overall the Victoria Harbor is a great hot spot to be on the top list.
4. Forbidden City, Beijing
While we are still looking at the places in Beijing, The Forbidden City is also one among the must visit places to understand the Chinese history. It’s also been listed among the 5 most important places in the world for its also listed as the best preserved building by UNESCO. This palace complex includes an entrance with multiple gates, galleries, 3 great halls, lesser central halls, imperial garden, treasure gallery, western & eastern palaces, and various other displays of religious artifacts. Home to 24 emperors of the Ming & Qing dynasty, a typical guided tour is necessary for the travelers to spend time right at the important places inside the complex for admiring the splendor of the palaces, the history and culture, fengshui and much more.
5. Chengdu, Sichuan Province
Chengdu, the capital of China’s southwest Sichuan province is a part of must visit places in China mainly for the largest Research and base centre of Giant Pandas. Located in a peaceful, beautiful natural environment which ensures your visit will be filled with lot of fun. Spending time with these notorious creatures must be definitely on your list if you’re visiting China. Many educational tours and unique programs are provided for the visitors to focus on wild life conservation. Basically located in the Futou mountain the places is surrounded by beautiful lakes, rivers, brooks, ornamental green lawns, wild bamboo forests which also includes man made dens, rocks, caves which create a natural healthy environment for the pandas. Apart from finding different aged pandas eating and playing with each other you can also find some endangered species of swans, peacocks, butterflies and varieties of insects. Chengdu is also famous for various museums, varieties of tasty hot and spicy Sichuan food, shopping at the Chunxi Road, leisure noon at the tea house and finally watch a Sichuan opera performance in the night to experience the best of Chengdu.
6. Three Gorges
Cruising through the three gorges just cannot be missed while in China. The dazzling views of the vertical walls and peaks have been a part of the Chinese rich culture. The replaced agricultural communities with the villages weaved on to the banks along the Yangtze River is one of a kind splendid journey. The Three Gorges dam has made the record as the world’s largest hydropower project with over 2 million tourists every year. Besides the mainstream scenic area where the Gorges are located, the tourist area can be further divided into 7 zones. Along the route, one can find many temples, towers, cliffs and much more. There are various cruise tours from 4 days to 12 days exploring the 3964 miles long river.
7. Terracotta Army, Xi’an
The purpose of protecting their First Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang is the museum of Terracotta Army. These hundreds of life sized models are detailed so well with facial expressions, hairstyles and attires which were molded in parts, fired, then assembled and painted. Not only humans but also horses were completely made by hand without any advanced tools. More than 700,000 artisans & laborers constructed the Terracotta Army & Tomb complex. Hollow torso, solid head, arms & legs were created separately and then assembled with each warrior stamped with his name. The army took an estimated 40 years to complete. This Army had been underground for more than 2000 years and was well discovered in 1974 and ever since has been one of the greatest archeological sites in the world. It takes about half a day to visit this museum with private English speaking tour.
8. Leshan Giant Buddha, Sichuan
A 71 meter long stone statue that is carved out of a cliff face located in the southern part of Sichuan province is a must visit in China for it’s the largest and tallest stone Buddha statue in the world. The statue faces the Mount Emei which is under the confluence of 3 rivers. About 300 steps from the entrance to top, the view of 3 rivers namely Min, Qingyi, Dadu and the beautiful intricate Buddhist sculptures and murals inside Lingyun Temple. A trek at Mt. Emei along the Red Sand Cliff Road, authentic local food, scenic beauty of the 3 rivers merging and of course the view of sitting Buddha makes it up for the top 10 with lot of personalized tours options.
9. The Yellow Mountains, Huangshan
Located in the east China, Yellow Mountains is a scenic beauty with its oddly shaped rocks, twisted pine trees and hot springs. The Yellow Mountains national park is one of the famous in China with more crowds at all times. The name of the mountains is not because of its color but named after the legendary Yellow Emperor Huand Di. It’s also said that this is the place where the Emperor lived, refined precious medicines and became a supernatural being. Many Buddhist temples have been built in the recent times. And because of its serene beauty it has become a major tourist attraction in China. The 33ft pine trees, the seas of cloud that make the peaks look like islands in the sky, the hot springs for relaxation at the top of the peaks, the glorious sunrise and sunset are some of the beautiful memories you definitely need to take back home from your visit to China.
10 . The Bund, Shanghai
The Bund or the Waitan is a famous waterfront in Shanghai with its colonial European buildings and skyscrapers on the other. 1500 meters in length is a very attractive sight with 26 buildings in different styles of architecture including Gothic, Baroque, Romanesque, Classicism & the Renaissance. Also there is a 1700 meters long wall that was built for the control of floods located on the side of Huangpu River. Standing by the railings & taking a snap shot view of the scenery of the bund is a must while at Beijing. Along the walkway there are various sculptures and the monument which makes your visit worthwhile especially the night view where the magnificence of these buildings is well lit aesthetically. Hidden in these neo-classical buildings are some of the classic Chinese designers where you can pick up anything from handmade to trendy clothes. Apart from clothes, oriental rosewood antiques, fresh water pearls are available. For a smart shopping head to the malls to find your favorite brands.
Well, we’ve covered the best of places to visit in a country that’s unbelievable large! You definitely need months to do justice to visit the many temples, the valleys and the mountains, the Chinese architectural buildings and much more. But we’ve picked the Top 10 from the major cities which requires about 8 to 12 days on an average. Pack your bags and begin your journey while you start ticking off from our list of Must visits in China.
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