The grand nation of China with its 5000 years of history affords its visitors an untold wealth of experiences and sites to choose from.
For first time visitors, we offer a selection of our favourite attractions a small of must-see sights on these pages.
For those of you who have already fallen in love with China, our specialist consultants will be able to help you find the niche experiences.
Must see sights of China:
The Great Wall of China
The Forbidden City
Xian and the Terracotta Warriors
Tiger Leaping Gorge
Li River Cruise
'Dragon's Backbone' Rice Terraces
Pandas of Chengdu
Harbin Ice festival
Leshan Gian Buddha
Magoa Caes, Dunhuang
Hanging Temple of Xuangkong, Datong
Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong
Ethnic Minorities of southwest China
Dong villages of Zhaoxing
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Places to visit in China's Main Sights
Beaches of Hainan
Known as ‘the Tail of the dragon’, Hainan Island in China’s southernmost province is synonymous with sun, sand, turquoise water and good times. Every Chinese who can afford the luxury wishes to spend a holiday relaxing on its golden beache...
With its horizons of tower cranes and smog-shrouded skyscrapers, Beijing is a city which has totally reinvented itself in less than a generation, and not without growing pains. At the same time, the hi-octane Chinese capital has managed to...
Bird's Nest Stadium (Beijing)
No building better symbolizes China’s 21st century rise to economic super-power status than Beijing’s National Stadium. Built to host the 2008 Olympics, the ‘Bird’s Nest’ owes its nickname to the tangle of steel supports originally put in ...
Changbai Shan Nature Reserve
A contender for the title ‘China’s Greatest View’ has to be the panorama of jagged peaks, boulder-strewn snowfields and waterfalls surrounding Tian Chi Hu, a spectacular crater lake on the border of North Korea. Filling a windswept caldera...
Framed by the rippled slopes of the Yunshan Mountains, the magnificent Imperial Mountain Resort in Chengde, 155 miles (250km) north of Beijing on the banks of the Wulie River, served as a summer season retreat for the Manchu emperors. The ...
On the western edge of Sichuan’s Red Basin, Chengdu is the largest city in Western China, with an ultra-modern, high-rise centre that belies its role as a regional capital for over 4,000 years. Brocaded silk from here found its way to the ...
One of the great wonders of ancient China lies hidden among the hills around Dazu, 125 miles (200km) east of Chengdu. Excavated between the 9th and 13th centuries AD, the UNESCO listed cave sculptures here are regarded as the high-water ma...
The region stretching north and east of the Great Wall towards the steppes of Inner Mongolia was traditionally the domain of the Manchu hordes whom the wall was intended to keep out. By the 1640s, however, the Manchus were too powerful to ...
The other standout sacred site around Chengdu is Emeishan, the highest of China’s Four Sacred Mountains of Buddhism, which looms above the Dadu and Mu River confluence, 75 miles (120km) outside the city. A total of 76 Qing and Ming monaste...
Forbidden City (Beijing)
Comprising over 800 buildings ranged around a series of vast paved courtyards, Beijing’s Gugong, or ‘Imperial Palace’, formed the nerve centre of the Ming and Qing empires. For the five centuries during which it was in use, this magnificen...
Giant Buddha of Leshan
Seated imperiously, hands on knees, gazing at eternity through half-lidded eyes, the Giant Buddha of Leshan – or ‘Dafo’ as he’s known locally – was carved in the early 8th century from a red sandstone cliff overlooking the confluence of th...
Guilin & the Li River
Featured on ancient scroll paintings, Ming porcelain vases and the modern 20-Yuan note, the karst mountains of Guangxi province rise at surreal gradients from the limpid green waters of the Li River – a landscape that has for centuries epi...
The city of Guiyang accommodates all travellers as there is plenty to see and do. Great for relaxing in is the riverside area and the local teahouses. In terms of shopping, there are plenty of shops amongst maze-like streets, delicious str...
Despite receiving the highest rainfall of any region in China, Guizhou is the country’s poorest province, due mainly to the paucity of cultivable land – around 80% of its surface area is covered by steep-sided limestone outcrops, which mak...
Another ancient city within easy range of Shanghai, and which beguiles for its bucolic scenery and atmospheric architecture, is Hangzhou. Strategically situated on the Grand Canal connecting the Yangtze and Yellow River basins, it became t...
Formerly the last outpost of civilization before the onset of the Siberian Wilderness, Harbin rose to prominence in the late 19th century after the completion of the railway to Vladivostok. The line encouraged many Russian immigrants to th...
The limestone summits of Hua Shan, one of China’s five sacred Taoist mountains, surge in spectacular fashion from the plains of the Yellow River basin, midway between Xi’an and Luoyang. Traditionally regarded as the most forbidding of the ...
Nearly everyone who travels up to Jiuzhai from Chengdu also visits Huanglong. The name of this beautiful hidden valley means “Yellow Dragon”, a reference to the hundreds of travertine pools that snake, like scales of a giant dinosaur, down...
Immortalized in countless Chinese ink paintings, the distinctive granite landscapes of the Huangshan mountain range, in Anhui Province, cast a powerful spell. Soaring above dense bamboo forest and rugged, vertical-sided canyons, are ranks ...
Jiuzhai Valley National Park
Enfolded by the snow peaks of the Minshan mountain range, the Jiuzhai Valley in southeastern Sichuan protects one of China’s signature landscapes, in which dozens of exquisite blue lakes are cradled by miles of empty forested hills. Believ...
Kaili, in the southeast of Guizhou Province, is capital city of the Miao (aka H’mong) minority. A large, modern city, it holds little of more than passing interest in itself, but its hotels serve as useful stopovers when travelling across ...
Kaiping, on the Pearl River Delta near the former Portuguese colony of Macau, is famous for the 1,800 or so castle-like towers scattered across its surrounding rice fields. Originally built in the Ming era to protect settlements from bandi...
Longji & the 'Dragon's Backbone' Rice Terraces
Around 95 miles (150km) north of Guilin city in Longsheng county, the slopes below Longji Titian (‘Dragon’s Backbone’) mountain have been molded across the centuries into narrow rice terraces that hug the folds and contours of the hillside...
On the banks of the Yi River just south of Luoyang in Henan Province, the Longmen Cave complex was begun by the Northern Wei dynasty in 439AD and completed by the Tang emperors. In all, some 10,000 figures were carved out of the limestone ...
A sinuous, but relentlessly spectacular, road winds northeast through the mountains from Lijiang to Lugu Lake, on the Sichuan-Yunnan border. Cradled by the Himalayas at 2,685m (8,809ft), this breathtakingly beautiful spot, with its shimmer...
In common with many Chinese cities, the uniformly modern appearance of Luoyang belies its extraordinary antiquity. Ranged around the confluence of the Luo and Yellow Rivers, the city has been a major urban centre since the time of the Zhou...
It is no wonder that UNESCO has added Mount Taishan to its World Heritage Site list, as the destination has been a source of inspiration for Chinese scholars and artists throughout the ages. The beautiful scenery was the backdrop to an imp...
One of the ‘Four Great Ancient Capitals of China’ and amongst its most attractive megacities, Nanjing (formerly known as ‘Nanking’), on the Yangtze River, boasts a history stretching back 2,500 years, though its most impressive monuments d...
With its bumper crop of antique buildings dating from the Ming and Qing eras, this gem of a walled town makes an ideal stopover if you’re travelling overland between Beijing and Xi'an. Strolling through its paved streets, whose thousands o...
On the very edge of the Sichuan basin, where forested mountains of the Qinghai–Tibet plateau surge from the plains, the sacred Taoist peak of Qingcheng shan is just an hour from downtown Chengdu, but feels a world away. Ancient shrines dat...
Reed Flute Cave
Reed Flute Cave is a perfect example of nature being enhanced by human intervention. The name comes from the reeds, which grow outside, but inside is a forest of stalagmites and stalactites all lit up with lights in a variety of colours. T...
Some remarkable remnants of Bronze Age China have recently come to light in the suburbs around Chengdu. At Sanxingdui, an hour north of the city on the banks of the Yazi River, fragments of bronze, jade and gold were discovered which, when...
At the mouth of the Yangtze River, Shanghai became the hub of European imperial ambitions in mainland China after the Opium Wars, and today is the powerhouse of a dramatic economic revolution. Double-digit growth over the past decade has a...
A visit to the Shanghai Museum in People's Square is a great opportunity to see some of China's most fascinating ancient art. It has been designed to give a better understanding of ancient wisdom and philosophy, with even the building havi...
This province, or, to be more precise, the flat, circular ‘Red Basin’ forming its heartland, is the economic powerhouse of Western China. Thanks to a humid, subtropical climate and extraordinarily fertile soil, the region has long ranked a...
Summer Palace (Beijing)
“A masterpiece of Chinese landscape garden design” is how UNESCO described Beijing’s Summer Palace complex when it included this vast ensemble of lakes, hills, temples, pavilions and palaces on its World Heritage List. The park served as a...
Only a 40-minute ride away from Shanghai on the bullet train, Suzhou is an ancient city whose antique core has fared better than many during the recent ferro-concrete revolution. Visitors travel here from Shanghai to wander around the old ...
Scattered over the flat plains surrounding Xi’an are dozens of large mounds which archaeologists have only recently identified as tombs of the Han and Tang emperors, their wives, concubines and generals. Lying on the west side of the city ...
Temple of Heaven (Beijing)
Widely regarded as Beijing’s most exquisite building, the Temple of Heaven marked the spiritual heart of Imperial China in the early 15th century. Each year on the summer solstice, the emperor would perform an elaborate ritual here to ensu...
The Great Wall
China’s Great Wall undulates for over 5,500 miles (8,880km) across the north of the country – an astounding engineering feat and a vivid testament to both the might of the emperors who built it, and the fear inspired by the Mongol hordes w...
The Hanging Temple
No matter how many pictures of it you may have seen beforehand, your first glimpse of the iconic Xuangkong temple outside Datong is guaranteed to evoke gasps of amazement. Clinging to a near vertical sandstone escarpment, 246ft (75m) off t...
Tulou Houses of Yongding County
A two-hour drive inland from Xiamen, the verdant mountainsides of Yongding County, in southwest Fujian Province, are renowned for their extraordinary clan houses, belonging to the Hakka and Minnan minorities whose heartland this has been s...
White Horse Temple (Luoyang)
A site of great historical significance in the Luoyang area is the White Horse Temple, established in 68AD, and now on the outskirts of the modern city. Believed to be the oldest Buddhist shrine in China, it owes its existence to Luoyang’...
Rising to over 3000m (10,000ft), Wutai is the highest peak in northern China and one of the country’s most sacred sites. Streams of locals make the ascent to the summit every day, pausing en route to worship at some of the 53 monasteries t...
Xi'an, capital of populous Shanxi Province, is one of China’s fastest expanding industrial centres, and at first glance seems to hold little promise for visitors. For over two-thousand years, however, this well-watered area at the heart of...
Known in colonial times as ‘Amoy’, Xiamen is the most approachable, well-groomed city on China’s eastern seaboard, and one filled with fascinating vestiges of the 19th century, when traders from Japan and Europe settled here in large numbe...
Xidi & Hongcun
Close to Huangshan range, these two picture-postcard market towns in South Anhui were founded in the Song era of the 11th century, and reached their peak of prosperity under the Qing and Ming dynasties in the 18th and 19th centuries, from ...
Yangshuo (Li River)
The main hub for the Li River is Yangshuo (‘Bright Moon’), a lively riverside village with a crop of Ming-era houses and bustling market area where you can stock up on local souvenirs and people watch in the open-air cafés. Enfolded by som...
Yangtze River Cruising
Flowing for 3,915 miles (6,300km) from the Tibetan Plateau to the East China Sea, the Yangtze is the country’s most scenic waterway. A series of dramatic gorges line the great river, which since the completion of the Three Gorges Dam in 20...
Strange bones, inscribed with an ancient form of Chinese script, had for generations been turning up in fields along the banks of the Huan River in Henan Province. But only relatively recently was it discovered that these enigmatic artefac...
Miraculous vestiges from the 5th and 6th centuries, the Yungang Caves honeycomb a spread of sandstone cliffs outside the city of Datong, a day’s journey west of Beijing in Shanxi Province. The grottoes were carved by the Northern Wei dynas...
This was one of the first Dong villages to embrace tourism and is showing signs of over-commercialization, but still deserves a visit for its superb wooden architecture, which include several wind-and-rain bridges and drum towers. Home to ...
China's Main Sights Experiences
Dashanzi Art Zone (Beijing)
Over on the northeast edge of Beijing, the Dashanzi district represents the more modern face of the capital. In a de-commissioned industrial zone of cavernous East-German-built factories, an array of hip galleries, studios, cafés, and book...
Dengfeng & the Shaolin Temple
A side trip neatly combined with the Longmen Caves is a visit to Songshan, one of China’s Five Great Mountains, which rises behind the town of Dengfeng, an hour’s drive east of Luoyang. Streams of martial arts enthusiasts travel to the are...
West of Longji, the main road winds through the heart of Dong country towards Guizhou Province Aside from some rustic scenery, the route takes you through one of the most culturally fascinating corners of Asia, where a host of different mi...
Giant Panda Base
The bamboo forests of southern Sichuan are the last stronghold of China’s national treasure, the Giant Panda. Around 1,500 of these adorable black-and-white bears survive in the wild, but they’re notoriously reclusive. For a guaranteed sig...
Harbin Ice Festival
With temperatures plunging to minus 20 degrees or below, teams of artists from all over the world fly to Harbin around the time of the Chinese New Year, in early February, to carve a fairyland of castles, rides and other large-scale struct...
”As white as jade, as thin as paper, as bright as a mirror, as tuneful as a bell” is how a famous Chinese saying described the porcelain produced at Jingdezhen. Although producing pottery since the sixth century, its porcelain gained fame ...
There’s no better way to feel the pulse of modern China on arrival in Shanghai than by taking the futuristic Maglev Train (Magnetic levitation) from Pudong airport into town. The German-designed locomotive floats on a friction-free magnet...
Foodies may not be surprised to know that Peking duck is among one of the many highlights to be enjoyed on a trip to China. The dish is an integral part of Chinese culture and a tasty one at that, with its origins thought to date back to t...
The Terracotta Army
In 1974, a couple of farm workers digging a well in the fields outside Xi'an uncovered the limb of a terracotta figure. What they didn’t know then, and which only became apparent after years of careful excavation, was that the statue forme...
The Three Parallel Gorges Region
Although their mouths flow into different oceans many thousands of miles apart, three of Asia greatest rivers – the Yangtze, Mekong and Salween – run close together for 200km in Yunnan, separated by huge mountains. The scale of the gorges ...
China by region
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