China is the perfect country for an epic adventure. Its vast territory, ancient culture, and history will provide you with an array of activities that you can’t see or do anywhere else. From the renowned Great Wall of China and the Forbidden City to cruising the stunning Li River and witnessing the unparalleled beauty of Jiuzhaigou National Park, China is truly an epic destination. Discover nine of this nation’s amazing sights below.
1. The Great Wall
One of the most iconic symbols of China, and one of the most well-known landmarks of the Far East and the world, the Great Wall is definitely a must-do during your trip to China. The Great Wall is the longest wall in the world and an awe-inspiring feat of ancient defensive architecture.
Walking through its winding path over the rugged country and steep mountains will provide you with breathtaking views, and its deep history will leave you speechless. The wall spans from China’s western frontier to the east coast, measuring up to 5,000 km. The most integrated and best-preserved sections are close to Beijing. This is the section you should head to when planning to visit.
2. The Forbidden City
The Forbidden City was the Imperial Palace during the Ming and Qing Dynasties for 560 years until 1911. Twenty-four Emperors called the palace-like city their home, a place where ordinary people were forbidden entry. The Forbidden City is an extravagant demonstration of ancient Chinese architecture — one that’s a must-see if you’re in China. It features over 8,000 rooms, fitted with elegantly-designed golden roofs, painted in red and yellow. It’s also a treasure house of Chinese cultural and historical relics.
3. The Li River
The karst landscape along the Li River is one of China’s most celebrated sceneries. The surroundings of the river are truly spectacular — featuring startling hills, steep cliffs, and farming villages — all lined with bamboo groves. The 83-kilometer-long section of the Li River between Guilin and Yangshuo is the most beautiful. It has served as inspiration for Chinese painters and poets from time immemorial.
4. The Terracotta Army in Xi’an
The Terracotta Army laid underground for more than 2,000 years — until 1974, when farmers digging a well uncovered one of the greatest archaeological sites in the world. Now a World Cultural Heritage, The Terracotta Army features hundreds of detailed life-size models representing the army that triumphed over all other Chinese armies in the Warring States Period (475–221 BC) — who were the decisive factor in forming a united China.
5. The Giant Panda Reserve
Chengdu is home to the Giant Panda Reserve — where you can watch baby giant pandas playing with each other while adults pandas eat bamboo with surprising voracious speed. Although there are many zoos in China and elsewhere where you can see a giant panda, seeing them in Chengdu is by far the best, as it’s the giant panda’s ‘hometown’. The reserve also has red pandas, which are incredibly cute!
Jiuzhaigou National Park is truly heaven on earth — its unparalleled landscapes and astounding beauty will leave you stunned. Think crystal-clear lakes in the midst of majestic mountains and green hills — truly a one-of-a-kind type of hike. Here, you’ll be able to see all the way down to the bottom of each lake, and capture photographs most people could only dream of. Make sure to also visit Huanglong, known for its colorful calcite deposit pools.
7. The Classical Gardens of Suzhou
Suzhou has no shortage of sights to take in, but The Classical Gardens takes the cake. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, these magnificent gardens were established in the 11th century, at a time when the city was experiencing unprecedented growth. An additional 270 or more gardens were also planted. Of the surviving restored gardens, the most famous is the delightful Garden of Lingering, a seven-acre site laid out in 1800 on the site of a park originally created during the Ming Dynasty.
8. Hangzhou West Lake
The West Lake is a six-kilometer-square stretch of water in the heart of the old Hangzhou city that is surrounded by numerous hills, pagodas, and temples. Divided into five distinct sections by man-made causeways dating back to the 11th century, it’s a beautiful area to explore on foot as you cross from one lake to the next only to be met with more fine old buildings.
9. The Summer Palace
Located just an easy 15-kilometer commute from Beijing. The lavish Imperial Summer Palace is set amid more than 700 acres of beautiful parkland. Plus, it is one of China’s most visited attractions. The palace was built in 1153, and its large lake was added in the 14th century. This was to enhance the Imperial Gardens. Highlights include the magnificent Hall of Well-being and Longevity with its throne and the Great Theatre.
Start planning your trip!
China is an incredible destination for those wanting to do and see a wide range of sights in one trip. From bustling cities, great shopping, ancient buildings, and historical sights. To impressive natural attractions, China is the perfect choice for the adventurous traveler.