With a rich and fascinating history, a stunning, natural landscape and 52 UNESCO World Heritage Listed sites, China is brimming with bucket list-worthy adventures. Whether you’re planning on hiking the Great Wall, getting up close and personal with panda bears, or immersing yourself in the history of ancient dynasties, China has so much to offer.
Here we’ve compiled a list of our top things to do for when you tour China.
1. See the Terracotta Warriors
The Terracotta Army is considered to be one of the greatest archaeological discoveries of the 20th century. Between 246 and 206 AD, thousands of detailed, life-sized warriors, horses and chariots were constructed from terracotta. They were built to guard the tomb of China’s first emperor.
2. Trek the Great Wall
The Great Wall of China was built over thousands of years, by a number of states and dynasties in a bid to protect territories and curb invasions. Today, the Great Wall stretches more than 21,000 kilometres in length, and is a truly breathtaking site to see. The wall is accessible through various sites in Beijing.
3. Explore the Forbidden City
Nestled in the heart of Beijing and covering over 2.6 million square feet, the Forbidden City was home to 24 emperors between 1368 and 1911. In ancient times, it was believed that the Emperor was a son of heaven. His living quarters were built to depict the Purple Palace, the place where God was thought to have lived in heaven. As the name suggests, ordinary folk were banned from the Forbidden City.
4. Drift down the Li River
The Li River is well-known for its clear water, lush, mountainous surroundings and tranquil ambience. The river is accessible via the city of Guilin or the town of Yangshuo, and there are an array of ways you can drift down it. From boat cruises, to kayaks, to motorised rafts with bamboo chairs, the Li River is a truly peaceful experience.
5. Visit the Chengdu Panda Base
Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding is a not-for-profit centre located in Sichuan. It is the perfect place for visitors to watch Pandas go about their daily routines, in a close representation of their natural habitat. The Base is home to more than 80 pandas, and tours in English are offered.
6. Stroll through the Classical Gardens of Suzhou
The Classical Gardens of Suzhou were listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997, and rightly so. The Gardens were planted and built in the 11th century, and are home to man-made pools, stunning buildings, fruit trees, and hills. Each garden is unique, and can span to over several acres.
7. Celebrate Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year is the biggest celebrated day in China. It falls on the first day of the Chinese lunar calendar, and is a 15 day-long celebration, revolving around delicious food, decorations, giving gifts and spending time with family. Be sure to check out the street parades.
8. Check out the view at Victoria Peak
Victoria Peak is a mountain located on Hong Kong island, which offers magnificent, sweeping views of the city. The Peak, as it is commonly referred to, reaches just over 1,800 feet in height, and is accessible via the world’s steepest cable railway tram. a tram. The Hong Kong skyline, Victoria Harbour and Kowloon mountains are visible on a clear day.
9. Visit the Longji Rice Terraces of Longsheng
The Longji Rice Terraces lay a 2.5 hour drive from Guilin, and are an incredible, ever-changing sight to see. Depending on the season, the rice terraces shift from green, to golden, to silver, and there are various Yao and Zhuang villages dotted about the terraces. Hiking and watching sunrise over the rice terraces should not be missed!
10. See the Hanging Temple of Hengshan
The Hanging Temple of Hengshan – a 5th century temple built into a cliff face – is a gravity-defying sight to see! Situated 60km southwest of the city of Datong, the Hanging Temple was built by monk, Liao Ran, during the Northern Wei dynasty. The Temple consists of 40 rooms, interlinked by a labyrinth of passageways. The Temple was dedicated to the practice of three religions; Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism.
11. Brave the Tianmen Skywalk
This activity is not for those who fear heights! Snaking around Tianmen Mountain at 1,400 feet high, is a see-through glass skywalk. The passage is just three feet wide, and coils around the mountain for 200 feet in length. The surrounding scenery is stunning, and you WILL want to look down.
12. See the Potala Palace
Built in 1645 by the 5th Dalai Lama, the Potala Palace is the world’s tallest ancient palace. Stretching 3,750 metres high, the Palace is built on an area of 32 acres, and is home to over 1,000 rooms. Every year, thousands of pilgrims travel from all over the world to pay homage to the Potala Palace.
13. Ogle at the Leshan Giant Buddha
In the east of Leshan City, sitting 71 metres tall, is a giant statue of Maitreya the Bodhisattva. Under the Tang dynasty, construction of the statue began in 713, and it was finished in 803. In 1996, the Leshan Giant Buddha was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site.
14. Visit Huanglong National Park
The Huanglong National Park is famous for it’s calcified landscape. The Park is home to plenty of turquoise ponds, streams and caves, and deep valleys teeming with lush greenery. The Huanglong National Park has often been referred to as ‘Heaven on Earth.’
15. See the Temple of Heaven
The Temple of Heaven was established in the 15th century, and originally served as a sacrificial temple for emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties. The Temple is encompassed by a large park, which attracts travellers year round. In the park there are three main alters; the Circular Mound Altar, the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, and the Imperial Vault of Heaven.
Elle Conway studies Journalism in Canberra, Australia. Prior to university, she spent four years travelling, working and living abroad. She loves fantasy novels and spiced rum, and one day hopes to travel to Antartica.