China is the most populous country in the world with almost 1.4 billion people, which makes for a culture of diversity. Rapidly modernizing, it is easy to get around and there are plenty of attractions.
Major cities offer wonders to the eye such as Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City in Bejing or the Bund and Nanshi in Shanghai. Venture to the countryside for the Great Wall or the Terracotta Army in Xian.
Hong Kong, known as the Oriental Pearl, is a fantastic meeting point of Asian and western influences and a major attraction for mainland Chinese.
Top Things to See and Do in China
Shanghai, the largest and most developed city in China. A major tourist attraction in itself, it brings visitors from all over the world. You will want to visit the older historical area called Puxi, west of the Huangpu river, and Pudong sitting east, where modern skyscrapers create the skyline. The Bund is a waterfront area and major draw with its 1920s French-influenced architecture. Across the river is the Oriental Pearl Tower or Shanghai World Financial Center with observation decks and views of the city on the horizon. Do not miss a river tour and double up taking one at night to witness the buildings lit up.
Beijing is China’s second largest city and is the political, cultural and educational center. Modern yet full of history you would definitely visit Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, and the National Museum. Or relax in one of the grand parks like the Temple of Heaven. In the mountains ringing the city, you will see the Great Wall of China. Note, Beijing hosted the 2008 Summer Olympics Games and will host the 2022 Winter Olympic Games, the only city to host both.
Great Wall of China runs several thousand kilometers east to west. Near Beijing, you can make a day trip out of it but it can be crowded. There’s another entry point northeast of Beijing, Huangya Pass, where fewer foreigners go. Make sure to prepare for a physical adventure as some spots are really steep.
Hong Kong, a major tourist destination for inland Chinese has both Cantonese and British influences. The transfer of sovereignty back to China occurred on July 1, 1997. Visit Victoria Peak for an elevated view of the city to see what the British eyed, or a traditional heritage spot with houses on stilts or WongTaiSin (God of health) Temple to experience the diversity of attractions.
Terracotta Warriors, one of the most popular tourist attractions in China, located close to Xian. The collection resembles the armies of the first Emperor of China. Three excavated pits display 2000 life-like warriors, 100 chariots, and weapons. Some consider this the 8th wonder of the world.
Guilin, a beautiful city in southeast China is surrounded by two rivers, four lakes and jutting up are sheered mountains. Definitely take in the Central Square, parks such as Pagoda Hill and Tunnel Hill, or climb Diecai Mountain.
Zhangjiajie National Forest Park in central China is the first national forested park designated in 1982. Here you will find of course forest as well as deep canyons and the world’s highest and longest glass bottom bridge for pedestrians only.
Qingdao, one of China’s most beautiful coastal cities. Start with Zhan Qiao, the iconic pier, and popular tourist spot. Stroll through Xiao Qingdao Park, Green Island and Luxun Park along the beach. Stop at Tsingtao Brewery for its exhibits and to sample a glass. Finally, take in some culture at Qingdao Municipal Museum for some interesting exhibits.
General travel advice for China
- Do you need a visa? Almost every nationality needs a visa for mainland China. Exceptions are for citizens of Singapore, Brunei, and Japan if staying for less than 15 days. If you’re just flying through China, will not leave the airport and will fly out in less than 24 hours, you don’t need a transit visa. Now what’s interesting is that visa policies for Hong Kong and Macau are much more flexible. More than 170 countries have a visa-free period to Hong Kong, which can vary between 7 and 180 days. Here you can check about Macau. Also, if you’re already in Hong Kong or Macao, if you join a tour organized by a registered a local travel agency to visit the region of the Pearl River Delta (Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Foshan, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Jiangmen, Zhaoqing and Huizhou), you don’t need a visa if you’re staying less than 6 days.
- Language spoken: Mandarin is the official language, but others such as Mongolian, Tibetan, Uyghur, and Zhuang are also recognized and spoken regionally
- Currency: Yuan. Calculate the exchange here
- Electricity: 220 Volts
- Standard electrical frequency: 50 Hertz
- International calling code: +86
- Drives on the: Right