The Top 10 Things to Do in China

The tiger is no longer crouching and the dragon in no longer hidden. The country that was a mystery to the rest of the world is now a leading travel destination.

Here are our top ten things to do in China:

1. Shanghai

Shanghai is one of the largest cities in the world and a global influence in commerce, culture, finance, media, fashion, technology and transport. While Shanghai’s modern shopping and nightlife will keep you dazzled for days, we recommend visiting some of its buildings from the jazz age when it was home to decadent expats and opium gangs.

Shanghai | Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Shanghai | Photo Credit: Shutterstock

2. The Great Wall

The Great Wall was built between the 6th century BC and the 16th century AD to protect the northern borders of China from the Mongols. Surveys put the length of the Ming Dynasty Great Wall at 5,500 miles. There are several well-maintained sections of the wall just a few hours from Beijing.

Great Wall of China | Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Great Wall of China | Photo Credit: Shutterstock

3. The Terracotta Army

The extraordinary archeological site at Xi’an consists of thousands of life-sized sculptures depicting the armies of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China. It’s estimated that there are 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots and 670 terracotta horses at the site.

Terracotta Warriors Warriors | Photo Credit: CNTO

Terracotta Warriors | Photo Credit: CNTO

4. Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City

Tiananmen Square is the world’s biggest square. It was also, of course, a place that changed world events during 1989. In Tiananmen Square you’ll find Mao’s mausoleum and behind his huge portrait the Forbidden City, which was the imperial palace for twenty-four emperors during the Ming and Qing dynasties.

Forbidden City | Photo Credit: CNTO

Forbidden City | Photo Credit: CNTO

5. The Summer Palace

The Summer Palace is where the emperor resided when not in downtown Beijing.  The summer palace is made up of a vast number of exuberant pavilions, halls, temples and bridges—all set around the glassy Kunming Lake.

Summer Palace | Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Summer Palace | Photo Credit: Shutterstock

6. Chengdu Panda Base

China is the home to the giant panda and the Chengdu Panda Base is the premier place in China to see these amazing (amazingly cute) creatures. The base has habitats that are as close as possible to the wild, allowing visitors to observe the pandas’ natural behavior close up. The base is China’s leading center for wildlife research and conservation.

Panda | Photo Credit: CNTO

Panda | Photo Credit: CNTO

7. Yangtze River Cruise

The Yangtze is the third longest river in the world. On a Yangtze river cruise you can view panoramic landscape of steep mountains, high gorges and farm terraces. You’ll stop at Buddhist temples and observe China’s massive infrastructure of hydro dams.

Yangtze River | Photo Credit: CNTO

Yangtze River | Photo Credit: CNTO

8. Hangzhou

This ancient wooden city of Hangzhou is straight out of “Crouching Tiger”. It is set on a lake between Shanghai and Beijing and offers an oasis in the industrial jungle of modern day China.

Hangzhou | Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Hangzhou | Photo Credit: Shutterstock

9. Suzhou

42% of Suzhou is covered by water. It is often called the ‘Oriental Venice’. The city is full of canals, stone bridges and pagodas. It is home to two of China’s mot famous historical streets: Pingjiang Street and Shantang Street. Suzhou contains some of the best examples of classical Chinese gardens in the world.

Suzhou | Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Suzhou | Photo Credit: Shutterstock

10. Li River Cruise

The Li River twists and turns between lush green rock formations. The river is a photographer’s dream as it passes through some of the most dramatic landscape in the country—scenery that Chinese artists have been painting for centuries.

Li River | Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Li River | Photo Credit: Shutterstock

You could easily spend your whole trip to China enjoying its fabulous food, fast fashion and reproduction gear but it’s worth remembering the country boasts thousands of years of important history and an incredible landscape too.

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