China is a vast land, with a climate ranging from tropical to subarctic. It is a demographic behemoth, with the world’s largest population and a staggering diversity of cultures and languages. It is the world’s oldest continuous civilization, with a rich history spanning millennia and endless potential for the future. It is one of the most fascinating countries in the world, and a traveler’s dream with some of humanity’s most recognisable and beloved landmarks (the Great Wall of China, of course, topping the list). With short-term visa-free stays available in a growing number of cities (for up to 144 hours in some cases), there has never been a better time to visit and try to tame the indomitable Red Dragon.

Top Attractions

  • Explore the iconic Great Wall of China, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, with its ancient watchtowers, winding paths, and panoramic views of the surrounding countryside, as well as nearby attractions like the Ming Tombs and the Mutianyu and Badaling sections of the wall.
  • Discover the historic Forbidden City in Beijing, the imperial palace complex that served as the home of Chinese emperors for over 500 years, with its ornate palaces, courtyards, and gardens, as well as cultural attractions like the Palace Museum and the Hall of Supreme Harmony.
  • Visit the Terracotta Army in Xi’an, one of the most significant archaeological discoveries of the 20th century, with its thousands of life-sized terracotta warriors, horses, and chariots, as well as nearby attractions like the Ancient City Wall and the Big Wild Goose Pagoda.
  • Explore the picturesque landscapes of Guilin and Yangshuo, with their towering limestone karst formations, scenic rivers and rice paddies, and opportunities for cruising the Li River, hiking in the Longji Rice Terraces, and exploring the Reed Flute Cave.
  • Experience the modern metropolis of Shanghai, with its futuristic skyline, historic waterfront, and cultural attractions like the Shanghai Museum, the Yu Garden, and the Bund, as well as opportunities for shopping, dining, and nightlife in neighborhoods like Xintiandi and the French Concession.

Local Cuisine

  • Indulge in the flavors of Chinese cuisine, known for its diverse regional specialties, fresh ingredients, and aromatic spices.
  • Sample iconic dishes like Peking duck (crispy roast duck served with pancakes and plum sauce), Kung Pao chicken (spicy stir-fried chicken with peanuts and vegetables), and xiaolongbao (steamed soup dumplings), as well as traditional side dishes like fried rice, chow mein, and steamed buns.
  • Try Chinese specialties like hot pot (a communal meal where diners cook raw ingredients in a simmering broth), dim sum (bite-sized snacks served in bamboo steamers), and Sichuan hotpot (a spicy and numbing broth served with a variety of meats and vegetables), as well as traditional desserts like egg tarts, sesame balls, and shaved ice.
  • Savor refreshing beverages like Chinese tea (served in teahouses and tea gardens throughout the country), fruit smoothies made with tropical fruits like mango and lychee, and traditional alcoholic drinks like baijiu (a strong distilled spirit) and rice wine.
  • Don’t forget to try Chinese street food like jianbing (savory crepes filled with eggs, vegetables, and sauces), baozi (steamed buns filled with meat or vegetables), and roujiamo (Chinese hamburgers), as well as snacks like skewered meats, grilled tofu, and roasted chestnuts.

Outdoor Activities

  • Go hiking and trekking in China’s scenic national parks and nature reserves, with opportunities for exploring remote mountain trails, lush forests, and picturesque valleys in destinations like Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, Jiuzhaigou Valley, and Mount Huangshan.
  • Visit the picturesque landscapes of Guilin and Yangshuo, with opportunities for biking along scenic rivers and rice paddies, cruising the Li River on bamboo rafts, and rock climbing in the karst formations of Moon Hill and Xianggong Hill.
  • Explore the UNESCO World Heritage sites of China, with opportunities for hiking along the Great Wall, exploring ancient temples and pagodas in historic cities like Pingyao and Suzhou, and visiting cultural landmarks like the Mogao Caves and the Leshan Giant Buddha.
  • Experience outdoor adventures like white-water rafting on the Yangtze River, zip-lining in the forests of Yunnan, and paragliding over the grasslands of Inner Mongolia, as well as skiing and snowboarding in winter resorts like Yabuli and Changbaishan.
  • Discover the natural wonders of China’s scenic landscapes, with opportunities for birdwatching in the wetlands of the Poyang Lake, wildlife spotting in the nature reserves of Sichuan and Tibet, and exploring the karst caves and underground rivers of Guilin and Zhangjiajie.

Cultural Experiences

  • Immerse yourself in the rich cultural heritage of China with visits to museums, galleries, and cultural institutions like the Palace Museum in Beijing, the Shaanxi History Museum in Xi’an, and the Shanghai Museum, which showcase the history, art, and culture of the country.
  • Explore the vibrant arts scene of China, with opportunities to attend traditional music and dance performances, opera and theater productions, and contemporary art exhibitions showcasing Chinese and international talent, as well as workshops and classes in traditional crafts like calligraphy and paper cutting.
  • Experience traditional Chinese music and dance performances, such as Peking opera, classical Chinese dance, and traditional folk music and dance, as well as contemporary styles like pop music, hip hop, and electronic dance music, which reflect the diverse cultural traditions of the country.
  • Discover the history and legacy of China’s ancient civilizations with visits to historic sites like the Terracotta Army in Xi’an, the Forbidden City in Beijing, and the Mogao Caves in Dunhuang, which showcase the architectural and artistic achievements of ancient China.
  • Participate in local festivals and celebrations, such as Chinese New Year, the Lantern Festival, and the Dragon Boat Festival, to experience the vibrant culture and spirit of China firsthand.

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