China Travel Top Ten Most Popular Sights for Visitors

Elevated View of Shanghai Skyline at Sunset
••• Yongyuan Dai / Getty Images

Top 20 Family Activities in China

China is a vast and extraordinary country spanning thousands of miles from the deserts in the west to the ocean on the east. Culturally, China has one of the richest and most textured histories of all civilizations that encompasses over 5,000 years. This is amazing stuff for a traveler.

The following list is a perfect place to start creating your first-time visit itinerary for China.

  • 01 of 10
    Forbidden City, Beijing China
    ••• James Gritz/Photographer's Choice RF/Getty Images

    The Forbidden City, or Palace Museum, sits at the center of Beijing, directly north of Tian'anmen Square where the famous portrait of Mao Zedong hangs on the palatial crimson wall. It was the imperial seat for Ming and Qing dynasty emperors from 1420 until 1912 when the last emperor, Pu Yi, abdicated. It was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.

  • 02 of 10
    ••• Snow on the Great Wall. China Photos/Getty Images

    The Great Wall winds its way across China covering over 5,500 miles (8,850 km). While the latest construction occurred after 1368 during the Ming Dynasty, construction of the Great Wall began over 2,000 years ago. In fact, the Great Wall is actually made up of a number of interconnecting walls spanning China that different dynasties and warlords constructed over the years.

  • 03 of 10
    Famous 2000 year old Army of Terracotta Warriors (Bingmayong) discovered in 1974.
    ••• Krzysztof Dydynski / Getty Images

    Discovered in 1974 when a local farmer was digging a well, the terracotta army, buried in 210 BC with the first emperor of the Qin dynasty, is a breathtaking site. The thousands of life-size figures have individually unique faces and hair and armor styles appropriate to their rank. The museum of the Terracotta Army is located in Xi'an, Shaanxi Province.

  • 04 of 10

    Karst Mountains in Yangshuo

    Landscape of karst hills with farmland in morning mist, Guangxi Province, China
    ••• Keren Su / Getty Images

    Illustrating the 20 Renminbi (Chinese currency) note, the karst mountains are famously beautiful in China. Located in the south of China in Guangxi Zhuang region, they can best be viewed from Yangshuo, a small town outside of Guilin.

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  • 05 of 10
    West lake, Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China
    ••• zhangshuang / Getty Images

    China's "Paradise on Earth", Hangzhou is a lovely city centered around the famed West Lake. This green city is full of gardens, tranquil temples and pavilions and bustling historic streets to venture through. The hills surrounding the city grow the famous Long Jing green tea. Hangzhou is close to Shanghai but is a much more laid-back, cultural city.

  • 06 of 10

    Jiuzhaigou

    Heaven : Jiuzhaigou in Autumn
    ••• Chakarin Wattanamongkol / Getty Images

    Jiuzhaigou Valley is a nature reserve located in China's Sichuan province. A beautiful example of China's varied landscape, Jiuzhaigou is famous for crystal blue lakes and multi-level waterfalls. It is populated by a number of Tibetan villages so is also a superb place to see and experience Tibetan local culture.

  • 07 of 10

    Potala Palace, Lhasa

    The Potala Palace in Morning Sunlight
    ••• Shuo Yang / Getty Images

    Now a Chinese museum, the Potala Palace was traditionally the seat of the Dalai Lama, Tibetan Buddhists' spiritual leader. Famous for its imposing white walls surrounding the inner red palace, the building sits at 3,700 meters or over 12,000 feet. The Potala Palace is located in Lhasa, the capital of the Tibetan Autonomous Region.

  • 08 of 10
    Elevated View of Shanghai Skyline at Sunset
    ••• Yongyuan Dai / Getty Images

    The Bund, meaning embankment, was historically the seat of Shanghai's most powerful businessmen in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The Bund is a fabulous place to see examples of Shanghai's rich architectural history, illustrated by the HSBC Building, built in 1923 and at the time said to be "the most luxurious building between the Suez Canal and the Bering Strait." (Quote source: Wikipedia)

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  • 09 of 10
    Two-year-old pandas (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) munch favorite food, bamboo.
    ••• James Balog / Getty Images

    Heading out to Chengdu is a great way to get a taste of Sichuan as well as an in-depth understanding of Giant Pandas at the Breeding Research Base.

  • 10 of 10
    Sunset over city skyline and Victoria Harbour
    ••• d3sign / Getty Images

    See modern China - and Asia - at the cutting edge with a visit to Hong Kong. Walking down the Kowloon side promenade gives the traveler a view of some of the most beautiful modern architecture in China, dominated by the Bank of China Tower designed by I.M. Pei.