20 Best Things to Do in China

When it comes to travel destinations, China is a country that offers a vast array of unique experiences for adventurers, history enthusiasts, and nature lovers alike.
From ancient wonders to breathtaking landscapes, there is something for everyone in this diverse and captivating country.

Things to Do in China
Things to Do in China

In this article, Dolma will explore 20 of the best things to do in China, taking you on a journey through its rich history, awe-inspiring landscapes, and vibrant culture. 

Explore the Magnificent Great Wall of China 

No visit to China is complete without experiencing the grandeur of the Great Wall. Stretching over 6,000 kilometers, this iconic symbol of China’s ancient civilization is a testament to human ingenuity and determination.

Great Wall
Great Wall

There are several sections of the Great Wall that you can visit, each offering a unique perspective on this architectural marvel.
From the bustling Badaling section near Beijing to the more remote and wild sections like Huanghua Cheng and Gubeikou, you can choose the one that suits your taste and ambition.

Whether you hike along its rugged path or simply marvel at its impressive structure, the Great Wall will leave you in awe of the country’s rich history and remarkable engineering prowess.

Immerse Yourself in the Serenity of the Terracotta Army

Terracotta Army
Terracotta Army

Step back in time and witness one of the most extraordinary archaeological discoveries in the world at the Terracotta Army in Xian.
Discovered in 1974, this vast army of life-sized clay soldiers, horses, and chariots was created to protect Emperor Qin Shihuang in the afterlife.

The intricate details of each soldier and the sheer scale of the army are a testament to the advanced craftsmanship of ancient China.
Explore the three excavation pits and marvel at the thousands of meticulously crafted statues, each with its unique expression and pose.
The Terracotta Army is a must-visit destination for history buffs and those fascinated by ancient civilizations.

Experience the Tranquility of Lhasa and the Potala Palace

Potala Palace
Potala Palace

Journey to the mystical city of Lhasa, the capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region, and immerse yourself in the spiritual heart of Tibetan Buddhism.
At an altitude of over 3,600 meters, Lhasa is a city steeped in history and religious significance.

Explore the sacred Potala Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the former residence of the Dalai Lama. This architectural masterpiece stands as a symbol of Tibetan Buddhist culture and offers panoramic views of the city.

Visit the Jokhang Temple, a revered pilgrimage site, and witness the devotion of Buddhist pilgrims as they prostrate and pray.
To truly experience the spirituality of Lhasa, join the Barkhor kora, a sacred pilgrimage route that circumnavigates the Jokhang Temple. Lhasa is a city that will captivate your senses and leave a lasting impression.

Discover the History of the Silk Road in Xian

Things to Do in Xian

Uncover the ancient trading route that connected China to the West along the Silk Road. Start your journey in Xian, a city rich in history and home to the famous Terracotta Army.

Explore the bustling Muslim Quarter and immerse yourself in the vibrant culture and flavors of the region. From Xian, venture westward to cities like Jiayuguan, Dunhuang, Turpan, Urumqi, and Kashgar, each offering a unique glimpse into the history and culture of the Silk Road.

Marvel at the stunning architecture, visit religious shrines and sample traditional cuisine that reflects the cultural exchange between merchants who traversed this ancient trade route.
The Silk Road is a tapestry of history, culture, and human connection that spans thousands of kilometers.

Trek to the Sacred Mount Kailash

Embark on an unforgettable journey to Mount Kailash, one of the most revered sacred sites in the world. Located in the western part of Tibet, this majestic peak holds deep spiritual significance for Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, and Bon followers.

While climbing to the summit is prohibited, you can undertake the Kailash Kora, a trek that takes you around the base of the mountain.
This challenging trek spans 52 kilometers and offers breathtaking views of the snow-capped peaks, pristine lakes, and rugged terrain.

Along the way, you’ll encounter pilgrims from different faiths, each with their unique rituals and beliefs. The Kailash Kora is a pilgrimage like no other, offering a profound spiritual experience and a chance to connect with ancient traditions.

Cruise the Majestic Yangtze River

Embark on a scenic journey along the mighty Yangtze River, the longest river in Asia and the third-longest in the world. A cruise along this iconic waterway allows you to soak in breathtaking landscapes, from towering cliffs to lush greenery.

As you sail through the heartland of China, you’ll pass by ancient towns, archaeological sites, and natural wonders. One of the highlights of the Yangtze River cruise is the Three Gorges Dam, the largest hydroelectric power station in the world.

Witness the engineering marvel of this colossal structure and marvel at the surrounding natural beauty.
The Yangtze River provides a special view of China’s landscape and cultural heritage through both short and long cruises.

Admire the Natural Beauty of Zhangjiajie National Forest Park

Step into the enchanting world of Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its towering sandstone pillars, lush forests, and breathtaking vistas.

This surreal landscape served as inspiration for the floating mountains in the movie “Avatar.” Explore the park’s numerous hiking trails and immerse yourself in the tranquility of nature.

Marvel at the unique rock formations, such as the famous Avatar Hallelujah Mountain and the awe-inspiring Tianzi Mountain.
Take a ride on the world’s longest and highest glass-bottomed bridge, offering panoramic views of the surrounding scenery.

Zhangjiajie National Forest Park is a paradise for nature lovers and a testament to the extraordinary beauty of China’s landscapes.

Marvel at the Ice Sculptures of the Harbin Ice and Snow Festival

Experience the magic of the Harbin Ice and Snow Festival, a winter wonderland that showcases breathtaking ice sculptures.
Held annually in the province of Heilongjiang, this festival attracts millions of visitors who come to witness the enormous ice sculptures towering up to 50 meters in height.

The festival takes place in three distinct locations: Zhaolin Park, Ice and Snow World, and Sun Island Scenic Area. During the day, admire the intricate ice sculptures, and as night falls, watch as they come to life with dazzling lights.

Whether you choose to explore the festival by day or night, the Harbin Ice and Snow Festival offers a surreal and enchanting experience that will leave you in awe.

Experience the Tranquil Beauty of the Li River

Embark on a scenic cruise along the Li River and immerse yourself in the breathtaking beauty of Guilin’s karst landscape.
Marvel at the towering limestone peaks, tranquil waterways, and picturesque villages that dot the riverbanks.

The Li River is a photographer’s paradise, offering countless opportunities to capture the essence of China’s natural beauty.
As you drift along the river, you’ll be captivated by the serenity and tranquility that surrounds you. The Li River is a place of timeless beauty and a testament to the wonders of nature.

Get Lost in the Bustling Metropolis of Shanghai

Experience the vibrant energy of Shanghai, a city where ancient traditions blend seamlessly with modern innovation. Explore the iconic Bund, a waterfront promenade that offers stunning views of Shanghai’s skyline and architectural wonders.

Wander through the bustling streets of the French Concession, where you’ll find charming cafes, boutiques, and art galleries. Visit the Shanghai Museum to delve into the rich history and culture of China.
Immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of Nanjing Road, one of the world’s busiest shopping streets.

For a taste of old Shanghai, explore the historical district of Zhujiajiao, known for its ancient water town and picturesque canals. Shanghai, a bustling city, provides a mix of old and new experiences for travelers.

Wander the Ancient Streets of Suzhou

Discover the charm of Suzhou, a city renowned for its classical gardens, picturesque canals, and traditional architecture. Stroll along the ancient streets and alleyways, where you’ll find well-preserved historic buildings, intricate wood carvings, and traditional courtyard houses.

Explore the famous Humble Administrator’s Garden, a masterpiece of Chinese garden design, and immerse yourself in its serene beauty.

Visit the Garden of the Master of the Nets, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and experience the tranquility of its pavilions, rockeries, and ponds. Suzhou’s classical gardens showcase China’s cultural heritage and architectural brilliance.
They offer a glimpse into the country’s rich history.

Visit the Majestic Huangshan (Yellow Mountain)

Embark on an unforgettable journey to Huangshan, also known as Yellow Mountain, a UNESCO World Heritage Site renowned for its dramatic landscapes and mystical beauty.
Experience the majestic beauty of the mountain by taking a cable car or hiking its scenic trails.

Enjoy stunning views of granite peaks, ancient pine trees, and captivating cloud formations. Watch the sunrise or sunset from one of the mountain’s famous viewpoints, such as the iconic Lion Peak or the Flying Over Rock.
Huangshan provides a serene and immersive nature experience, allowing you to connect with the Earth’s beauty.

Witness the Limestone Marvels of the Reed Flute Cave

Explore the mesmerizing Reed Flute Cave in Guilin, a subterranean wonderland filled with stalactites, stalagmites, and limestone formations.
As you walk through the cave, marvel at the intricate shapes and vibrant colors created by millions of years of water erosion.

The cave gets its name from the reeds growing just outside its entrance, which can be made into flutes. Admire the artistic lighting that illuminates the formations, creating a surreal and magical atmosphere. The Reed Flute Cave is a testament to the beauty and intricacy of nature’s creations.

Encounter Giant Pandas in Chengdu

Visit the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding and come face to face with these adorable creatures. The research base is dedicated to the conservation and breeding of giant pandas, as well as other endangered species.

Observe the pandas in their natural habitat, learn about their behaviors, and contribute to their protection. Chengdu is also known for its spicy Sichuan cuisine, so be sure to indulge in some mouthwatering local dishes while you’re there.

The Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding allows visitors to observe and help protect these cherished animals.

Marvel at the Classical Beauty of the Summer Palace

Escape the bustling city of Beijing and find solace in the exquisite Summer Palace. Built-in the 12th century, this imperial retreat served as a refuge for emperors seeking respite from the summer heat.

Explore the meticulously designed gardens, tranquil lakes, and ancient pavilions that make up this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Take a boat ride on the picturesque Kunming Lake and admire the views of the surrounding landscape.
The Summer Palace showcases Chinese architecture and landscape design, creating a tranquil escape in the city.

Unveil the Buddhist Art in the Mogao Caves

Delve into the mesmerizing world of Buddhist art at the Mogao Caves in Gansu province.
Known as the “Caves of a Thousand Buddhas,” this UNESCO World Heritage Site houses a treasure trove of ancient murals, sculptures, and manuscripts.

Explore the 30 open caves, each adorned with intricate Buddhist art that spans over a thousand years. Marvel at the delicate brushstrokes, vibrant colors, and spiritual expressions that bring these ancient artworks to life.
The Mogao Caves showcase China’s cultural heritage and spiritual traditions.

Cycle or Boat Around the Scenic West Lake in Hangzhou

Discover the scenic beauty of West Lake in Hangzhou, often praised as one of the most beautiful lakes in China. Rent a bike and enjoy cycling alongside the beautiful lakeside paths.

Admire the stunning views of willow-lined shores, traditional pagodas, and ancient bridges. Alternatively, take a boat ride on the tranquil waters and immerse yourself in the poetic atmosphere that has inspired countless artists and poets throughout history.

West Lake is a peaceful and beautiful destination that provides a calm respite from urban chaos.

Discover the Cultural Heritage of Xian City Wall

Xian City Wall
Xian City Wall

Walk or bike along the ancient Xian City Wall, one of the best-preserved city walls in China. Built during the Ming Dynasty, this massive fortification offers panoramic views of the city and its surroundings.

Explore the city’s history and culture by renting a bike and riding along the 14-km wall. Alternatively, you can take a leisurely stroll and soak in the rich atmosphere.

Discover the four distinct gates of this ancient structure, each boasting its own charm. Admire the impressive architectural grandeur.
The Xian City Wall is a testament to China’s rich history and a fascinating glimpse into its ancient past.

Delve into the Vibrant Culture of Beijing’s Hutongs

Immerse yourself in the vibrant culture of Beijing’s historic hutongs, traditional neighborhoods characterized by narrow alleyways and courtyard homes.
Take a rickshaw ride through the maze-like streets and get a glimpse into the daily lives of the locals.

Visit a traditional courtyard house and learn about the customs and traditions that have been passed down through generations.

Explore the lively markets, sample street food delicacies, and interact with the friendly locals. Beijing’s hutongs offer a unique perspective on the city’s rich history and cultural heritage.

Indulge in the Beauty of the Classical Gardens in Suzhou

Immerse yourself in the timeless beauty of Suzhou’s classical gardens, often referred to as the “Venice of the East.” These meticulously designed gardens showcase the harmony between nature and human creativity.

Explore the famous Humble Administrator’s Garden, a masterpiece of Chinese garden design, and marvel at its tranquil ponds, pavilions, and rockeries.

Discover the Garden of the Master of the Nets, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, known for its tranquil ambiance, traditional design, and beautiful vegetation.
Suzhou’s classical gardens are a testament to China’s rich cultural heritage and a haven of tranquility amidst the bustling city.

Final Thoughts

China is a country of immense beauty, rich history, and vibrant culture. From the ancient wonders of the Great Wall and the Terracotta Army to the stunning landscapes of Zhangjiajie and Huangshan, there is no shortage of unique experiences to be had.

Whether you’re exploring the bustling metropolises of Beijing and Shanghai or immersing yourself in the serenity of Lhasa and the Mogao Caves, China offers a journey of discovery and awe.

So pack your bags, embark on an adventure, and uncover the best things to do in this captivating country.

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