Read to explore China attractions, but don’t know where to start? That shouldn’t stop you from creating your ultimate list of best sights for a tour of this amazing country that offers surprise and delight at every destination.
If anyone knows China highlights, it’s our wonderful multilingual travel guides on the ground in over 20 cities. As locals who love their home town and are proud and excited to share it with you, we asked them to put together everything you should know about the main China highlights when you visit. That way, you learn first hand from an expert before you depart and you will enjoy a more enriching experience while you’re here.
Fancy diving into the incredible history of the Great Wall or the intrigue and mystery of the Forbidden City? We have you covered. What about Chengdu’s pandas, the phenomenal rice terraces in Longji, or Xian’s remarkable underground Terracotta Army? There literally is no shortage of China attractions, so creating your bucket list could be a challenge. So why not start here and learn from those who know China? It’s just another way we’re building bridges to connect people through history, culture, and experiences.
China Popular Attractions
To help plan your holiday, explore this list of popular attractions that incorporates must-see sights in key destinations like Beijing, Xian, Guilin, Chengdu, Shanghai, and Lhasa. We absolutely want you to make the most of every minute on your travels, so we’ve included essential background information (there’s always history involved with China highlights!), as well as useful details about travel to and from, entry prices, and more. Our travel guides have pulled out all stops to prepare the kind of information they share on tour, however if there’s something extra you have to know, simply get in touch. We are here to help!
Our China tour started at the end of December. We began our trip in Beijing, which was a bracing -12C when we arrived. We were met at the airport and would add that all pick-ups were on time each morning for tours, and at all stations or airports as well. Our first day was free in Beijing, so we explored, following the tip to visit the National Museum which has amazing stuff on display (as did the Xi'an Shaanxi museum and Shanghai museum later in the trip). We found a great Peking Duck restaurant which was a short walk from the hotel. The queuing system was a case of organised chaos in such a small space, but the meal was well worth waiting for. Best duck ever!
William was our guide in Beijing, and our tour comprised 5 people including us. All the guides were very good, but William takes the star prize. He was interesting and informative, but also a laugh. The usual sights in Beijing were awesome and splendid, but the highlight was the Great Wall, as we expected. When we saw the Temple of Heaven, there is an area where people – or their mothers – have their CVs to find a marriage partner. One of the mothers took a shine to one of our party on behalf of her daughter, and when she discovered he was a lawyer, became very interested. The rest of us found this more amusing than he did!
The bullet train was a nice relaxing journey to Xi'an. Our party of 5 split on the second day as we went to different locations next, but we all saw the Terracotta Army, which is another “must see”. The wall at Xi'an is big enough and was getting decorated for the coming spring festival (year of the Rat), but after the Great Wall, was less impressive. We all enjoyed the market and had a lunch in the Muslim area which was great fun, followed by a ridiculously cheap group hotpot that evening involving much use of online translation on our phones!
The next day, Sally took over from Helen, and despite spending only part of a day with her, she was great. Having only two of us going around the Shaanxi museum, she was able to help us with anything we found interesting, going at our pace. We left on another bullet train to Chengdu.
The journey was shorter than before, and we met David, our guide. The next day was an early start to go to the Panda Base. What an amazing day! It was fabulous feeding pandas by hand and cleaning out their enclosures. The park has been designed brilliantly, so we also wandered to see other pandas (including cute red pandas). We were struck how lovely it was to be in a less built up space after our largely city based tours before. David had been to the Panda Base before, so knew what to do, and was a fantastic guide there.
Beijing had had clear blue skies and not at all polluted, contrary to what we had expected, but Xi'an and Chengdu were more polluted. This was the trade off going in winter, although this also meant that the tourist attractions were far less busy.
The next morning in Chengdu David took us to the Pavilion Park, where we sat drinking tea (green obviously) and learning Mahjong. We also managed to have our ears massaged and shoes cleaned, although the locals were most interested in our newly taught Mahjong prowess. It was a lovely way to while away a couple of hours and contributed to our stay in Chengdu being fondly very remembered. We went to the airport to fly to Shanghai.
Shanghai was about as different as anything could be to Xi'an, and even much of Beijing. It is as blingy and modern as Xi'an reflects the ancient part of the country. Our guide Hugo showed us parts of the different concessions in the city as well as the museum, but the Yuyuan Garden was lovely. Later we met up with two of our original tour group for cocktails at the rooftop bar of the Hyatt on the Bund, seeing the spectacular lights. We managed a return trip on the Maglev train which was a marvellous way to bring our China tour to an end.
In summary, the organisation was fantastic. Everything went as planned, and the guides were all very helpful and easy to talk to. The hotels were fine throughout, although in our case, we found the Chengdu hotel – which was the swankiest we stayed in – was less well placed to explore too much for places to eat, particularly as we arrived later in the day and had a long day at the Panda Base. Transportation was fine throughout, too. Bus, car, train and plane were all good.
We originally considered a private tour but went for a small group one at a lower price. This is well worth it in winter, as the group is unlikely to be even close to the 12 maximum. The mix of locations and sights was perfect for us. Prices of meals were similar or lower than we expected, so we spent less than we took with us.
There were so many highlights, so it is difficult to choose which pictures to show, but the attached is a very small sample from what was a truly wonderful holiday.
Date of experience: December 2019
rogergreen113 wrote a review 22 January 2020
BEIJING-XI’AN-GUILLIN-SHANGHAI PRIVATE TOUR
We are an Australian family who took the private tour from 24 December 2019 to 3 January 2020. China tours Co. had organized a meticulous tour for our family. Apart from the Shanghai stage, other stops were historic and memorable. The key attraction for China is her rich history. It would be very important that the tour guides must learn and comprehend Chinese History, not only PLA, Communist Revolution, or China Modernisation, Silk Road - One Belt - One Road, guests would be much more interested in her ancient history. Just imagine that when Qin Shi Huang connected the Great Wall to protect his newly formed dynasty - Qin, Jesus Christ was not even conceived yet, let alone the development and establishment of many great dynasties before his. Tour guides should treat this issue very carefully because of many tour guests who have studied Chinese History as their majors in High School and in University. They travel with two purposes, to see and to verify the historical records. Read more
To avoid the misunderstanding, that could be interpreted as a deception, in the itinerary of the tour, the program details must be utterly succinct and concise, i.e. Day 1: Receive the tour guests from Airport and deliver guests to the prebooked hotel. Tour guide will briefly explain the tour to the guests. This is the first day of arrival, the tour manager would like to leave the guest a resting time for recovering after a long flight.
While Beijing and Xi'an stops were very well organized and rich history, the Gullin - Yangshuo and Shanghai stops were shallow. In Gullin - Yangshuo stop, if the tour guide were not as good and friendly, this stage would be very boring. We were very lucky to have Sue as a tour guide, she was so excellent in her English and her deep knowledge of China that shined the tour stop in a very different direction.
In Shanghai stop, I would expect the tour guide would lead us to the Shanghai historical museum where we would learn the bitter lessons of the 1930 - 1945 chaotic period in Chinese history, we were taking to the Parks which we could find them ourselves. Shanghai has so many historical monuments to attract international traveling guests, not the riverside where it showed the newly built highrise skyscrapers, we have seen them enough in New York, Singapore, or even in KL. We would like to know the history of Shanghai club, the details of the day when the Japanese planes dropped bombs over the city's residential areas, etc.
It would be very useful to prepare a china-tour booklet in advance, such that the details of the 2020 tours include detailed programs of the year i.e. how many stops of the tour, cities, historical locations, etc.
Date of experience: December 2019
marioY1797DZ wrote a review 13 January 2020
Myanmar private Tour
Dear Martha our trip in Myanmar is finished and Isa and me are fully satisfied.
We have seen a lot of places, monuments and peoples.
As usual we give you a little feedback of our trip. Organization
Very good: intensive (4 internal flights) but in this way we save a lot of time and we saw a lot of things. Accomodation
Good and coherent with our request.
Only one remark regarding the Hotel in Bagan where the Hotel was good but with a poor bathroom (not coherent with the standard of the trip).
Viceversa the Hotel on the Inle Lake was spectacular. Guides
All the guides were very kind, helpful and prepared.
Particularly the guides in Bagan and in Mandalay spoke an excellent English and were very cultured in order to give us a complete overview of the local culture. Conclusions
As usual Isa and me were fully satisfied
Date of experience: December 2019
bacibesobeijo wrote a review 13 January 2020
Custom Tour of China: Beijing, Pingyao, Xi’an, Giulin, Suzhou, Hangzhou & Shanghai!
Fantastic trip organized by China Tours! All the guides were wonderful and accommodated my needs. Perfect English, highly informed and kind. One of the best trips of a lifetime! China Tours made the whole experience effortless despite the obvious barrier with language. If you are going to China, no doubt this tour is for you.
Date of experience: December 2019
Loretta M wrote a review December 7, 2019
Tampa, Florida, United States
Private Solo 35 day Tour of China from Beijing to Shanghai Stopping in Sites – Some Well-Known and Many Rare Places
This 35 day private tour through China was set up by Martha Fu and her team. The trip was more than unbelievably fantastic and if I could rate it a 10 I would! I had some very specific places I wanted to see that were the typical tourist attractions, but several that I read about that were off the tourist radar and amazing to go to. Martha spent about a year with me to customize every detail of this trip, which I kept adding and deleting. Originally it was set for 58 days so I ended up having to split it in two trips. In fact, I have already setup Part 2 for 2020 to finish what I have started. Martha was incredible! I have traveled the world and this trip was tops!!! Martha and I discussed the best time to go and obviously avoiding the 70th Anniversary of the Republic of China Holiday week was a great idea due to the crowds, but yet, coming in at the end of this holiday, I was still able to see lots of celebratory flower displays everywhere, which was amazing. Martha helped me with everything so that this trip was smooth and memorable. She responded to my emails within 24 hours and if she was not available Lori or another teammate stepped in to answer all of my questions. This company is unbelievable! Travelling solo was a concern, but not with this tour company. I felt very safe at all times. Every city I went to - from arriving by train or plane, I was met with an English speaking tour guide and a driver. All my guides (10 in total) spoke English well and were very attentive to my needs. To give you an idea of the complexity of this tour, which included trains and flights, I thought I would list some of my trip highlights: * Beijing (Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, Summer Place, Mutianyu Great Wall, Hutong Tour, Temple of Heaven) * Datong (Yungang Grottoes, Shanhua Monastery) * Pingyao (Hanging Temple of Mount Hengshan, Wooden Pagoda in Ying County, Pingyao Ancient City Wall, Rishengchang Draft Bank, Qiao Family Compound, Shuanglin Monastery) * Xi'an (Terra-Cotta Warriors, Museum, Small Wild Goose Pagoda, City Wall, Great Mosque) * Dunhuang (Echoing-Sand Dunes, Crescent Lake, Magao Grottoes) * Jiayuguan (City Gate, Overhanging Great Wall, Museum (Beginning of the Silk Road)) * Zhangye (Giant Buddha Temple, Danxia Landform (Rainbow Mountains)) * Wuwei (Leitai Tomb of Han Dynasty) * Lanzhou (Binglingsi Grottoes) * Chengdu (Wenshu Monastery, Giant Pandas, Wangjang Pavillion Park, Jinli Street) * Leshan (Giant Buddha) * Emei Mountain (Wannian Monastery, Baoguo Temple) * Dazu (Rock Carvings) * Yangtze River Cruise (Shibaozhai, Qutang Gorge, Wu Gorge, Shennong Stream, Three Gorges Dam) * Zhangjiajie (Tianmen Mountain, Grand Canyon, Glass Bridge, Hallelujah Mountains (Avatar), Tianzi Mountain, Ten-mile Natural Gallery, Golden Whip Stream) * Fenghuang (Stilt Houses on Tuojiang River) * Hangzhou (Feilai Park, West Lake, Tea Plantation) * Wuzhen Water Town * Shanghai (Tongli Water Town, Master of the Nests Garden) I highly recommend China Tours. I'm now very excited to go back to China and finish the rest of my planned trip in 2020! Thanks again for an outstanding tour!
Date of experience: October 2019
Kskoh55 wrote a review 3 December 2019
Private tour for 2 couples to Xi’an, Mt Hua, Yangtze River Cruise and Chongqing
We were so pleased that we chose China Tours after reading reviews from Tripadvisor to customise our itinerary. Lora was so responsive and we felt at ease planning it with her. Tour was according to itinerary and there were no hiccups. Guides, Linda at Xi'an and Mt Hua and Sherry at Chongqing were knowledgeable, professional and saw to our every need. Drivers were courteous both on and off the roads and on time. We will not hesitate to recommend China Tours to our friends. In fact, we are currently planning with Lora on our next trip to the Silk Route.
Date of experience: November 2019
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