China Travel Destinations - A Guide to This Beautiful Country

China travel destinations. This guide has everything you need to plan a memorable trip, including historical, cultural, and modern, too.

In 2019, China was the most visited country in Asia!


Because this is one of the most interesting countries you will ever visit, and I have the goods to prove it.

In this guide, we will visit the most popular destinations, beautiful ones, and even the unique ones to check off your list.

So, if you are planning a trip to China, this guide will help you do just that.

China Tourism

China Tourism

Honestly, you will love your trip to China.

I’m always surprised when some travelers tell me they almost didn’t come to my country.

Perceived barriers to visiting China include language challenges, concerns about air quality, cultural differences, and limited access to certain online platforms.

Of course, geopolitical tensions may also contribute to apprehension.

Is China a tourist-friendly country? Absolutely. Tourists have been flocking to China for thousands of years, culminating in the great Silk Route.

Although it’s still developing, the tourism industry in China is actually booming. There are a ton of companies that work in this, and it creates a lot of economy for the country.

For a trip to China, first-time tourists can expect a unique blend of ancient history and modern marvels, diverse landscapes, busy cities, rich cultural experiences, and exquisite cuisine.

Now, to visit China, you typically need a valid passport, a visa obtained beforehand, and specific documentation depending on the purpose of your visit.

I really encourage you to check Chinese visa requirements and regulations in your country, as they widely differ.

Meanwhile, keep in mind that China is its own universe. For example, you won’t easily access mainstream global social media companies like Facebook, YouTube, or even Twitter.

So, prepare to familiarize yourself with Chinese counterparts like WeChat (like Apple Pay and WhatsApp combination), Baidu (like Google), and Douyin (the Chinese TikTok).

Plus, know the country speaks very few foreign languages, and you will be expected to know basic Mandarin (the Chinese dialect most widely spoken in Mainland China).

We also use the renminbi or yuan as currency, and one yuan basically translates to about $0.15 USD.

Top Chinese Destinations

For your China trip, you will be able to experience a rich mix of ancient history and modern wonders.

Typically, tourists begin in Beijing, wander through the Forbidden City, and explore the iconic Great Wall.

You can’t imagine the amount of history, culture, and modern life that’s woven together in the Chinese capital.

Then, you’re usually off to experience the traditional charm of Xi’an, home to the Terracotta Army. The Terracotta Army is a site to never miss.

Of course, Shanghai always awaits with its futuristic skyline and busy culture. This is definitely a city not to miss.

For a change of scenery, cruise the Li River in Guilin, surrounded by breathtaking landscapes. I would have to say this is one of the best things to do in China.

Also, take time to discover the historic elegance of Suzhou’s gardens and the tranquil West Lake in Hangzhou, embrace the dynamic energy of Hong Kong, and savor authentic cuisine across diverse regions.

Finally, if you are a foodie like me, then I invite you to check out China’s eight major cuisine destinations, such as Cantonese (Guangzhou), Sichuanese (Chengdu), Shandong (Jinan), Jiangsu (Nanjing), Zhejiang (Hangzhou), Fujian (Fuzhou), Hunanese (Changsha), and Anhui (Hefei).

And, of course, I would encourage you to engage with locals, marvel at architectural marvels, and throw yourself into China’s multifaceted allure.

Beautiful Places in China

Beautiful Places in China

As cultures of thousands of years are in this country, China has some of the most beautiful places you could ever visit.

First of all, no matter where you go, make sure to listen to some Chinese music.

Start with the enchanting landscapes of Zhangjiajie’s Avatar Mountains. These mountains boast towering sandstone pillars.

You will also find lush greenery, misty landscapes, and an otherworldly experience reminiscent of the film “Avatar.”

Truly, this is one of the most surreal, breathtaking natural wonders in the country.

I also think you must discover the ancient beauty of Lijiang’s Old Town. This is a UNESCO treasure, with cobblestone streets, ancient canals, Naxi architecture, and busy markets.

Honestly, you will soon realize that timeless charm emanates from its well-preserved cultural heritage and picturesque surroundings.

Meanwhile, I invite you to unwind in the tranquility of Hangzhou’s West Lake. This has been a cultural gem for over 2,000 years.

The lake intertwines ancient legends with imperial gardens, and its poetic scenery reflects artistry, inspiring poets and emperors alike.

Also, explore the historic Pingyao. This is a walled city frozen in time, and I truly believe it showcases Ming and Qing Dynasty architecture.

For instance, you will find cobblestone streets, ancient courtyards, and well-preserved city walls that will transport you to a storied past.

Finally, immerse yourself in the Tibetan culture of Shangri-La. This is an ancient culture with colorful prayer flags fluttering against Himalayan vistas.

Of course, you will experience the many sacred monasteries, traditional festivals, warm hospitality, and the deeply spiritual ambiance that defines this enchanting region.

Adventure China

So, China is one of those countries where adventure is simply part of the deal.

In fact, most of us Chinese do not think about it as “adventure” at all.

It’s just part of our culture!

Therefore, you can easily do a tourist hike by trying the challenging trails of the Great Wall or go on a multi-day trek through Tiger Leaping Gorge.

Or you can go on an adrenaline-fueled journey in the country by conquering the challenging trek to Everest Base Camp.

Just so you know, this destination is actually in Nepal, but it’s on the border.

Likewise, you can experience the world’s longest glass bridge in Zhangjiajie, suspended over breathtaking canyons.

If you can, try extreme skiing or snowboarding at the high-altitude resorts of Yabuli.

Likewise, I invite you to conquer the rugged landscapes of Yangshuo by rock climbing amidst stunning karst formations.

Also, you could navigate the thrilling bends of the Tianmen Mountain Road, known as the “Dragon Road.”

Meanwhile, you can always engage in water sports on the turbulent rivers of Tibet or take a daring walk along the cliffside plank path of Mount Hua.

As you can see, China has an array of adventurous exploits for the daring traveler.

Unique Places in China

Unique Places in China

So, if you are one of those travelers who absolutely loves visiting unique places, then China has a lot to offer you.

I would say start by visiting the mystical Stone Forest in Yunnan, which is honestly an otherworldly landscape of limestone formations.

Then, go to the surreal Rainbow Mountains in Zhangye, which have this vivid geological hue. I love this place so much.

Likewise, you could explore the ancient cliffside residences of the Mogao Caves in Dunhuang. No traveler ever regrets this.

Also, dive into the colorful ethnic mix of Kashgar’s Old City. This was China’s Silk Route base, and you will definitely love it.

Finally, I invite you to witness the stunning Red Beach in Panjin, where the amazing red seepweed creates a mesmerizing contrast against the blue sky.

Each of these destinations has a distinctive and unforgettable experience in China’s rich cultural and natural blend.

Destinations to Avoid in China

Like every country on earth, there are parts of China you may not want to go to. While every traveler’s preferences vary, some may choose to skip some things.

For example, some travelers avoid heavily industrialized areas like Shijiazhuang, known for pollution.

Likewise, some travelers may find Datong’s urban development less appealing compared to its historic sites.

Similarly, cities like Lanzhou may not captivate tourists seeking pristine landscapes.

For those seeking historical charm, Changsha may lack the allure of other ancient cities.

Meanwhile, travelers sensitive to crowded spaces might avoid peak times at popular destinations like the Bund in Shanghai.

Keep in mind personal preferences, travel goals, and research to ensure a trip aligned with your interests, as even less-known places may hold hidden gems for the intrepid explorer.

Final Thoughts

China’s popularity stems from its incredible history, amazing landscapes, and beautiful cities.

There are also cultural treasures like the Great Wall, unmatched culinary moments, and truly a multifaceted and captivating travel experience.

In this guide, I gave you all the details to plan your trip – from natural wonders to amazing cities.

So, go ahead and plan it.

Enjoy China!

Li Xiu Ying is a travel writer and is the author of Beijing Travel. She writes about China for Caravanzers.

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