For many visitors sightseeing in China starts with probably this best known of all tourist attractions in Beijing. The Forbidden City is the world's largest palace complex and covers 72 ha (178 acres). It was built between 1406 and 1420 in the center of Beijing and consists of 980 buildings. The complex served as home to 24 emperors and was the political center of China for 500 years, from the Ming Dynasty to the end of Qing Dynasty. Currently the Forbidden City houses the Palace Museum. It is estimated that over 7 million people visit the Palace Museum every year.
The museum is open daily from 8:30am to 5:00pm during summer and from 8:30am to 4:30pm in winter. The admission fee is ¥60 in summer and ¥40 in winter.
Great Wall of China
Vacations in China would not satisfy anyone without seeing the Great Wall of China that has been listed on the UNESCO World Heritage sites since 1987 and it is considered one of the greatest wonders of the world. The wall that stretches for about 8,852 km (5,500 miles) was built between the 5th century BC and 16th century to protect China's northern borders. Most of the existing wall was constructed during the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644).
Every traveler to China should make sure that his sightseeing trips include at least one section of wall. The most popular sections are:
- Badaling – situated only 1 and a half hour drive from Beijing; very popular due to the easiest access from the city,
- The Great Wall at Mutianyu – beautifully restored, located 80 km (50 miles) northeast of Beijing; this site is less crowded by tourists than Badaling and offers nicer architecture and stunning mountain scenery,
- The Simatai Great Wall – an unrestored, original section of the wall, stretching for 5.4 km (3.4 miles), located about 120 km (75 miles) from the center of Beijing, in steep mountains,
- Shanhaiguan - situated in the east of Qinhuangdao City, about 5 km (3.1 miles) from the eastern end of the wall where the wall dips into the Yellow Sea.
The capital of China, with its 17.5 million population, is the most popular destination for foreign travelers. It is the political, cultural and educational center of the country and home to a large number of world famous attractions and historical sites. Great shopping opportunities and delicious food complement travelers’ unforgettable experiences. The most famous tourist attractions that should be included in Beijing sightseeing itinerary are:
- The Forbidden City
- Tiananmen Square
- Temple of Heaven - China's largest temple and altar complex
- Summer Palace
- Lama Temple (Yongheong) - also known as the Temple of Peace and Harmony
- Ming Tombs
- The Great Wall (Badaling, Simatai or Mutianyu sites)
- Beihai Park – a classical Chinese garden
Xi'an and Terracotta Army
If you go on vacation to China, at least one day of your sightseeing trips should be dedicated to exploring Xi'an and Terracotta Army museum.
The city of Xi'an, the capital of Shaanxi province, is situated in the central China, about 1 hour flight from Beijing. The first emperor Qin Shi Huang made Xi'an the first capital of China in the 3rd century BC. The biggest tourist attraction in Xi'an is the museum of Terracotta Army, located about 1.5 km (0.9 miles) east of Emperor Qin Shi Huang's Mausoleum. The site contains around 7,000 natural size terracotta soldiers, horses, chariots, and weapons that have been excavated and restored so far. It is considered one of the most significant and spectacular archeological findings of the 20th century and is included in the UNESCO World Heritage list since 1987.
Yangtze River Cruise
Yangtze River cruises are very popular among visitors to midland China and for many travelers they are to main focus of their vacations to China. Most popular cruises run between Chongqing and Yichang and the trip takes 4 days if going downstream and 5 days if upstream, and covering the distance of about 650 km (404 miles). Upstream cruises are also cheaper than the downstream ones. The sightseeing highlights of the cruise are: The Three Gorges (Qutang Gorge, Wu Gorge and Xiling Gorge) and the Three Gorges Dam - the world’s largest Dam. During the trip travelers can take part in several shore excursions which are usually included in the cruise price. Shore excursion most commonly include the following spots, attractions or activities: Fengdu Ghost City, Shennong Stream boat cruise, Lesser Three Gorges boat cruise, The Three Gorges Dam Site and Shibaozhai Temple (a 12- story wooden pagoda set up against the side of a cliff).
Shanghai, situated on the banks of Huangpu River, is the largest city in China and a popular tourist destination offering many sightseeing possibilities. The west bank of the river is called Puxi with the old city center and the east bank – Pudong – is known for its modern high-rise architecture and its business and financial district.
One of the "must see" on your vacations to China and Shanghai is the charming and photogenic Shanghai Old City with its old well-preserved or reconstructed architecture. Most beautiful places include the Main Square, Huxingting Tea House, Yuyuan Garden or the Bazaar.
One of the world's most famous waterfronts is Shanghai’s Bund, located on the west side of Huangpu River. Its European style architecture is in big contrast with all other parts of the city. In the early 20th century the Bund was the business center of the city, with headquarters of major foreign financial and trade institutions; it was known as the financial capital of Asia.
Guilin and Li River Cruise
Guilin is a city in Guangxi region, in south-central China. The city is one of the country's best-known tourist destinations. If you plan your vacations to China for at least one week, Guilin is definitely worth spending a couple of days of your time. The scenic, beautiful city serves as an excellent base for sightseeing trips and exploring nearby attractions like Longji rice terraces in Longsheng, the Li jiang river or Yangshuo county. Guilin can be best reached by plane from Hong Kong or Macau. There are connections from Kuala Lampur, Osaka and Seoul as well.
One of the most popular tours among visitors to midland China is the Li River cruise from Guilin to Yangshuo. The trip takes seven to eight hours and covers the distance of about 80 km (52 miles). The main attraction of the cruise is the breathtaking scenery along the Li River dominated by picturesque limestone peaks and formations. Worth exploring is also beautiful countryside near Yangshuo where the journey ends.
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