Things not to miss

written by Andy Turner
updated 6/8/2021
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These 2200-year-old, life-sized warriors protect the tomb of China’s first emperor.

© Ke Wang/Shutterstock

#02 Jiayuguan Fort, Gansu

Famously lonely desert outpost, guarding the remote western tail end of the Great Wall.

© Sutthi Chuvichit/Shutterstock

#03 Central’s skyline, Hong Kong

Indulge in afternoon tea while admiring one of the world’s most spectacular cityscapes.

© Shutterstock

#04 Dim sum

The classic Cantonese breakfast; there’s no better place to try it than in Gaungzhou.

Dim Sum in bamboo steamer, Chinese cuisine © Shutterstock

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#05 The Yellow River at Shapotou

Witness how “China’s Sorrow”, the mighty Yellow River, is being used to re-vegetate desert dunes.

© Katoosha/Shutterstock

#06 Tiger Leaping Gorge, Yunnan

One of China’s great hikes, along a steep-sided canyon, with attractive homestays along the way.

© aphotostory/Shutterstock

#07 Hanging Temple, Heng Shan

Rickety wooden shrines to China’s three main faiths, suspended on a cliff-face by flimsy-looking scaffolding.

© Shutterstock

#08 The Jokhang, Lhasa

Stuffed with gorgeous statuary and wreathed in juniper smoke, this is Tibet

’s holiest temple.

© dibrova/Shutterstock

#09 Taking tea, Sichuan

Offering unlimited refills, Sichuanese teahouses make relaxed places to drink, socialize, read or gossip.

Chinese tea © mrwood/Shutterstock

#10 Cruise ships, Yangzi River

Enjoy awesome scenery and intriguing history in a journey through China’s dramatic Three Gorges.

© mark stephens photography/Shutterstock

#11 Camel Train, Xinjiang

The ghost of the legendary Silk Road is still dotted with oasis towns and abandoned cities.

© Xianghong Garrison/Shutterstock

#12 Minority villages, Yunnan

Bordering Laos, Burma and Vietnam, Yunnan’s 28 recognized ethnic groups enjoy distinct cultures and lifestyles.

Yunnan plantation tea, China @ Shutterstock

#13 Chengde

The former imperial retreat from the heat of summer holds a string of pretty temples.

Putuo Zongcheng temple © aphotostory/Shutterstock

#14 Mount Everest, Tibet

The sight of the world’s highest peak towering overhead rewards the arduous trip to Base Camp.

© NOWAK LUKASZ/Shutterstock

#15 Tai Shan , Shandong

A taxing ascent up endless stone staircases is rewarded with some immaculate temples and pavilions.

© Coca coco/Shutterstock

#16 Sisters’ Meal festival

Join thousands of locals at Taijiang, Guizhou

, during a wild three-day showcase of ethnic Miao culture.

© hxdbzxy/Shutterstock

#17 Black-necked cranes, Caohai

Spend a relaxing day being punted around this shallow lake in search of rare birdlife.

© Perry chang/Shutterstock

#18 Mogao Caves , Gansu

Roam millennia-old grottoes, packed with beautiful Buddhist sculptures, at this former Silk Road pilgrimage site.

© JingAiping/Shutterstock

#19 Confucius Temple, Qufu

This lavish complex at Confucius’s home town shows the esteem in which China’s great sage was held.

© Dashu Xinganling/Shutterstock

#20 The Great Wall

Hike along unrestored sections of this monumental barrier, which once protected China from the outside world.

Great wall of China during sunset © Shutterstock

#21 Harbin Ice Festival

Enjoy a fantastical array of hand-carved tableaux – including full-sized castles – all luridly illuminated from within.

© Andy Poole/Shutterstock

#22 Changbai Shan Nature Reserve

Remote wilderness whose stunning highlight is the view over Tian Chi

, “Heaven’s Lake”, into North Korea.

Heaven Lake, China © meteorite/Shutterstock

#23 Lijiang , Yunnan

Attractive ancient town, now a lively tourist fairground of cobbled lanes and rustic wooden houses.

Yunnan Lijiang ancient town © HelloRF Zcool/Shutterstock

#24 Kashgar ’s Sunday market

Watch Central Asian crowds trading in livestock, carpets and knives at Xinjiang’s

premier frontier bazaar.

© Shutterstock

#25 Forbidden City , Beijing

Once the sole preserves of emperors, the centre of the Chinese imperial universe is now open to all.

© testing/Shutterstock

#26 Peking duck

Tuck into this delicious northern Chinese speciality – all crispy skin and juicy meat, eaten in a pancake.

© Gecko Studio/Shutterstock

#27 Meili Xue Shan

A wilderness area in northwestern Yunnan

, holy to Tibetans, which offers superlative hiking and staggering scenery.

Yunnan Meili Xue Shan, China © San Hoyano/Shutterstock

#28 Li River scenery

Ride a boat or a bamboo raft through the heart of this weird, poetical landscape, past a host of contorted limestone pinnacles.

© Sirisak_baokaew/Shutterstock

#29 Labrang Monastery , Xiahe

Rub shoulders with pilgrims and red-robed clergy at this enormous complex, one of the pivots of Tibetan Lamaism.

© Daniel Prudek/Shutterstock

#30 The Bund , Shanghai

Watch Chinese holidaymakers queuing up to have their photos taken against Shanghai’s luminous, futuristic skyline.

Bund, Shanghai, China © Shutterstock

#31 Giant Buddha, Leshan

Marvel at the world’s largest carved Buddha, hewn into a riverside cliff way back during the Tang dynasty.

© grass-lifeisgood/Shutterstock

Travel advice for China

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written by Andy Turner
updated 6/8/2021
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