Things not to miss
#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.
#04 Dim sum
The classic Cantonese breakfast; there’s no better place to try it than in Gaungzhou.
#05 The Yellow River at Shapotou
Witness how “China’s Sorrow”, the mighty Yellow River, is being used to re-vegetate desert dunes.
#06 Tiger Leaping Gorge, Yunnan
One of China’s great hikes, along a steep-sided canyon, with attractive homestays along the way.
#07 Hanging Temple, Heng Shan
Rickety wooden shrines to China’s three main faiths, suspended on a cliff-face by flimsy-looking scaffolding.
#08 The Jokhang, Lhasa
Stuffed with gorgeous statuary and wreathed in juniper smoke, this is Tibet’s holiest temple.
#09 Taking tea, Sichuan
Offering unlimited refills, Sichuanese teahouses make relaxed places to drink, socialize, read or gossip.
#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.
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
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.
#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.
#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.
© Songquan Deng/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.
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.
#25 Forbidden City, Beijing
Once the sole preserves of emperors, the centre of the Chinese imperial universe is now open to all.
#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.
#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.
#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
Watch Chinese holidaymakers queuing up to have their photos taken against Shanghai’s luminous, futuristic skyline.
#31 Giant Buddha, Leshan
Marvel at the world’s largest carved Buddha, hewn into a riverside cliff way back during the Tang dynasty.
Planning your trip to China
Everything you need to plan where to go and what to do.
Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners
Book Your Trip To China
Get your dream travel planned & booked by local travel experts
At Rough Guides, we understand that experienced travellers want to get truly off-the-beaten-track. That’s why we’ve partnered with local experts to help you plan and book tailor-made trips that are packed with personality and stimulating adventure - at all levels of comfort. If you love planning, but find arranging the logistics exhausting, you’re in the right place.Learn Morechevron_right
The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.
An expert's guide: where to stay in Shanghai
Shanghai is a top contender for the buzziest city in Asia, a thriving business hub that's brashly modern yet wears its history on its sleeve. Dense with glitz …
What to do in Hong Kong: a local's guide
An eclectic mix of Chinese, Portuguese and British heritage, Hong Kong has a unique and proudly fierce identity. With its hi-tech infrastructure, buzzing nightl…
11 things to see in China beyond the Great Wall
From narrow hutongs to wide-flowing rivers, China is a land of opposites, superlatives and fascination. There will always be plenty to see and do here, and the…