If you simply cannot stay in one place, China is a country that can keep your thirst for travelling well met. China is a country with a rich history and landmass that rivals the United States. That means two things; there are tons of places to visit and a lot of time to do it.
So what are the best places to visit in China? What regions are the most popular for first-time visitors? China has 23 regions (province), with 5 of those being autonomous. But that doesn’t mean you can’t travel in there.
Even if some regions are autonomous – Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia, and Tibet to name a few – they are all places with unique cultures and histories ready to be explored.
In this article, we will talk about the best places in China for you to visit if you’re a first-time traveler. So with all that said, let’s start.
1. Beijing – Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, Mao Zedong Mausoleum
Beijing is the capital of China and the heartbeat of the country. As such, it is the most popular tourist region for first-time travelers. There are tons of stuff to do in Beijing and even more stuff to see.
The Forbidden City, or the Imperial Palace, is one of those. This is by far one of the country’s most visited tourist destinations. It welcomes millions of visitors each year. The Forbidden City was constructed nearly 600 years ago, in the age of the Ming Dynasty. The Forbidden City was the place where every Chinese Emperor ruled from.
As such, you’ll have the opportunity to see what life was like for the rulers of the great land. And make no mistake, a day out at the Imperial Palace means spending a full day there. The area in and around the palace is massive – 780,000 sq/m to be precise. Once you get there, you’ll be greeted by the massive walls that surround the palace.
You really have to be there to see what the Forbidden City offers to travelers. While in Beijing, take the time to visit Tiananmen Square and Mao Zedong’s Mausoleum. Tiananmen Square is the main square of Beijing, while Zedong’s Mausoleum is the resting place of China’s greatest modern-day leader.
On a side note, Tiananmen Square can hold up to a million people. It is by far the biggest inner-city square in the world.
2. Sichuan – Giant Pandas, Jiuzhaigou Valley, Leshan Giant Buddha
Sichuan is a big region in China. It lies in the southwest and is home to many beautiful attractions and sights. Probably the highlight of Sichuan is the giant pandas. They’re native to the region and very rare. But while traveling, you could visit some of the giant panda habitats.
But if you’re looking for more attraction-orientated travel, then the Jiuzhaigou Valley is definitely one. This is one out of many national parks that is also a famed World Heritage site. The Chinese give this valley the nickname ‘Fairyland’. There are tons of things to see in Fairyland. From the nine Tibetan villages to the wonderful waterfalls, and the gorgeous lake, Jiuzhaigou Valley is a must-see!
If you want to see more of the giant pandas and the Fairyland valley, make sure to read more.
The Leshan Giant Buddha is the last attraction we’ll recommend. While there are plenty of others, the Leshan Giant Buddha is a giant, 71-meeter tall statue of Buddha. In 1996, UNESCO proclaimed the statue as a World Heritage site. Travelers go to the statue for divine guidance. As such, you will be getting a touch of spirituality throughout your travels. The statue lies along the Minjiang and Qingyi Rivers.
3. Xi An – Terracotta Army, Banpo Neolithic Village Museum
Once the country’s capital, and we’re talking ancient times, Xi An or Xian is part of the Shannxi Province. This city is rich in history. Some of the attractions stretch back thousands of years.
One of the highlights of your visit to Xi An is Qin’s Terracotta Army. This particular attraction is the 8th wonder of the world and a symbol of Chinese history. The Army itself was made to guard the first Emperor of China – Qin Shihuang.
Every solder is modeled in great detail and based on real-life human proportions. It was constructed anywhere between 246 and 206 BC and it is estimated that 780,000 builders built the wonder.
The Banpo Neolithic Village Museum is another historic site to see. It is said that this village dates back 6,000 years. Some of the archeological findings tell us that this was a Matriarchal community. This means that women were the village leaders. Banpo Neolithic Village Museum was the very first prehistoric excavation site in China. The museum is simply spectacular and tells us how people lived in these regions 6,000 years ago. While at Xi An, make sure to visit the City Walls. Since this is an ancient city with rich culture and history, it’s only natural that you see how the first Chinese Emperor used to defend the precious capital.
4. Shanghai – The Bund, Yu Garden, Jade Buddha Temple
Shanghai is an autonomous region in China. It is also china’s largest city with more than 24 million inhabitants. While traveling the Shanghai, make sure to visit the Bund. The Bund is the western name given to a large stretch of boardwalk along the Huangpujiang River. The Bund welcomes millions of visitors each year. Along the Bund, you can find cafes, restaurants, and places that offer real entertainment.
It is not as historic as the Forbidden City of spectacular as Fairyland, but it’s a must-see for first-time travelers. While in Shanghai, make sure to visit Yu Garden. This is the world’s oldest green space and covers an area of more than 20,000 square meters. Words cannot describe the beauty of Yu Garden – you have to go there and see for yourself.
And the last destination we’ll recommend you to visit while traveling to Shanghai is the Jade Buddha Temple. The temple was built in 1882 and is considered sacred in Buddhism. While the building was renovated in 1928, it holds massive Buddha statues and stunning, smaller temples full of rich history.