Six essential places to visit in China – words Alan Woods

China is the world’s fourth biggest country, and has no shortage of scenic wonders that’ll stop you dead in your tracks. Think the Great Wall of China, or the Forbidden City of Beijing – stirring landmarks that draw in tourists from all across the globe.

Not only do these attractions boost your Instagram likes tenfold, they don’t half make a good day out. With that in mind, let’s start with (perhaps) the most essential places to visit in China

The Great Wall of China

china tourism

Image by Jonathan Corbet, used under CC License (CC by 2.0)

For over five and a half thousand miles, the Great Wall meanders its way from Beijing westward. Much of the wall dates back to the Ming Dynasty, yet it still stands as strong as if it were built yesterday. The wall was awarded UNESCO World Heritage status in 1987. However, its turrets and curves had been synonymous with many people’s dreams of China since long before that. These days, holiday companies run guided tours along the wall and its surrounding areas, giving a rich insight into one of the country’s finest treasures.

Terracotta Warriors

When most think of stone people, they think of Narnia or the giant chess set in the first Harry Potter. In China, however, they have the Terracotta Warriors, an army of sculptures depicting the warriors of Qin Shi Huang. These cover a huge area, and it’s only when you see from close up the immense level of detail that went into their design.

Forbidden City

This was the imperial palace in the years between the Ming Dynasty to the Qing Dynasty. It holds the title as the world’s largest ancient palace, and for that reason attracts a huge deal of tourism. It has to be one of the most famous places in china. It needs to be tackled in small measures, however, as they’re 9,999 rooms filled with ancient treasures. Wander amongst them, and uncover facts about Chinese culture and history you’d never find elsewhere.

Shennong Stream

Like many of China’s rivers, the Shennong Stream has a distinctly oriental allure. Picture near-verdant waters, flanked with ravines and chalky cliffs. Cruising down the river, you can’t help but think of rice farmers paddling their way down here in more primitive times. You don’t need to imagine long, however, as this is still very much a way of life for many locals, as you’ll soon see. Whilst the Shennong isn’t as extravagant as some of China’s other attractions, its calming shores will stick with you long after your return.

Leshan Giant Buddha

essential places to visit in China

Image by Chi King, used under CC License (CC by 2.0)

​Buddhism plays a huge role in Chinese culture, and has done for centuries. In the Mount Emei Scenic Area, you’ll find this giant Buddha stretching 71 metres into the air. At this height, it won’t surprise you to know that this is the tallest Buddha statue in the world. Leshan Giant Buddha was originally built on the orders of a Chinese monk called Haitong, in an attempt to try and calm the wild rivers nearby which disrupted shipping vessels. Whether he was successful or not remains to be proven, but one things for sure, you’ll never see such a towering religious spectacle ever again. An essential insight into Chinese culture and traditions.

Master of the Nets Garden

Chinese gardens provide a sense of tranquility that few other places can match. Imagine placid pools, surrounded only by quaint paths and Chinese bonsai trees. An afternoon here is spiritual in every sense of the word, and you’ll return feeling invigorated and ready to tackle the rest of your Chinese adventure head on. It certianly places it onto our China tourist map.

Away from the vast skyscrapers of the big cities, China is a hotbed of scenic gems just waiting to be discovered. Roam the Great Wall of China and discover how culture here differs from east to west, or lose yourself within historic institutions like the Leshan Giant Buddha and the Forbidden City. Whatever you choose to do, you’ll soon learn that there’s far more to China than what first meets the eye…

Six essential places to visit in China – words Alan Woods

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