If you’ve taken that first step on deciding to visit China, the next step is to decide which parts are best to see on a first time trip to this fascinating country. It’s a large country with sprawling cities, dazzling mountain ranges, unique landscapes and ancient sights. It’s impossible to see everything in one trip, so we would recommend visiting the sights on everyone’s bucket list and maybe some which aren’t but you’ll enjoy nonetheless.

Best Bits

The Great Wall of China

Stretching for over 4,000 miles, the Great Wall is one of the wonders of the world. Originally constructed to keep northern Mongolian invaders at bay, the remains of the Great Wall are now open to be enjoyed by all. With lots of different areas to trek along, from beautiful restored parts to historical crumbling spines, tick off the Great Wall from your bucket list and feel the wonderment as you climb its rolling crests.

The Terracotta Warriors

Standing in lines of army formation guarding the mausoleum of Emperor Qin Shi Huang, the Terracotta Warriors are a sight to behold. With each warrior painstakingly restored, it’s now possible to see hundreds of them lined up in their excavated pits with their unique, grey features staring into the distance. It’s very impressive, especially as they’re all life-sized and that thousands more are still buried underground, waiting to be unearthed when future preservation techniques allow for their painted armour to be conserved.

Giant Pandas

Cute and rare, the Giant Pandas are symbolic of China and entrenched in their society. With so little left in the wild, China has set up an extensive breeding programme in order to preserve the species and increase their number. Some of the breeding centres are open to the public so that you can see the Pandas frolic in the hills and eating their beloved bamboo. A highlight for many is to see the baby Pandas in their incubators.

Li River

The Li River, located in the south of China, is famous for its limestone karst peaks which line its banks. You can cruise along the winding river between Guilin and Yangshuo in four hours, which is plenty of time to appreciate the wonder of the surroundings, including villages and cormorant fishermen going about their daily lives. Full of tropical vegetation, it’s a completely different feel to other parts of China and one you’re probably not expecting.

What Not To Miss

Beijing

The capital Beijing is a cornucopia of heritage sights and historical neighbourhoods, including the sprawling Forbidden City, the colourful Temple of Heaven and the densely packed Hutongs. It’s also the gateway to the awe-inspiring Great Wall of China. It’s not to be missed.

Shanghai

Known as the financial capital of China, it’s hard to believe that less than 30 years ago Shanghai was nothing but a small fishing village on the Huangpu River. Now a mammoth city of skyscrapers juxtaposed against colonial architecture, its numerous sights including the Yu Gardens and The Bund make it a must stop on any itinerary.

Xian

The ancient capital of China and the start of the ancient Silk Road, Xian is a modern city with Middle Eastern influences. It’s home to the famous Terracotta Warriors – the immortal army of Emperor Qin Shi Huang – and its 8km long ancient city walls are the oldest and best preserved in China.

Guilin & Yangshuo

Guilin and Yangshuo, the former a city the latter a town, straddle the picturesque Li River. Taking a cruise between the two is an absolute highlight of this tropical area of Southern China. Guilin is home to several large caves worth exploring, including the Reed Flute Cave and Seven Star Cave, and Yangshuo is a laidback town with bustling markets and rural paddy fields in its outskirts.

Chengdu

A major city in Sichuan province, Chengdu is home to the famous Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding. Home to over 80 Pandas, you’ll be able to see them up close in their natural environment as well as the cute baby Pandas in the centre’s incubators. Chengdu is also home to the famous Sichuan Hot Pot – try it if you dare; it’s as spicy as it sounds!

 

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