China as a tourist destination offers limitless scope for exploration as it is an embodiment of all that is mysterious and exotic. Being vast and diverse, it gives a charming mix of traditional culture and modernity.
With 53 diverse ethnic groups and more than 292 spoken languages, each destination you visit in China is different from the last. So as you embark on your journey as an international student who wants to take a tour in the ancient city, here are some choice destination locations to visit in China.
- The Great Wall of China
As a clear demonstration of the importance of this unique ancient monument, the popular Chinese saying posits that “Nobody can be a true hero unless he has been on the Great Wall.” An assemblage of smaller walls built by various dynasties over many years, builders erected these walls for protection from invasions from the north. The Great Wall itself with a history lasting over 2000 years is the longest man-made structure in the world, measuring approximately 8,800 km (5,500 miles) in length, although some sections lie in ruin or have disappeared. Rising as high as 16 meters and wide enough in places for five horses or 10 men to pass through, the wall boasts numerous of battlements and watchtowers, some dating as far back as the 7th century BC.
2. The Forbidden City and the Imperial Palace, Beijing
China’s largest and most important building, the Forbidden City which is also known as the Imperial Palace is situated in the heart of Beijing and is an ancient masterpiece. The complex is many places in one and was built between 1406 and 1420 as the residence of 24 Ming and Qing Emperors, whose presence forbade the entry of anyone other than the imperial family and their courtesans. Consisting of areas set aside for ceremonial and administrative purposes, the complex covers about 720,000 square meters and protected by a 10-meter-high wall with watchtowers and a wide moat. It also includes the Tiananmen Square and the Temple of Heaven.
3. Hong Kong Skyline
For decades, Hong Kong has been the bustling capital of finance and commerce in China and is located on the southeastern coast. Hong Kong is a glittering, world-class commercial centre where Chinese culture, British colonial influences and modern-day high technology blend together. It contains the world’s highest concentration of skyscrapers and one of the highest population densities. It also has one of the best views especially from Victoria Peak, you just might catch the nightly laser extravaganza, a stunning 360-degree laser-light show that uses the harbour’s skyscrapers as a magical backdrop.
4. Shanghai’s Promenade: The Bund
It is the largest and most developed city in China and nights are representative of the Western view of China cities with bright neon signs, bustling streets and numerous businesses. A remarkable act of smart city planning and preservation, the Bund is popular for its 52 preserved English and French-influenced buildings from Gothic to Renaissance styles, many being restaurants, cafés, stores, and art galleries. You can take a stroll along the Yu Garden known affectionately as the “Garden of Happiness,” this garden traces its roots back to 1559 when it was laid out.
5. The Terracotta Army
Xi’an was the imperial seat for over eleven dynasties before the unification of China between 1000 BC and 1000 AD making it one of the Four Great Ancient Capitals of China. Considered to be China’s most important archaeological find, the Terracotta Army consists of more than 8,000 life-size warrior statues, 520 horses, and more than 100 chariots, along with numerous other non-military characters dating from around 280 BC who guarded the First Emperor’s tomb. They stand as a testament to the importance bestowed upon the emperor and the afterlife.
6. Leshan Giant Buddha
The 71-meter-tall Leshan Giant Buddha is a spectacular sight to behold, little wonder the famous Chinese saying, “The mountain is a Buddha and the Buddha is a mountain.” Started in AD 713 by a Buddhist monk and completed 90 years later, this important religious icon is carved entirely from a stone cliff-face and is the largest Buddha sculpture in the world. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Giant Buddha continues to draw huge numbers of pilgrims from across the globe and is widely regarded as one of China’s must-visit attractions.
7. The Mausoleum of Light: The Northern Imperial Tomb
9. Zhangjiajie National Forest Park
The Zhangjiajie National Forest Park in Hunan province gives you a rare Avatar-like experience with its many unique pillar-like rock formations looking like some incredible alien landscape right out of a sci-fi movie. Some of the wonders you’ll find there are the Bailong Elevator, aka the “Hundred Dragons Sky Lift, which elevates groups of up to 50 people 326 meters skyward in less than two minutes, it’s an impressive structure and one that offers dramatic views all the way. Also, notable is the Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass Bridge heralded as the world’s highest and tallest pedestrian bridge. Standing 300 meters above the ground and extending 430 meters along a spectacular cliff face, it’s an adventure you don’t want to miss.
10. Jiuzhaigou Valley
Described as a fairyland because of its many waterfalls, the Jiuzhaigou Valley has snow-covered karst mountains and its 108 blue, turquoise, and green coloured lakes are so crystal clear that one can see the bottoms. It is also the habitat of giant pandas, though the chances of seeing them are slim due to the park’s size and the number of tourists.