Things to do in China – Must See Attractions and Places to Visit

China is a country filled with unexpected surprises. To truly visit China you would need a lifetime, but here's a list of what we loved and what we think were the best things to do in China when we visited.

Best Things to do in China

When we visited China we were surprised by the warm welcome we received from the people, we were surprised by the beauty of the landscape and by the sheer size and scope of the cities.

Things to Do in China

The Very Best Things to Do in China

The Hong Kong and Shanghai Skylines blew us away, the culture was fascinating and the scenery was spectacular.

1. Visit the Great Wall

It may seem the obvious choice, but there is a reason that everyone who visits China goes to see the Great Wall. It is the number choice for things to do in China! However, not all parts of the Great Wall are equal. There are good walls to visit and not so good walls to visit.

things to do in china great wall

Visit the Great Wall of China

We recommend going to the  section over the Badaling Section. Badaling may be the more popular section as it is closer to Beijing, but the MuTianYu section is far less crowded.

As a matter a fact, when we were there we barely saw another tourist.

Check out our travel video of our Great Wall Hike to Mutianyu

Tip: A great time to visit is in December, there aren't many tourists and the sky is crisp and clear. You can get to the Great Wall via public transportation from Beijing. For more information on the Great Wall, visit our post The Great Wall of China

2. Forbidden City

It is a fascinating tour to walk through the Forbidden City. It housed the Emperors and their families for 500 years before the fall of the Quing Dynasty.

what to do in china the forbidden city

In the past, no commoner was ever allowed to step foot in the Forbidden City, but today it welcomes millions of tourists each year. Visiting the Forbidden City is one of the top things to do in China for everyone.

Just tell your guide to speed things along. They tend to keep you there for hours.

While in Beijing, a visit to the Forbidden City is a must. You can see Tiananman Square, Chairman Mao's Tomb all at the same time.

3. Terracotta Warriors

After the Great Wall, the Terracotta Warriors is the most famous attraction in China and you can't leave the country without seeing it.

what to do in China terracotta Warriors

Located near the city of Xian, it is a spectacle that must be seen. Thousands of life size clay warriors stand guard at this site that was only discovered in 1974. T

he Emperors tomb has yet to be excavated but there is plenty to see as you walk the grounds of this amazing archeological site.

For more information on the Terracotta Warriors visit our post, Are They Real or Are They Memorex?

4. Cycle the Xi'an Wall

While you are visiting the Terracotta Warriors, it's worth sticking around the ancient city of Xi'an.

deb cycling the xian city wall

Cycle the Xian City Wall

It has the most intact wall in all of China and a great activity is to rent a bicycle to navigate around the top of the wall circling the entire old city.

Once you are done your cycling, you can visit the Muslim Quarter and enjoy some delicious dumplings. A lot of people don't think of hanging around Xi'an, but trust me, it will be one of your favourite things to do in China.

For more information on cycling the Xi'an Wall, visit our Good Day in Xi'an

5. Bamboo Raft Up the Li River

There isn't a more traditional Chinese moment than taking a bamboo raft down the Li River.

things to do in China bamboo raft the li river

The Beautiful Li river

Surrounded by beautiful karst formations of Yangshuo, you drift through the mist and take in the scenery as fisherman fish as they have for thousands of years. Get up early to avoid the crowds and capture photos in the best light.

Read all about it at Bamboo Rafting Down the Li River

6. Cruise the Three Gorges

The Yangzi River may have been flooded a few years ago, but the Three Gorges is still a trip worth taking.

things to do in China three gorges

Cruise the Three Gorges

The Three Gorges damn was the largest hydro-electric project in the world and was meant to power 10% of China. Since China is growing so rapidly the project only ended up powering 3% of the population, but it is an amazing site to see.

The cruise is relaxing and the scenery is gorgeous.

The Three Gorges, China's Rapid Development

7. Take in the Shanghai Skyline from the Bund

China is filled with Spectacular cities like Beijing and Hong Kong. But no skyline on earth is quite as spectacular as Shanghai.

what to do in China shangai

Walking along the bund makes for a wonderful stroll and there is nothing like seeing the new city across the river. Can you believe it only took them 20 Years to build that skyline?

Our guide told us that when she was growing up, all that was farmland and people used to dream of crossing the water to be a part of Beijing. Look at it now! No farmers anymore me thinks.

8. Have a Hot Pot in Sichuan Province

A Hot Pot in Sichuan Province is the most exciting meal you will ever have.

things to do in china hot pot

Huajiao peppers from the region are so hot they make your tongue go numb. It's not a hot that burns as much as a hot that excites the senses. Do yourself a favour, when you are in China, make sure to eat a hot pot in Sichuan Province.

Read about our experience at Sichuan Hot Pot a Sizzling Night out.

9. Visit the Giant Pandas of Chengdu

When you think of China, it's nearly impossible not to picture the Giant Panda.

things to do in china visit the pandas of chengdu

Happy Giant Panda

Pandas are so cute, you would swear that there is a man inside a bear suit pretending to be a wild animal. Sadly, the Panda is gravely endangered, but the Panda Research Base in Chengdu is doing it's best to raise them in this breeding facility and to keep the official face of China alive and well for years to come.

For more information visit the Giant Panda Research Base in Chengdu

10. Spend Time in a Local Park

The best way to get to know the locals in China is to hang out at a local park.

what to see in china parks

Dave Walking the Catwalk in a Park Fashion Show

The people of China know how to enjoy life and you will see that clearly when you visit a park on a Sunday. People sing Karaoke, dance, practice tai chi, strutt the runway and so much more. Believe us, you won't be disappointed if you hang out at a local park.

11. Stroll the Romantic West Lake

West Lake is the romance capital of China and most Chinese spend their honeymoons right here.

what to see in china west lake

There is a beautiful legend about ill fated love that takes place on the banks of West Lake. Read all about it at A Romantic Stroll on Hangzou West Lake

12. Spend a few Days in Hong Kong

vacation in hong kong header

Hong Kong Skyline Reflection

Hong Kong is China's most exciting city and we love spending time there. There are so many things to do in the city as well as the surrounding islands and parks. If you visit China, be sure to put a few days at the end of your trip to really explore it. Check out all our things to do in Hong Kong for ideas!

where to go in china

our route

Have you been to China? What do you think are the best things to do in China? We've heard Tiger Leaping Gorges is amazing, but have yet to be there. That's ok though, we loved China so much, we' be sure to go back!

Read More:

Where to Get off the Beaten Track in China

Top 10 Things to do in Shanghai

5 Tips for Traveling China on a Budget

The Great Wall of China

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