China

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China GALLERY
2019 2019 Fodor’s Go List Destination
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An awe-inspiring land that wows with its contrasting balance of outstanding ancient culture, breathtaking natural beauty, and the diversity of its varied cities, China is a traveler’s dream. Formed of a collection of provinces, China’s rapid growth and developed accessibility are displayed most prominently by its cities. From Shanghai, Hangzhou, and Xi’an, to Beijing, Guilin, and Hong Kong, the dramatically different urban centers capture the broad spectrum of alternative cultures that make China the captivating, intriguing, and mystical country it is.

While China’s economic growth and modernization dominate the conversation these days, its long—and we mean long—and storied history remains one of the most important aspects for visitors. The oldest continuous civilization in history, there are sights, monuments, and reminders of ancient China that stretch back thousands of years from the Terracotta Warriors of the Qin Dynasty to the Forbidden City of the Ming Dynasty. It’s not all blockbuster tourist attractions that hold the key to experiencing ancient China, as you deviate from the major sights there’s plenty to explore from the protected temples of the country’s major cities to Buddhist monuments like the Mogao Caves on the ancient Silk Road at Dunhuang.

Given that its cuisine rules the take-out scene in cities all over the world, it’s no surprise that food is a big deal in China. In fact, food is so important to the Chinese that in Hong Kong, rather than hello, it’s common to greet people with the phrase “have you eaten?” Regional cuisines dominate swathes of the country which means you can be dining on dumplings and dim sum one day and bracing yourself for the spice of Sichuan cooking the next depending on where you are. Oh, and those with a love affair with Peking duck and pancakes will want to make the pilgrimage to Beijing and the famous Bianyifang restaurant (established in the 15th century) which is something like the spiritual home of one of the greatest culinary inventions of all time.

Few places on earth can match the natural beauty of the Chinese hinterlands whose deserts and lakes, mountains, and grasslands contribute to a beautifully varied landscape that lures visitors away from the big cities. From the Yuanyang Rice Terraces of Yunnan to the Thousand Islets Lake of Zhejiang, China’s frontiers are packed with once-in-a-lifetime type sights that mean even if you’re not the most adventurous outdoors type, taking some time to explore the landscape is a highly recommended part of any China trip.

The country’s urban centers are booming and its cities present the best that modern China has to offer. There’s the metropolitan Shanghai for shopping on Nianjing Road and strolls along the Bund waterfront, Beijing for important historical sights like Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City, and Hong Kong for an intense east-meets-west experience filled with dim sum, markets, and island hopping. Beyond the big three, Xi’an appeals with the underground lair of the Terracotta Army and the Wild Goose Pagoda, Guilin is blessed with the beauty of surrounding rice terraces and the Karst Mountains, and Hangzhou impresses with its mix of ancient and contemporary architecture on the edge of the gorgeous West Lake.

A great, grand country of enormous proportions, China has so much to recommend it to the curious traveler. Between the cuisine, the ancient sites, the action-packed cities and its boundless swathes of stunning natural habitat, any visitor to the Middle Kingdom is bound to fall hard for its charms.

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Hong Kong

An enigma wrapped in a mystery, Hong Kong is a city of extremes, whose stratospheric rise as an international power hub matches the upward trajectory...

Beijing

There’s nowhere else in the world quite like Beijing. It’s a modern-day megalopolis at the very core of the world’s second-greatest economy...

Shanghai

Shanghai is a city of two faces. It is home to some of the world’s tallest skyscrapers, miles of luxury goods shops, and scores of trendy bars...

Macau

Enter the desperate, smoky atmosphere of a Chinese casino, where frumpy players bet an average of five times more than the typical Vegas gambler...

Guangzhou

The capital of Guangdong Province, Guangzhou (also known as Canton) is both a modern boomtown and an ancient port city. This metropolis of more...

Shenzhen

Shenzhen may be China's youngest city, but this is one metropolis that's definitely come of age. A small farming town until 1980, Shenzhen was...

Nanjing

The name Nanjing means Southern Capital, and for six dynastic periods, as well as during the country's brief tenure as the Republic of China...

Qingdao

Qingdao has had a turbulent century, but it has emerged as one of China's most charming cities. It was a sleepy fishing village until the end...

Suzhou

Suzhou has long been known as a center of culture, beauty, and sophistication. The "Venice of the East" produced scores of artists, writers...

Chengdu

Home to more than 14 million people, Chengdu is what you want it to be: while some visitors seek out the pulsating nightlife, others are happy...

Xian

Many first-time visitors to Xi'an are seeking the massive terra-cotta army standing guard over the tomb of China's first emperor. Xi'an was...

Ji'nan

Most famous for its 70 or so active springs, Ji'nan, nicknamed "City of Springs," is the provincial capital of Shandong. In the tourist stakes...

Kunming

With its cool mountain air and laid-back locals, Kunming is one of China's most comfortable big cities, and is an ideal base for Yunnan travels...

Chongqing

With a layout reminiscent of Hong Kong and a distinct Sichuanese vibe, Chongqing is one of the most interesting and dynamic cities in Western...

Dali

This rustic town is one of those rare places that feel completely cut off from the rest of the world but still has high-speed Internet access...

Lijiang

Lijiang is probably the most famous travel destination in Yunnan, as its Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. At the base of majestic Jade...

Yangshuo

Yangshuo has taken center stage as Guangxi's top tourist destination. At the heart of the city is West Street, a pedestrian mall extending to...

Yangzhou

Despite rapid outward expansion, the historic center of Yangzhou has retained a laid-back feel not often found in Eastern China. Small enough...

Ürumqi

Xinjiang's capital and largest city, Ürümqi is at the geographic center of Asia, and has the distinction of being the most landlocked city in...

Lantau Island

...

Kashgar

Kashgar, the westernmost city in China, is closer to Baghdad than Beijing. More than 3,400 km (2,100 miles) west of the capital, the city has...

Tunxi

This is the gateway to the Yellow Mountain area. Apart from being a transportation hub, Tunxi also has a charming strip of shops and restaurants...

Chengde

Recent development has not been particularly kind to Chengde, but the sights here are well tended, and in fine weather you can still glimpse...

Xining

Its name means "peace in the west," so it's no surprise that Xining started out as a military garrison in the 16th century, guarding the empire...

Beidaihe

English railway engineers came across this small fishing village in the 1890s. Not long after, wealthy Chinese and foreign diplomats were visiting...

Xishuangbanna Region

Jinghong is the capital of southern Yunnan's Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Region, which borders Laos and Myanmar. Xishuangbanna is home to the...

Shanhaiguan

On the northern tip of the Bohai Coast, Shanhaiguan is the end of the road for the Great Wall. After 8,850 km (5,500 miles), the massive structure...

Wuhan

Wuhan is one of China's oldest cities, no small feat for a country that prides itself on having more than 5,000 years of history. Today it's...

Gulangyu

The best way to experience Gulangyu's charm is to explore its meandering streets early in the morning or late in the evening to avoid the masses...

Turpan

Turpan, which means "the lowest place" in Uyghur, lies in a desert basin at the southern foot of the Heavenly Mountains. Part of the basin lies...

Guilin

Guilin has the good fortune of being situated in the middle of some of the world's most beautiful landscapes. This region of limestone karst...

Huangshan

Huangshan (Yellow Mountain) is Eastern China’s most dreamlike mountain landscape, where delicate songshu pines cling to the vertiginous sides...

Lanzhou

Built on the banks of the Yellow River, the capital of Gansu extends along the base of a narrow gorge whose walls rise to 5,000 feet. A city...

Guiyang

The capital is a pleasant place to begin an exploration of the province. Like most cities in China, Guiyang is fast losing its older buildings...

The Three Gorges

The third-longest river in the world after the Amazon and the Nile, the Yangtze cuts across 6,380 km (3,956 miles) and seven provinces before...

Nanning

Built along the banks of the Yong River, Nanning is the capital of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. The city isn't a major tourist draw, but...

Dunhuang

A small oasis town, Dunhuang was for many centuries the most important Buddhist destination on the Silk Road. Just outside of town, beyond the...

Qufu

This sleepy provincial town is the birthplace of the country's foremost spiritual teacher and philosopher, Kong Fuzi, known to the West as Confucius...

Jiuzhaigou Natural Preserve

Forget the noisy, crowded and polluted metropolises of Chengdu and Chongqing and brace yourself for nature at its most majestic. In Northern...

Heping District

The town of Heping, which administrates the villages and surrounding area, is the gateway to Longsheng's terraced rice fields. Ping'an, about...

Emeishan

This 10,000-foot mountain is a famous Buddhist pilgrimage site, dotted with temples. You can hike the 25 miles of stone staircase to the Golden...

Mount Tai

A destination for pilgrims for 3,000 years, the mountain was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. Confucius is said to have climbed its...

Leshan

Leshan is famous for the Great Buddha, carved into the mountainside at the confluence of the Dadu, Qingyi, and Min rivers. The Great Buddha...

Kaili

The capital of the Qian Dongnan Miao and Dong Autonomous Region, Kaili serves as the starting point for a journey to the Miao and Dong villages...

Gyantse

With small villages of stone houses beside fields of highland barley, Gyantse feels far removed from Lhasa, although the drive is only about...

Luzhi

...

Songpan

Songpan has experienced quite a mini-construction boom over the past decade, with better transport connections and more accommodation options...

Tiger Leaping Gorge

Above a river that winds along for about 16 km (10 miles), this gorge is home to some of China's most breathtaking mountain scenery. The best...

Shigatse

Tibet's second-largest city, Shigatse, is the traditional capital of Tsang and home to the Tashilhunpo Monastery, Tibet's largest functioning...

Everest Base Camp

Because it's there," mountaineer George Mallory quipped in 1922 when asked why he wanted to climb the tallest mountain on the planet. The fabled...

Lingyan Temple

Shandong played a vital role in the spread of Buddhism in China. In the 4th century AD the Chinese Buddhist monk Faxian landed on the coast...

Zhouzhuang

...

Stone Forest (Shilin)

This cluster of dark-gray limestone formations, twisted into odd shapes, makes a memorable side trip—it's one of the most interesting sites...

Shegar

There isn't much of anything to see in Shegar—which also goes by the name New Tingri—a town so small that its two intersecting streets don't...

Hong Kong

An enigma wrapped in a mystery, Hong Kong is a city of extremes, whose stratospheric rise as an international power hub matches the upward trajectory...

Beijing

There’s nowhere else in the world quite like Beijing. It’s a modern-day megalopolis at the very core of the world’s second-greatest economy...

Shanghai

Shanghai is a city of two faces. It is home to some of the world’s tallest skyscrapers, miles of luxury goods shops, and scores of trendy bars...

Macau

Enter the desperate, smoky atmosphere of a Chinese casino, where frumpy players bet an average of five times more than the typical Vegas gambler...

Guangzhou

The capital of Guangdong Province, Guangzhou (also known as Canton) is both a modern boomtown and an ancient port city. This metropolis of more...

Shenzhen

Shenzhen may be China's youngest city, but this is one metropolis that's definitely come of age. A small farming town until 1980, Shenzhen was...

Nanjing

The name Nanjing means Southern Capital, and for six dynastic periods, as well as during the country's brief tenure as the Republic of China...

Qingdao

Qingdao has had a turbulent century, but it has emerged as one of China's most charming cities. It was a sleepy fishing village until the end...

Suzhou

Suzhou has long been known as a center of culture, beauty, and sophistication. The "Venice of the East" produced scores of artists, writers...

Chengdu

Home to more than 14 million people, Chengdu is what you want it to be: while some visitors seek out the pulsating nightlife, others are happy...

Xian

Many first-time visitors to Xi'an are seeking the massive terra-cotta army standing guard over the tomb of China's first emperor. Xi'an was...

Kunming

With its cool mountain air and laid-back locals, Kunming is one of China's most comfortable big cities, and is an ideal base for Yunnan travels...

Ji'nan

Most famous for its 70 or so active springs, Ji'nan, nicknamed "City of Springs," is the provincial capital of Shandong. In the tourist stakes...

Chongqing

With a layout reminiscent of Hong Kong and a distinct Sichuanese vibe, Chongqing is one of the most interesting and dynamic cities in Western...

Dali

This rustic town is one of those rare places that feel completely cut off from the rest of the world but still has high-speed Internet access...

Lijiang

Lijiang is probably the most famous travel destination in Yunnan, as its Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. At the base of majestic Jade...

Yangshuo

Yangshuo has taken center stage as Guangxi's top tourist destination. At the heart of the city is West Street, a pedestrian mall extending to...

Yangzhou

Despite rapid outward expansion, the historic center of Yangzhou has retained a laid-back feel not often found in Eastern China. Small enough...

Ürumqi

Xinjiang's capital and largest city, Ürümqi is at the geographic center of Asia, and has the distinction of being the most landlocked city in...

Kashgar

Kashgar, the westernmost city in China, is closer to Baghdad than Beijing. More than 3,400 km (2,100 miles) west of the capital, the city has...

Tunxi

This is the gateway to the Yellow Mountain area. Apart from being a transportation hub, Tunxi also has a charming strip of shops and restaurants...

Chengde

Recent development has not been particularly kind to Chengde, but the sights here are well tended, and in fine weather you can still glimpse...

Beidaihe

English railway engineers came across this small fishing village in the 1890s. Not long after, wealthy Chinese and foreign diplomats were visiting...

Xining

Its name means "peace in the west," so it's no surprise that Xining started out as a military garrison in the 16th century, guarding the empire...

Xishuangbanna Region

Jinghong is the capital of southern Yunnan's Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Region, which borders Laos and Myanmar. Xishuangbanna is home to the...

Shanhaiguan

On the northern tip of the Bohai Coast, Shanhaiguan is the end of the road for the Great Wall. After 8,850 km (5,500 miles), the massive structure...

Wuhan

Wuhan is one of China's oldest cities, no small feat for a country that prides itself on having more than 5,000 years of history. Today it's...

Guilin

Guilin has the good fortune of being situated in the middle of some of the world's most beautiful landscapes. This region of limestone karst...

Gulangyu

The best way to experience Gulangyu's charm is to explore its meandering streets early in the morning or late in the evening to avoid the masses...

Huangshan

Huangshan (Yellow Mountain) is Eastern China’s most dreamlike mountain landscape, where delicate songshu pines cling to the vertiginous sides...

Turpan

Turpan, which means "the lowest place" in Uyghur, lies in a desert basin at the southern foot of the Heavenly Mountains. Part of the basin lies...

Lanzhou

Built on the banks of the Yellow River, the capital of Gansu extends along the base of a narrow gorge whose walls rise to 5,000 feet. A city...

The Three Gorges

The third-longest river in the world after the Amazon and the Nile, the Yangtze cuts across 6,380 km (3,956 miles) and seven provinces before...

Guiyang

The capital is a pleasant place to begin an exploration of the province. Like most cities in China, Guiyang is fast losing its older buildings...

Nanning

Built along the banks of the Yong River, Nanning is the capital of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. The city isn't a major tourist draw, but...

Dunhuang

A small oasis town, Dunhuang was for many centuries the most important Buddhist destination on the Silk Road. Just outside of town, beyond the...

Qufu

This sleepy provincial town is the birthplace of the country's foremost spiritual teacher and philosopher, Kong Fuzi, known to the West as Confucius...

Emeishan

This 10,000-foot mountain is a famous Buddhist pilgrimage site, dotted with temples. You can hike the 25 miles of stone staircase to the Golden...

Heping District

The town of Heping, which administrates the villages and surrounding area, is the gateway to Longsheng's terraced rice fields. Ping'an, about...

Leshan

Leshan is famous for the Great Buddha, carved into the mountainside at the confluence of the Dadu, Qingyi, and Min rivers. The Great Buddha...

Kaili

The capital of the Qian Dongnan Miao and Dong Autonomous Region, Kaili serves as the starting point for a journey to the Miao and Dong villages...

Luzhi

...

Tiger Leaping Gorge

Above a river that winds along for about 16 km (10 miles), this gorge is home to some of China's most breathtaking mountain scenery. The best...

Songpan

Songpan has experienced quite a mini-construction boom over the past decade, with better transport connections and more accommodation options...

Gyantse

With small villages of stone houses beside fields of highland barley, Gyantse feels far removed from Lhasa, although the drive is only about...

Shigatse

Tibet's second-largest city, Shigatse, is the traditional capital of Tsang and home to the Tashilhunpo Monastery, Tibet's largest functioning...

Everest Base Camp

Because it's there," mountaineer George Mallory quipped in 1922 when asked why he wanted to climb the tallest mountain on the planet. The fabled...

Zhouzhuang

...

Stone Forest (Shilin)

This cluster of dark-gray limestone formations, twisted into odd shapes, makes a memorable side trip—it's one of the most interesting sites...

Shegar

There isn't much of anything to see in Shegar—which also goes by the name New Tingri—a town so small that its two intersecting streets don't...

Beijing to Shanghai

Tombs, temples, elegant gardens, and historic water towns are just the beginning of what this extraordinary region has to offer. This is where...

Southwestern China

The southwestern provinces are among the most alluring destinations in the country. This region lays claim to some of the most breathtaking...

Pearl River Delta

History enthusiasts head to Guangzhou, Guangdong Province's ancient capital and the historic center of Cantonese culture. Gourmands flock to...

Eastern China

In Eastern China, the past's rich legacy and the challenges of, and aspirations for, China's future combine in a present that is dizzying in...

The Silk Road

The Silk Road spans from far Western China’s snowcapped mountains, scorching deserts, and glassy lakes to the thriving metropolis that is Xi...

Sichuan and Chongqing

Renowned for spicy, mouth-numbing cuisine, giant pandas, and subtropical rainforests, Sichuan is one of China's most interesting and influential...

Tibet

Tibet is all you've heard and everything you've imagined: a land of intense sunshine and towering snowcapped peaks, where crystal-clear rivers...

Lhasa

The capital of Tibet is a treasure trove of monasteries, palaces, and temples. Geographically, the city is divided into a Chinese Quarter to...

Around Lhasa

Many of Lhasa's best sites are clustered around the city center, but three of the most important are more remote. This trio of monasteries ...

Shexian County

Shexian County has been called a living architectural art museum because of its natural beauty and array of historic buildings. Over the centuries...

Yixian County

...

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