Beijing to Shanghai

We’ve compiled the best of the best in Beijing to Shanghai - browse our top choices for the top things to see or do during your stay.

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  • 1. Huangshan

    Eastern China's most impressive natural landscape, Yellow Mountain's peaks thrust upward through rolling seas of clouds, spindly pines clinging precipitously to their sides. It was...

    Eastern China's most impressive natural landscape, Yellow Mountain's peaks thrust upward through rolling seas of clouds, spindly pines clinging precipitously to their sides. It was a favorite retreat of emperors and poets past, and its vistas have inspired some of China's most outstanding artworks and literary endeavors. So beguiling were they that centuries of labor went into constructing the paths and stone stairways, some ascending gently through virgin forest, others sharp and steep. Since 1990, the area has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.The common English translation—Yellow Mountain—is misleading. Huangshan is not a single mountain but a range of peaks stretching across four counties. To complicate matters, the name is not a reference to color. The region was originally called the "Black Mountains," but a Tang Dynasty emperor renamed it to honor Huangdi, the Yellow Emperor. And according to legend, it was from these slopes that he rode off to heaven on the back of a dragon.The mountain is renowned for its gnarled stone formations, many sporting fanciful names to describe their shape. Some will require a stretch of the imagination, while others will leap out at you on first glance. Generations of Chinese poets and travelers have humanized these peaks and forests in this way, and left their mark on the area. Be forewarned: Huangshan has its own weather. More than 200 days a year, precipitation obscures the famous views. It can be sunny below, but in the mountains it's damp and chilly. That said, even on the foggiest of days the wind is likely to part the mist long enough to offer a satisfactory glimpse of the famous peaks.

    China

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Mar.–Nov., Y300; Dec.–Feb., Y150, Open 24 hrs
  • 2. Humble Administrator's Garden

    More than half of Suzhou's largest garden is occupied by ponds and lakes. The garden was built in 1509 by Wang Xianjun, an official dismissed...

    More than half of Suzhou's largest garden is occupied by ponds and lakes. The garden was built in 1509 by Wang Xianjun, an official dismissed from the imperial court. He chose the garden's name from a Tang Dynasty line of poetry reading "humble people govern," perhaps a bit of irony considering the magnificent scale of his private residence. In the warmer months the pond overflows with fragrant lotuses and the garden fills with tourists. Seek out the tiny museum near the exit for an informative display on the aesthetic differences between Chinese and Western garden design.

    178 Dongbei Jie, Suzhou, Jiangsu, 215002, China

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Mid-Apr.–Oct., Y90; Nov.–mid-Apr., Y70, Daily 7:30–5:30
  • 3. Master of the Nets Garden

    All elements of Suzhou style are here in precise balance: rocky hillscapes, layered planting, undulating walkways, and charming pavilions overlooking a central pond. Representing mountains,...

    All elements of Suzhou style are here in precise balance: rocky hillscapes, layered planting, undulating walkways, and charming pavilions overlooking a central pond. Representing mountains, rivers, and the four seasons, it's a theme park of sorts, centuries before Walt Disney came along. It's also a fine example of how Chinese garden design creates the illusion of space, since this garden really isn't that big. To avoid the crowds, visit in the evening, when you can saunter from room to room enjoying traditional opera, flute, and dulcimer performances—as the master himself might have done. Evening performances are held from mid-March to mid-November.

    11 Kuo Jia Tou Gang, Suzhou, Jiangsu, 215002, China
    0512-6529–3190

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Mid-Apr.–Oct., Y30; Nov.–mid-Apr., Y20, Daily 7:30–5
  • 4. Ming Tomb

    One of the largest and most important burial mounds in China, this is the final resting place of Emperor Hong Wu, the founder of the...

    One of the largest and most important burial mounds in China, this is the final resting place of Emperor Hong Wu, the founder of the Ming Dynasty. Born a peasant and orphaned at a young age, he became a monk and eventually led the army that overthrew the Yuan Dynasty, making Nanjing his capital in 1368 and building its mighty walls. You approach the tomb along the Spirit Way, flanked by auspicious stone lions, elephants, camels, and mythical beasts. Winding paths make the area around the tomb perfect for strolling.

    Mingling Lu, Nanjing, Jiangsu, 210029, China

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Y70 (includes Plum Blossom Hill and Sun Yat-sen Botanical Park), Daily 8–6
  • 5. Mountain Resort

    Charmed by Chengde's dramatic setting, pleasant climate, and plentiful game, Emperor Kangxi ordered construction of the first palaces of the Mountain Resort in 1703. Within...

    Charmed by Chengde's dramatic setting, pleasant climate, and plentiful game, Emperor Kangxi ordered construction of the first palaces of the Mountain Resort in 1703. Within a decade, this once sleepy settlement boasted dozens of ornate temples, pagodas, and walled grasslands spread out across 1,500 acres. By the end of the 18th century nearly 100 imperial structures had been built, with Chengde becoming the epicenter of Chinese political and cultural life whenever the emperor and his entourage decamped here from Beijing. The Mountain Resort and its surrounding temples were more than just an Imperial retreat, however. Besides luxurious quarters for the emperor and his court, great palaces and temples were constructed to house visiting dignitaries—particularly China's border groups like the Mongols and Tibetans—and to woo them with the might and wealth of the Qing empire. Not forgetting, of course, that the Qing also came from beyond the Great Wall as the pastoral Manchu. The location was useful, as Chengde lay far enough away from Beijing to host talks with border groups who wouldn't otherwise set foot in the capital. From the interconnected palaces, each built in different architectural styles, to the replicas of famous temples representing different Chinese religions and ethnic groups, everything about the resort was designed to reflect China's diversity. In retrospect, it was as much a Qing statement of intent as it was a holiday home. Today, the palace and its walled-off landscape of lakes, grasslands, hills, and forests dominates the center of Chengde. The steep hills in the northern half of the park, crowned by stone walls that resemble the Great Wall, afford beautiful panoramas, as does a slog up the nine-tiered pagoda in the center. Even during peak season (April to October) it rarely feels crowded.

    Center of town, Chengde, Hebei, 067000, China
    0314-202–9771

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Apr.–Oct., Y120; Nov.–Mar., Y90, Apr.–Oct., daily 7–5; Nov.–Mar., daily 7–4:30
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  • 6. Wang's Residence

    This was once one among dozens of private mansions belonging to Yangzhou's prosperous merchant class, but it alone made it through the ravages of the...

    This was once one among dozens of private mansions belonging to Yangzhou's prosperous merchant class, but it alone made it through the ravages of the Cultural Revolution largely intact, thanks to its conversion into a factory. Keep an eye out for the exquisite wood carving, especially the crisscrossing bamboo design carved in layers out of nanmu, a glimmering wood now extinct in this area of China. There's even a bomb shelter in the small inner garden—a reminder of the Japanese invasion.

    14 Di Gong Di, Yangzhou, Jiangsu, 225111, China
    0514-8732–8869

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Y25, Daily 8–5:30
  • 7. Baosheng Temple

    Religious Building/Site/Shrine

    Luzhi is notable for the spectacular Baosheng Temple, a yellow-walled compound built in the year 503 that is famous for its breathtaking collection...

    Luzhi is notable for the spectacular Baosheng Temple, a yellow-walled compound built in the year 503 that is famous for its breathtaking collection of Buddhist arhats. Arranged on a wall of stone, these clay sculptures are the work of Yang Huizhi, a famous Tang Dynasty sculptor. Made more than 1,000 years ago, they depict Buddhist disciples who have gained enlightenment. The temple also features a well-preserved bell from the end of the Ming Dynasty.

    Wenhua Wu , Luzhi, Jiangsu, 215127, China
    0512-6501–0011

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free
  • 8. Baotu Spring Park

    Qing Dynasty Emperor Qianlong proclaimed this the finest of Ji'nan's many natural springs gurgling north from the foothills of Mount Tai. The spring is most...

    Qing Dynasty Emperor Qianlong proclaimed this the finest of Ji'nan's many natural springs gurgling north from the foothills of Mount Tai. The spring is most active after the summer rains, when crowds gather under pavilions to watch it frothing and gushing. The pure water is said to be ideal for making tea; try it out at the Wangheting Teahouse, just east of the spring. A small museum in the park recounts the life of Jinan's most prized poetess Li Qingzhao, who lived near here in the 11th century.

    91 Luoyuan, Ji'nan, Shandong Sheng, 250011, China
    No phone

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Y40, Daily 7 am–9 pm
  • 9. Blue Wave Pavilion

    The oldest existing garden in Suzhou, the Blue Wave Pavilion dates back more than 900 years to the Song Dynasty. With a rambling, maze-like design,...

    The oldest existing garden in Suzhou, the Blue Wave Pavilion dates back more than 900 years to the Song Dynasty. With a rambling, maze-like design, the grounds feel a little wilder than other Suzhou gardens. The central pond is surrounded by a wooden walkway; gaze into the water at the reflection of the upturned eaves of the surrounding buildings. More than 100 different latticework motifs in the windows provide visual variety as you saunter through the covered corridor that winds through the grounds. The Pure Fragrance Pavilion showcases Qing Dynasty furniture at its most extreme; the entire suite is created from gnarled banyan root.

    3 Canlanting Jie, Suzhou, Jiangsu, 215006, China
    0512-6519–4375

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Mid-Apr.–Oct., Y20; Nov.–mid-Apr., Y15, Daily 7:30–5
  • 10. Cloud Valley Temple Cable Car Station

    The Eastern Steps begin at the Cloud Valley Temple Cable Car Station. The cable car takes eight minutes to traverse what takes hikers three or...

    The Eastern Steps begin at the Cloud Valley Temple Cable Car Station. The cable car takes eight minutes to traverse what takes hikers three or more hours. Large windows provide an aerial view of the mountain and bamboo forests below. This area was once home to several monasteries, nunneries, and temples. By the beginning of the 20th century, they had been largely abandoned, but the name Cloud Valley Temple Area remains.

    Close to Cloud Valley Temple, Huangshan, Anhui Sheng, China

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Mar.–Nov., Y80; Dec.–Feb., Y65, Weekdays 6:30–4:30, weekends 6:30–5
  • 11. Confucian Forest

    Confucius and his descendants have been buried in this tree-shaded cemetery for the past 2,000 years. Surrounded by a 10-km (6-mile) wall, Confucian Forest has...

    Confucius and his descendants have been buried in this tree-shaded cemetery for the past 2,000 years. Surrounded by a 10-km (6-mile) wall, Confucian Forest has more than 100,000 pine and cypress trees, jostling for space with burial mounds, grave stones, and statues commemorating generations of the Kong family.

    Lindao Lu, Qufu, Shandong Sheng, 273100, China

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Y40, Daily 8–5
  • 12. Confucian Temple

    Overlooking the Qinhuai River, a tributary of the Yangtze, a Confucian Temple has stood on this spot for 1,000 years, give or take. The present...

    Overlooking the Qinhuai River, a tributary of the Yangtze, a Confucian Temple has stood on this spot for 1,000 years, give or take. The present incarnation dates from the 1980s, rebuilt a few decades after it was destroyed by the Japanese in 1937. The surrounding area is the city's busiest shopping and entertainment district, festooned with neon at night and packed with tourists. The alleys behind the temple, once home to China's most famous district of courtesans, now house a market and curio shops. Boat rides along the Qinhuai River leave from in front of the temple every evening.

    Zhongshan Lu and Jiankang Lu, Nanjing, Jiangsu, 210029, China

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Y25, Daily 8:30–6
  • 13. Confucius Family Mansion

    Beside the east wall of the Confucius Temple is the Confucius Family Mansion. A fascinating collection of stately abodes and gardens, it dates from the...

    Beside the east wall of the Confucius Temple is the Confucius Family Mansion. A fascinating collection of stately abodes and gardens, it dates from the 16th century and illustrates the wealth and glory once enjoyed by Confucius's descendants. When the Kong family were in residence, the mansion would have been heavily guarded; trespassing was punishable by death. The tallest structure here is the four-story "refuge tower," which the family could flee to in times of trouble.

    Banbi Jie, Qufu, Shandong Sheng, 273000, China

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Y60, Daily 8–5
  • 14. Confucius Temple

    Within Qufu's restored city walls, the sprawling Confucius Temple comprises 66 buildings spread across more than 50 acres, making this one of the largest palace...

    Within Qufu's restored city walls, the sprawling Confucius Temple comprises 66 buildings spread across more than 50 acres, making this one of the largest palace complexes from Imperial China. Like the Forbidden City, built 80 years earlier, its colonnaded halls and courtyards flow symmetrically along a central axis. The Hall of Great Achievements features mighty pillars entwined with dragons. Seek out the Apricot Platform in front, where it's said Confucius once preached beneath the shade of an apricot tree. September 28, the date of the Great Sage's birthday, is quite the party here.

    Banbi Jie, Qufu, Shandong Sheng, 273100, China

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Y90, Daily 8–5
  • 15. Da Ming Temple

    Built 1,600 years ago, the Da Ming Temple is one of the more interesting Buddhist shrines in Eastern China. The main attraction is a memorial...

    Built 1,600 years ago, the Da Ming Temple is one of the more interesting Buddhist shrines in Eastern China. The main attraction is a memorial to Tang Dynasty monk Jian Zhen, who traveled to Japan to spread the teachings of Buddha. It took the determined missionary six attempts to cross the East China Sea, and it cost him his eyesight. For refreshment, seek out the still-flowing Fifth Spring Under Heaven in the temple grounds. The water's high mineral content means it's great for tea, which you can sip in a small teahouse.

    8 Pingshan Tang Lu, Yangzhou, Jiangsu, 225111, China
    0514-8734–0720

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Y45, Daily 7:45–5
  • 16. Daming Lake

    Fed by artesian springs and garlanded by vivid banks of willows, Daming Lake has been inspiring Chinese poets and writers for 1,500 years. Surrounded by...

    Fed by artesian springs and garlanded by vivid banks of willows, Daming Lake has been inspiring Chinese poets and writers for 1,500 years. Surrounded by temples, pavilions, and leafy walkways, it's a pleasant spot for a stroll. There's a teahouse on top of the 50-meter tall pagoda on the island in the east of the lake. Climb up for pleasant views of Thousand Buddha Hill on clear days.

    Daming Hu Lu, Ji'nan, Shandong Sheng, 250011, China
    No phone

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free, Daily 6:30–6
  • 17. Drum Tower

    First built in 1382, the Drum Tower (Gulou in Chinese) gives the central city district its name. In ancient times, drums housed inside were used...

    First built in 1382, the Drum Tower (Gulou in Chinese) gives the central city district its name. In ancient times, drums housed inside were used to signal important events, from the changing of the night's watch to an enemy attack or the even greater threat of fire. Today just one drum remains.

    1 Dafang Xiang, Nanjing, Jiangsu, 210029, China
    025-8663–1059

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Y20, 8:30 –5
  • 18. Eight Passes

    Named after the Great Wall's eight strategic passes, this scenic area lies in-between Taiping and the Huiquan Cape. Sometimes referred to as "Little Switzerland," the...

    Named after the Great Wall's eight strategic passes, this scenic area lies in-between Taiping and the Huiquan Cape. Sometimes referred to as "Little Switzerland," the grounds of more than 200 European-style villas are landscaped with pine, ginkgo, and peach trees. The serene No. 2 bathing beach and Granite Mansion are also here.

    Juyongguan Lu, Qingdao, Shandong Sheng, China
  • 19. First Gate Under Heaven

    The first heavy fortification along the Great Wall as it runs inland from the ocean, this mighty four-sided citadel guards the strategic Shanhai pass ("Shanhaiguan"...

    The first heavy fortification along the Great Wall as it runs inland from the ocean, this mighty four-sided citadel guards the strategic Shanhai pass ("Shanhaiguan" in Chinese), around which the original town grew. Patrolling the battlements you can glimpse the Great Wall snaking up the sides of nearby mountains and grasp just how intimidating a barrier this must have presented to potential invaders. Not that it worked—the Manchus overran it in 1644, ultimately bringing down the Ming Dynasty.

    Diyiguan Lu, Shanhaiguan, Hebei, 066200, China
    0335-505–1106

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Y50, includes admission to Great Wall Museum, Daily 7:30–6:30
  • 20. Garden Tomb of Puhaddin

    Although largely ignored by domestic tourists, the tomb of Puhaddin is a reminder of the city's Islamic influences. It faces the Grand Canal, from where...

    Although largely ignored by domestic tourists, the tomb of Puhaddin is a reminder of the city's Islamic influences. It faces the Grand Canal, from where you climb a stairway to a graveyard of marble-slab headstones. Toward the back, a garden with a charming pavilion reveals both Persian and Chinese design elements.

    167 Wenchang Zhong Lu, Yangzhou, Jiangsu, 225111, China

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Y15, Daily 7:30–4:30

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