Top 10 China Landmarks
China is a country where the hottest deserts sit alongside the highest mountains. A country where the thousand-year-old traditions welcome technological modernity, and the bustle of large cities spill over into the most remote countryside.
Visiting China was, for me, a unique experience, generating new ideas and quick to awaken me to the world and its diversity.
So what are the best places to visit in China?. In this guide, I take you with me to a country that will not leave you indifferent!
My Top 10 unmissable landmarks in China
1) The Great wall of China
How not start this list of the best places to visitin China by telling you about one of the wonders of the modern world.
The Great Wall of China, this gigantic construction spans morethan 21196 km; it starts from the north of Beijing and extends to the Gobi Desert.
The most extensive human-made construction spanned two millennia and claimed the lives of more than 10 million people.
For several decades, the Great Wall of China protected the local population from barbarian invasions.
The wall was then abandoned for a long time before being renovated following its classification as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and its designation as one of the 7 Wonders of the Modern World.
There are hundreds of possibilities to visit the Great Wall of China. But it is not easy to find a place that is easily accessible while not being overrun by mass tourism.
The most famous section for visiting the Great Wall is called Badaling. It is a section located about 80km north of Beijing, making it a popular destination for day trips from the capital.
2) Temple of Heaven
Designed according to the systematic principles of Confucian thought, the Temple of Heaven is another one of the best places to visit in China. The temple was built in 1420 when the Ming Empire designated Beijing as its capital.
The location of the park and its colors symbolize the interaction between Heaven and Earth.
The temple’s purpose was to have a symbolic place where the emperor (considered the Son of Heaven at the time) could conductits ceremonies.
In 1998, the Temple of Heaven was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In addition to this, the temple layout symbolizes the Chinese belief that Earth is square and Heaven is round.
But deep down, it is more than a temple; it is a 272-hectare park that houses five temples, one echo wall, and around 4000 trees 800 years old.
The site is very popular with the locals. You will often find retirees who come hereto do their daily tai chi, play cards or walkin the park.
The ideal visit to the Temple of Heaven is by entering from the South Gate and then exiting through the East Gate.
It will allow you to take the same road as that already taken by the emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties during the annual ceremonies.
3) Leshan Giant Budha
What about visiting the largest stone Buddha in the world?. This colossal statue is carved into the rock of the cliff of Mount Lingyunet and took nearly a century to complete.
The sculpture dates from 1200 and is 71 meters high and 28 meters wide. The Giant Buddha of Leshan was created thanks to Hai Tong, a monk who wanted to protect the sailors taking the journey ofthe three rivers (Dadu, Qingyi, and Minjiang).
In 1996, this giant sculpture was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is worthy of being one of the best places to visit in China.
Additionally, by visiting the Giant Buddha of Leshan, you can also access the Emei Bridge Park, Leshan’s green lung, where you will find other Buddhas.
4) Potala Castle - Tibet
The Potala Castle – Tibet is the most famous religious and administrative fortress in Tibet. Located on Marpo Ri Hill 130 meters above the Lhasa valley, the Potala Castle is undoubtedly the most majestic and monumental structure in this region.
The castle dates from the Songtsen Gampo era, the king of Tibet, in the 12th century. In the beginning, the Potala Castle served as a symbol for the marriage of King Gampo with the Chinese princess Wencheng.
Ravaged by a violent fire in the 9th century, the Potala Castle – Tibet was rebuilt and enlarged by Lobsang Gyatso, the 5th Dalai Lama of Tibet.
Today, Potala Castle is one of the best places to visit in China. It serves as the residence of the Dalai Lamas and, at the same time, the seat of the Tibetan government.
This vast mansion has 13 floors with more than 1,000 rooms, 200,000 statues, and 10,000 sanctuaries. You have to climb about 400 steps; then, you find a series of stairs broken by gently sloping intervals.
5) TianAnmen Square (Beijing)
TianAnmen Square or Heavenly Peace Gate Square is a massive square in the heart of Beijing. Tiananmen Square is the largest square globally, with 440,000 m2, and one of the best places to visit in China.
Once there, I felt tiny as the distances are enormous. Formerly, the emperor received an order from Heaven in this square to restore and maintain peace in China.
Then, in the Qing Dynasty, Emperor Shunzhi decided to open the square to the general public for them to attend all the major celebrations.
The site is also famous for the tragic event of what is known as the “TianAnmen Square Massacre” of 1989, where the Chinese military killed a group of students and workers for protesting against the government.
Today, TianAnmen Square notably hosts Mao’s mausoleum, as well as flags everywhere. Additionally, you can cross a bridge spanning the golden water river in front of the square toaccess the site.
6) The Forbidden City
To be in front of the Forbidden City seemed like adream so much the place is mythical. This magnificent building has been located in the heart of Beijing since the 15th century.
The Forbidden City served as an imperial residence forboth Ming and Qing dynasties.
You should know that it is much more than a palace, it is a real small town that is undoubtedly one of the best places to visit in China. But why is it called the Forbidden City?
Its name comes from the fact that entry into the city was strictly prohibited to any foreigner at ancient times. The construction of this building began in 1406.
The palace was built according to the principles of Feng Shui by combining the modern techniques of the time and the aesthetics of traditional Chinese architecture.
Once inside, visit the Outer Court, the official part of the palace where the emperor exercised his supreme power.
Next, make your way to the inner courtyard, considered the private space of the royal family. Additionally, you will find that the yellow color reigns in the Forbidden City as it symbolizes power and the royal family.
7) The Terracotta Army
The Terracotta Army is a must-see gem and one of the best places to visit in China.
They are, in fact, representations of the army of Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi, the unifier of the Chinese Empire. The elders of that time believed that before dying, a person could take things with him.
Therefore, the emperor decided to take with him a terracotta army made up of soldiers with weapons and horse-drawn carriages to protecthim in the afterlife.
It is said that over 700,000 people worked on this project. The crafts men of the time had given themselves to their heart’s content by producing life-size statues and varying the details of faces or costumes, thus making each warrior unique.
Overtime, the existence of this Terracotta Army was forgotten.
The metals rusted, the wood rotted, the ceiling sagged, and many of these warriors fell apart. However, in 1974, the Terracotta Army was discovered. Today, the tourist site covers an area of 20,000m².
The Terracotta Army includes several graves, the tomb of Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi, and a museum.
8) The Giant Panda base - Chengdu
Do you dream of spending a day with the pandas? Well, then it is possible in China! If you visit the Giant Panda base, you will have the chance to meet this adorable animal and volunteer on the site as a panda keeper for a whole day.
The Giant Panda base is located about twenty kilometers from the city of Chengdu.
The site is home to around fifty giant pandas and red pandas. Be aware that you can visit the base and volunteer throughout the year as the giant pandas do not hibernate.
Additionally, if visit during summer, you may witness the birth of a baby Panda. It is your only chance to see a pink panda before it turns black and white.
9) Ming Tombs
Ming Tombs, a Ming Dynasty graveyard, is one of the best places to visit in China. It is averitable royal arena located in the closed basin of Mount Yanshan near the capital.
The Ming Tombs house the bodies of the royal family of the Ming dynasty and many treasures. Within the cemetery, you will find majestic statues that line both sides of the sacred way.
You will also admire 12 honorable statues of Mandarin warriors and 12 figures of fantastic animals. Additionally, do not hesitate to see the pavilion of the graveyard, which has on all four corners white marble pillars carved with patterns in the shape of dragons and clouds.
10) Jokhang Temple and Barkhor Street - Lhasa (Tibet)
The list of the best places to visit in China wouldn’t be complete without Jokhang Temple, the first Buddhist temple built in Tibet (Lhasa), and Barkhor Street, an area of narrow streets that lead to a public square.
For several centuries now, Jokhang Temple has served as Lhasa’s spiritual heart and place of pilgrimage. Formerly, the pilgrims went up the path of Barkhor to reach the temple of Jokhang. Within the temple, you can see many worshipers praying.
Additionally, the temple houses numerous statues spread over four floors adorned in gold. Moreover, on the second floor, you can admire the magnificent roof and the sculptures covered with gold leaf.
China has always been a world apart for me. This legendary country continues to attract tourists worldwide with its blend of futuristic modernity and ancient buildings and traditions.
So what are you waiting for to marvel at the best places to visit in China ?!