China is the mysterious giant of the East. With so much of its great and vast history spent with closed borders, its unique culture and diverse landscape are truly a secret that is waiting for visitors to discover. From the ancient world to the modern-day, there are many exciting attractions and world-famous landmarks that make it the perfect destination for any traveler. Here are just 10 of the many reasons why China should be added to every nomad’s wish list.
10. Experience the Unique Culture
One of the most amazing parts of China can be seen no matter where you go. The rich and vibrant culture of the Chinese people is an experience in itself. With so much emphasis on saving face—or not shaming one another in public—yet no thought spared for spitting, belching or staring, the Chinese could not be more different in their etiquette. It’s worth doing a bit of research before you go, but it truly is a breath of fresh air for any traveler once there.
9. Check Off the Great Wall
It may seem touristy to some, but the Great Wall of China is one of the wonders of the world, and seeing it in person is an opportunity that should not be missed! There are several sections of the wall still intact, and many tours are available from Beijing to guide the way. For the more adventurous, visiting the Wild Great Wall offers a chance to get further out into the countryside and see this incredible monument on the beautiful backdrop of rural China.
8. See the Endangered Pandas
The number of pandas around the world have been reducing rapidly over the last hundred years, and as heartbreaking as it is to say, they may not be around much longer. China is one of the last places you can see the endangered pandas in their natural habitat, so it’s more than worth taking the time to do so while you still can. There are also several conservation programs that travelers can volunteer for if you want to help make a difference.
7. Explore the Palaces
With a long line of emperors and a tendency toward intricacy and extravagance, China is home to some of the most spectacular palaces in the world. The Forbidden City in Beijing has been made a UNESCO World Heritage site, and its conversion into a museum makes it a great place to learn about the dynasty that built it. Similarly, the Summer Palace offers scenic views and peaceful strolls around its grounds and is an experience that should not be missed.
6. Bask in Its Natural Beauty
The vast and varied Chinese countryside is an experience in itself no matter where you go, but one of the places where you can experience it at its best is Jiuzhaigou National Park. The 72,000 hectares is a wonderland of lakes, greenery, waterfalls and wildlife. The breathtaking multitude of color and nature is a truly unique experience and not worth passing up for anyone!
5. Enjoy the Food
Chances are, most visitors to China will have indulged in Chinese takeout at least once in their life. However, nothing can compare to the authentic real thing. For the bravest foodies out there, street markets offer a range of local delicacies, including chicken feet, fried insects and even cooked seahorse! You can also play it safe with the vast choice of noodle dishes and western favorites such as Peking Duck and Chow Mein.
4. Witness the History
As one of the most ancient civilizations still around today, there are plenty of historical landmarks dotted around China that stand as true testimony to the awesome power of its ancient empire. The terracotta army in Xi’an is an astonishing archaeological discovery that was uncovered in 1974. The carefully carved sculptures of over 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots and 671 horses were excavated. The army is said to have been built to protect the first emperor and was an indescribably astounding feat to have been achieved during his short time on the throne.
3. Marvel at the Many Buddhas
As a traditionally Buddhist country, the myriad of Buddha statues, in temples and palaces and even houses, is astounding. Visit The Giant Buddha of Leshan, who’s face and body have been carved out of the cliff itself or the Grand Buddha at Ling Shang, one of the largest in the country. No matter where you go, you’re bound to see at least a few. Their prevalence is a beautiful testimony to the unshakeable faith of the Chinese people.
2. Ponder the Politics
It’s no secret that China has a turbulent political history. With a strong communist leanings and a number of controversial historical tragedies—such as the massacre of protesters on Tiananmen Square in 1989—many find this seemingly oppressive system alien to such a fast-developing country. Although it’s not advisable to strike up conversations on the topic, visiting and experiencing the way of life will take you a lot closer to understanding. If you do want to learn more about the facts, be sure to have a Virtual Private Network installed on your device as the internet is heavily censored and search terms surround the 1989 incident and those like it are blocked.
It’s not just ancient China that has earned it a permanent position in the history books. In 2009, Beijing hosted the Olympics and once again returned to the international stage. The Olympic park is now open for the public and offers a great day out. With several garden walks, a look-out tower, numerous sports and activity centers and a science and technology museum, it’s a worthwhile trip for any visitor.
Is there anything else that you think needs to be on this list? Or have you had experience with something already mentioned? Be sure to share your comments below!
I would like to thank Renate for publishing this article. Her site is a great place for travel tips and inspiration for aspiring bloggers. After reading this I suggest you check out 10 reasons you should visit Karpathos, where she works as a tour guide, for some amazing insights into that region of Greece!