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Top 10 China Destinations for First Time Travelers

To save your time and energy and allow the best value for your money, we carefully selected the top 10 China destinations and the most popular tour packages, in the hope of guiding international travelers especially the first-time visitors to better plan their vacation.

Top 10 China Destinations

Beijing - Imperial Capital and First Choice

Beijing - Imperial Capital and First Choice
Beijing, the capital of the country for over 850 years, is the first choice of international travelers. A perfect combination of classic elegance and modernity, it is the best China tourist destination to give you a comprehensive understanding of the country.

You can wander around the crimson Forbidden City to feel the dignity of the city; or you can stroll along the crisscrossing hutongs and immerse in every day local life. There is an old saying among Chinese people: One who fails to reach the Great Wall is not a true hero. Badaling Great Wall to the north of downtown Beijing is the best preserved section. You should be sure to put it on your must-see list.

By contrast, the mushrooming skyscrapers, bustling shopping streets, first-class museums, and grand Olympic venues all make you feel the modern charm of this mega capital.

 Recommended Tour:  8 Days China Tour to Beijing, Xi'an, Shanghai

Shanghai - Sleepless International Metropolis

Shanghai - Sleepless International Metropolis
Different from the profound heritage that Beijing holds, Shanghai shows visitors an overwhelmingly metropolitan atmosphere. Being the second top tourist destination in China, it is considered the center of the country's commerce and fortune, and titled the 'shoppers' paradise'.

The colonial history left Shanghai with a unique landscape. You can see clusters of classical western-style architectures on the Bund, the top waterfront sightseeing belt along the Huangpu River, the mother river of Shanghai. Across the river, Lujiazui Financial Zone is totally a different sight. The high-rise Oriental Pearl Tower, World Financial Center, and Jin Mao Tower stretch upwards to form one of the world's most splendid skylines.

The night view of Shanghai is like a splendid sea of lights. Flashing neon lights, elegant streetlights and ever moving headlights, they all infuse a bit of romance into this sleepless city.

 Recommended Tour:  Shanghai 3 Days Tour Itinerary from $439

Xi'an - Splendor of Ancient Oriental Civilization

If you want to feel the history of China over the past 1,000 years, you can go to Beijing; however if you want to delve into the 5,000 years' history of this ancient oriental land, Xi'an is the best travel destination in China.

As one of the four major capitals of ancient civilization (together with Athens, Cairo and Rome), Xi'an is the home of Chinese civilization. The renowned Silk Road starts from here, stretching through west China to the Mediterranean.

Over 7,000 years' history including 1,100 years as the ancient capital has endowed Xi'an with abundant historical sites. You can feel the power of the Qin Dynasty (221 - 207 BC), that once ruled the nation, in Terracotta Army Museum. Or, you can cycle along the ancient City Wall to overlook the whole city. Climbing up the Big Wild Goose Pagoda and enjoying the splendid music fountain is also a distinctive experience.

 Recommended Tour:  Xi'an Mini Group Day Tour To Terracotta Army from $119

Guilin - Top Karst Wonderland

Guilin - Top Karst Wonderland
Guilin, a peaceful city lying in the hilly southwest area of the country, is among the top China destinations for her extraordinary natural scenery. The unique karst landscape with four features, namely green hills, clear water, fantastic caves, and oddly-shaped rocks, has made it a reputable tourist resort since the old days.

Embraced by undulating hills with varied shapes, Guilin is traversed by the picturesque Li River. The winding watercourse from Guilin to Yangshuo is the prettiest part. Peaks along the river form the largest karst landscape in the world. Canoeing on the rippling river with lush bamboo groves on the banks is like being inside an endless landscape painting scroll. After disembarking in Yangshuo, a hike or cycle ride in the idyllic countryside is highly recommended.

 Recommended Tour:  Guilin 3 Days Tour from $409

Chengdu - Hometown of Giant Pandas

Chengdu - Hometown of Giant Pandas
Visiting the lovely giant pandas must be on everyone's to-do list when planning a tour of the best china travel destinations. Many cities have zoos with enclosures for pandas, but the best place to get up close with them is Chengdu for sure! You can see pandas in Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding or Ya'an Bifengxia Base. If you want closer contact with them, Panda Base in Dujiangyan should fulfill your dream. You are allowed to be photographed holding a panda and to volunteer caring for them.

Visiting Chengdu is also a feast for your appetite. Jinli Street should be the best place to have a taste of the well-known Sichuan food. Not only can you eat to your heart's content there, but also enjoy the cozy lifestyle.

 Recommended Tour:  Chengdu 3 Days Tour Itinerary from $259

Hong Kong - Shining Pearl of the Orient

Hong Kong - Shining Pearl of the Orient
Hong Kong, a dynamic metropolis in Asia, is famed as one of the 'Four Asian Tigers' for its developed economy. Owning the title as the Pearl of the Orient, it is the world's third most important financial center after New York and London. It is also reputable for being the Shoppers' Paradise.

The former colonial background allows diverse cultures to mix there, making Hong Kong the epitome of the world with a distinctive cityscape. Under the night sky, the colorful lights turn the city into a shining palace. You can taste the night by ordering a cup of wine in Lan Kwai Fong in Central, or take the tram to Victoria Peak to overlook the fascinating Victoria Bay, whose brilliant scenery is known as 'the night scene worth millions of dollars' An evening cruise in the harbor is yet another way to observe the city's fantastic night sky.

 Recommended Tour:  Hong Kong One Day Tours from $132

Tibet - Holy Site of Buddhism

Tibet - Holy Site of Buddhism
Tibet, a mysterious southwest China destination with a high altitude over 13,100 ft (4,000 m), boasts unique plateau landscape and solemn religious atmosphere.

As the home of Tibetan Buddhism, the trip to Tibet can be likened to a pilgrimage. The magnificent Potala Palace is revered as a holy site by the Tibetan Buddhists. The Jokhang Temple receives countless pilgrims every day. You can see pious pilgrims prostrating all their way to the temple. You can also experience the Tibetan customs wandering around the Barkhor Street in Lhasa.

With 79 peaks above the altitude of 19,685 ft (6,000 m) and abundant highland lakes, Tibet attracts hundreds of thousands of adventurers. Itching to conquer the 'Roof of the World'? Come to explore the Earth's highest Mt. Everest!

 Recommended Tour:  11-Day Tour to Beijing, Xi'an, Lhasa, Shanghai from $2897

Guangzhou - Vigorous World Trading Center

Guangzhou - Vigorous World Trading Center
Guangzhou is one of the developed and the most visited tourist destinations. As the major port of the ancient Maritime Silk Road, it has shown its economic influence as the country's south gate since the 3rd century. Booming manufacturing industry and steady growth on trading markets make it one of the best best destinations in china for international traders. Guangzhou is the permanent host place of Canton Fair, the largest trade fair in China.

Besides a business center, the city with 2,200 years' history retains many historical sites for sightseeing, such as Ancestral Temple of the Chen Family and Bright Filial Piety Temple. A night cruise on the Pearl River is an unforgettable experience. When the city is lit up, the dazzling Canton Tower on the south bank of the river will definitely impress you.

 Recommended Tour:  3 Days Guangzhou City Tour from $279

Hangzhou - Heaven on Earth

Hangzhou - Heaven on Earth
If you compare Hangzhou as a person, it must be as an elegant young lady. The eyes of the lady lie in the West Lake. There are many moving love stories based around the lake in downtown Hangzhou, giving this city a romantic feeling. Early in the Yuan Dynasty (1271 - 1368), this cozy city was praised by Marco Polo, the famous Italian traveler, as the most beautiful and luxurious city in the world, with abundant products including silk and tea.

Nowadays, this city with its heavenly natural beauty is not only a top China destination for tourists, but also the birthplace of China's E-commerce. With prosperous light industry and a solid IT talents base, it hosts the headquarters of several large online shopping companies.

 Recommended Tour:  3 Days Hangzhou Tour

Sanya - Best China Destination for Seaside Holiday

Sanya - Best Seaside Holiday Resort
Sanya, with an average temperature of 79°F (26°C), is a top resort on China's southeast golden coastline. Boasting the finest air quality and the most beautiful seascape in the country, it is the best choice for those who get tired of the fast pace of the modern city. Asian Dragon Bay and Sanya Bay offer a great swimming, snorkeling and diving experience, and also you can try surfing or riding a jet-ski. Here you can sunbathe on the soft beach or have a rest in the shade of lush tropical plants. Whatever you fancy, you just follow your own pace.

Sanya is also a dreamlike dating and honeymoon destination. There is never a lack of lovers along the sea shore. As you wander along the beach with your loved one, while viewing the amazing sunset, the experience will remain with you forever as a romantic memory.

 Recommended Tour:  5 Days Haikou Sanya Tour

Further Reading:

10 Most Famous Landmarks in China

10 Famous Places in China with Rising Popularity over the Web

- Last updated on Jun. 13, 2022 -
Questions & Answers on Top 10 China Destinations for First Time Travelers
Asked by Mila from MALAYSIA | Dec. 11, 2019 00:00Reply
What are the best itinerary in Guangzhou for 3 days visit
Answers (2)
Answered by John from GERMANY | Dec. 11, 2019 19:18

You can arrange three days in Guangzhou in the following way:
Day 1: Yuexiu Park, Shamian Island, Beijing Road
Day 2: Ancestral Temple of the Chen Family, Museum of the Western Han Dynasty Mausoleum of the Nanyue King
Day 3: Temple of the Six Banyan Trees, Canton Tower, Shangxiajiu Pedestrian Street

Hope helpful!
Answered by T | Jun. 13, 2022 12:02

Yes thank you so much!
Asked by yogi from INDONESIA | Aug. 05, 2019 03:48Reply
I plan to visit zhangjiajie, could you adv famous town near zhangjiajie ?
Answers (1)
Answered by Chole from USA | Aug. 07, 2019 19:50

The most popular town near Zhangjiajie might be Fenghuang Old City.
Asked by Mary from USA | May. 31, 2019 05:58Reply
What destination do you recommend for nature/animals and birds in wild?
Will be in Hong Kong and Guangzhou in November
Answers (1)
Answered by Nate from USA | Jun. 02, 2019 19:51

It is recommended to go to Guangzhou Changlong safari park because of various wild animals and wonderful natural beauty.
Asked by Sydney from USA | Mar. 19, 2019 06:24Reply
Xi'an Weather in July
Do I need more than an umbrella? I read that it’s in the rainy season in July. How is the shopping? Any specific areas you’d recommend?
Answers (1)
Answered by Mia from USA | Mar. 19, 2019 20:58

It rains often but the temperature would be also very high based on the previous weather statistics. You are suggested to prepare sun scream. It is good for shopping and the Beiyuanmen Street near the Drum Tower is recommended to buy some special souvenirs.
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