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China Popular Places to Visit

Zhouzhuang

Zhouzhuang is one of the most famous water towns in China. Often referred to as the “Venice of the East,” the town is criss-crossed with rivers and streams lined with ancient houses. Located less than 32 km (20 miles) from Suzhou in east China, Zhouzhuang is famous for its twin bridges, Shide and Yongan that are symbols of the town. A boat ride is a good way to see the city.

Zhouzhuang, China

Lijiang Old Town

Lijiang Old Town is one of Yunnan Province’s top tourist magnets, drawing visitors who want to sample life in a minority area. Kublai Khan was the first emperor to live in this 800-year-old town that is affiliated with the Naxi minority culture. Almost 350 bridges cross canals that meander through the city, which is a good place to see colorful Naxi architecture and residents wearing native costumes.

Lijiang, China

Shilin Stone Forest

The Stone Forest, or Shilin in Chinese, is a set of karst formations in southwest China. The stones jut from the earth similar to the way a stalagmite does in a cave. These stones are thought to be 270 million years old. The area was an ocean floor and the flow of water created the majestic pinnacles. The stone forest receives over 2 million visitors a year.

Shilin, China

Zhangjiajie National Forest Park

Established in 1982, Zhangjiajie National Forest Park is the first national forest park in China and is part of the Wulingyuan Scenic Areas. With its clear streams, weird-looking peaks, wildlife and abundant sub-tropical vegetation, the park is a year-round magnet for visitors. Key attractions include the Golden Whip Stream where visitors can see fish swimming in the crystal-clear water.

Wulingyuan, China

Three Pagodas

Located about a mile northwest of the ancient city of Dali in southern China, The Three Pagodas are one of the best preserved Buddhist structures in China having endured several man-made and natural catastrophes. The middle pagoda, built during 824-840 AD by king Quan Fengyou, is 69.6 meters (227 feet) high and is one of the tallest pagodas in China. The other two pagodas were built about a century later.

Dalian Zhoushuizi, China

Mount Lu

A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996, Lushan National Park, with its centerpiece of Mount Lu, is more than a tourist attraction. It's a cultural and spiritual symbol of China. Upward of 1,500 famed painters and poets from various periods of ancient and modern China -- Li Bai of the Tang Dynasty and Xu Zhimo in 1920s, to name two -- have traveled here to be inspired by Lu. Masterpiece poems are engraved in calligraphy on the mountain cliffs.

The nearest traffic hub is Mount Lu Airport. It's about 10 kilometers away. Major cities connected to Mount Lu Airport by direct flights include Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.

Jiangxi, China

Chengdu Research Base Of Giant Panda Breeding

No visit to China would be complete without at least one panda experience. While the country's top zoos boast many fine specimens of these fascinating creatures, the best place to see them in a close approximation to their natural habitat is at the excellent Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in Chengdu, located in the province of Sichuan. Here, you'll have the chance to watch as many as 80 pandas go about their daily routines, from foraging to playing in the facility's large park-like setting.

In addition to viewing these splendid animals up close, you'll learn a great deal about them from the many permanent exhibits and displays detailing ongoing conservation efforts to safeguard their future. English language tours are available. If possible, try to time your visit for the morning feeding sessions when the pandas are at their most active.

Chengdu Shuangliu, China

The Summer Palace

An easy 15-kilometer commute from Beijing, the sumptuous Imperial Summer Palace (Yíhé Yuán) is set amid more than 700 acres of beautiful parkland and is one of China's most visited attractions. While the palace itself was built in 1153, its large lake was added in the 14th century to enhance the Imperial Gardens. Highlights include the magnificent Hall of Well-being and Longevity (Renshou Dian) with its throne, and the beautiful Great Theatre, a private three-story structure built in 1891 to satisfy the imperial family's love of opera and still used for performances of traditional Chinese plays and musical events. 

Other highlights include the Hall of Happiness and Longevity (Le Shou Tang Hall), with its lovely gardens and courtyards, as well as many miles of picturesque pathways and walking trails. If time allows, try to also take in the ruins of the Old Summer Palace, said to have once been one of the country's most elaborate and architecturally attractive palaces.

Beijing, China

Yalong Bay

Hainan delivers the best tropical setting in China. Yalong Bay is the pinnacle of this beach getaway. The 7.5-kilometer crescent beach is the most popular and developed stretch of Hainan's southern coastline.

It provides all the quintessential experiences of a Southeast Asian holiday and is a haven for water sports warriors, including surfers who sometimes ride uncrowded waves all day.

If you visit in July, August, October or during Spring Festival, you'll be surrounded by Chinese families, mostly sporting old-school swimsuits.

Yalong Bay is 28 kilometers southeast of Sanya. Sanya Airport operates flights to all major Chinese cities, as well as nine international cities including Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Seoul.

Hainan, China

Huangguoshu Waterfall

The highest waterfall in Asia, majestic Huangguoshu "Yellow Fruit Tree" Waterfall plunges a dramatic 77.8 meters across a 101-meter-wide span.

It's one of a handful of mammoth waterfalls in the world that's accessible for viewing from almost any angle -- from above, below, front, back, left or right. The best visiting season is June to August, when the water reaches a peak flow of 700 cubic meters per second. The nearest traffic hub to Huangguoshu Waterfall is Huangguoshu Airport. It's about six kilometers away. Major cities connected to Huangguoshu by direct flights include Beijing and Guangzhou.

Huangguoshu, China