China Landmarks - 30 Most Famous Landmarks in China

19 min read
The sun setting over a famous China landmark, the Great Wall of China
The Great Wall of China is a famous China landmark

Did you know that China is one of the world's most-visited countries? With ancient cities spread across the country, it has a lot to offer to its visitors! From Shanghai to Beijing, there are countless famous landmarks in China that you will enjoy exploring and learning a lot from.

Because China has a rich and old history that dates back over 3,000 years - as early as 1250 BC - it is filled with many ancient China landmarks. Visiting China and experiencing its unique culture and food is also one of the most memorable experiences someone can enjoy on their travels.

If you are not into ancient or historical Asian landmarks, China is recognized today for its modern and natural landmarks too. One of China's largest cities, Shanghai, is well-known for its modern buildings and thriving technology industry. The Oriental Pearl TV Tower, for example, is a popular modern attraction in Shanghai.

But it isn't just human-made, historical or modern landmarks - China has beautiful natural landmarks as well, such as West Lake and Mount Kailash. Continue reading to learn more!

  • 30 landmarks

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China Landmarks Map

Using the map of China, you can explore all the landmarks.

The Great Wall of China on a mountain, one of the most famous landmarks in China
The Great Wall of China, one of the most famous landmarks in China

Great Wall of China, Northern China

The Great Wall of China is a 13,170-mile-long wall and is one of the world's seven wonders. It is also one of the most visited landmarks in China. More than 2,300 years have passed since it was built, making the Great Wall of China a fascinating sight to see for both families and couples.

To enjoy the view of the mountains, I recommend visiting a section of the wall that is walkable still, so you can stroll along and enjoy the scenery.

An exciting event held each year on the Great Wall of China is the Huangyaguan Great Wall Marathon. Snacks and refreshments are handed out, and children from the villages even come to high-five participants!

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The rooftops of the large imperial palace complex in the Forbidden City, China
The Imperial Palace complex in the Forbidden City, Beijing

Forbidden City - The Palace Museum, Beijing

The Forbidden City, now called the Palace Museum, has always been an important part of Beijing. Built in 1420 during the Ming Dynasty, it is the world's largest imperial palace and a must for your Beijing itinerary.

Before you explore any other famous monuments of China, take the time to appreciate the beautiful artwork and historic gardens that this city has to offer. It is family-friendly and attracts over a million visitors each year.

There are audio guides available in multiple languages and gift shops, bookstores, and snacks for you to purchase.

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A city square in Beijing with flags on each end of a building
The noteworthy Tiananmen Square in Beijing

Tiananmen Square, Beijing

Tiananmen Square, located in the heart of Beijing, is a beautiful city square that separates itself from the Forbidden City. Although the Forbidden City is one of China's most famous places, I also recommend visiting Tiananmen Square when in Beijing.

As you venture through Tiananmen Square and the surrounding streets, you will notice many different vendors, from three dollar t-shirt stalls to old tea shops, so take a moment to enjoy this mixture of old and new Chinese culture.

The square changes throughout the day, so you should be thoughtful about when you visit. For example, many prefer to visit at sunrise or sunset since this is when the guards raise and lower the national flag.

Flower beds are also decorated during holidays like National Day and May Day, which could be a good opportunity for you to take some photos.

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The top of a temple in Beijing on a cloudy day
The Temple of Heaven in Beijing

Temple of Heaven, Beijing

This place of worship in Beijing is where the Ming Dynasty's emperors used to hold the Heaven Worship Ceremony, and it was officially opened as a park in 1988. Many recommend coming to the Temple of Heaven, also known as Tiantan in Chinese, since it exhibits ancient philosophy, culture, and history.

Larger than the Forbidden City, the Temple is divided into inner and outer parts. The buildings that visitors tend to find the most fascinating are the Imperial Vault of Heaven, the Circular Mound Altar, and the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest.

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Summer Palace, on a green hill, on a nice day
Summer Palace, Beijing, China

Summer Palace, Beijing

Located in northwest Beijing, the Summer Palace (Yiheyuan in Chinese) is the most well-preserved garden in the world. Although it's just a garden, many tourists and visitors feel the need to spend almost half of their day exploring it!

There are many popular activities that you can spend your time on here, including boating on Kunming Lake, walking along the Long Corridor, and enjoying a live traditional Chinese performance in an ancient theatre. It is also the perfect landmark in China for families, as most like to venture through the gardens and pavilions.

When visiting the Summer Palace, you will find that the serenity and beauty of it are outstanding. The Palace balances water and land, as well as plants and paths, meaning you will love walking through this elegant place.

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The top part of a colorful temple in Beijing
The Lama Temple, Beijing

Lama Temple, Beijing

If you enjoy visiting ancient Chinese temples, then you shouldn't miss the Lama Temple when visiting the best landmarks in China.

Found in Dongcheng District in Beijing, the Lama Temple (Yonghegong) was constructed to face north to south. The temple consists of six important areas; Yonghe Gate Hall, Yonghegong Hall, Yongyou Hall, Falun Hall, Wanfuge Pavilion, and Suicheng Hall. These six halls are connected by seven grand courtyards as well.

The Memorial Archway is also an interesting part of the Lama Temple. You should visit all sections and admire the historical Chinese culture displayed throughout this monument.

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A building at the Beijing Zoo, on a nice day, with a tree on the right
A building at the Beijing Zoo, China

Beijing Zoo, Beijing

Located in the Xicheng District in Beijing, this zoological park was China's first zoo. The Beijing Zoo has 450 different species and 5,000 animals in total and many exhibition halls.

Massive crowds that come to the zoo always love seeing animals like the northeast tigers, giant pandas, milu deer, golden monkeys, and more. There are 16 exhibition areas and halls, and it is a great place to take your children too.

One specific hall that visitors enjoy is the Gorilla Hall. The Gorilla Hall includes artificial hillocks and wooden apparatus, as well as gorilla murals in each habitat. There are also pools and rockeries as decor.

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Water in an artificial lake surrounded by greenery on a nice day
The artificial Houhai Lake in Beijing

Houhai, Beijing

Houhai, which means "Back Lakes," is a big artificial lake in Beijing. It used to belong to the royal family in the Yuan Dynasty, but today, it is open to the public so that everyone can feel like royalty.

Houhai contains traditional buildings and courtyards as well, where you can explore the old hutongs (narrow alleys) and even visit the former homes of celebrities.

There is also a famous bar street in Hou Hai, where people go to enjoy China's nightlife. While the bars aren't huge, many people seem to be attracted to them. Two well-known bars are Zoom Club and Houhai No. 5.

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The top of a temple in a park with a bird flying above
The top floors of a temple at Jingshan Park

Jingshan Park, Beijing

Just north of the Forbidden City in Beijing is another famous landmark in China, Jingshan Park. Jingshan Park (Jingshan Gongyuan) was built in 1179 during the Jin Dynasty and covers 23 hectares. The park is focused around “Prospect Hill,” an artificial hill created at the park's center and houses a temple.

From the temple at the top of the hill, visitors can gaze over the nearby Forbidden City. The park has more to offer than just great views, though; it is well maintained and features several well-manicured Chinese gardens with various local fauna.

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A beautiful and serene green garden with water and a building in Shanghai
The beautiful Yu Garden, Shanghai

Yu Garden, Shanghai

Yu Garden is considered a must-see attraction in China. Located in Shanghai, it dates back to the Ming Dynasty and is over 400 years in age.

Well-known for its classical art and carvings, this garden is a stunning area to take pictures. There is also a market called Yuyuan Bazaar, with lots of stores and Chinese architecture as well as snack shops.

The Wanhua Chamber, Sansui Hall, Cuixiu Hall, Great Rockery, and Exquisite Jade Rock are places in the Yu Garden you should check out too.

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Bird's-eye view of a popular waterfront area in Shanghai filled with buildings
The Bund waterfront area in Shanghai

The Bund (Waitan), Shanghai

The Bund (or Waitan), located in Shanghai, is a delightful waterfront area with buildings and amazing views of skyscrapers. If you are a history or photography lover, then this place is a must-visit when exploring China's landmarks.

When visiting The Bund, popular entertainment options include walking and seeing the nighttime view, taking a cruise, and snapping tons of pictures. You'll need to spend at least an hour touring the area to appreciate the incredible scenery.

Huangpu Park is also the perfect destination when wanting to take a relaxing break. It is located between The Bund and shopping areas, and the greenery that the park offers stands out from the rest of Shanghai!

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People walking along a busy road lined with buildings
The bustling Nanjing Road in Shanghai

Nanjing Road, Shanghai

Shanghai is famous for its energy, modern architecture, and bustling energy, and is easily one of the best places to visit in China. The heart of it can be felt on Nanjing Road (Nanjing Lu). The eastern part of the road is the busiest. Nanjing Road is actually one of the world’s busiest - often, it is compared to Fifth Avenue and Times Square in New York.

The shopping precinct of Nanjing Road is about 6 kilometers long, and it attracts close to a million visitors each day. Along the road, you can find many small local Chinese shops selling various trinkets and souvenirs, and also major international brands, such as Louis Vuitton and Gucci.

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A panoramic view of an observation deck high above a city
The top of the Shanghai World Financial Center, Shanghai

Shanghai World Financial Center, Shanghai

At 492 meters and 101 stories tall, the Shanghai World Financial Center is the world's 12th tallest building. The tower is one of China's and Shanghai's most prominent landmarks.

Tourists can visit the tower and travel up to the 100th floor. The viewpoint at the top of the building allows tourists to enjoy an undisturbed 360-degree panoramic view of Shanghai.

While the view does not leave anyone disappointed, choose your day carefully. Like most cities in China, smog can sometimes take over, so pick a relatively clear day to make the most of the view. This is just one of the many important things to keep in mind before visiting China.

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A TV tower from afar with buildings in the back and roads in the front
The Oriental Pearl Tower, Shanghai, China

Oriental Pearl TV Tower, Shanghai

Established in 1991, this tower in Shanghai creates a visual of twin dragons playing with pearls. The view is truly unique, and you should definitely visit when touring Shanghai.

Although the Great Wall is a must-see when visiting China, it would be unfortunate if you missed out on the fun the Oriental Pearl Tower (Dongfang Mingzhu) has to offer!

There are plenty of activities and attractions within the tower to keep you entertained, such as The Shanghai History Museum, Game City (which features a roller coaster), a Revolving Restaurant, the Dynamic Ring Multimedia Show, and much more.

One benefit of visiting the Oriental Pearl is that you can go here any time, during any weather, since everything is indoors! Any season is the best season for this tower!

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Stairs leading up a hill lined by hedges on both sides
Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor in Xi'an, China

Emperor Qinshihuang's Mausoleum Site Museum, Xi'an

Considered the 8th wonder of the world by many, this museum, also known as the Terracotta Warriors Museum, is a famous landmark in China. The warriors and horses here are a must-see when visiting the country, and you can only do so by coming to this museum.

Many tourists and regular visitors suggest that you spend your time exploring the interesting monument and taking at least 2 to 3 hours to see all of it.

To reach the museum, you should take a taxi or bus. The museum offers free entry for children under 1.4 m (4.6 ft) tall and half-price tickets for individuals under 16 years of age, so feel free to bring the little ones as well.

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A giant pagoda amongst trees from below
The Giant Wild Goose Pagoda in Xi'an

The Giant Wild Goose Pagoda, Xi'an

The Giant Wild Goose Pagoda, also frequently called the Big Wild Goose Pagoda (Dayanta), is an ancient holy place for Buddhists. The pagoda attracts thousands of tourists and is one of the most famous monuments in China.

Built by Emperor Gaozong during the Tang Dynasty, this pagoda is well-liked for the lush gardens and squares surrounding it. The most popular square is North Square, which has the largest musical fountain in all of China.

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The outside of the Ming Dynasty Tombs building with trees from below
The Ming Dynasty Tombs in Beijing

Ming Dynasty Tombs, Changping District

Built during the Ming Dynasty, the Ming Dynasty Tombs is a collection of famous mausoleums from the dynasty. The tombs are quite serene and well maintained, making it an excellent place to visit outside of Beijing.

If you are looking to explore the tombs, it is strongly recommended to take a guide; without a guide, you will be wandering through the area and will only be able to admire the buildings without any knowledge of the site itself.

Various artifacts are on display within each tomb with insights and a brief history of the emperor buried in the tomb provided.

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Panda Lake in Jiuzhai Valley National Park on a sunny day
Panda Lake in Jiuzhai Valley National Park, China

Jiuzhai Valley National Park, Sichuan

Jiuzhai Valley National Park, or Jiuzhaigou Natural Reserve, is a famous tourist attraction in China with a gorgeous natural landscape and magnificent waterfalls. Many photographers love to take photos of this park, and they enjoy the beautiful scenery.

With a total of 114 lakes and five impressive waterfalls, this park may take you up to three whole days to explore it fully! Shuzheng Valley is a popular part of Jiuzhai, as well as Nuorilang Waterfall, Panda Lake, Long Lake, and much more.

Autumn is the best time to make a trip to Jiuzhai Valley, as the leaves in the park start to become golden. However, it may be too crowded during this time since tourists (local and foreign) love to visit during the fall, so be sure to arrange your hotel, flight, and English-speaking tour guide one to two months before you go.

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Chimelong Paradise, Guangzhou

Chimelong Paradise, also called Guangzhou Chimelong Holiday Resort, is a park with thrilling roller coasters and rides. It is China's 3rd most popular theme park, and the quality of its attractions is why tourists love coming here.

This unique resort has many entertainment sources, including a waterpark, safari park, circus, and many other exciting activities. They have low-intensity activities as well, such as playing golf, going to the zoo, and walking through their beautiful gardens.

Being one of China's most famous landmarks, Chimelong Paradise offers the perfect balance of excitement and relaxation. You should definitely visit this fun amusement park when you visit China because it is truly one of a kind.

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Panorama of a lake lined with trees, temples and pagodas
West Lake in Hangzhou, China

West Lake, Hangzhou

Located in Hangzhou, China, West Lake (Xi Hu) is a popular tourist destination in China surrounded by beautiful natural scenery. An interesting fact about Hangzhou is that it is one of the most populated cities in China.

The Lake has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2011 and was recognised for being an influencer of gardens all over China, Japan, and Korea for several centuries.

Visitors to West Lake can walk along well-maintained paths to explore numerous temples, pagodas, gardens, and artificial islands.

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The beautiful ancient town of Zhujiajiao along the Yangtze River
The beautiful ancient town of Zhujiajiao along the Yangtze River

Yangtze River, China

The Yangtze River is a well-known natural landmark in China. It is over 6,300 kilometers long, which makes it the third-longest river in the world. Being so large, Yangtze is China's most important waterway, providing water to farmland that gives food to one-third of the population.

The river's name was derived during Yang's ancient fiefdom and is the river's western name. Within China, the river is often referred to as Chang Jiang - "Long River," Da Jiang - "Great River," or Jiang - "The River."

If you are looking to visit as a tourist, there are three major sections of the river worth visiting. The north part of the river includes Lijiang's Gorges and mountain areas. The Tiger Leaping Gorge is one of the most well-liked locations to visit and has excellent hiking trails that allow you to explore the ridgeline near the river.

The middle portion of the river, between Chongqing and Yichang, is famous for cruise boats, taking you up and down the Three Gorges Dam.

The lower portion of the river is known for the towns and cities built along the river. The towns and cities include Wuhan, Nanjing, Hangzhou, Suzhou, and Shanghai.

One of the most beautiful to visit is the ancient town of Zhujiajiao. Zhujiajiao has several traditional canals that have stunning local boats transporting tourists and goods throughout the city.

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A panda smiling at the camera while holding branches
A panda smiling at Dujiangyan Panda Base

Dujiangyan Panda Base, Dujiangyan

Located near Chengdu in the Sichuan province, the Dujiangyan Panda Base is home to Giant pandas and is a must-visit site in China. The base itself is over 51 hectares and includes a panda hospital, medical labs, monitoring enclosures for Pandas, staff housing, and an educational center.

The center was created to support the research of diseases that affect Giant pandas. As most know, Giant pandas have, for a long time, been on the endangered species list.

It was only through a concerted effort by non-profits, environmental agencies, and people worldwide that the wild population of Giant pandas was able to recover and get back to a "non-endangered" level.

If you are looking to visit Pandas but don't like the idea of viewing them in a zoo, the Dujiangyan Panda Base is a great way to view them in a well-cared for and appropriate environment.

The Dujiangyan Panda Base runs several tours throughout the day. The popularity of Pandas, and the fact that the Dujiangyan Panda Base has so many maintained in a humane and caring way, makes Dujiangyan Panda Base one of the most famous and popular landmarks in China.

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The vibrant and multi-colored walls of the Reed Flute Cave in China
The vibrant and multi-colored Reed Flute Cave in China

Reed Flute Cave, Guilin

Known also as "the Palace of Natural Arts," the Reed Flute Cave (Ludi Yan) is a popular landmark and tourist attraction in Guilin, Guangxi, China.

The caves were named after the natural reeds that grew outside the cave and were historically cultivated and turned into flutes. Today, the caves have been lit up by modern lighting and turned into a beautiful, multicolored light display.

The caves are underground and can be explored comfortably on foot. The whole thing is well organized, and completing the walk takes about 1.5 hours. Bring your camera as the combination of the striking limestone rocks and colored lighting makes it an excellent opportunity to do artistic photography.

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People walking up a steep pathway leading to a mountain summit on a nice day
The pathway leading up to one of the summits of Mount Hua

Mount Hua, Huayin

Mount Hua is located approximately 120 kilometers from Xi’an and is the westernmost mountain of the Five Great Mountains of China.

Standing at 2,154 meters high, the mountain is famous for having one of the world's most dangerous hikes due to containing several narrow pathways with sheer drops.

The government has taken several steps to improve the situation, such as widening paths and adding railways. The most significant action being taken is introducing new routes on the mountain that avoid the old dangerous trails.

If you are looking to hike Mount Hua, the most popular trail on the mountain is the Huashan Plank Trail. The plank trail is what earns the mountain its reputation. It is accessible by tourists traveling with organized groups.

Navigating the mountain requires a rope harness that attaches you to the mountain wall and allows you to walk sideways along the narrow plank path near the mountain's edge.

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The Jinsha Site Museum sign with plants in front
The Jinsha Site Museum sign in Chengdu, China

Jinsha Site Museum, Chengdu

Built to protect, study, and showcase prehistorical items, the Jinsha Site Museum in Chengdu is a landmark that many tourists visit in China. From unearthed ivories to elephant skulls and molars, this museum is full of rare items from Jinsha.

As you look around the museum, you will notice that it is divided into four major parts; the Relics Hall, the Exhibition Hall, the Cultural Heritage Protection Center, and the Ecological Garden.

All of these parts are equally beautiful, but the garden is exceptional. Surrounded by metasequoias and other ancient trees, it is an ideal spot to visit in the museum.

Jinsha Site Museum is also a great place to visit with your family, and the best part is that children under 1.3 m (4.3 ft) tall or six years old, and seniors over 70 years old, can enter for free.

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A front view of a stone-carved Giant Buddha, in a seated position, in a cliff
The stone-carved Leshan Giant Buddha in Sichuan, China

Leshan Giant Buddha, Leshan

Standing at 71 meters tall and carved from stone, the Leshan Giant Buddha (Da Fo) is an impressive landmark in China's Sichuan province. The statue was carved over 90 years.

Construction began in the 8th century by a monk named Hai Tong. The Buddha was constructed to bring safety and peace to the area. The monk, Hai Tong, believed the Giant Buddha would keep the nearby river's turbulent waters calm.

The Buddha is easy to visit from Chengdu; you can take a train that takes about an hour. On arrival, you will have to pay a small fee to enter the area. You can access the site on foot or by boat.

Visiting by a boat provides a unique vantage point of the Buddha and is often cited as a highlight of the visit. The best time to visit the Buddha is first thing in the morning as it can get crowded in the afternoon.

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A raft in a river with tall cliffs and trees at the back
A raft in the Li River in Southern China

Li River, Southern China

If you want to take a nice boat trip, why not visit the Li River? Located in Southern China, the Li River is a popular place to take a riverboat cruise. The river is 273 miles long and is surrounded by beautiful lush green scenery.

To appreciate the magnificent scenery around the river, you should consider taking a cruise, going hiking, bamboo rafting, or just sitting along the edge of the river and watching the wildlife.

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A bird's-eye view of the winding roads leading to the summit of Tianmen Mountain
The "99 Bends" of Tianmen Mountain National Park in China

Tianmen Mountain National Forest Park, Zhangjiajie

Heaven’s Gate Mountain, or in Chinese Tianmen Mountain, is a famous landmark in China. The most iconic photo from Tianmen Mountain is the cliff-hanging walkway, which is a part of the Cliffside Loop walk.

This walk is 1.6-kilometers in length and takes visitors around the mountain's summit, providing magnificent views of the nearby mountains and valleys.

Another favorite section of the mountain is the “Walk of Faith." It opened in 2011 and is a glass-plated walkway attached to the edge of the mountain. It certainly is not for the faint-hearted or those that fear heights.

Walking on the pathway, visitors are literally stepping on glass plates on a 1.6-meter wide footpath that reveals the cliff drop below the path.

Traveling to the summit is done via road and chairlift. The roads leading up to the summit are also popular; the winding bends snake up the mountain and are aptly named the “99 bends”.

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A mountain top covered in snow on a nice day
Mount Kailash in China

Mount Kailash, Burang County, Tibet

Being one of China's most famous places, Mount Kailash is a revered hiking destination. There are many things to see and do here, with one of the most popular ones being the Kailash Kora Trek, a 3-day hike around the mountain.

Mount Kailash is surrounded by five monasteries and features high mountain gompas (Buddhist temples). It is a pretty remote and desolated place, but it is still a place that people consistently visit. It is also technically located in the Tibet Autonomous Region.

The Kailash Saga Dawa Festival is a well-known event held yearly at the base of Mount Kailash as well. It is celebrated in the fourth month of the Tibetan calendar, and the people that attend commemorate the birth, life, and death of Buddha.

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A palace on top of a hill along a road with cars and people
The Potala Palace in Tibet

Potala Palace, Tibet

Once called home by ten former Dalai Lamas for over 317 years, the Potala Palace is a Tibetan tourist favorite. This Palace is the highest ancient palace in the world and a must-see when visiting China. While Tibet is an autonomous region of China, the Potala Palace deserves to be on this famous China landmarks list.

To explore the Grand Golden Tombs of the prior Dalai Lamas and the Chapels of Buddhas in the Red Palace (one part of the Potala Palace), you must climb over 365 steep steps from the gate. So make sure you wear comfortable shoes and have water with you!

Don't leave the Potala Palace too early, as the night view is even better. Enjoy the colorful lights and tranquil environment as you take in the Palace's beauty - this is a "must not miss" photo opportunity!

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Overall, China is an excellent option for planning an eventful vacation. From historical monuments to amusement parks and more, the country has it all.

You do not want to miss the memories and knowledge you can gain from a trip to China, as well as the fun-filled adventures you are sure to have by coming here.

This article was edited by Loredana Elena.

For more interesting articles about China, read:

Written by Namira

Mira Namira is a writer from the U.S. who loves the idea of exploring the world. She likes to help others see the beauty of various countries, as well as the fun experiences each of them has to offer. So, grab your suitcases, travelers, because she's about to take you on a long journey filled with surprises!

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