China Landmarks - 23 Most Famous Landmarks in China

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The sun setting over the Great Wall of China

Did you know that China is one of the world's most visited countries? With ancient cities spread across the country, China has a lot to offer its visitors! From Shanghai to Beijing, there is a countless number of famous landmarks in China that you will not only enjoy exploring but will also learn a lot from.

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

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

But it isn't just mand made historical or modern landmarks - China also has beautiful natural landmarks as well - such as West Lake and Mount Kailash.

  • 23 landmarks

China Map

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

The Great Wall of China

Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China is a 13,170 mile long wall and is one of the seven wonders of the world. 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 visit 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 interesting event that takes place 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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Forbidden City, Beijing, China

Forbidden City

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 largest imperial palace in the world.

Before you explore any other famous monuments in 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, as well as gift shops, bookstores, and snacks for you to purchase.

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A bamboo raft in Li River

Li River

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 surrounded by beautiful green lush scenery.

To be able 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.

I recommend a boat cruise! You'll be comfortable and will be able to enjoy refreshments as you coast down the river.

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Potala Palace, Tibet

Potala Palace

Once called home by ten former Dalai Lamas for over 317 years, the Potala Palace is a Tibetan tourist favourite. This palace is the highest ancient palace in the world and is a must-visit when exploring the landmarks of China.

To explore the Grand Golden Tomb's of the Dalai Lama's and the Chapels of Buddhas in the Red Palace, you must climb over 365 steep steps from the gate. So make sure you are wearing comfortable shoes and have water with you!

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

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Summer Palace, Beijing, China

Summer Palace

Located in northwest Beijing, the Summer Palace 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, including boating on the Kunming Lake, walking along the Long Corridor, and enjoying a live traditional Chinese performance in an ancient theatre. It also is the perfect landmark in China for families, as most of them like to venture through the gardens and pavilions.

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

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The Bund, Shanghai, China

The Bund

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

Popular options for entertainment when visiting The Bund 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 and appreciating the wonderful scenery.

The Huangpu Park is also the perfect destination when trying to take a break and relax - located in between The Bund and shopping areas, the greenery that the park has to offer stands out from the rest of Shanghai!

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Tiananmen Square, Beijing, China

Tiananmen Square

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 the most famous places in China, 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 shops to ancient tea shops, 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 that is when the guards raise and lower the national flag. Flower beds are also decorated during holidays like National Day and May Day, and it could be a good opportunity for you to take some photos.

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Yu Garden, Shanghai, China

Yu Garden

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 also places in the Yu Garden that you should check out.

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Temple Of Heaven, Beijing, China

Temple Of Heaven

This place of worship in Beijing is where the emperors of the Ming Dynasty 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 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 found the most fascinating are the Imperial Vault of Heaven, Circular Mound Altar, and Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest.

Being one of the most famous monuments in China, the Temple of Heaven offers tours for everyone. The duration of the exploration is 1 to 3 hours, and the prices are around 5 USD.

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Panda Lake in Jiuzhai Valley National Park, China

Jiuzhai Valley National Park

Jiuzhai Valley National Park 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 amazing waterfalls, this park may take you up to three whole days to fully explore! Shuzeng 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 extremely 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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Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor in Xian, China

Emperor Qinshihuang's Mausoleum Site Museum

Considered the 8th wonder of the world by many, this museum is a popular landmark in China. The terracotta warriors or terracotta army and horses are a must-see when visiting the country, and you can only do so by coming to this museum.

Lots of tourists and regular visitors suggest that you spend your time exploring the interesting monument and take at least 2 to 3 hours. By taking 2 to 3 hours to explore, you will be able to view almost the entire museum.

To be able to reach the museum, you should come via 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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The Giant Wild Goose Pagoda, Xi'an, China

The Giant Wild Goose Pagoda

The Giant Wild Goose Pagoda, also frequently called Big Goose Pagoda, 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 famous for the lush gardens and squares that surround it. The most popular square is North Square, which has the largest musical fountain in all of China.

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Jinsha Site Museum, Chengdu, China

Jinsha Site Museum

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; Relics Hall, Exhibition Hall, Cultural Heritage Protection Center, and Ecological Garden. All of these parts are equally beautiful, but the garden is very special. 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 that are under 1.3 m (4.3 ft) tall or children under 6 years old and seniors over 70 years old are free to enter.

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Oriental Pearl TV Tower, Shanghai, China

Oriental Pearl TV Tower

Established in 1991, this tower in Shanghai creates a visual of twin dragons playing with pearls. The view is truly amazing, 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 that the Oriental Pearl TV Tower 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), Revolving Restaurant, Dynamic Ring Multimedia Show, and much more.

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

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Mount Kailash

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

Mount Kailash is surrounded by five monasteries, and also features high mountain gompas. It is a pretty remote and desolated place as well, but it is still a place that people consistently visit.

The Kailash Saga Dawa Festival is also a well-known attraction event that takes place on the mountain, and it is held yearly at the base of Mount Kailash. 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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Lama Temple, China

Lama Temple

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 was constructed to face north to south. The temple consists of six important parts; 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 definitely visit all parts and admire the historical Chinese culture displayed throughout this monument.

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A building at the Beijing Zoo, China

Beijing Zoo

Located in the Xicheng District in Beijing, this zoological park is the first Chinese zoo. The Beijing Zoo has 450 different species and 5,000 animals in total and also has a great number of exhibition halls.

Large crowds that come to the zoo always love seeing animals like 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 as well.

One specific hall that visitors enjoy is 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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The view of the water at Houhai, Beijing

Houhai

Houhai, which means "Back Lake", 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.

Traditional buildings and courtyards are only two things that are present in Houhai. You can explore the old hutongs, and even visit former homes of celebrities.

There is also a famous bar street in Houhai, where people go to enjoy the nightlife of China. While the bars aren't very large in size, everyone seems to be attracted to them. Two well-known bars are Zoom Club and Houhai No. 5.

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Chimelong Paradise

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 the reason why tourists love coming here.

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

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

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West Lake in Hangzhou, China

West Lake

Located in Hangzhou China, West Lake is a popular tourist destination in China that is surrounded by beautiful natural scenery.

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

Visitors of West Lake are able to walk along well-maintained paths to explore numerous temples, pagodas, gardens and artificial islands. I definitely recommend visiting this landmark when exploring China.

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The beautiful ancient town of Zhujiajiao along the Yangtze River

Yangtze River

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

The name of the river was derived during the ancient fiefdom of Yang and is actually the western name for the river. 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 that are worth visiting. The north part of the river includes the Lijiang's Gorges and mountain areas. The Tiger Leaping Gorge is one of the most popular areas to visit and has great hiking trails that allow you to explore the ridgeline near the river.

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

The lower portion of the river is famous for the towns and cities that are 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 beautiful local boats transporting tourists and goods throughout the town.

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A panda smiling at Dujiangyan Panda Base

Dujiangyan Panda Base

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

The centre was created to support the research of diseases that affect Giant pandas. As most know, Giant pandas were for a long time, on the endangered species list. It was only through a concerted effort by non-profits, environmental agencies, and people around the world that the wild population of Giant pandas was able to recover and be back to a non "endangered" level.

If you are looking to visit Panda's and 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 that are 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-coloured Reed Flute Cave in China

Reed Flute Cave

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

The caves were named after the natural reeds that grow outside the cave that were historically cultivated and turned into flutes. Today, the caves have been lit up by modern lighting and been turned into a beautiful multicoloured 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. Definitely bring your camera as the combination of the striking limestone rocks and the colour lighting makes it a great opportunity to do some artistic photography.

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Conclusion

Overall, China is a great option when planning an eventful vacation. From historic monuments to amusement parks, the country has it all. You do not want to miss the memories and knowledge you can gain from this trip, as well as the fun-filled adventures you can have.

This article was edited by Loredana Elena and was first published on Jul 14, 2020 20:21 UTC.

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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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