15 Top Cities to Visit in China

China, with its rich history and vibrant culture, offers an unparalleled travel experience, especially when exploring the top cities to visit in China. From ancient wonders to modern marvels, this vast country is brimming with destinations that cater to all kinds of travelers.

China, the world’s most populous country, is home to a wide variety of people and places, each with its distinct traditions, customs, and ways of life. As a result, its cities brilliantly showcase this rich cultural diversity, and a lifetime would be needed to see everything they have to offer.

The top Cities to Visit in China offer an abundance of sights, including beautifully displayed temples, palaces, and gardens. Not to be overlooked are its two most popular tourist destinations, the Great Wall of China and the Terracotta Army!

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Top Cities to Visit in China

1. Beijing

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Beijing, the capital of the country, is home to more than 20 million people and is a vibrant, large metropolis with plenty to offer tourists. As one of the top cities to visit in China, many people start their journey at the enormous Tiananmen Square, which is surrounded by numerous magnificent structures like the Forbidden City, which originally served as the royal court.

There is a lot to see in this city, which is home to over a hundred museums as well as some palaces, temples, and archaeological sites strewn among the encroaching modern structure

Go out on the streets and sample as much mouthwatering cuisine as you can! Some of the most beautiful sections of the Great Wall of China may be visited in less than an hour from Beijing. It truly is an amazing work of engineering, twisting and winding its way across the hills and mountains of the area.

2. Shanghai

Shanghai, one of the top cities to visit in China, is a bustling metropolis with a plethora of attractions. Surprisingly, there are many Art Deco structures among the tall skyscrapers that line the banks of the Huangpu River, which make for a breathtaking spectacle. The Bund, which features an eclectic mix of structures from the colonial era and is situated near the riverbank, is where most visitors go straight.

The Bund, often known as the museum of buildings, is a remnant of the foreign imperial powers that formerly controlled the city. Shanghai has had remarkable growth over the past century, resulting in an eclectic mix of architectural styles. Shanghai is also famous for its vibrant nightlife, cutting-edge architecture, and shopping on Nanjing Road. Visit the charming walled Yuyuan Gardens and historic Town to get a taste of historic Shanghai.

3.  Xi’an

Many historical landmarks are scattered across the city, making it difficult to visit everything in Xi’an, one of the top cities to visit in China. The Army of Terracotta Warriors and Horses, which are truly amazing to see, is an absolute necessity. You should also try to see the old city walls of Xi’an, which served to both defend the city and make it the capital of the Ming Dynasty.

Visitors can explore the well-preserved Ancient City Wall and the historic Big Wild Goose Pagoda. As the starting point of the Silk Road, Xi’an boasts a rich history and offers traditional Shaanxi cuisine, which is a treat for the taste buds.

In actuality, Xi’an served as the capital of thirteen dynasties in total, and 73 emperors ruled from this location for more than a millennium. From this powerful city, what is now known as Chinese culture developed, and even though Xi’an has undergone rapid modernization, there are still many sites that bear witness to its former splendour.

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4. Hong Kong

This skyscraper metropolis is situated on Victoria Bay, and the stunning backdrop of mountains covered in forests only heightens the majesty of the surroundings. Victoria Peak, which is close by, offers an excellent viewpoint for admiring Hong Kong’s glittering splendor, making it one of the top cities to visit in China. Taking to the sea and staring up at the skyscrapers stretching into the sky above is another amazing way to enjoy the view.

Hong Kong’s multiculturalism and diversity are part of what makes the city so fascinating to visit. Together with the bustling markets, it’s a shoppers’ heaven! For those who enjoy the outdoors and want to escape the city, nearby Lantau Island is a fantastic choice.

5. Lhasa

Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, is a captivating city that is located in the Himalayas in a stunning hilly region. As one of the top cities to visit in China, the main point of interest is the Potala Palace, a magnificent structure that is visually stunning.

Another fascinating place to see is Jokhang Palace, which is home to the most valuable item in Tibet, a charming and antiquated figure of the Buddha. Visit this place to gain an understanding of the rich Tibetan culture; it is very distinct from the rest of China.

Barkhor Street offers a glimpse into local life. Lhasa’s unique cultural atmosphere and traditional Tibetan festivals make it a spiritual and fascinating destination.

6. Guangzhou

Due to its strategic location along the Maritime Silk Road, Guangzhou boasts a rich history dating back more than two millennia. Additionally, the city’s varied architectural forms are a result of the traders’ varied influences. Guangzhou, the third-biggest city in China, is a busy, bustling destination that might be intimidating due to its immense size.

Some of the oldest temples in the nation, like the magnificent Huaisheng Mosque from 627 AD and the Liurong Temple, are concealed within the never-ending concrete jungle. Guangzhou, one of the top cities to visit in China, is a mash-up of cultures, a hectic but fascinating site to get a look into modern China. Guangzhou has the most restaurants per capita, so your stomach will relish your vacation even more! Taking a nighttime boat ride on the river by the glittering skyscrapers will make memories last a lifetime!

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7. Kashgar

Remarkably, Kashgar, located along the ancient Silk Road, is closer to Damascus than it is to Beijing! Situated in the westernmost region of China, the city is accessible only by traversing a huge desert, which contributes to its allure due to its distant location. As a result of Kashgar’s continued importance as a commerce hub, a diverse range of cultures and ethnicities have migrated there over time.

With its vibrant bazaars and Uyghur architecture, the Old Town is especially worth exploring. When visiting the top cities to visit in China, you’ll find a wide variety of cuisines to choose from, making it the perfect opportunity to indulge your palate! The beautiful Id Kah Mosque, which is mostly Muslim, serves as a stark reminder of a way of life that is becoming more and more endangered as more and more Han Chinese move into the city.

Make sure to visit the Sunday market before you depart; a lot of people from all over Central Asia come here to trade, which creates a lively and bustling environment in the city.

8. Hangzhou

Popular with travellers, Hangzhou is renowned as one of the top cities to visit in China for its breathtaking natural beauty, with the Broken Bridge serving as the romantic high point and the picturesque West Lake offering the finest of the greatest.

It is ideal to take a boat journey on its serene waterways, and you can stop at many islands, each with unique qualities. There are numerous temples and pagodas dotted across the area, and there are many breathtaking views to be had with the sea shimmering behind them. 

Hangzhou’s West Lake is a UNESCO World Heritage site, renowned for its natural beauty. Visitors can explore Lingyin Temple and the Longjing Tea Plantations. Hangzhou is also famous for its silk and tea production, making it a haven for those seeking serenity and traditional Chinese culture.

9.  Kunming

Known as the City of Eternal Spring, this southern location is an ideal starting point for discovering the wonders of the stunning Yunnan Province, one of the top cities to visit in China. The magnificent Yuantong Temple in Kunming alone is worth a visit because of the striking stone carvings strewn over its grounds. The temple was built in the eighth century. Tanhua Temple’s beautiful surroundings are contributing to its growing popularity.

Kunming, known for its mild climate, features attractions like the Stone Forest and Dian Lake. The Yunnan Ethnic Village showcases the region’s diverse ethnic cultures. Kunming’s vibrant flower markets and mild weather make it an inviting destination year-round.

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10. Suzhou

Suzhou - Wikipedia

Suzhou, which is in eastern China, is a well-liked day trip destination because of its proximity to Shanghai. Renowned as one of the top cities to visit in China, Suzhou is famous for its exquisite gardens and classic buildings that cling to the canal banks, making it China’s most well-known water town, drawing tourists from all across the country. Its charming canals are enjoyable to stroll along, with little footbridges across the river and paper lanterns hanging from the structures.

The city has undergone significant modernization in recent years, yet some of its endearing historical elements have been preserved. Visiting the Humble Administrator’s Garden is especially tranquil. Suzhou used to be one of the biggest cities in the world and the capital of the Wu Kingdom.

Suzhou is celebrated for its classical gardens, with the Classical Gardens of Suzhou being a UNESCO World Heritage site. Tiger Hill and the Suzhou Museum are other key attractions. Known for its silk industry and Kunqu opera, Suzhou is a city that exudes elegance and cultural richness.

11. Guilin

Guilin is known for its breathtaking natural beauty. A cruise along the Li River reveals stunning karst landscapes, while the Reed Flute Cave and Elephant Trunk Hill are must-see attractions. The city’s picturesque scenery makes it perfect for outdoor activities and traditional folk performances.

Guilin and the neighbouring areas are breathtaking due to the unearthly landscapes they offer. It’s a magical experience to glide down the Li River in a boat while the breathtaking karst characteristics of the surrounding terrain pass by on either side of you.

If you walk into the centre of Yangshuo, which is a breathtaking place to visit, you will discover caverns and grottoes hidden among the undergrowth. Shrouded in mist, they look enigmatic. Guilin is an extraordinarily beautiful city, and many tourists go to the Moon and Sun Pagoda to enjoy the breathtaking view of the surrounding area. Guilin is among the top cities to visit in China for its natural beauty and cultural significance.

12. Dali

Dali, located between the Cangshan Mountains and Erhai Lake in Yunnan province, is a city rich in natural beauty and cultural heritage. Key attractions include the ancient Dali Old Town with its traditional Bai architecture, the stunning Three Pagodas, and the vibrant local markets.

The main landmarks of Dali’s Old Town, a popular tourist destination, are the quaint city gates at either end. The Cangshan Mountains form a stunning framing for the Old Town. The city is ideal for outdoor pursuits like cycling and hiking because of its beautiful scenery and laid-back vibe. Dali provides an in-depth exploration of the Bai people’s culture through traditional performances and distinctive gastronomic encounters.

Dali is surrounded by beautiful scenery and unspoiled wildlife, therefore many people visit the mountains to stroll along their meandering routes and trails, savouring the crisp air and tranquil atmosphere. As one of the top cities to visit in China, the magnificent Cloud Traveller’s Path is a great hike that ascends to a height of 2500 metres.

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13. Harbin

Harbin, known for its spectacular annual Ice Festival, is situated in China’s far north, where extreme cold is a common occurrence. Harbin, one of the top cities to visit in China, with the St. Sophia Cathedral being a particular highlight, is a unique site to visit in China because of its proximity to Russia, which has left a significant cultural and architectural effect.

Sun Island is another well-liked site, and the Ice Festival, which is held here for more than two months from December to February, is an amazing event that you should attend. Harbin’s distinctive identity is enhanced by its Russian influence and winter sports opportunities. Everything is exquisitely illuminated by lights, and everything is fashioned out of ice.

14. Nanjing

Nanjing may be a better place to live than a visit, as evidenced by its calm atmosphere, well-kept streets, and tree-lined boulevards. Many tourists only stop by Nanjing when traveling from Beijing to Shanghai. However, as one of the top cities to visit in China, located on the well-known Yangtze River, Nanjing was formerly the capital of China. Despite being frequently disregarded, there are a number of pleasant sites to visit.

Nanjing boasts significant historical sites such as the Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum and the Nanjing City Wall. The Confucius Temple and various museums provide insights into the city’s rich past. Nanjing’s blend of history and culture makes it a captivating destination.

Taking to the Qin Huai River and floating by the impressive Gate of China and the fascinating Confucius Temple are two excellent ways to explore many of its wonders in one go. Many tourists spend the majority of their time exploring the numerous mausoleums and tombs in Nanjing and the surrounding area.

15. Chengde

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Chengdu is synonymous with pandas and spicy food. The Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding is a highlight, alongside historical sites like Wuhou Shrine and Jinli Ancient Street. Chengdu’s relaxed tea culture and vibrant Sichuan opera add to the city’s unique charm.

This ancient summer residence of the Qing Dynasty‘s early emperors is still a beautiful site to spend some time, with palaces, lakes, pagodas, and other features. The magnificent Eight Outer Temples complex, a must-see in Chengde, is of special appeal. This mountain resort is one of the top cities to visit in China, gorgeous, with captivating architecture on display and lovely, well-kept gardens that only heighten the scene’s appeal.

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China’s diverse cities offer a wide range of experiences, from ancient historical sites to modern urban wonders. Each city on this list provides a unique glimpse into the country’s rich culture and history. We encourage you to explore these top Chinese cities to fully appreciate the beauty and complexity of this incredible nation. Whether you’re fascinated by ancient civilizations or drawn to the excitement of bustling metropolises, these top cities to visit in China promise unforgettable adventures.

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