China is a country of contrasts: think ancient fortifications alongside futuristic skyscrapers, remote villages in the same province as global hubs, pouring rain followed by brilliant sunshine. This all makes exploring this vast country a true adventure. China can be hectic at times, but there are also plenty of peaceful pockets in the form of parks, fields and hillsides where you can escape the crowds and reconnect with the natural world. This list of things to do in China is by no means exhaustive – after all, China is the world’s third-biggest country – but it should give you a taste of the experiences that await you.


Marvel at Historic Structures

We can’t write about things to do in China without mentioning the most visited attraction in the entire country: The Great Wall. The Great Wall of China is in fact multiple walls, built from the third century BC to the 17th century AD and spanning over 13,000 miles. Undoubtedly, it should be high up on your list. But evidence of China’s long history doesn’t stop there. This country is one of the oldest in the world, and it’s got the palaces, monuments and shrines to prove it. The incredibly well-preserved Forbidden City in Beijing, the uncanny Terracotta Army of Xi'An, Leshan’s colossal Giant Buddha (the largest Buddhist sculpture in the world) and the sacred Temple of Heaven are all incredible examples of the architectural and engineering feats of China’s empires, which were in existence for almost four millennia.

Sample Authentic Delicacies

As much as we love history, we know that seeing the sights isn’t the only way to immerse yourself in a country’s culture. In fact, after a few hours touring palaces or religious monuments, what could be better than sitting down to a local feast and a bottle of beer – it’s all about balance, right? When in Beijing, crispy-skinned Peking duck is the dish to try, while Shanghai makes the best pork buns in China. Southern China is the place to sample authentic Dim Sum (don’t miss the xiaolong bao, otherwise known as soup dumplings) and China’s famous fried rice is available all over. Whatever you’re eating, be sure to pair it with a local beverage for the full experience. Beer is very common in China, with Snow Beer and Tsingtao being the most popular brands, while rice wine (baijiu) is served in shot glasses and usually consumed in one gulp with a meal. For something softer, try Hong Kong’s popular milk tea (lai cha). Of course, whatever stage of your trip you’re at, we can recommend the best restaurants to guarantee a mouth-watering meal.

Try Your Hand at Martial Arts

If you’ve long been captivated by the fighting prowess of legends like Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan or (depending on your taste in films) a lovable cast of anthropomorphic animals known as the Furious Five, now is your chance to learn some moves. The term kung fu usually refers to the Chinese martial arts that are also called wushu and quanfa, but its original meaning refers to any study or practice that requires patience and dedication to complete. In the grounds of the Temple of Heaven, your guide can introduce you to the basic principles of tai chi, a martial art practiced mainly for its health benefits. Other martial arts styles and techniques include qigong, an internal martial art, and qinna (chin na), a joint lock technique used in kung fu.

Escape the City

Cities like Beijing and Shanghai are full of excitement and dynamism, but China’s countryside is a different, altogether more peaceful world. At the Dujiangyan Panda Base, feed pandas or simply watch as they roam through bamboo-covered hillsides. Take a trip on a bamboo raft along the River Li to enjoy bucolic scenery and karst mountain landscapes, or try a luxury cruise through the mysterious Three Gorges region. If you prefer to explore on foot, there’s an endless supply of hiking trails in China, from gentle lakeside walks in Pudacuo National Park (China’s first national park) to spectacular treks through Tiger Leaping Gorge, one of the world’s deepest gorges. While China’s stunning scenery is enough to capture any traveller’s attention, don’t overlook the many villages scattered throughout the countryside. These are a great place to engage with the country’s people and culture, whether that’s learning the art of paper fan-making or enjoying a traditional meal with a local family.

Contact one of our China specialists