China is huge country and I can imagine how hard is to make decision which places to visit if you only have limited time. Let me introduce 5 most popular and most beautiful cities which in my opinion shouldn’t be missed!
I think wherever you go visiting capital city is always a must. It’s logic. Capital cities usually offer good mix of architecture, tradition, history and culture. Beijing is not an exception. Located in northern China it is one of the most populous capital cities in the world. It’s a residency of Chinese government and also of many Chinese historical sites. Beijing is also the most famous place to visit Great wall of China.
What to see: Forbidden city, Tiananmen square, Temple of Heaven, Old and new Summer palace
What to eat: what else than one of the world’s famous dish – Beijing roasted duck. This delicacy doesn’t need to be further introduced. Pieces of crispy duck with condiments wrapped in Chinese pancake. It’s simply delicious!
Other attractions: Old traditional streets also known as Hutongs are good way how to relax. Just hire a rickshaw and let the driver takes you through these lovely tiny backstreets.
Nightlife: Sanlitung bar street is the right choice for the nightlife lovers.
Tips: For visiting Forbidden city is required to show a passport so don’t forget to take it with you.
If you are going to hire a rickshaw for city ride don’t forget to bargain the price. Usually you can cut the price off 20-30% down
Transportation is very easy and cheap. Each tourist spot is reachable by metro. You will need at least two days to visit the main ones plus one more day for visiting Great wall
Shanghai is modern metropolis lies on the bank of Yangtze river. If you will travel form Beijing to Shanghai you will notice the difference instantly. Shanghai offers amazing mix of traditional Chinese architecture and modern skyscrapers. This city offers various types of entertainment and I can make you sure you will love it!
What to see: The Bund, Yuyuan Garden, Xin Tian Di, Nanjing Road
What to eat: Xiao long bao – you have no idea what to expect? Be ready for super yummy steamed dumplings stuffed with meat and soup. There is a special technique how to eat these little goodies. Most people put whole dumpling into a mouth and instantly find out it was a big mistake. The soup inside the dumpling is very hot! So first you need to carefully suck the soup out and then eat the rest 🙂
Other attractions: Zhujiajiao water town, Qibao ancient town, Shangai botanical garden, Jade Buddha temple, Shanghai museum
Night live: Dapuqiao or Tianzifang
Tips: You will need at least 2-3 days to explore Shanghai thoroughly
Xi’an, capital city of Shaanxi province is also called the birthplace of Chinese civilization and it was home to 13 imperial dynasties. It was eastern departure point of Silk road in the past. This amazing city tempts tourists from all over the world for its historical sites, delicious food and natural beauty. The most famous touristic place of Xi’an lies about 40 km out of town – the Terracota warriors and horses. This mysterious place simply cannot be missed!
What to see: Old town with ancient city walls, Drum and Bell towers and Muslim quarter, Terracotta warriors.
What to eat: the Muslim quarter offers huge amount of street food. Most often you will find lamb skewers, lamb soups with traditional muslim bread, various types of sweets made from nuts, dried fruits and seeds and many more delicious street food but the most popular dish is Xi’an burger. Even in the middle of the night when the other vendors are already closing their shops you still see long queues of people waiting for this delicacy.
Other attractions: Xi’an lies in the middle of beautiful mountains with many national parks .The most famous is undoubtedly Mt. Hua ( Hua shan ). The least beatiful is also Mt. Cuihua ( Cuihuashan ). Both are good options for one day trip from Xi’an
Night life: bars and pubs are located in Defu lane
Tips: Xi’an is real gastronomic destination. I recommend to be on diet at least one week before you will go 😉
Lijiang is absolutely exceptional place! It lies in Yunnan province where all the delicious Chinese tea comes from. I cannot describe Old town of Lijiang enough you just must experience it. Stony narrow streets, old style buildings and water canals will make you feel like you have traveled back in time. It’s indeed lovely place with fresh air and surrounded by snowy mountains which promise many hiking trails with spectacular views.
What to see: Old town of Lijiang will amuse you for one whole day for sure
What to eat: I recommend the local snow mountain beef and mushrooms or try some of the street food delicacies
Other attractions: Tiger leaping gorge, Jade dragon snow mountain, Lugu lake
Night live: There are several bars with really unusual night programme, which is very noisy but it’s fun, many bars with live folk or rock music or rooftop bars where you can just chill and look how the life goes by
Tips: Although Lijiang is very popular place not many people speak English (as usual in China).
Don’t forget to taste local tea in one of the tea houses.
5. HONG KONG
Hong Kong is not part of the mainland China nevertheless I think it’s a must see place. Hong Kong is incredibly crowded. It’s a place with high density of skyscrapers. Streets are always full of people. Shopping centers are everywhere. One would say it’s just a hustle and bustle city, nothing exceptional. But nothing can be further from true. Hong Kong is surrounded by green mountains with kilometers of hiking paths. Also several small islands and beautiful beaches provide good get away from the noise and crowds. Simply saying Hong Kong has everything to amuse you in very small space and that’s the uniqueness of this place.
What to see: Avenue of stars and evening light show, Victoria peak, Victoria harbor
What to eat: Cantonese dim sum – mix of small dishes served in bamboo steamers. Totally yummy!
Other attractions: Lama island, Lantau island, Dragon backbone hiking trail
Night live: Well this city never falls asleep and you can find bars and restaurants literally everywhere
Tips: Good news – you don’t need to speak Chinese. Almost all Hong Kong people speak English.
Hong Kong is center of economy so no surprise it’s quite expensive city. Just in case you are going to visit HK from China don’t forget to change Chinese yuan to HK dollars. Also if you have one entry tourist visa you can’t go back to China again.