China is one of the most overlooked travel destinations in Asia. It’s partly due to misinformation travellers encounter when setting their sights on the ‘Land of the Red Dragon.’ For example, China no longer has travel restrictions or mandatory PCR testing in place. And it isn’t illegal to use a VPN in China? You can safely access your social media accounts while travelling in China – even those restricted for Chinese residents.
Read: What is a VPN?
China is a rich and diverse country that boasts ancient and modern attractions. This eclectic travel destination is sure to provide experiences for all travellers. Want to see all that China has to offer yourself? Here are our top eight things to do in China that the whole family will enjoy.
Top eight things to see and do in China
1. Spend a day at Chimelong Paradise
This is a great one for the kids. Guangzhou is one of the best cities in China to visit with children in tow. It’s home to family-friendly attractions that you won’t want to miss, such as a safari park, an international circus, and, best of all, the Chimelong Paradise Amusement Park.
Chimelong Paradise is China’s largest amusement park, next to Shijingshan Amusement Park in Beijing. Thrillseekers can enjoy Chimelong Paradise’s selection of 49 different rides and attractions. This includes its famous 10 Inversion Roller Coaster and the Dream VR Roller Coaster.
2. Visit the Terracotta Warriors Museum
If you’re interested in Chinese history, chances are you’re already familiar with the story of the Terracotta warriors. At the Terracotta Warriors Museum, you can explore the site created thousands of years ago. Chinese Emperor Qinshihuang’s mausoleum site has been converted into an educational museum experience that allows visitors to learn more about China’s Qin dynasty. It’s a fascinating part of China’s history because Qinshihuang was actually the first Chinese sovereign to name himself ‘emperor.’ Many consider the Qin dynasty to be the beginning of Imperial China. You can learn more about China’s first emperor and the empire he built by visiting the Terracotta Warriors Museum.
3. Visit the Forbidden City in Beijing
Originally, the Forbidden City in Beijing was built to be a place of refuge for visiting emperors. But since the Chinese Revolution, this fascinating piece of Ming dynasty architecture has become a favourite tourist attraction for Chinese and international tourists.
Alongside offering great photo opportunities and a central vantage point for seeing all of Beijing, the Forbidden City is now renowned for housing one of the most impressive collections of Chinese art and artefacts in the world. There are pieces originating all over China’s thousands of years of history. You can see civilisation in the making – one artefact at a time.
4. Experience VR at SoReal in Beijing
Are you travelling with a few techie teens? Explore the wonders of virtual reality at SoReal, China’s first fully immersive VR theme park. Located in a 10000-square-foot basement of a popular Beijing shopping mall, SoReal has made headlines for its groundbreaking work in VR entertainment. Now, the SoReal brand is expanding to provide VR experiences to other theme parks across the globe.
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5. See the Leshan Giant Buddha
Travelling along the Dadu River, you’ll be able to see one of China’s most unique architectural marvels hidden amidst the cliffs – the monolithic Leshan Giant Buddha statue in China’s Sichuan region.
Measuring around 71 metres in length, the Leshan Giant Buddha is a lovingly constructed homage to Lord Maitreya, a Bodhisattva or Buddhist teacher. It took over 90 years for thousands of workers to complete the Leshan Giant Buddha, with construction commencing in 713 AD and ending around 803 AD.
6. See giant pandas in Chengdu
If you’ve ever wanted to see a giant panda in its natural habitat, visiting the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding is the safest and most educational way to do so. This conservatory was established in 1987 with only six pandas. Today, over 83 pandas call the Chengdu Research Base home. The conservation facility has an adjoining panda museum for visitors who want to learn more about these fascinating creatures. It is best to visit the panda conservatory before you head to the museum. Try to get to the conservatory as early as possible because pandas are most active earlier in the morning.
7. Go shopping and try Chinese street food
From Hebei to Beijing, thousands of street markets and shopping districts are ripe for exploration across China. Avid shoppers can browse to their heart’s content and find great deals on fashion items.
Looking for an authentic Chinese meal? You’re sure to find plenty to satisfy your tastebuds across China’s markets as well. Street vendors can plate up hearty Chinese dishes like Peking duck, sweet and sour pork, and a wide variety of dumplings to enjoy.
8. Walk the Great Wall of China
No trip to China would be complete without a walk along the country’s renowned Great Wall. However, it’s important to remember that there is approximately 9,000 kilometres worth of the wall to explore. Where exactly should you go to see this architectural wonder in all its glory? Most seasoned travellers recommend visiting the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall. Located 75 kilometres from central Beijing, this section of the Great Wall is easily accessible and less crowded than Badaling in Beijing’s northwest. Badaling is the wall’s most frequently visited section.
When is the best time of year to travel to China?
If you’ve started planning a trip to China already, you should keep a few things in mind when scheduling your getaway. First, remember that China’s seasons are inverted compared to our seasons in Australia. That means that summer in China is actually from June to August. As China is right by the equator its summers can get stiflingly hot, too. The best time of year to visit China is usually in spring (around April and May) or autumn (September and October). It works well for Aussie families looking to travel during the Easter or term three school holidays.
What to keep in mind when travelling to China
Like any travel destination, China maintains its own customs, traditions, and cultural nuances. International travellers can show respect to Chinese citisens by reading up on Chinese customs and etiquette before they arrive.
Some customs and social etiquette that you should keep in mind include:
- Not sitting on the floor
- Giving and receiving gifts/items with both hands
- Being respectful and accommodating of elderly people in public places
- No tipping customer service workers
- Bringing modest gifts when visiting someone’s home
- Maintaining punctuality
- Trying a little bit of everything served at the table when dining with hosts
And don’t forget the value of using a VPN when travelling in China. These digital tools can help you stay connected to your family back home via social media. Learn more about how to use a VPN in China here.
Overall, China is a unique travel destination. Exploring China’s abundant agricultural provinces will transport you to a world lost in time. But if you find yourself in Guangzhou, Beijing, or some of China’s other larger urban centres, it’s a whole other world entirely.
Whether you want to get lost in arcades and shopping malls or find your inner zen in a Buddhist temple, a trip to China will be sure to deliver.
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