China is certainly worth visiting, offering a rich tapestry of history, culture, natural beauty, and modern achievements. China boasts one of the world's oldest continuous civilizations, with a history spanning over 5,000 years. Visitors can explore ancient sites such as the Great Wall, the Terracotta Army, and the Forbidden City. The country is home to diverse cultures and traditions. From the Peking Opera in Beijing to the tea culture in Fujian, there are numerous cultural experiences to immerse in.

At the same time, China is generally a safe country for tourists, with low crime rates in most areas. China has an extensive and efficient transportation network, including high-speed trains, buses, and domestic flights, making it easy to travel between cities and regions.

We tell you about the best sights of China, which will help you learn more about the Celestial Empire, feel its culture and get a lot of emotions and impressions.

The Forbidden City (Beijing)

The Forbidden City, also known as the Imperial Palace, is a historic palace complex in the heart of Beijing, China. It was the Chinese imperial palace and the political center of Chinese government for almost 500 years, from the Ming dynasty to the end of the Qing dynasty (1420-1912). Here's an overview of this iconic site:

The complex covers approximately 180 acres, with 980 surviving buildings and around 8,700 rooms. Designed according to traditional Chinese palatial architecture, it reflects the hierarchical nature of Chinese society and the central role of the emperor. It served as the home of 24 emperors – 14 of the Ming dynasty and 10 of the Qing dynasty. The Forbidden City was the ceremonial and political center of Chinese government. It represents the cultural and architectural zenith of imperial China.

The layout is symmetrical along a central north-south axis. The major buildings are aligned along this axis. The complex is enclosed by a large defensive wall and a moat. The main gate leading to the inner court, where the emperor and his family resided. The largest hall within the Forbidden City, used for major ceremonial occasions.

Key Areas

Outer Court: Used for ceremonial purposes, consisting of three main halls:Hall of Supreme Harmony: The largest hall, where the emperor held court and conducted state affairs.
Hall of Central Harmony: A smaller, more private hall used for preparing and resting before ceremonies.
Hall of Preserving Harmony: Used for banquets and imperial examinations.
Inner Court: The living quarters of the emperor and his family:Palace of Heavenly Purity: The emperor's principal residence.
Hall of Union: Where the emperor and empress met.
Palace of Earthly Tranquility: The empress's residence.

The Forbidden City houses an extensive collection of artwork and artifacts from the Ming and Qing dynasties, including paintings, ceramics, and jade. Today, it is home to the Palace Museum, one of the most visited museums in the world. UNESCO world heritage site

Temple of Heaven (Beijing)

The Temple of Heaven is a historic and culturally significant complex of religious buildings located in the southeastern part of central Beijing, China. It was used by the emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties for annual ceremonies of prayer to Heaven for good harvests. The Temple is situated in a large park that covers 267 hectares.

It was built between 1406 and 1420 during the reign of the Yongle Emperor, who also constructed the Forbidden City. The complex is renowned for its symbolic layout and design, representing the relationship between Earth and Heaven.

The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests is a large, circular wooden building with a triple-gabled roof, built on three levels of marble stone base. The structure is entirely wooden, without the use of nails, and is a masterpiece of Chinese architectural craftsmanship. The conical roof of the temple rests on 28 beams, and this number is no coincidence, because 4 of them symbolize the seasons, 12 — months, and the rest — 12 parts of the day. An open-air altar consisting of three levels of marble stones, symbolizing the heavens. Used for winter solstice ceremonies to worship Heaven.

The design of the Temple of Heaven reflects ancient Chinese cosmology, where the Earth is represented as square and Heaven as circular. The blue tiles of the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests represent the sky. The Temple of Heaven was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1998 for its architectural beauty and historical importance.

Summer Imperial Palace (Beijing)

The Summer Palace in Beijing is a vast ensemble of lakes, gardens, and palaces, serving as a retreat for the imperial family during the Qing Dynasty. It is one of the most well-preserved and recognized landmarks in China, showcasing traditional Chinese garden design, architecture, and landscape artistry.

The Summer Palace is located in the Haidian District, northwest of central Beijing. The complex spans about 2.9 square kilometers, with three-quarters of it covered by water, primarily Kunming Lake. Originally constructed in 1750 during the reign of the Qianlong Emperor, it was expanded and renovated in subsequent years, particularly in the late 19th century by the Empress Dowager Cixi.  Kunming Lake features scenic boat rides and the Seventeen-Arch Bridge, which is a notable structure with 17 different arches.

The palace was damaged during the Second Opium War in 1860 and the Boxer Rebellion in 1900, but it was subsequently restored.
The Summer Palace was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1998. The palace is open to visitors year-round, with different opening hours depending on the season.

Bund (Shanghai)

The Bund is one of the most famous and iconic waterfront areas in Shanghai, China. It stretches along the western bank of the Huangpu River, facing the modern skyscrapers of the Pudong district. The Bund is renowned for its historical buildings, which showcase a variety of architectural styles, and its vibrant atmosphere.

The Bund is lined with dozens of historical buildings that once housed banks, trading houses, consulates, and hotels. These buildings are prime examples of various architectural styles, including Gothic, Baroque, Romanesque, and Art Deco.

The wide, elevated promenade along the Bund is a popular spot for both locals and tourists. It offers stunning views of the Huangpu River and the skyline of the Pudong district, including landmarks like the Oriental Pearl Tower, Shanghai World Financial Center, and the Shanghai Tower. The promenade is a great place for a leisurely stroll, and it is especially picturesque at night when the buildings on both sides of the river are illuminated.

The Bund played a crucial role in Shanghai's history as a key commercial and financial hub in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It was a center of international trade and finance, hosting numerous foreign banks and trading companies. It represents Shanghai's colonial past and its transformation into a modern global city.

The Bund boasts a wide range of dining options, from high-end restaurants to casual cafes, many offering stunning river views.
Popular dining establishments include the rooftop bars and restaurants at the Peace Hotel and the Peninsula Hotel.

The Bund hosts various events and festivals throughout the year, such as the Shanghai International Music Festival and light shows.

Pudong New District (Shanghai)

Pudong New District is a rapidly developed and modernized district in Shanghai, China, located on the eastern side of the Huangpu River, opposite the historic Bund. Since the early 1990s, Pudong has transformed into a symbol of China’s economic development and urbanization.

Pudong is home to Lujiazui, a major financial district that hosts the headquarters of many domestic and international banks, financial institutions, and corporations. One of the two stock exchanges in mainland China is located in Pudong, underscoring its importance in the global financial market.

Pudong includes numerous high-end residential complexes, shopping malls, and recreational facilities. One of the largest shopping malls in Asia, located in the heart of Lujiazui. Visit the observation decks of the Oriental Pearl Tower, Jin Mao Tower, Shanghai World Financial Center, and Shanghai Tower for breathtaking views. Experience luxury shopping at Super Brand Mall and IFC Mall, and enjoy diverse dining options ranging from street food to fine dining.

The development of Pudong was initiated in 1990 by the Chinese government as a special economic zone to attract foreign investment and modernize Shanghai’s economy. Over the past few decades, Pudong has transformed from farmland and warehouses into one of the most modern and dynamic districts in the world.

The Great Wall of China (North China)

The Great Wall of China is one of the most iconic and significant historical landmarks in the world. It is an ancient series of walls and fortifications that were built, rebuilt, and maintained between the 5th century BCE and the 16th century to protect the northern borders of the Chinese Empire from various nomadic groups and military incursions.

The Great Wall stretches over approximately 13,000 miles (21,196 kilometers), making it the longest wall in the world. The construction of the wall spanned several dynasties, including the Qin, Han, and Ming dynasties. The wall was constructed using various materials, including earth, wood, bricks, and stone, depending on the region and the resources available.

The primary purpose of the Great Wall was to protect Chinese states and empires from invasions and raids by nomadic tribes from the north, particularly the Mongols. The wall also served to control immigration and emigration, and to regulate trade along the Silk Road by facilitating customs and duties.  Over time, the Great Wall became a symbol of the enduring strength and resilience of Chinese civilization.

The Great Wall was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987, recognizing its historical and cultural significance. It is a symbol of Chinese ingenuity, perseverance, and architectural mastery, often used as a national emblem. The Great Wall of China is not only an architectural marvel but also a testament to the rich history and cultural heritage of China. It stands as a symbol of the country's historical significance and its ability to overcome challenges. Visiting the Great Wall offers a unique glimpse into the past and provides an unforgettable experience of one of the world's most extraordinary human-made structures.

Jiuzhaigou National Park (Sichuan Province)

Jiuzhaigou National Park, located in the Aba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan Province, China, is a renowned UNESCO World Heritage Site and World Biosphere Reserve. The park is celebrated for its stunning natural beauty, featuring colorful lakes, waterfalls, snow-capped peaks, and diverse flora and fauna.

Jiuzhaigou is famous for its numerous crystal-clear, multi-colored lakes, such as Five Flower Lake, which displays vibrant hues of blue, green, and yellow due to its mineral-rich waters and algae. The park is home to breathtaking waterfalls, including the Nuorilang Waterfall, which is one of the widest waterfalls in China, and the Pearl Shoal Waterfall, known for its wide and shallow cascades.
The park is surrounded by high mountains, with peaks often covered in snow, providing a dramatic backdrop to the lush valleys.

The park’s diverse ecosystems range from temperate forests to alpine meadows, hosting a wide variety of plant species, including ancient forests of conifers and rhododendrons. Jiuzhaigou is home to several endangered species, such as the giant panda, the golden snub-nosed monkey, and the Sichuan takin.

The name Jiuzhaigou means "Valley of Nine Villages," referring to the nine Tibetan villages scattered throughout the park. These villages add cultural richness to the natural beauty of the area. Visitors can experience Tibetan culture, including traditional architecture, customs, and festivals.

The park is accessible by flights to Jiuzhai Huanglong Airport, followed by a bus or taxi ride to the park entrance. It can also be reached by long-distance buses from Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province. The most popular time to visit due to the stunning fall foliage and clear weather.

Giant Buddha in Leshan (Sichuan province)

The Giant Buddha of Leshan is a monumental statue carved into the cliff face of Mount Lingyun in Leshan, Sichuan Province, China. This iconic statue is the largest and tallest stone Buddha in the world and has significant cultural, historical, and religious importance.

The Buddha stands at approximately 71 meters (233 feet) tall. Its shoulders are 28 meters (92 feet) wide. Each foot is large enough to accommodate more than a hundred people sitting side by side.

The construction of the Giant Buddha began in the year 713 during the Tang Dynasty and was completed in 803, taking about 90 years to finish.  A Chinese monk named Haitong initiated the project. He hoped that the Buddha would calm the turbulent waters of the three rivers (Min River, Qingyi River, and Dadu River) that converge at the location, which were causing numerous boat accidents.

Ingenious drainage systems were incorporated into the statue to reduce weathering. These include hidden gutters and channels in the Buddha’s hair, collar, chest, and back of the ears to divert rainwater.

Leshan is accessible by train, bus, or car from major cities like Chengdu, which is about 130 kilometers (81 miles) away. Visitors can enter the site from the main entrance at the base of the statue or take a boat tour on the river to view the Buddha from the water.

The Giant Buddha of Leshan is an extraordinary monument of ancient Chinese engineering, art, and spirituality. Its immense size, historical significance, and serene presence make it a must-visit destination for travelers and a revered symbol for Buddhists worldwide. As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it continues to attract millions of visitors who come to marvel at its grandeur and reflect on its cultural legacy.

Yangtze River Cruises

Yangtze River Cruises are popular travel experiences that offer a scenic and leisurely way to explore the Yangtze River, the longest river in China and the third longest in the world. These cruises typically navigate through some of the most picturesque and historically significant regions of China, providing a unique perspective on the country’s natural beauty, culture, and heritage.

The Three Gorges—Qutang, Wu, and Xiling—are the most famous scenic attractions along the Yangtze River. They are known for their dramatic cliffs, steep mountains, and picturesque landscapes. The world’s largest hydroelectric power station, this modern engineering marvel is often a highlight of the cruise itinerary. These are smaller gorges off the main river that offer stunning scenery and opportunities for smaller boat excursions.

Many cruises offer onboard activities such as traditional Chinese music and dance performances, Tai Chi classes, calligraphy workshops, and lectures on Chinese history and culture. Passengers can enjoy a variety of Chinese and Western cuisine, often with locally sourced ingredients and regional specialties.

It’s advisable to book in advance, especially during peak travel seasons, to secure the desired cabin and itinerary. Pack comfortable clothing and shoes for shore excursions, as well as layers to accommodate changing weather conditions. Check with the cruise operator regarding health and safety measures, including any necessary vaccinations or COVID-19 protocols.

Yangtze River Cruises offer a unique and immersive way to experience the natural beauty, cultural richness, and historical significance of China’s longest river. Whether you are interested in the dramatic landscapes of the Three Gorges, the impressive engineering of the Three Gorges Dam, or the ancient cultural sites along the river, a Yangtze River Cruise provides a memorable and enriching travel experience. With a variety of itineraries and ships to choose from, there is a cruise option to suit every traveler’s preferences and budget.

Cruises on the Lee River

Cruises on the Li River (often spelled as Lijiang River) offer a picturesque and tranquil way to experience some of China’s most stunning natural scenery. The river flows through the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, from Guilin to Yangshuo, and is renowned for its dramatic karst landscape, lush green hills, bamboo groves, and traditional villages.

The unique karst formations create towering, jagged peaks that rise dramatically from the riverbanks, providing some of the most iconic and photographed landscapes in China. Nine Horses Fresco Hill is a famous cliff where the rock face resembles a mural with nine horses. It is a highlight of the cruise, with visitors trying to spot all nine horses. Xingping Town is a historic town known for its beautiful scenery and traditional architecture. The landscape around Xingping is featured on the back of the 20-yuan banknote.

 Cruises range from larger, more luxurious boats with dining facilities and upper decks for panoramic views to smaller, more intimate bamboo rafts that offer a closer connection to the water and landscape. The typical cruise from Guilin to Yangshuo takes about 4 to 5 hours, covering approximately 83 kilometers (52 miles) of the river.

Larger boats often provide meals, refreshments, and English-speaking guides who explain the scenery and point out significant landmarks. It is advisable to book tickets in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons. Cruises can be booked through travel agencies, hotels in Guilin, or online platforms.

After the cruise, visitors often spend time in Yangshuo, a charming town known for its vibrant West Street, outdoor activities like cycling and hiking, and evening performances such as the "Impression Liu Sanjie" light show. For a more intimate and adventurous experience, consider taking a bamboo raft trip on a quieter section of the river or nearby Yulong River.

Potala Palace (Lhasa, Tibet)

The Potala Palace, located in Lhasa, Tibet, is a monumental fortress-like structure and a symbol of Tibetan Buddhism. It is one of the most iconic architectural and cultural landmarks in Tibet and holds significant historical, religious, and political importance.

The palace stands at an elevation of 3,700 meters (12,100 feet) on the Red Mountain in the Lhasa Valley. It is 400 meters (1,300 feet) east-west and 350 meters (1,150 feet) north-south, with sloping stone walls averaging 3 meters (9.8 feet) thick. The palace rises 13 stories high, reaching a height of 117 meters (384 feet).

The Potala Palace is divided into the White Palace (administrative buildings) and the Red Palace (religious buildings). The original structure dates back to the 7th century during the reign of King Songtsen Gampo. The present structure was mainly built in the 17th century by the 5th Dalai Lama, Lobsang Gyatso. The palace served as the winter residence of the Dalai Lama, the spiritual and political leader of Tibet, until the 14th Dalai Lama fled to India during the 1959 Tibetan uprising.

The Potala Palace is a symbol of Tibetan Buddhism and a pilgrimage site for Buddhists around the world. It houses numerous chapels, stupas, and shrines. The palace contains a vast collection of Buddhist statues, scriptures, murals, thangkas (Tibetan Buddhist paintings on silk), and valuable artifacts . The Red Palace houses the tomb stupas of several Dalai Lamas, which are elaborately decorated with gold and precious stones.

The Potala Palace was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994. The nearby Jokhang Temple and Norbulingka (the Dalai Lama’s former summer palace) were later included in the designation.

Due to its popularity, it is advisable to book tickets in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons. Tours are often guided, providing visitors with detailed information about the history, architecture, and religious significance of the palace. Given its high altitude, visitors should acclimatize properly to avoid altitude sickness. It’s recommended to rest and stay hydrated upon arrival in Lhasa.

City Wall (Xi'an)

The City Wall of Xi'an is one of the most well-preserved and significant ancient city walls in China. It encircles the heart of Xi'an, the capital of Shaanxi Province, and is a major historical and cultural landmark.

The original wall was built during the early Ming Dynasty (1370-1378) under the supervision of Zhu Yuanzhang, the first Emperor of the Ming Dynasty. The wall was built on the foundations of the Tang Dynasty's city wall, reflecting the strategic importance of Xi'an (then known as Chang'an) as a capital and cultural center.

The wall measures approximately 13.7 kilometers (8.5 miles) in circumference, with a height of about 12 meters (40 feet) and a width of 12-14 meters (39-46 feet) at the top. There are four main gates facing the cardinal directions: East (Changle Gate), West (Anding Gate), South (Yongning Gate), and North (Anyuan Gate). Each gate has an outer and inner gate with a barbican (a defensive fortification). The wall features ramparts and watchtowers every 120 meters (394 feet), totaling 98 ramparts and towers. These served as lookout points and defensive positions for archers and soldiers. A deep moat surrounds the wall, and drawbridges provided controlled access to the city.

Visitors can enter the wall from several gates, with the South Gate (Yongning) being the most popular due to its historical significance and proximity to other attractions. Admission tickets are required to access the wall, and these can be purchased at the entrance gates.

The City Wall of Xi'an stands as a testament to the city's rich history and architectural prowess. As one of the best-preserved ancient city walls in China, it offers a fascinating glimpse into the defensive strategies and urban planning of the Ming Dynasty. Today, it serves as a vibrant cultural and recreational site, attracting visitors from around the world who come to walk, cycle, and explore this magnificent historical monument.

Terracotta Army (Xi'an, Shaanxi Province)

The Terracotta Army is a collection of terracotta sculptures depicting the armies of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China. This archaeological marvel is located in Xi'an, Shaanxi Province, and is considered one of the greatest discoveries of the 20th century. The site is a major tourist attraction and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Terracotta Army was created to accompany Qin Shi Huang (259-210 BCE), the first emperor of a unified China, in his afterlife. He founded the Qin Dynasty and was responsible for significant achievements, including the construction of the Great Wall of China.
Discovery: The army was discovered in 1974 by local farmers digging a well. The discovery led to extensive archaeological excavations, revealing thousands of life-sized terracotta figures.

The Terracotta Army consists of approximately 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses, and 150 cavalry horses. The figures vary in height according to their roles, with the tallest being the generals.The army is spread across three main pits, covering an area of about 16,300 square meters (175,000 square feet). Each pit has a different configuration and purpose.

Pit 1: The largest pit, containing the main army of infantry and chariots. 
Pit 2: Contains a mix of cavalry, infantry, and chariots.
Pit 3: The smallest pit, believed to be the command center with high-ranking officers.

Each figure is unique, with distinct facial features, expressions, and hairstyles, reflecting the diversity of the soldiers. The figures were crafted from local clay, assembled in sections, and then fired in kilns. Originally, the figures were painted in bright colors, though much of the paint has faded over time. The soldiers were originally equipped with real weapons, many of which were stolen or decayed over time. The armor and weapons were detailed and realistic, showcasing advanced metallurgical skills.

The Terracotta Army was meant to protect and serve the emperor in the afterlife, reflecting the ancient Chinese belief in the afterlife and the emperor's need for a powerful army even after death. The site provides invaluable insights into the military organization, culture, and technological advancements of the Qin Dynasty.

Longji Terraces (Pinyan Village)

The Longji Terraces, also known as the Longsheng Rice Terraces or Dragon's Backbone Rice Terraces, are a series of picturesque terraced rice fields located in Longsheng County, near Guilin in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China. They are famous for their breathtaking scenery and intricate design, which follows the contours of the mountains, creating a stunning landscape that changes with the seasons.

The terraces were originally built during the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) and completed during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), with continuous improvements over the centuries. The terraces reflect the ingenuity and hard work of the local Zhuang and Yao ethnic minorities who have cultivated these fields for centuries.

There are several trails connecting the villages and leading to various viewpoints. The hikes offer opportunities to explore the terraces up close and experience the rural lifestyle. The terraces are a favorite spot for photographers, offering countless opportunities to capture the stunning landscapes. Visitors can learn about the customs, traditional clothing, and way of life of the Zhuang and Yao people. Traditional dishes made from locally grown rice and other ingredients can be enjoyed in the villages

The terraces are located about 100 kilometers (62 miles) northwest of Guilin. They can be reached by bus or private car. Best Time to Visit - spring and Autumn: These seasons offer the most dramatic and colorful scenery. Spring is ideal for viewing the water-filled terraces, while autumn provides golden fields. Bring a good camera with a wide-angle lens to capture the expansive views.

Venice of China (Zhouzhuang)

Zhouzhuang, often referred to as the "Venice of China," is one of the most famous water towns in China, renowned for its well-preserved ancient architecture, winding waterways, and picturesque scenery. Located in Kunshan City, Jiangsu Province, Zhouzhuang is a popular tourist destination known for its rich cultural heritage and traditional water town lifestyle.

Zhouzhuang has a history of over 900 years, dating back to the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BCE). It flourished during the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) Dynasties. The town is named after Zhou Digong, a devout Buddhist who donated his property to the local Quanfu Temple during the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368).

The town is crisscrossed by canals, with over 14 stone bridges, each with unique architectural styles and historical significance. The Twin Bridges (Shuang Qiao) are the most famous, symbolizing the charm of Zhouzhuang. Many of the town’s residences date back to the Ming and Qing Dynasties, featuring whitewashed walls, black-tiled roofs, and wooden structures. Notable houses include Shen House and Zhang House, which are open to the public.

Zhouzhuang offers a glimpse into the traditional lifestyle of a Chinese water town, with residents using boats for transportation and maintaining ancient customs and crafts. The town is known for its traditional arts and crafts, including silk embroidery, clay figurines, and wood carvings.

Zhouzhuang is located about 30 kilometers (19 miles) southeast of Suzhou and approximately 90 kilometers (56 miles) west of Shanghai. The town is accessible by bus from Suzhou and Shanghai, with many tours and direct buses available for tourists.

Staying in one of the traditional guesthouses offers an immersive experience of the water town’s charm. There are also modern hotels available in nearby cities for those who prefer more contemporary accommodations.

Victoria Bay (Hong Kong)

Victoria Bay, also known as Victoria Harbour, is a natural landform harbor situated between Hong Kong Island and the Kowloon Peninsula in Hong Kong. It is one of the busiest and most recognizable harbors in the world, known for its stunning skyline, vibrant waterfront, and pivotal role in Hong Kong's history and economy.

The deep waters and sheltered position make it an ideal natural harbor, contributing to Hong Kong's development as a major trading port. Named after Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom, Victoria Harbour has been central to Hong Kong's growth since the British colonial period beginning in the mid-19th century. The harbor facilitated Hong Kong's rise as a global trade hub, with extensive shipping and commercial activities.

The harbor is a major tourist attraction, known for its scenic views, cultural events, and waterfront landmarks. A nightly light and sound show involving over 40 buildings on both sides of the harbor. It is one of the largest permanent light and sound shows in the world. The Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade on the Kowloon side and the Central and Western District Promenade on Hong Kong Island offer excellent views of the skyline and harbor.

The best time to visit Victoria Harbour is during the cooler months from October to March when the weather is mild and pleasant.  Major events like Chinese New Year, the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival, and New Year's Eve fireworks are celebrated with spectacular displays over the harbor/

Victoria Bay, or Victoria Harbour, is a central feature of Hong Kong. Whether enjoying the Symphony of Lights, taking a Star Ferry ride, or viewing the harbor from Victoria Peak, visitors can experience the dynamic energy and scenic beauty that define this iconic harbor. 

Huangshan Mountains (Anhui Province)

The Huangshan Mountains, also known as the Yellow Mountains, are a renowned mountain range in southern Anhui Province, eastern China. Famous for their stunning natural scenery, they are one of China's most popular tourist destinations and have been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1990.

The range consists of 72 peaks, with the highest, Lotus Peak, rising to an elevation of 1,864 meters (6,115 feet). Other notable peaks include Bright Summit Peak and Celestial Capital Peak. The mountains are known for their dramatic granite cliffs and unique rock formations, which have been shaped by geological processes over millions of years.

Huangshan has been a source of inspiration for Chinese painters, poets, and scholars for centuries. Its landscapes are frequently depicted in traditional Chinese ink paintings and literature. The mountains have numerous temples and shrines, reflecting their importance in Daoist and Buddhist traditions.

There are extensive hiking trails ranging from easy to challenging, offering various ways to explore the peaks and valleys. The trails are well-maintained and equipped with stone steps and railings. Viewing the sunrise or sunset from one of the peaks is a must-do activity, as the changing light creates breathtaking scenes.

For those who prefer not to hike, cable cars provide a convenient way to reach some of the highest and most scenic points in the mountains. Nearby ancient villages like Hongcun and Xidi, which are also UNESCO World Heritage Sites, offer a glimpse into traditional Chinese rural life and architecture.

The nearest major city is Huangshan City (formerly known as Tunxi), which has an airport and railway station with connections to major cities like Shanghai, Beijing, and Guangzhou. From Huangshan City, buses and taxis are available to the base of the mountains. There is an admission fee to enter the Huangshan Scenic Area, and additional fees for cable car rides.

Several hotels and guesthouses are located within the scenic area, allowing visitors to stay overnight and catch the early morning and late evening views. Accommodation is also available in nearby towns and villages, which can be more affordable and offer additional cultural experiences.

Shaolin (Henan Province)

Shaolin Temple is a famous Buddhist monastery known for its deep cultural and historical significance, particularly in relation to martial arts. The Shaolin Temple is often regarded as the birthplace of both Chan (Zen) Buddhism and Shaolin Kung Fu.

The Shaolin Temple was founded in 495 AD during the Northern Wei Dynasty by Emperor Xiaowen, who established it for the Indian monk Batuo (Bodhidharma). According to legend, Bodhidharma, an Indian monk, arrived at the temple in the 6th century and introduced Chan Buddhism. He is also credited with teaching the monks exercises that evolved into Shaolin Kung Fu.

The main complex includes several halls, such as the Hall of Heavenly Kings, Mahavira Hall, and the Dharma Hall. Visitors can explore the ancient architecture and learn about the temple's history. Pagoda Forest is located near the temple, this forest contains over 200 stone and brick pagodas, serving as tombs for esteemed monks from the temple's history. It is the largest collection of pagodas in China.

The temple hosts daily demonstrations of Shaolin Kung Fu, showcasing various forms and techniques performed by skilled monks. The area around the temple is home to numerous martial arts schools where students from around the world come to study Shaolin Kung Fu and Chan Buddhism. Visitors can participate in short-term training programs to get a hands-on experience of the rigorous physical and mental training involved in Shaolin Kung Fu.

The temple is nestled in the Songshan Mountains, one of China’s sacred mountains, offering scenic beauty and opportunities for hiking and exploration. The Songshan area is rich with other historical sites, including ancient academies, stone carvings, and Taoist temples.

Visitors can reach the monastery by bus from nearby cities like Zhengzhou (the provincial capital) and Luoyang. Zhengzhou also has an international airport and high-speed train connections.

Longmen Cave Temples (Henan Province)

The Longmen Grottoes, also known as the Longmen Cave Temples, are one of the most significant and renowned examples of Chinese Buddhist art. Located near Luoyang in Henan Province, China, these caves house thousands of statues, inscriptions, and carvings that span several centuries of artistic and religious development.

The grottoes were primarily constructed during the Northern Wei Dynasty (386–534 AD) and continued through the Tang Dynasty (618–907 AD). The work began around 493 AD when Emperor Xiaowen moved the capital to Luoyang. The site received significant patronage from royalty, nobility, and the general public, resulting in a vast number of caves and carvings.

The Longmen Grottoes are renowned for their intricate Buddhist carvings, which include statues of Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and other religious figures. The site reflects the evolution of Chinese Buddhist art, showcasing changes in style, iconography, and artistic techniques over several dynasties.

There are approximately 2,300 caves and niches carved into the limestone cliffs stretching along a one-kilometer section of the Yi River. The site contains over 100,000 statues, ranging from tiny, just a few centimeters tall, to the colossal, standing over 17 meters high. There are also nearly 2,800 inscriptions and steles.

The Longmen Grottoes were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000, recognizing their historical, cultural, and artistic value. The grottoes are located about 12 kilometers south of Luoyang, a major city in Henan Province. Luoyang can be reached by train, bus, or plane from major cities in China. From Luoyang, visitors can take a taxi, bus, or join a tour to reach the grottoes.

to be continued...