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A guide to the main attractions
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My pictures of China
This page provides a list of the main things to see in the Chinese subcontinent. "++" identifies the top attractions.
Beijing (north):
  • Olympic Village (Bird Nest)
  • +Summer Palace of 1888 (Marble boat in Kunming Lake) [Subway to Xizhimen+Line 13 to Wu Dao Kou + taxi]
  • Old Summer Palace/ Changchun Yuan/ European garden/Fountain ruins of 18th c [Subway to Xizhimen+Line 13 to Wu Dao Kou + taxi]
  • Guguan Xiangta observatory of 1446 [Jianguomen]
  • Yonghegong temple of 1694 [Yonghgong]
  • Kong Miao temple of Confucius of 1306 [near Yonghegong]
  • 798 Art Zone in Dashanzi/Chaoyang district
  • Sunrise Kempinski Hotel (Yanshui Road, Yanqi Lake, Huairou District, one hour north of downtown)
Beijing (central):
  • +Qian Men (1420)
  • Tianan Men
  • +++Forbidden city (1420)
  • Museum of History
  • Grand Theater/ Opera House [subway line 1 to Tiananmen Square West station exit C]
Beijing (west):
  • Baiyuan taoist temple of 741 [Nanlishilu or Muxidi]
  • West railway station [Junshibowuguan]
Beijing (southwest):
  • Niujie Libaisi mosque of 996 [Changchunjie]
  • Faiyuan temple of 696 [near mosque]
  • Beijing World Park [in Fengtai district]
Beijing (east):
  • Dongyue temple [Chaoyangmen]
  • China World Trade Center Tower 3 (2010) in the Central Business District at Jiangoo Menwai & East Chang Am Ave, tallest building in Beijing until 2018
  • Rem Koolhaas' CCTV Tower headquarters near the WTC-Datong-Luoyan
  • Citic Tower/ China Zun (tallest skyscraper in 2019)
  • Headquarters of Bank of China
  • Linked Hybrid Building
  • Phoenix International Media Center (Chaoyang Park)
  • Reconstruction of the Daguanyuan/ Prospect Garden of the "Dream of the Red Chamber", Xuanwu District
Beijing (south):
  • +Tiantan/ Temple of Heaven (1420) [10' south of Qian Men, subway Line 5 to Tiantandongmen Station]
Near Beijing:
  • Tanzche Si temple of 3rd c (45 km west) [Subway to Pingguoyuan + one-hour bus to temple]
  • Shisanling tombs (Ming tombs) of 15th-17th c (50 km NW)
  • +Great Wall (usually seen at Badaling but better hiked from Jinshanling to Simatai)
  • Handan: Xiang-tang Shan caves (late 6th c AD) with +Bas-relief of Western Paradise
  • Tianjin: European villas, World Financial Center
  • Pinggu (100 kms from Beijing): Shilinxia viewing platform (world's biggest glass viewing platform as of 2018)
  • Xiongan (new high-tech city under construction)

Notes and maps for Beijing
HEILONGJIANG (northeast)
Harbin: +Snow & Ice Festival (january), Isozaki's Concert Hall (2014)
LIAONING (northeast)
Shenyang: Gugong (imperial palace of 1636)
HEBEI (north of Beijing)
Hongyagu: 488-meter glass bridge (longest glass bridge in 2017)
East Taihang: cracking glass walkway
Chengde/Jehol (3 hr from Beijing): Summer Palace, Liao-period white pagoda/ Yongyousi-Ta (12th c)
Mancheng (25 km west of Baoding, near Chengde, 137km south of Beijing): Han-period tomb of Liu Sheng, king of Zhongshan (206 AD)
Dingzhou City: Kaiyuan temple with Liaodi Pagoda (1055 AD), 84 meters high, eleven storeys, tallest of all extant ancient buildings
Zhengding (200 kms south of Beijing, near Shijiazhuang): Taoist and Buddhist temples in the old town
SHANDONG (south of Beijing)
Qufu: +Kong Miao/Temple of Confucius of 1724 (Han dynasty gates, Great Pavilion of Constellations of the Scholars of 1190) and Wung Fu (1567)
Taian: Tai Shan (Taoist pilgrimage mountain)
Zaozhuang/Taierzhuang: Grand Canal
Qingzhou (west of Weifang): museum (with Tang-era Buddha statues unearthed in 1996)
Maoshan (Daoist mountain)
Qingdao: -Zhanqiao Pier, -Colonial mansions of Badaguan (10 Juyongguan Rd, 18 Huanghai Rd, etc), St Michael's Cathedral (1934, 15 Zhejiang Road), -Jiaozhou Governor's Hall (on Dexian Rd), -Xinhao/ Signal Hill (views of the city),
JIANGSU (south of Shandong)
Nanjing: Ming tombs on Zijin Shan (Ming Xiaoling) and Zhongshan Ling (1920 mausoleum of Sun Yatsen/ Sun Yixian), Greenland Financial Center or Zifeng Tower, Qinhuai River (prostitutes quarter), Imperial Examination Museum
Notes and maps for Nanjing
Zhenjiang: Jueshan/Jiaoshan
Changzhou: China Dinosaur Park, Tianning Temple, Yancheng Ruins (warning: see the Notes)
Wuxi: Wanda Cultural Center (teapot-shaped building, Juqu Rd & Lihu Ave, 1 km south of Changguangxi metro), Lingshan Buddha and Lingshan Buddhist Palace on Taihu Lake
Suzhou (north to south): Suzhou Museum (Pei-designed); Silk Museum (more interesting building than the Museum); Administrator gardens; Confucian Temple/ Wenmiao with stelae carved during the Southern Song dynasty (1137-1279) including a map of old Suzhou, detailing the canal system, and an astronomy stele from 1190 - one of the oldest astronomy charts in the world; Pingjiang Lu (pedestrian area with several opera performances); Gate of the Orient (2014, 3km east of the old town, Dongfangzhimen station of Line 1 metro); Temple of Mystery/ Xuanmiao (Daoist, 1181 and the sole surviving example of Song architecture in Suzhou); Twin Pagodas/ Shuang Ta; +Pan Gate Scenic Area (one ticket for all): Pan Men (1355), Wumen Bridge (Wumen Qiao), Ruiguang Pagoda (Ruiguang Ta);
Slightly outside Suzhou (northeast): Yangcheng Lake's Tongtian Butu sculpture in Huayi Brothers Movie World theme park
Slightly outside Suzhou (northwest): North Temple Pagoda in Bao'en Si (The tallest pagoda south of the Yangzi); Shantang Street from Changmen Gate (the west gate) on the northern bank of the Shantang River ending at Tiger Hill for seven li (3.5 kms); Tiger Hill/ Huqiu Shan with seven-storey Cloud Rock Pagoda (Yunyan Ta) atop the hill (very popular with Chinese tourists but wildly overpriced); West Garden temple/ Xiyuan Si (3km from town), constructed in the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), the largest temple in Suzhou; +Hanshan temple in Fengqiao town (5km west of Suzhou, 1 km from Xiyuan Si), the best temple in the province.
Watertowns near Suzhou: Tongli and +Zhouzhuang (pronounced Joju-a)
Notes and maps for Suzhou
SHANXI (between Beijing and Xian)
Taiyuan: Shuangta (Twin Pagoda) monastery with 13-storey pagoda, Jin monastery of 1020 (25 km southwest of Taiyuan), cave temples of 6th c (sculptures of Cave 19) on Mt Tianlong (near Jinci, 50 kms from Taiyuan)
Notes and maps for Taiyuan
Datong/ Tatung: Nine dragon screen in Jiulong Bi, +++Yungang/Yunkang caves of 386-534 AD (++Cave 6 of 5th c AD, +Cave 7 of 480, +Cave9, Cave 12's west wall, +Cave 13, +Colossal 5th c.AD Buddha of cave 20)
Notes and maps for Datong
Hunyuan: Xuan-kong Si (Hanging Monastery) of 1140
Heng Shan (Buddhist holy mountain)
Yingxian: Pagoda (11th c) of Fogong Temple, oldest extant wooden pagoda
+Pingyao (traditional village of Ming dynasty, 1.5 hour from Taiyuan)
Zhenguo Temple (near Pingyao)
Jincheng: Tomb of the Red Emperor (14th c), Jin Dynasty theater, Yuhuang temple (Daoist, with 260 statues), Xiyagou canyon, Manghe natural reserve in Sanglin town, Qinglian temple/ Blue Lotus temple (5th c AD) at Lingshi Mountain (17 km southeast of Jingcheng)
Wutai Shan/ Mount Wutai (the five-terrace holy mountain of Buddhists): East Main Hall of Foguang Temple (857), 5kms north of Doucunzhen, and main hall of Nanchan Temple 782), two of the oldest wooden buildings in the world, and Shuxiang Temple
Notes and maps for Wutai Shan
Ruicheng: The Five Dragons Temple/ Wu Long M¨ao, Taoist temple, with wooden Main Hall of 833
HENAN (between Beijing and Xian)
Fuxi mountain: glass U-shaped bridge
Zhengzhou: Yellow River Scenic Area, Shang ruins
+Anyang Yinxu (200 kms north of Zhengzhou): Yinxu Bowuguan museum, Xibeigang/Hsipeikang cemetery with tomb of consort Fu Hao (1250 BC) at Yinxu (Shang Dynasty ruins), Wenfeng pagoda
Luoyang (120 kms west of Zhengzhou): +Longmen Caves of 494-750 AD (1352 grottoes, 40 pagodas including +Seated Buddha in cave 13 of 527, +cave 20, +cave 6, +Pinyang Cave T69 of 6th c AD, Vairocana Buddha of 675), Baima/ White Horse monastery of 1st c BC (oldest Buddhist temple in China, destroyed by the Cultural Revolution), Han-dynasty tomb of 1st c BC (with earliest wall painting of China), Laojun Mountain (Daoist mountain, the mountain with the greatest number of "golden halls" in the world)
Dengfeng (60 km southeast of Luoyang): +Mt Sung/Song with 12-sided Songyue Pagoda (6th c), Fawang Temple's pagodas, +Shaolin Temple (the birthplace of Zen Buddhism, with collection of pagoda forest), Zhongyue Temple (one of the earliest Taoist temples),
Kaifeng: +Iron Pagoda (1049), Da Xiangguo Si (Song Dynasty's largest temple but rebuilt in 1766)
Zhaocun (Lushan County): +128-meters Spring Temple Buddha (tallest statue in the world, 2008)
Mt Bao: funerary niches near Lingquan monastery
Notes and maps for Henan
HUBEI (central)
Wuhan: Huang He Lou/ Yellow Crane Tower, Hubu Alley, Guiyuan Temple, Stone Museum, Guqin Tai/ Heptachord Terrace, Baotong Temple, Dong Hu/ East Lake, Han Street along the Chu River, Tan Hua Lin pedestrian street, Wuhan Changjiang Daqiao/ Yangtze River Bridge (built in 1957).
Suizhou (border with Henan): Tomb of Marquis Yi of Zeng (433 BC)
Yesanguanhen (300 kms west of Wuha, 300 kms east of Chongqing): 1,222 meter long and 500-meter high Sidu River suspension bridge (2009, second tallest bridge in the world in 2016)
Notes and maps for Wuhan
ANHUI (central)
+Huangshan Mountains National Park ("Yellow Mountains") with Valley of Wild Monkeys,
Huangshan City: Cheng Dawei Abacus Museum (more than 1,000 abaci), Cheng's Three Houses , MAD Architects' mountain village at Huangshan Taiping Lake (2016)
Huangshan City: traditional villages of southern Anhui, i.e. Wan Nan (Hongcun, +Xidi)
Chizhou: Jiuhua holy mountain
Notes and maps for Anhui province
JIANGXI (northeast)
Sanqingshan National Park (40 km north of Yushan County)
Nanchang: Jiangxi Provincial Museum in Xinzhou (with +Dayangzhou tomb artifacts of 1000BC)
HUNAN (central)
Zhangjiajie (northwestern Hunan): +Wulingyuan National Park; 430-meter long and 300-meter high glass bridge of Tianmen Shan (2016, tallest in the world), the world's longest cable car ride at Tianmen Shan, Tianmenshan Temple at Tianmen Shan
Hengyang: Grand Temple/ Nanyue Damiao of Mount Heng, largest temple complex in China
Fenghuang: ancient town
+Changsha: +Zaha Hadid's Meixihu International Culture & Arts Centre, +Next Architects' undulating red Lucky Knot Bridge (2016)
Pingjiang: Shiniuzhai National Geological Park with +Brave Man's Bridge/ Haohan Qiao (2017)
Notes and maps for Hunan province
SHAANXI (central)
Xian/ Xi'an
  • city walls
  • history museum
  • Dayan Ta pagoda of 652
  • ++ Qinshihuang's mausoleum of 210 BC (northeast of Xian, with 8,000 +terracotta soldiers, ++bronze chariots)
  • +Jingdi's tomb/ Hanyangling (25 km north)
Near Xian
  • Maoling (45 kms from Xian, mausoleum of emperor Wudi, 87 BC)
  • +Qianling (Mount Liang, 85 kms northwest of Xian, mausoleum of Tang emperor Gao Zong, his consort and his children, 690 AD, with stone animal carvings, statues of foreign envoys) and murals of tomb of Princess Yong Tai
  • +Zhaoling (83 kms from Xian, 12 kms from Yuanjiacun Village, mausoleum of Tang emperor Taizong/Li Shimin, 741 AD, first tomb not in tumulus and largest mausoleum in the world)
  • +Banpo neolithic village (5km east of Xian): Museum of Yangshao culture (4,000 BC)
  • Famen temple (120 kms west of Xian, stone pagoda), destroyed during the Cultural Revolution
  • Huayin: Hua Shan, one of the five sacred Taoist mountains and a legendary trail
  • Baoji: +Baoji Bronzeware Museum (with bronze objects from Zhou tombs), Yuguo mudi/ The Yu State Cemetery (176 kms west of Xian) with tombs of Count Yu, wife and concubine

Notes and maps for Xian
SHANGHAI (central East Coast)
  • Bund/Waitan on Zhongshan Rd & Nanjing Rd (waterfront promenade)
  • Yu Yuan bridge of 16th c in Yu Yuan gardens
  • Yu Yuan village
  • Tianzifang
  • Jade Buddha temple (with two white jade Buddhas)
  • Yangpu bridge (world's longest suspension bridge)
  • Tomorrow Square (2003)
  • Pudong: World Financial Center (2006)
  • Pudong: Jin Mao Building (1998)
  • Pudong: Oriental Pearl TV tower (one of the world's tallest buildings)
  • Pudong: Hong Kong New World Centre (2001)
  • Pudong: Shanghai Tower (tallest skyscraper in China in 2016)
  • Sky Soho (2014, Zaha Hadid) - Songhong Road Metro Station of Line 2
  • Hongkou Soho - 10 Hainan Rd/ 575 Wusong Road & Siping Road, Hongkou District (2015, Kengo Kuma)
  • M50/ 50 Moganshan Lu (art village)
  • Shanghai Museum and Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center (People's Square)
  • -Jing'an Temple
  • Jing’an Sculpture Park (128 Shimen 2nd Rd & Beijing West Rd, near National History Museum)
  • Poly Grand Theatre at Yuanxiang Lake, 159 Baiyin Road, Jiading (2014, Tadao Ando) - Baiyin Road station (Line 11)
  • Modern Art Museum (4777 Binjiang Avenue, Pudong New Area) with Lorenzo Quinn's Force of Nature on top of the museum
  • Natural History Museum (510 West Beijing Road)
  • Nearby villages: Fengjing, Zhaojialou, Qibao, Zhouqiao

Notes and maps for Shanghai
ZHEJIANG (south of Shanghai)
Hangzhou: West Lake and +Liuhe Pagoda (Six Harmonies Pagoda) of 1165 AD, Carlos Ott's Hangzhou Grand Theatre, +Lingyin Temple, Wansong Academy, Longjing village (tea village), Qiaoxi (Qiao Xi Li Shi Jie Qu) along the Grand Canal, Southern Song Imperial St and Hefang St, +Life Plaza (with the Intercontinental Hotel and many other futuristic buildings), West Lake Cultural Square, Grand Canal (Qiaoxi to Dadou), Wang Shu's and Lu Wenyu's Xiangshan Central Campus of China Academy of Art (2007), Wulin Square
Notes and maps for Hangzhou
Yuhang (40 kms northwest of Hangzhou): Liangzhu Museum (David Chipperfield, 2008) for Liangzhu culture (3400-2250 BC)
Wuzhen water town: +Dongda Jie (one hour from Main Bus Station), Opera theater, Munxi museum
Huzhou: Sheraton Hot Spring Resort (Taihu Lake, north Zhejiang)
Xinye (near Xin'anjiang) traditional village
Putuoshan holy mountain of Guanyin Buddha (300 kms from Hangzhou): Duobao Pagoda (1334), Puji Temple (Song dynasty), Nanhai Guanyin (giant Buddha statue)
Jinhua (170 km southwest of Hangzhou): Lanxi Zhuge Bagua ("Eight Trigrams") ancient village, laid out in the form of eight trigrams
Mount Tiantai: Guoqing Temple (with memorial pagoda of Monk Yi Xing, builder of the world's first mechanical clock)
FUJIAN (south of Zhejiang)
Quanzhou: twin pagodas of Kaiyuan temple, Emporium of the World
+Anxi temple and old town
Ningde: CATL's headquarters, shaped like an oversize lithium battery
Fuzhou: Sanfang Qixiang (architecture of Ming and Qing dynasties), Buddhist temples (Yongquan Temple, Xichan Temple, Linyang Temple, Dizang Temple, Wanfu Temple and Xuefeng Temple)
GUANGDONG (southern East Coast)
  • Shamian Dao (island with colonial architecture)
  • Foshan's +Zumiao temple of Ming dynasty (16km from Guangzhou)
  • +Zaha Hadid's Opera House
  • +Zhujiang New Town
  • GuangXiao temple
  • Liurong temple
  • Sun Yat Sen memorial
  • Mausoleum of the Nanyue King
  • Joseph di Pasquale's Circle or GDPE Landmark Building - Reunion Mansion ( Hejing rd & Zijing Rd in Liwan Qu, 6 kms from Xilang Station, but visible from the other side of the river near Luoxi station of line 2)
  • Langham Place Hotel (2013) in Pazhou island (638 Xingang East Road - Xingangdong station on Line 8)

Notes and maps for Guangzhou
  • Longgang district:
    • Dafen Oil Painting Village (Metro Line 3 at Dafen station Exit A1)
    • Hakka Culture Museum/ Hehu New Residence (by Crane Lake, 28 kms east of Shenzhen, metro line 16 Longyuan Station)
    • Dapengsuocheng/ Dapeng Fortress of 1394 (55 kms east of Shenzhen, Futian bus station take bus E26 or H92 to Dapeng then change to M471 to DapengSuocheng, or Longgang bus station take bus 818 Dapeng then change to M471 to DapengSuocheng)
  • Pingshan district:
    • Shenzhen Pingshan Art Museum (Huide Road, Metro line 14, Pingshan Square Station)
  • Nanshan district:
    • Nanshan Museum (2093 Nanshan Avenue & Taoyuan Rd, Line 1 to Taoyuan Station exit B, )
    • Xin'an ancient walled city and Nantou Ancient City Museum (1202 Shennan Boulevard, Nanshan District, near Nanshan Museum)
    • Shenzhen Poly Cultural Center (Metro station Houhai of lines 2 and 11)
    • Shenzhenwan Science and Technology Ecological Garden (Shahe West Road & Baishi & Keji roads, Hi-Tech South station of Metro Line 9)
    • Ma Yansong's Bay Culture Park (under construction in 2023, Houhai area)
    • CR Buildsing, China Huarun Building, "Spring Bamboo" (Haide 2nd Rd & Keyuan St S, Houhai area, Metro station Houhai of lines 2 and 11)
    • Shenzhen Bay Park with exhibition venue (Bay Park station of Line 9)
    • OCT art zone/ OCT Loft art galleries (2 Jinxiu Beilu, Nanshan District near Futian district)
    • OCT Museum (OCT metro station exit C)
    • Shekou Sea World Culture and Arts Center (Shekou, Nanshan)
    • Nanshan has several amusement parks: Window of the World, China Folk Culture Village, Splendid China, Overseas Chinese Town Resort, Shenzhen Happy Valley
  • Luohu district:
    • Shenzhen Paleontology Museum within XianHu/ Fairylake botanical garden (160 Xianhu Road, Metro Line 2 Xianhu Rd Station Exit C3)
    • Grand Theatre Station of Line 1, Exit B)
    • KK100 (5016 Shennan E Rd, near Grand Theater/DaJuYuan subway station)
    • Shun Hing Square in Shenzhen (1996, tallest steel building in China in 1996, 5002 Shen Nan Road East & Hongling South Rd, Grand Theater/DaJuYuan metro station of Line 1 and 2)
    • Old Science Museum (Shennan Middle Road & Zhenzhong Rd & Shangbu Rd, Science Museum/ Kexueguan station of Line 1 and Line 6)
    • Art Museum (32 Donghu Street, inside Donghu Park/East Lake Park, Aiguo Road, Line 5 or 7 to Tai'an Station, Exit A, and then it's a 2km walk down Dongxiao Rd left on Taian Rd, cross Aiguo Rd to East Lake and then it's still 1km to the museum by the lake southwestern shore)
  • Longhua district
    • Shenzhen Art Museum (new venue as of 2023, 160 meters west of the intersection of Wangmin Street and Minfan Road, 20 km north of downtown, Metro lines 4 and 6 and exit at A1 of Hongshan Station)
  • Futian district:
    • Arata Isozaki's Shenzhen Concert Hall (2007, Children's palace line 3 subway station)
    • Museum of Contemporary Art and Planning Exhibition (MOCAPE) (Metro Children's Palace Station of Line 4, Exit A2)
    • +Civic Center (Civic Center subway station on line 2 or 4)
    • Shenzhen Museum of History (Metro line 2 or 4, Civic Center Station exit B)
    • Children's Palace/ Museum of Science (next to MOCAPE)
    • Stock Exchange (Futian subway station on line 2)
    • Ping An Finance Center (tallest in Shenzhen in 2016)
    • Station, Exit B)
    • Museum of Ancient Art (north side of Shennan Road & Tongxin Road, Futian District, Metro Yannan Station of Lines 2 or 8, Exit B)
    • Huaqiangbei Market (Huaqiangbei North street, advertised as "the world's greatest electronics market")
    • OCT museum by PeiZhu (Baishi Rd & Haiyuan Rd, south of Shennan Boulevard, south of Temple of Heaven, Overseas Chinese Town/OCT subway station on line 1)
  • Yantian District:
    • +Steven Holl's Vanke Center (234 Huanbi Rd, Dameisha)
  • Guangming district:
    • Guangming Culture and Art Center (intersection of Guanguang Road and Chuangtou Road, Guangming District, Metro: Line 6 to Fenghuang Town Station, Exit B)
    • Zaha Hadid's new Shenzhen Science & Technology Museum in Guangming Science City (under construction in 2023)

Notes and maps for Shenzhen
Kaiping: 1800 watchtowers
Macau: colonial architecture, Mazu temple, +Grand Lisbon
Notes and maps for Macau
Hong Kong:
  • +++Northern Hong Kong Island
  • International Finance Center
  • Central Plaza (374m),
  • Bank of China Tower (369m)
  • The Centre (350m)
  • Cheung Kong Center (290m)
  • Manulife Plaza (240m)
  • International Commerce Center in Kowloon
  • Foster's Shangai Banking Building
  • Foster's Chep Lap Kok airport (1998)
  • Libeskind's Creative Media Centre (18 Tat Hong Avenue, 500 meters up the hill from the Kowloon Tong railway station, to the north of City University's main campus)
  • Ten-thousand Buddhas monastery (Tai Po Rd, Shatin subway station)
  • Giant Tian-tan Buddha (Lantau Island, Tung Chung subway station)

Notes and maps for Hong Kong
GUANGXI (south)
Guzhou/ Rongjiang old town
Lijiang (Li River) National Park
  • +Taipei 101 (once the tallest building in the world)
  • Lungshan temple
  • +Chiang Kaishek (Jiang Zhongzheng) memorial
  • National Theater
  • Concert Hall
  • National Museum
  • Shilin Night Market
  • Presidential Office Building (NTU Hospital station of metro)
  • Jon Jerde's Core Pacific City (2001) (Nanjing Sanmin metro station)
  • Maokong, the tea suburb (there's a gondola from the Taipei Zoo metro station of the Wenshan Line)

Pingzi: Lantern Festival (february)
Beigang: Chaotien Temple (Taiwan's oldest Matsu shrine)
Chiayi: 16m-high shoe-shaped glass church (Chiayi Budai Seascape Park)
Alishan National Scenic Area
Kenting National Park
-Puli: Chung Tai Shan temple
Kaohsiung (3 hours by train from Taipei): Dragon and Tiger Pagodas, Fo Guang Shan Buddha Memorial Center (the largest Buddhist monastery in Taiwan, with Buddha Memorial Center and 36-meter Buddha statue, 1975), Lotus Lake/ Lianchi Tan with Dragon and Tiger Pagodas/ Longhu Ta (1976)
-Tainan, ancient capital: Confucius Temple (1665), Nankunshen Daitian Temple
Taichung: Rainbow Village in Nantun District painted by Huang Yung-Fu
Notes and maps for Taiwan
TIBET (southwest)
Lhasa: +++Potala Palace, +Jokhang Temple, +Drepung Monastery, Sera Monastery
Near Lhasa: ++Ganden Monastery, Reting monastery/ Radreng monastery
Far from Lhasa: ++Shigatze, +Gyangtse, +Samye monasteries, +Sakya monastery (near Nepal border)
Very far from Lhasa: Lake Manasarova, ++Mt Kailash
Mt Kailash
Notes and maps for Tibet
QINGHAI (southwest)
Sanjiangyuan National Park
SICHUAN (Eastern Tibet)
Le Shan: ++Da Fo, largest Buddha in the world of 803
Emeishan (near Leshan) pilgrimage mountain
Chengdu: Manjushri Monastery (Wenshu Yuan), Qingyang Gong, Qintai Rd
Baoguang monastery of 2nd c AD (18 kms north of Chengdu)
Anren (one hour from Chengdu): Jianchuan Museum Cluster (largest museum complex in China in 2005, official propaganda about Mao's times)
Pools of Huanglong ("Yellow Dragon", 150 kms northwest of Chengdu)
Garze/Ganzi: Kandze monastery/ Ganzisi of 1642 (west of Aba)
Baiyu County: Yarchen Gar in Garze/Ganzi prefecture: nun city (Yaqen Orgyan Temple)
Sertar County: Seda in Garze/Ganzi prefecture: Larung Gar Buddhist Institute, the largest Tibetan Buddhist institute in the world
Dege County in Garze/Ganzi prefecture: Dzogchen monastery (main Buddhist temple in East Tibet), Palpung Monastery, Gongchen Monastery, Kathok Monastery, Palyul Monastery, Shechen Monastery
Nuorilang: Jiuzhaigou nature reserve (Arrow Bamboo Falls, Five Flower Lake, Pearl Shawls Falls)
Sanxingdui Museum (+2.6-meter bronze statue from 1,000BC, +bronze tree)
Notes and maps for Sichuan
CHONGQING (east of Sichuan)
Chongqing. Jiulongpo District: +Huangjueping Graffiti Street, the largest graffiti art in China, starts from Huangjueping Railway Hospital and ends at 501 Art Gallery, with a total length of 1.25 km. Yuzhong District (subway line 2 to Linjiangmen Station): Hongya Cave (view from Qiansimen Bridge); +Guotai Arts Centre (red building); Skyscrapers (WFC, IFC, etc); +Times Square (pedestrian area amid the skyscrapers). Yuzhong District (subway line 2 to Zengjiayan Station): +Great Hall of the People, and across the square the Three-gorges Museum (with Han artifacts). Yuzhong District (subway line 2 to Fotuguan Station): General Stilwell Museum - Flying Tigers Museum (68 Jialingxin Road). Line 2 +Liziba station (high-rise light-rail station). Jiangbei District (line 6 to Grand Theater station: +Opera House and Science and Technology Museum. +Qiansimen Bridge (connects Opera House and Hongya Cave with great views of the skyline). +Moshe Safdie's "horizontal skyscraper" Raffles City (under construction in 2018). Bishan Cultural and Art Center (2016): Dai Shan Da Dao, Bishan Qu, Chongqing Shi.
Dazu: +Beishan caves of 9th-13th c (10,000 carved stone statues with 250m-long Buddha Crescent), +Baodingshan caves of 1179-1249, Duobao Pagoda (12th c)
Cruise to Yangtze gorges: Shibao Zhai temple on an island
Notes and maps for Chongqing
GUIZHOU (south)
1,341-meter long and 564-meter high Beipanjiang Bridge (tallest bridge in the world in 2016), connecting Guizhou and Yunnan
YUNNAN (south of Sichuan)
Lugu Lake: Mosuo matriarcal tribes
Kunming: Qiongzhu temple
Shi Lin: +stone forest (100 km southeast of Kunming)
Lijiang (border of Tibet): +old town, water wheels, Naxi people (matriarchal and polytheistic)
Baisha (10 km north of Lijiang): Mural of the Liuli Dian temple and Dabaoji Gong palace
Hutiaoxia/Qiaotou (near Lijiang): +Tiger Jumping Gorge (16-km hike and "Sky Ladder", series of vertical ladders)
Dali: old town, three pagodas
Jinghong: Dai villages (e.g. Banla)
Damenglong (south of Jinghong just a few kms from the border): Hanfeilong pagoda of 1204
Shangri-La/ Zhongdian: +nature
Shigu: great bend of the Yangtze around Cloud Mountain
Notes and maps for Yunnan
+Nanshan Park in Sanya (Buddhist temples, statues and gardens, including Nanshan Temple, and the 108-meter statue of goddess Guan Ying)
Notes and maps for Hainan
Dongsheng: Genghis Khan's mausoleum (1952)
Kublai Khan's palace of Xanadu (destroyed)
Ordos: Exhibition Plaza (Kuanlu Architects, 2015) with +City Library and +Ordos Museum
GANSU (east of Xinjiang)
Dunhuang/Tun-Huan: +++ Mogao caves of 366-907 AD (Cave 272 of 420s with "Dome of Heaven" and "Lantern Ceiling"; Cave 259 of 450s with "Treasure Stupa"; Cave 254 of 470s with stupa pillar and Sivi and Mahsattva Jatakas; Cave 249 of 540 with fresco of Buddha in preaching pose and ceiling imagery mixing Chinese tradition and Buddhist belief; Cave 285 of 538 with Vihara architecture and ceiling imagery with traditional Chinese iconography; Cave 428 of 570 with stupa pillar, gable roof, decorative "Lantern" ceiling; Cave 96 of 690s with a female Buddha Maitreya; Cave 217 of 710 with western Paradise and Lotus Sutra; Cave 1's wall painting of Manjusri's pilgrimage; Cave 70's landscape painting of 8th c; Cave 139A's wall painting of the Western Paradise)
Lanzhou: White Pagoda (seven-storey eight-sided pagoda with images of Buddha of 12th c)
Tianshui: +Maijishan/ Mai-chi-shan rock-cut Buddhist caves with 7,200 Buddhist sculptures and over 1,000 square meters of murals (+stele of Cave 133)
Jiayuguan fort of the Great Wall (1372)
Jiayu Pass: remnants of the original Great Wall
XINJIANG (far west)
Urumqi: architecture (City Commercial Bank, New Holiday Inn and Xin Jiang Grand Hotel, Mopark , Jin Gu Hotel, China Construction Bank & Jinsin building, Entertainment Square, People's Hotel & Construction Bank, Hong Xin hotel, Hoi Tak hotel, Bank of China, Fountain Plaza, Hong Xin hotel, Li Hua hotel)
Kashgar: 17th c mausoleum of Apak Khoja, 11th c mausoleum of Uygur poet Yusup Has Hajib, Id Kah mosque of 1442
Kucha/Kuche (between Kashgar and Turfan): Buddhist monastery of Kyzyl Kara, Thousand Buddha caves of Kezier Qianfo Dong (70kms from Kucha, but very little left to see)
Near Kucha: Kizil/Qizil Caves (6th c frescoes)
Turfan: +Jiaohe (ancient capital of the Cheshi kingdom of 7th-10th c), +Gaochang (ancient Uygur capital)
Artux (northwest of Kashgar): +Shipton's Arch/ Toshuk Tagh, world's tallest natural arch
  • Pictures of China
  • Notes after 2015
  • Notes of 2005
  • Tibet and Xinjang in 2008
  • Notes of 2008
    The Best

    This list is limited to the coastal regions, between Hong Kong and Beijing. It does NOT include the attractions that require lengthy detours (e.g. Tibet, Xinjiang, Gansu, Yunnan...). And assuming that you want to see
    Beijing (Forbidden City, Summer Palace, Temple of Heaven, Modern Architecture)
    Hong Kong
    Shanghai/Pudong (mainly Pudong)
    they are not included.

    Number 1,2,3,4 are all caves. Pick one between
    Longmen caves (near Luoyang)
    Yungang caves (near Datong)
    the two that are easier to reach.
    If you are going to Xian, then Yungang.

    #5 Great Wall (Jinshanling or Badaling, 2 hours from Beijing)

    #6 Xian (Terracotta soldiers)

    #7 At least one "temple" (which are really cities), best is Lingyin Temple (1 hour from Hangzhou, 2 hours from Shanghai)

    #8 At least one medieval town. Easiest to reach and probably best is Wuzhen (1 hour from Shanghai), although it has become very commercial (warning: millions of tourists during weekends!)

    #9 Hangzhou (Life Plaza, West Lake, Imperial Song St)