China’s Secret World Wonders and World Heritage Sites

China’s Secret World Wonders and World Heritage Sites

Did you know that China has some 52 sites listed under UNESCO World Heritage? Ranging from ancient wonders to natural wonders, you’ll be amazed once more by some that you will know, and some that many never knew existed.

Well, with that epic build-up, here they are, China’s 52 amazing UNESCO listed World Heritage Sites.


Mount Huangshan

Mount Huangshan

Chinese: 黄山
World Cultural and Natural Heritage Site
Location: Huangshan City, Anhui
Huangshan, known as ‘the loveliest mountain of China’, was acclaimed through art and literature during a good part of Chinese history (e.g. the Shanshui ‘mountain and water’ style of the mid-16th century). Today it holds the same fascination for visitors, poets, painters and photographers who come on pilgrimage to the site, which is renowned for its magnificent scenery made up of many granite peaks and rocks emerging out of a sea of clouds.


Mount Wuyi

Mount Wuyi

Chinese: 武夷山
World Cultural and Natural Heritage Site
Location: Fujian, Jiangxi
Mount Wuyi is the most outstanding area for biodiversity conservation in south-east China and a refuge for a large number of ancient, relict species, many of them endemic to China. The serene beauty of the dramatic gorges of the Nine Bend River, with its numerous temples and monasteries, many now in ruins, provided the setting for the development and spread of neo-Confucianism, which has been influential in the cultures of East Asia since the 11th century. In the 1st century B.C. a large administrative capital was built at nearby Chengcun by the Han dynasty rulers. Its massive walls enclose an archaeological site of great significance.



Fujian Tulou

Chinese: 福建土楼
World Cultural Heritage Site
Location: Fujian
The Fujian Tulou are the most representative and best-preserved examples of the tulou of the mountainous regions of south-eastern China. The large, technically sophisticated and dramatic earthen defensive buildings, built between the 13th and 20th centuries, in their highly sensitive setting in fertile mountain valleys, are an extraordinary reflection of a communal response to settlement which has persisted over time. The tulou and their extensive associated documentary archives reflect the emergence, innovation, and development of outstanding art of earthen building over seven centuries.




Chinese: 三清山国家公园
World Cultural Heritage Site
Location: Yushan County, Jiangxi
Mount Sanqingshan National Park, a 22,950 ha property located in the west of the Huyaiyu mountain range in the northeast of Jiangxi Province (in the east of central China) has been inscribed for its exceptional scenic quality, marked by the concentration of fantastically shaped pillars and peaks: 48 granite peaks and 89 granite pillars, many of which resemble human or animal silhouettes. The natural beauty of the 1,817 metre high Mount Huaiyu is further enhanced by the juxtaposition of granite features with the vegetation and particular meteorological conditions which make for an ever-changing and arresting landscape with bright halos on clouds and white rainbows.


Jiuzhaigou Valley

Jiuzhaigou Valley Scenic and Historic Interest Area

Chinese: 九寨沟风景名胜区
World Natural Heritage Site
Location: Jiuzhaigou County, Sichuan
The Jiuzhaigou Valley Scenic and Historic Interest Area is a reserve of exceptional natural beauty with spectacular jagged alpine mountains soaring above coniferous forest around a fairyland landscape of crystal clear, strange-coloured blue, green and purplish pools, lakes, waterfalls, limestone terraces, caves and other beautiful features. These include a number of karst formations; indeed the area is a “natural museum” for alpine karst hydrology and research. Covering 72,000 ha in the northern part of Sichuan Province, Jiuzhaigou preserves a series of important forest ecosystems including old-growth forests that provide important habitat for numerous threatened species of plants and animals, including the giant panda and takin. Attaining heights of 4,752 m in the southern Minshan Mountains, Jiuzhaigou also contains an important number of well-preserved quaternary glacial remnants with great scenic value.


Xiaoling Mausoleum

Imperial Tombs of the Ming and Qing Dynasties, including the Ming Dynasty Tombs and the Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum

World Cultural Heritage Site
Chinese: 明清皇家陵寝
Location: Beijing and Nanjing, Jiangsu
The Imperial Tombs of the Ming and Qing Dynasties were built between 1368 and 1915 AD in Beijing Municipality, Hebei Province, Hubei Province, Jiangsu Province and Liaoning Province of China. They comprise of the Xianling Tombs of the Ming Dynasty and the Eastern and Western Qing Tombs inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2000; the Xiaoling Tomb of the Ming Dynasty and the Ming Tombs in Beijing added to the inscription in 2003, and the Three Imperial Tombs of Shenyang, Liaoning Province (Yongling Tomb, Fuling Tomb, and Zhaoling Tomb, all of the Qing Dynasty) added in 2004.


Forbidden City

Imperial Palaces of the Ming and Qing Dynasties, including the Forbidden City

Chinese: 故宫博物院
World Cultural Heritage Site
Location: Beijing (the Forbidden City)
Seat of supreme power for over five centuries (1416-1911), the Forbidden City in Beijing, with its landscaped gardens and many buildings (whose nearly 10,000 rooms contain furniture and works of art), constitutes a priceless testimony to Chinese civilization during the Ming and Qing dynasties.


Mukden Palace

Imperial Palaces of the Ming and Qing Dynasties, including Mukden Palace

Chinese: 盛京宫殿
World Cultural Heritage Site
Location: Shenyang, Liaoning (Mukden Palace)
The Imperial Palace of the Qing Dynasty in Shenyang consists of 114 buildings constructed between 1625–26 and 1783. It contains an important library and testifies to the foundation of the last dynasty that ruled China, before it expanded its power to the centre of the country and moved the capital to Beijing. This palace then became auxiliary to the Imperial Palace in Beijing. This remarkable architectural edifice offers important historical testimony to the history of the Qing Dynasty and to the cultural traditions of the Manchu and other tribes in the north of China.


Summer Palace

Summer Palace

Chinese: 北京皇家园林-颐和园
World Cultural Heritage Site
Location: Beijing
The Summer Palace in Beijing integrates numerous traditional halls and pavilions into the Imperial Garden conceived by the Qing emperor Qianlong between 1750 and 1764 as the Garden of Clear Ripples. Using Kunming Lake, the former reservoir of the Yuan dynasty’s capital and Longevity Hill as the basic framework, the Summer Palace combined political and administrative, residential, spiritual, and recreational functions within a landscape of lakes and mountains, in accordance with the Chinese philosophy of balancing the works of man with nature.


Temple of Heaven

Temple of Heaven

Chinese: 北京皇家祭坛—天坛
World Cultural Heritage Site
Location: Beijing
The Temple of Heaven is an axial arrangement of Circular Mound Altar to the south open to the sky with the conically roofed Imperial Vault of Heaven immediately to its north. This is linked by a raised sacred way to the circular, three-tiered, conically roofed Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests further to the north. Here at these places the emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties as interlocutors between humankind and the celestial realm offered sacrifice to heaven and prayed for bumper harvests. To the west is the Hall of Abstinence where the emperor fasted after making sacrifice. The whole is surrounded by a double-walled, pine-treed enclosure. Between the inner and outer walls to the west are the Divine Music Administration hall and the building that was the Stables for Sacrificial Animals. Within the complex there are a total of 92 ancient buildings with 600 rooms.


Great Wall

The Great Wall

Chinese: 长城
World Cultural Heritage Site
Location: Northern China
The Great Wall was continuously built from the 3rd century BC to the 17th century AD on the northern border of the country as the great military defence project of successive Chinese Empires, with a total length of more than 20,000 kilometers. The Great Wall begins in the east at Shanhaiguan in Hebei province and ends at Jiayuguan in Gansu province to the west. Its main body consists of walls, horse tracks, watch towers, and shelters on the wall, and includes fortresses and passes along the Wall.


Grand Canal

Grand Canal

Chinese: 大运河
World Cultural Heritage Site
Location: Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei, Shandong, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Anhui, and Henan.
The Grand Canal forms a vast inland waterway system in the north-eastern and central-eastern plains of China, passing through eight of the country’s present-day provinces. It runs from the capital Beijing in the north to Zhejiang Province in the south. Constructed in sections from the 5th century BC onwards, it was conceived as a unified means of communication for the Empire for the first time in the 7th century AD (Sui Dynasty). This led to a series of gigantic worksites, creating the world’s largest and most extensive civil engineering project ensemble prior to the Industrial Revolution.


Mountain Resort

Mountain Resort and its Outlying Temples in Chengde

Chinese: 承德避暑山庄及其周围寺庙
World Cultural Heritage Site
Location: Chengde, Hebei
The Mountain Resort of palaces and gardens at Chengde with its Outlying Temples is the largest existing imperial palace-garden and temple complex in China, covering a total area of 611.2ha. Built between 1703 and 1792 as the Qing emperors’ detached summer palace near the imperial Mulan hunting ground 350 kilometres from Beijing, it was a base from which to strengthen administration in the border regions. The 12 outlying imperial temples, some built in the architectural styles of the ethnic minorities, are distributed across the eastern and northern hills outside the palace and garden area.


Mount Tai

Mount Tai

Chinese: 泰山
World Cultural and Natural Heritage Site
Location: Tai’an, Shandong
The sacred Mount Tai (‘shan’ means ‘mountain’) was the object of an imperial cult for nearly 2,000 years, and the artistic masterpieces found there are in perfect harmony with the natural landscape. It has always been a source of inspiration for Chinese artists and scholars and symbolizes ancient Chinese civilizations and beliefs.



Huanglong Scenic and Historic Interest Area

Chinese: 黄龙风景名胜区
World Natural Heritage Site
Location: Songpan County, Sichuan
Situated in the north-west of Sichuan Province, the Huanglong valley with its series of travertine lakes, waterfalls, forests and mountain scenery is a superlative natural property. Topped by permanently snow-capped peaks rising from a base of 1,700 m up to 5,588 m, these include the easternmost glacier in China. Covering 60,000 ha, this area located within the Minshan Mountains also includes spectacular limestone formations and hot springs. Its diverse forest ecosystems provide the home for a number of endangered plants and animals, including the giant panda and Sichuan golden snub-nosed monkey.


Mount Emei

Mount Emei Scenic Area, including Leshan Giant Buddha Scenic Area

Chinese: 峨眉山—乐山大佛
World Cultural and Natural Heritage Site
Location: Emeishan City (Mt. Emei) and Leshan (Giant Buddha), Sichuan
The first Buddhist temple in China was built here in Sichuan Province in the 1st century A.D. in the beautiful surroundings of the summit Mount Emei. The addition of other temples turned the site into one of Buddhism’s holiest sites. Over the centuries, the cultural treasures grew in number. The most remarkable is the Giant Buddha of Leshan, carved out of a hillside in the 8th century and looking down on the confluence of three rivers. At 71 m high, it is the largest Buddha in the world. Mount Emei is also notable for its exceptionally diverse vegetation, ranging from subtropical to subalpine pine forests. Some of the trees there are more than 1,000 years old.


Mount Qingcheng

Mount Qingcheng and the Dujiangyan Irrigation System

Chinese: 青城山—都江堰
World Cultural Heritage Site
Location: Dujiangyan City, Sichuan
The Dujiangyan irrigation system, located in the western portion of the Chengdu flatlands at the junction between the Sichuan basin and the Qinghai-Tibet plateau, is an ecological engineering feat originally constructed around 256 BC. Modified and enlarged during the Tang, Song, Yuan and Ming dynasties, it uses natural topographic and hydrological features to solve problems of diverting water for irrigation, draining sediment, flood control, and flow control without the use of dams. Today the system comprises two parts: the Weir Works, located at an altitude of 726m, the highest point of the Chengdu plain 1km from Dujiangyan City, and the irrigated area.


Sichuan Giant Panda

Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries

Chinese: 四川大熊猫栖息地
World Natural Heritage Site
Location: Sichuan
Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries, home to more than 30% of the world’s pandas which are classed as highly endangered, covers 924,500 ha with seven nature reserves and nine scenic parks in the Qionglai and Jiajin Mountains. The sanctuaries constitute the largest remaining contiguous habitat of the giant panda, a relict from the paleo-tropic forests of the Tertiary Era. It is also the species’ most important site for captive breeding. The sanctuaries are home to other globally endangered animals such as the red panda, the snow leopard and clouded leopard.



Wulingyuan Scenic and Historic Interest Area

Chinese: 武陵源风景名胜区
World Natural Heritage Site
Location: Zhangjiajie, Hunan
A spectacular area stretching over more than 26,000 ha in China’s Hunan Province, the site is dominated by more than 3,000 narrow sandstone pillars and peaks, many over 200 m high. Between the peaks lie ravines and gorges with streams, pools and waterfalls, some 40 caves, and two large natural bridges. In addition to the striking beauty of the landscape, the region is also noted for the fact that it is home to a number of endangered plant and animal species.


Wudang Mountains

Ancient Building Complex in the Wudang Mountains

Chinese: 武当山古建筑群
World Cultural Heritage Site
Location: Hubei
The palaces and temples of the Ancient Building Complex are located amongst the peaks, ravines and gullies of the picturesque Wudang Mountains, Hubei Province. Today, 53 ancient buildings and 9 architectural sites survive, including the Golden Shrine and the Ancient Bronze Shrine, which are prefabricated buildings in bronze made in 1307; the stone-walled Forbidden City of 1419; Purple Heaven Palace built originally in the 12th century, rebuilt in the 15th century and extended in the 19th century; the Nanyang Palace of the 12th and 13thcenturies; the Fuzhen Temple of the 15th and 17th centuries and the stone Zhishi-Xuanyue Gateway built to mark the entrance to the Wudang Mountains in 1522.


Hubei Shennongjia

Hubei Shennongjia

Chinese: 湖北神农架
World Natural Heritage Site
Location: Hubei
Hubei Shennongjia is located in the Shennongjia Forestry District and Badong County in China’s Hubei Province. Shennongjia is on the ecotone from the plains and foothill regions of eastern China to the mountainous region of central China. It is also situated along a zone of climate transition, where the climate shifts from the subtropical zone to warm temperate zone, and where warm and cold air masses from north and south meet and are controlled by the Subtropical Gyre.



Temple and Cemetery of Confucius and the Kong Family Mansion in Qufu

Chinese: 曲阜孔庙、孔林和孔府
World Cultural Heritage Site
Location: Qufu, Shandong
Confucius, a renowned philosopher, politician and educator in ancient China whose system of belief involving philosophy, politics and ethics (subsequently known as Confucianism) has exerted profound influence on Chinese culture, was revered as the Sacred Model Teacher for Ten Thousand Generations by Chinese emperors. Located in his birthplace, Qufu City of Shandong Province, China, the Temple of Confucius was built to commemorate and offer sacrifices to Confucius in 478 BC. Having been destroyed and reconstructed over the centuries, it now covers 14 hectares, with 104 buildings dating from the Jin to Qing dynasties including the Dacheng Hall, Kuiwen Pavilion and Xing Altar, and over 1,250 ancient trees.


Lushan National Park

Lushan National Park

Chinese: 庐山国家公园
World Natural Heritage Site
Location: Lushan District, Jiangxi
Mount Lushan is located in Jiujiang City, Jiangxi Province. The property area of Lushan National Park occupies a total area of 30,200 hectares and its highest Peak, Hanyang Peak, is 1,474 meters above sea level. Bordered on the north by the Yangtze River and on the south by Poyang Lake, Mount Lushan presents an integral scene of river, hills and lake, the beauty of which has attracted spiritual leaders, scholars, artists and writers for over 2,000 years. More than 200 historic buildings are located in the Lushan National Park; complexes of prayer halls that have been rebuilt and extended many times to create an ongoing centre for study and religion.


Ancient City of Ping Yao

Ancient City of Ping Yao

Chinese: 平遥古城
World Cultural Heritage Site
Location: Pingyao County, Shanxi
The Ancient City of Ping Yao is a well-preserved ancient county-level city in China. Located in Ping Yao County, central Shanxi Province, the property includes three parts: the entire area within the walls of Ping Yao, Shuanglin Temple 6 kilometers southwest of the county seat, and Zhenguo Temple 12 kilometers northeast of the county seat. The Ancient City of Ping Yao well retains the historic form of the county-level cities of the Han people in Central China from the 14th to 20th century.


Mount Wutai

Mount Wutai

Chinese: 五台山
World Cultural Heritage Site
Location: Wutai County, Shanxi
Mount Wutai with its five flat peaks is one of the four sacred Buddhist mountains in China. It is seen as the global centre for Buddhist Manjusri worship. Its fifty-three monasteries include the East Main Hall of Foguang Temple, with life-size clay sculptures, the highest ranking timber building to survive from the Tang Dynasty, and the Ming Dynasty Shuxiang Temple with a huge complex of 500 ‘suspension’ statues, representing Buddhist stories woven into three-dimensional pictures of mountains and water. The temples are inseparable from their mountain landscape.


Yungang Grottoes

Yungang Grottoes

Chinese: 云岗石窟
World Cultural Heritage Site
Location: Datong, Shanxi
The massive Yungang Buddhist grottoes were cut from the mid-5th Century to early-6th Century AD. Comprising 252 caves and niches and 51,000 statues within a carved area of 18,000 square meters, the Yungang Grottoes represent the outstanding achievement of Buddhist cave art in China. The Five Caves created by Tan Yao are a classical masterpiece of the first peak of Chinese art, with a strict unity of layout and design.


Classical Gardens of Suzhou

Classical Gardens of Suzhou

Chinese: 苏州古典园林
World Cultural Heritage Site
Location: Suzhou, Jiangsu
The classical gardens of Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, China date back to the 6th century BCE when the city was founded as the capital of the Wu Kingdom. Inspired by these royal hunting gardens built by the King of the State of Wu, private gardens began emerging around the 4th century and finally reached the climax in the 18th century. Today, more than 50 of these gardens are still in existence, nine of which, namely the Humble Administrator’s Garden, Lingering Garden, Net Master’s Garden, the Mountain Villa with Embracing Beauty, the Canglang Pavilion, the Lion Grove Garden, the Garden of Cultivation, the Couple’s Garden Retreat, and the Retreat & Reflection Garden, are regarded as the finest embodiments of Chinese “Mountain and Water” gardens.


Old Town of Lijiang

Old Town of Lijiang

Chinese: 丽江古城
World Cultural Heritage Site
Location: Lijiang, Yunnan
The Old Town of Lijiang is located on the Lijiang plain at an elevation of 2,400 meters in southwest Yunnan, China, where a series of strategic passes give access through the surrounding mountains. The Yulong Snow Mount to the north-west is the source of the rivers and springs which water the plain and supply the Heilong Pool (Black Dragon Pond), from where waterways feed into a network of canals and channels to supply the town. The Old Town of Lijiang comprises three component parts: Dayan Old Town (including the Black Dragon Pond), Baisha and Shuhe housing clusters. Dayan Old Town was established in the Ming dynasty as a commercial centre and includes the Lijiang Junmin Prefectural Government Office; the Yizi pavilion and Guabi Tower remaining from the former Mujia compound and the Yuquan architectural structures in the Heilongtan Park.


Three Parallel Rivers

Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Areas

Chinese: 云南三江并流保护区
World Natural Heritage Site
Location: Yunnan
Consisting of eight geographical clusters of protected areas within the boundaries of the Three Parallel Rivers National Park, in the mountainous north-west of Yunnan Province, the 1.7 million hectare site features sections of the upper reaches of three of the great rivers of Asia: the Yangtze (Jinsha), Mekong and Salween run roughly parallel, north to south, through steep gorges which, in places, are 3,000 m deep and are bordered by glaciated peaks more than 6,000 m high. The site is an epicentre of Chinese biodiversity. It is also one of the richest temperate regions of the world in terms of biodiversity.


South China Karst

South China Karst

Chinese: 中国南方喀斯特
World Natural Heritage Site
Location: Yunnan, Guizhou, Chongqing, and Guangxi
South China Karst is one of the world’s most spectacular examples of humid tropical to subtropical karst landscapes. It is a serial site spread over the provinces of Guizhou, Guangxi, Yunnan and Chongqing and covers 176,228 hectares. It contains the most significant types of karst landforms, including tower karst, pinnacle karst and cone karst formations, along with other spectacular characteristics such as natural bridges, gorges and large cave systems. The stone forests of Shilin are considered superlative natural phenomena and a world reference. The cone and tower karsts of Libo also considered the world reference site for these types of karst, form a distinctive and beautiful landscape. Wulong Karst has been inscribed for its giant dolines (sinkholes), natural bridges and caves.


Chengjiang Fossil Site

Chengjiang Fossil Site

Chinese: 澄江化石遗址
World Cultural Heritage Site
Location: Chengjiang County, Yunnan
The Chengjiang Fossil Site, located in the Province of Yunnan, China, conserves fossil remains which are of exceptional significance. The rocks and fossils of the Chengjiang Fossil Site present an outstanding and extraordinarily preserved record that testifies to the rapid diversification of life on Earth during the early Cambrian period, 530 million years before present. In this geologically short interval, almost all major groups of animals had their origins.


Honghe Hani Rice Terraces

Cultural Landscape of Honghe Hani Rice Terraces

Chinese: 红河哈尼梯田
World Cultural Heritage Site
Location: Yuanyang County, Yunnan
On the south banks of the Hong River in the mountainous terrain of southern Yunnan, the Honghe Hani Rice terraces cascade down the towering slopes of the Ailao mountains. Carved out of dense forest over the past 1,300 years by Hani people who migrated here from further to the north-west, the irrigated terraces support paddy fields overlooking narrow valleys. In some places there are as many as 3,000 terraces between the lower edges of the forest and the valley floor.


Dazu Rock Carvings

Dazu Rock Carvings

Chinese: 大足石刻
World Cultural Heritage Site
Location: Dazu District, Chongqing
The steep hillsides in the Dazu area near Chongqing, contain an exceptional series of five clusters of rock carvings dating from the 9th to 13th centuries. The largest cluster at Beishan contains two groups along a cliff face 7-10m high stretching for around 300m. There are more than 10,000 carvings dating from the late 9th to the mid-12th century which depict themes of Tantric Buddhism and Taoism. Inscriptions give insight to the history, religious beliefs, dating and the identification of historical figures. The late 11thcentury Song dynasty carvings at Shizhuanshan extend over 130m and depict Buddhist, Taoist and Confucian images in a rare tripartite arrangement.


Xidi and Hongcun

Ancient Villages in Southern Anhui – Xidi and Hongcun

Chinese: 皖南古村落-西递、宏村
World Cultural Heritage Site
Location: Yi County, Anhui
Xidi and Hongcun are two outstanding traditional villages, located in Yi County, Huangshan City in south Anhui Province, with commercial activities as their primary source of income, family and clan-based social organization, and well known for their regional culture. The overall layout, landscape, architectural form, decoration, and construction techniques all retain the original features of Anhui villages between the 14th and 20th centuries.


Yin Xu

Yin Xu

Chinese: 殷墟
World Cultural Heritage Site
Location: Anyang, Henan
Situated on both banks of the Huanhe River to the northwest of the nationally famous historic and cultural city Anyang, in Henan Province of central China, the archaeological remains of Yin Xu dated from 1,300 BCE and comprise two sites: the Palace and Royal Ancestral Shrines Area and the Royal Tombs Area covering a total 414 hectares with an enclosing buffer zone of 720 hectares. Yin Xu has been confirmed by historic documents, oracle bone inscriptions and archaeological excavations as the first site of a capital in Chinese history.



Historic Monuments of Dengfeng in “The Centre of Heaven and Earth”

Chinese: 登封 “天地之中”历史古迹
World Cultural Heritage Site
Location: Dengfeng, Henan
For many centuries Dengfeng, one of the early capitals of China whose precise location is unknown, but whose name is now associated with an area to the south of Mount Shaoshi and Mount Taishi, two peaks of Mount Songshan, came to be associated with the concept of the centre of heaven and earth – the only point where astronomical observations were considered to be accurate. The natural attribute of the centre of heaven and earth was seen to be Mount Songshan and worship of Mount Songshan was used by the Emperors as a way of reinforcing their power.


Tusi Sites

Tusi Sites

Chinese: 土司遗址
World Cultural Heritage Site
Location: Hunan, Hubei and Guizhou
Distributed around the mountainous areas of south-west China are the remains of tribal domains whose leaders were appointed by the central government as ‘Tusi’, hereditary rulers of their regions from the 13th to the early 20th century. This system of administrative government was aimed at unifying national administration while simultaneously allowing ethnic minorities to retain their customs and way of life. The three sites of Laosicheng, Tangya and the Hailongtun Fortress combine as a serial property to represent this system of governance.


Zuojiang Huashan Rock Art Cultural Landscape

Zuojiang Huashan Rock Art Cultural Landscape

Chinese: 左江华山岩画文化景观
World Cultural Heritage Site
Location: Guangxi
Dating from around the 5th century BCE to the 2nd century CE, 38 sites of rock art and their associated karst, riverine and tableland landscape depict ceremonies that have been interpreted as portraying the bronze drum culture once prevalent across southern China. Located on steep cliffs cut through the karst landscape by the meandering Zuojiang River and its tributary Mingjiang River, the pictographs were created by the Luoyue people illustrating their life and rituals.


Longmen Grottoes

Longmen Grottoes

Chinese: 龙门石窟
World Cultural Heritage Site
Location: Luoyang, Henan
The Longmen Grottoes, located on both sides of the Yi River to the south of the ancient capital of Luoyang, Henan province, comprise more than 2,300 caves and niches carved into the steep limestone cliffs over a 1km long stretch. These contain almost 110,000 Buddhist stone statues, more than 60 stupas and 2,800 inscriptions carved on steles. Luoyang was the capital during the late Northern Wei Dynasty and early Tang Dynasty, and the most intensive period of carving dates from the end of the 5th century to the mid-8th century. The earliest caves to be carved in the late 5th and early 6th centuries in the West Hill cliffs include Guyangdong and the Three Binyang Caves, all containing large Buddha figures. Yaofangdong Cave contains 140 inscription recording treatments for various diseases and illnesses.


Ancient Koguryo Kingdom

Capital Cities and Tombs of the Ancient Koguryo Kingdom

Chinese: 高句丽王城、王陵及贵族墓葬
World Cultural Heritage Site
Location: Ji’an, Jilin
Located in northeast China, the Capital Cities and Tombs of the Ancient Koguryo Kingdom dating from the 1st century BCE to the 7th century CE comprise archaeological remains of three cities and 40 tombs: Wunu Mountain City in Huanren Manchu Autonomous County, Liaoning Province; Guonei City, Wandu Mountain City, and the 40 tombs in Ji’an municipality, Jilin Province.



Historic Centre of Macau

Chinese: 澳门历史城区
World Cultural Heritage Site
Location: Macau
Macao, a lucrative port of strategic importance in the development of international trade in Chinese territory, became a Portuguese settlement in the mid-16th century and returned to Chinese sovereignty in 1999. The inscribed property presents a group of 22 principal buildings and public spaces that enable a clear understanding of the structure of the old trading port city. With its historic streets, residential, religious and public Portuguese and Chinese buildings, the Historic Centre of Macao provides a unique testimony to the meeting of aesthetic, cultural, religious, architectural and technological influences from East and West.


Kaiping Diaolou

Kaiping Diaolou and Villages

Chinese: 开平碉楼与村落
World Cultural Heritage Site
Location: Kaiping, Guangdong
Kaiping Diaolou and Villages feature the Diaolou, multi-storeyed defensive village houses in Kaiping, which display a complex and flamboyant fusion of Chinese and Western structural and decorative forms. They reflect the significant role of émigré Kaiping people in the development of several countries in South Asia, Australasia and North America, during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. There are four groups of Diaolou and twenty of the most symbolic ones are inscribed on the List. These buildings take three forms: communal towers built by several families and used as temporary refuge, residential towers built by individual rich families and used as fortified residences, and watchtowers.



Kulangsu: a Historic International Settlement

Chinese: 鼓浪屿
World Cultural Heritage Site
Location: Fujian
Kulangsu (Gulangyu) is a tiny island located on the estuary of the Chiu-lung River, facing the city of Xiamen. With the opening of a commercial port at Xiamen in 1843, and the establishment of the island as an international settlement in 1903, this island off the southern coast of the Chinese empire suddenly became an important window for Sino-foreign exchanges. Kulangsu is an exceptional example of the cultural fusion that emerged from these exchanges, which remain legible in its urban fabric. There is a mixture of different architectural styles including Traditional Southern Fujian Style, Western Classical Revival Style and Veranda Colonial Style.


China Danxia

China Danxia

Chinese: 中国丹霞
World Natural Heritage Site
Location: Hunan, Guangdong, Fujian, Jiangxi, Zhejiang, and Guizhou
China Danxia is a serial property comprising six component parts (Chishui, Taining, Langshan, Danxiashan, Longhushan, and Jianglangshan) found in the sub-tropical zone of south-eastern China within approximately 1700 km crescent shaped arc from Guizhou Province in the west to Zhejiang Province in the east. China Danxia is the name given in China to landscapes developed on continental red terrigenous sedimentary beds influenced by endogenous forces (including uplift) and exogenous forces (including weathering and erosion). It is characterised by spectacular red cliffs and a range of erosional landforms, including dramatic natural pillars, towers, ravines, valleys and waterfalls.


West Lake Cultural Landscape of Hangzhou

West Lake Cultural Landscape of Hangzhou

Chinese: 杭州西湖文化景观
World Cultural Heritage Site
Location: Hangzhou, Zhejiang
West Lake is surrounded on three sides by ‘cloud-capped hills’ and on the fourth by the city of Hangzhou. Its beauty has been celebrated by writers and artists since the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907). In order to make it more beautiful, its islands, causeways and the lower slopes of its hills have been ‘improved’ by the addition of numerous temples, pagodas, pavilions, gardens and ornamental trees which merge with farmed landscape. The main artificial elements of the lake, two causeways and three islands, were created from repeated dredgings between the 9th and 12th centuries. Since the Southern Song Dynasty (thirteenth century) ten poetically named scenic places have been identified as embodying idealised, classic landscapes – that manifest the perfect fusion between man and nature.


Peking Man

Peking Man Site at Zhoukoudian

Chinese: 周口店北京人遗址
World Cultural Heritage Site
Location: Beijing
Peking Man Site at Zhoukoudian is a Pleistocene hominid site on the North China Plain. This site lies about 42 km south-west of Beijing and is at the juncture of the North China Plain and the Yanshan Mountains. Adequate water supplies and natural limestone caves in this area provided an optimal survival environment for early humans. Scientific work at the site is still underway. So far, ancient human fossils, cultural remains, and animal fossils from 23 localities within the property dating from 5 million years ago to 10,000 years ago have been discovered by scientists.


Site of Xanadu

Site of Xanadu

Chinese: 元上都遗址
World Cultural Heritage Site
Location: Xilingol, Inner Mongolia
The Site of Xanadu is the site of a grassland capital characteristic of cultural fusion, witnessing clashes and mutual assimilation between the nomadic and agrarian civilisations in northern Asia. Located on the southeast edge of the Mongolian plateau, it was the first capital (1263-1273) of Kublai Khan and later the summer capital (1274-1364) of the Yuan Dynasty. The city site and associated tombs are located on the grassland steppe with a north-south axis determined by traditional Chinese feng shui principles, backed by mountains to the north and a river to the south.


Xinjiang Tianshan

Xinjiang Tianshan

Chinese: 新疆天山
World Natural Heritage Site
Location: Xinjiang
Xinjiang Tianshan comprises four components—Tomur, Kalajun-Kuerdening, Bayinbukuke and Bogda— that total 606,833 hectares. They are part of the Tianshan mountain system of Central Asia, one of the largest mountain ranges in the world. Xinjiang Tianshan presents unique physical geographic features and scenically beautiful areas including spectacular snow and snowy mountains glacier-capped peaks, undisturbed forests and meadows, clear rivers and lakes and red bed canyons. These landscapes contrast with the vast adjacent desert landscapes, creating a striking visual contrast between hot and cold environments, dry and wet, desolate and luxuriant.


Chang’an-Tianshan Corridor

Silk Roads: the Routes Network of Chang’an-Tianshan Corridor

Chinese: 丝绸之路:长安天山走廊的路网
World Cultural Heritage Site
Location: Luoyang, Lingbao of Henan; Xi’an, Bin County and Chenggu of Shaanxi; Tianshui, Yongjing, Dunhuang, and Anxi of Gansu; Turpan, Jimsarand Kuqa of Xinjiang
This property is a 5,000 km section of the extensive Silk Roads network, stretching from Chang’an/Luoyang, the central capital of China in the Han and Tang dynasties, to the Zhetysu region of Central Asia. It took shape between the 2nd century BC and 1st century AD and remained in use until the 16th century, linking multiple civilizations and facilitating far-reaching exchanges of activities in trade, religious beliefs, scientific knowledge, technological innovation, cultural practices and the arts.


Mausoleum of the First Qin

Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor

Chinese: 秦始皇陵及兵马俑坑
World Cultural Heritage Site
Location: Xi’an, Shaanxi
Located at the northern foot of Lishan Mountain, 35 kilometers northeast of Xi’an, Shaanxi Province, Qinshihuang Mausoleum is the tomb of Emperor Qinshihuang, founder of the first unified empire in Chinese history during the 3rd century BCE. Begun in 246 BCE the grave mound survives to a height of 51.3 meters within a rectangular, double-walled enclosure oriented north-south. Nearly 200 accompanying pits containing thousands of life-size terra cotta soldiers, terracotta horses and bronze chariots and weapons – a world-renowned discovery – together with burial tombs and architectural remains total over 600 sites within the property area of 56.25 square kilometers.


Mogao Caves

Mogao Caves

Chinese: 莫高窟
World Cultural Heritage Site
Location: Dunhuang, Gansu
Carved into the cliffs above the Dachuan River, the Mogao Caves south-east of the Dunhuang oasis, Gansu Province, comprise the largest, most richly endowed, and longest used treasure house of Buddhist art in the world. It was first constructed in 366AD and represents the great achievement of Buddhist art from the 4th to the 14th century. 492 caves are presently preserved, housing about 45,000 square meters of murals and more than 2,000 painted sculptures.


Qinghai Hoh Xil

Qinghai Hoh Xil

Chinese: 青海可可西里国家级自然保护区_百度百科
World Natural Heritage Site
Location: Qinghai
Qinghai Hoh Xil, located in the northeastern extremity of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, is the largest and highest plateau in the world. This extensive area of alpine mountains and steppe systems is situated more than 4,500 m above sea level, where sub-zero average temperatures prevail all year-round. The site’s geographical and climatic conditions have nurtured a unique biodiversity. More than one-third of the plant species and all the herbivorous mammals are endemic to the plateau. The property secures the complete migratory route of the Tibetan antelope, one of the endangered large mammals that are endemic to the plateau.


Potala Palace

Historic Ensemble of the Potala Palace, including the Jokhang Temple and Norbulingka

Chinese: 拉萨布达拉宫历史建筑群
World Cultural Heritage Site
Location: Lhasa, Tibet
Enclosed within massive walls, gates and turrets built of rammed earth and stone the White and Red Palaces and ancillary buildings of the Potala Palace rise from Red Mountain in the centre of Lhasa Valley at an altitude of 3,700 metres. As the winter palace of the Dalai Lama from the 7th century CE the complex symbolizes Tibetan Buddhism and its central role in the traditional administration of Tibet. The White Palace contains the main ceremonial hall with the throne of the Dalai Lama, and his private rooms and audience hall are on the uppermost level. The palace contains 698 murals, almost 10,000 painted scrolls, numerous sculptures, carpets, canopies, curtains, porcelain, jade, and fine objects of gold and silver, as well as a large collection of sutras and important historical documents. To the west and higher up the mountain the Red Palace contains the gilded burial stupas of past Dalai Lamas. Further west is the private monastery of the Dalai Lama, the Namgyel Dratshang.


Sites submitted to the UNESCO World Heritage tentative list

Dongzhai Port Nature Reserve (1996)
The Alligator Sinensis Nature Reserve (1996)
Poyang Nature Reserve (1996)
The Lijiang River Scenic Zone at Guilin (1996)
Yalong, Tibet (2001)
Yangtze Gorges Scenic Spot (2001)
Jinfushan Scenic Spot (2001)
Heaven Pit and Ground Seam Scenic Spot (2001)
Hua Shan Scenic Area (2001)
Yandang Mountain (2001)
Nanxi River (2001)
Maijishan Scenic Spots (2001)
Wudalianchi Scenic Spots (2001)
Haitan Scenic Spots (2001)
Dali Cangshan Mountain and Erhai Lake Scenic Spot (2001)
Sites for Liquor Making in China (2008)
Ancient Residences in Shanxi and Shaanxi Provinces (2008)
City Walls of the Ming and Qing Dynasties (2008)
Slender West Lake and Historic Urban Area in Yangzhou (2008)
Ancient Water Towns South of the Yangtze River (Zhouzhuang, Luzhi, Wuzhen, and Xitang) (2008)
Fenghuang Ancient City (2008)
Sites of the Southern Yue State (2008)
Baiheliang Ancient Hydrological Inscription (2008)
Miao Nationality Villages in Southeast Guizhou Province: The villages of Miao Nationality at the Foot of Leigong Mountain in Miao Ling Mountains (2008)
Karez Wells (2008)
Expansion Project of Imperial Tombs of the Ming and Qing Dynasties: King Lujian’s Tombs (2008)
The Four Sacred Mountains as an Extension of Mt. Taishan (2008)
Taklimakan Desert—Populus euphratica Forests (2010)
China Altay (2010)
Karakorum-Pamir (2010)
The Central Axis of Beijing (including Beihai) (2013)
Wooden Structures of Liao Dynasty—Wooden Pagoda of Yingxian County,Main Hall of Fengguo Monastery of Yixian County (2013)
Sites of the Hongshan Culture: Niuheliang, Hongshanhou, and Weijiawopu (2013)
Liangzhu Archaeological Site (2013)
Ancient Porcelain Kiln Site in China (2013)
Sanfang Qixiang (2013)
Ancient Tea Plantations of Jingmai Mountain in Pu’er (2013)
Western Xia Imperial Tombs (2013)
Dong Villages (2013)
Lingqu Canal (2013)
Diaolou Buildings and Villages for Tibetan and Qiang Ethnic Groups (2013)
Archaeological Sites of the Ancient Shu State: Jinsha site and Joint Tombs of Boat- shaped Coffins in Chengdu, Sichuan; Sanxingdui site in Guanghan, 29th – 5th century BC (2013)
Fanjingshan (2015)
Xinjiang Yardang (2015)
Dunhuang Yardangs (2015)
Tianzhushan (2015)
Jinggangshan—North Wuyishan (Extension of Mount Wuyi) (2015)
Shudao (2015)
Tulin-Guge Scenic and Historic Interest Areas (2015)
Historic Monuments and Sites of Ancient Quanzhou (Zayton) (2016)
The Chinese Section of the Silk Roads (2016)
Guancen Mountain—Luya Mountain (2017)
Hulun Buir Landscape & Birthplace of Ancient Minority (2017)
Qinghai Lake (2017)
Scenic and historic area of Sacred Mountains and Lakes (Gang Rinpoche, Naimona’nyi, Lake Manasarovar and Lhanag-tso) (2017)
Taihang Mountain (2017)
The Coast of the Bohai Gulf and the Yellow Sea of China (2017)
Vertical Vegetation Landscape and Volcanic Landscape in Changbai Mountain (2017)


Source and credit for descriptions:



The Classic China Itineraries for Self-Guided or Agency Tour

The Classic China Itineraries for Self-Guided or Agency Tour

So, you want to go to China, but where? China still fascinates us with its mystical oriental charm and ancient history, especially for first-time visitors. So, for a first-time China trip, let’s explore some of the classic itineraries that take in the key historical and cultural sites that should not be missed.

The Classic China Itineraries

The superb thing about these routes and destinations is that with some advance planning it is unlikely that you will need a guide or to go on a tour package unless you expressly desire such.

These routes are well-traveled, have solid tourism resources in place, are foreigner-friendly and it’s never to difficult to find someone who speaks English. If your good with a smartphone, you’re patient and flexible, you’re friendly and approachable, then you will have a great adventure.

These are all the classic key attractions that really should be first on your list. One, because they are the most significant attractions historically and culturally, and also because they are easy to navigate for first-time visitors to China.

The most popular destinations can be covered in two weeks with an itinerary like the one below that covers the major must-see historical sites, the mighty Yangzte, and the history and modern front of Shanghai. It’s a great introduction to China.

14-Day Classic History and the Yangtze River itinerary

Route: Beijing (4 days) – Xi’an (2 days) – Chengdu (2 days) – Chongqing (2 day) – Yangtze River Cruise (2 days) – Yichang (1 day) – Shanghai (2 days)

Attractions by City





Yangtze River Cruise sights (from Chongqing to Yichang)

  • Shibaozhai Pagoda (石宝寨)
  • Fengdu Ghost City (丰都鬼城)
  • Sail through the Three Gorges (三峡)


  • Three Gorges Dam (三峡大坝)



Other Tour Route Itinerary Options

8 Day Ancient history and modern China itinerary

Route: Beijing (3 days) – Xi’an (2 days) – Shanghai (2 days)

12-Day China Classical Wonder itinerary

Route: Beijing (4 days) – Xi’an (3 days) – Guilin/Yangshuo (2 days) – Shanghai (3 days)

18-day China Ancient Wonder, Nature and Shopping itinerary

Route: Beijing (4 days) – Xi’an (3 days) – Chengdu (3 days) – Three Gorges (3 days) – Yangshuo (2 days) – Hong Kong (3 days)

23 Day Classic China explorer itinerary

Route: Chengdu inc Mt. Emei and Leshan (3 days) – Lijiang (2 days) – Xi’an (3 days) – Beijing (4 days) – Shanghai (3 Days) – Xiamen and Yongding (3 Days) – Shenzhen (2 days) – Hong Kong (3 days)

23-Day Classic Villages, Ancient Wonder, and Modern Metropolis itinerary

Route: Shanghai (3 days) – Beijing (4 days) – Xi’an (3 days) – Chengdu (2 days) – Lijiang (2 days) – Dali (2 days) – Kunming (2 days) – Guilin/Yangshuo (2 days) – Hong Kong (3 days)

Go Further

When you have your feet, so to speak, then it’s time to get more focused. And it never ends, it depends on your interest, but here are some examples

Central China: The Yellow River itinerary

Route: Xi’an (3 days) – Hua Shan (2 days) – Luoyang (2 days) – Song Shan (2 days) – Kaifeng (2 days) – Qufu (2 days) – Tai Shan (3 days)

The Great Wall: east to west itinerary

Route: Beijing (3 days) – Datong (2 days) – Hohhot (2 days) – Shapotou (2 days) – Lanzhou (2 days) – Jiayuguan (2 days)

Great Wall and the Wild West itinerary

Route: Beijing (2 days) – Datong (2 days) – Hohhot (2 days) – Shapotou (2 days) – Lanzhou (2 days) – Jiayuguan (2 days) – Dunhuang (2 days) – Turpan (2 days) – Kashgar (2 days)

Yunnan: Mountains and Minorities itinerary

Route: Kunming  (2 days) –  Dali  (3 days) –  Shaxi  (2 days) –  Lijiang (3 days) –  Zhongdian (3 days)

Historic, Scenic and Cultural areas less traveled

Once you really have your China feet, here is a list of ‘off-the-beaten-path’ cities and regions that are screaming to be explored 😀

  • Dengfeng, Henan Province – Packed with temples and martial arts academies, it is one of China’s main centers for Zen Culture and Shaolin Martial Arts along with the development of Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism.
  • Handan, Hebei Province –  Once a capital of the ancient Zhou Kingdom, the city has a history of more than 2,500 years and the region has archaeological finds dating back 7000 years.
  • Jingzhou, Hubei Province – an ancient cultural city that was once the capital of the Chu State dating back 2000 years.
  • Jingdezhen, Jiangxi Province – surrounded by scenic and famous mountains it is famed for being a porcelain production base during the ancient Song Dynasty
  • Meizhou, Guangdong Province – An ancient home of the Hakka minority featuring many old villages and a Hakka culture museum.
  • Yangzhou, Jiangsu Province – a classical water town that has a history of almost 2,500 years.
  • Yongding, Fujian Province – famous for it’s Hakka Tulou buildings.
  • Zigong, Sichuan Province – near to the Leshan Giant Buddha is not often visited by foreigners but is very scenic, and also featuring one of the world’s largest dinosaur museums.
  • Kumul (Hami), Xinjiang Province – A city on the ancient silk-road and renowned for its epic natural landscapes.
  • Yantai, Shandong Province – Claiming a history of 10,000 years the small city is famed as the most “Charming City of China”.
  • Zhangye, Gansu – an ancient silk-road port and home to several ancient temples and the Danxia National Geological Park.
  • Alshan, Inner Mongolia – home to one of  China’s top ski resorts.
  • Baotou, Inner Mongolia – rich with ancient history and what could be the oldest section of the Great Wall.
  • Datong, Shanxi Province – a coal mining city that is famed for its Yungang Grottoes, a section of the Great Wall, the Hanging Monastery, and other historical sites.
  • Tonghua, Jilin province – bordering North Korea it features ancient remains of the Koguryo Kingdom (37 BC – 668 AD), two ski resorts, and several natural scenic areas.
  • Weihai, Shandong Province – a popular coastal city featuring beaches, marine park, islands, and hot springs.
  • Zibo, Shandong Province – near to Mount Tai, Great Wall ruins, and several museums.
  • Luding, Sichuan province – a small charming city that is known for the nearby Hailuogou Glacier Forest Park.
  • Ya’an, Sichuan Province – home of the Bifengxia Giant Panda Base, Mount Mengding, Mount Erlang, and tea culture.
  • Shiyan, Hubei Province – famous for automotive production and the UNESCO listed Wudang Mountains.
  • Suzhou, Anhui Province – an economic and cultural hub it features many scenic and historic attractions such as Huangcangyu National Forest Park, Tomb of Concubine Yu, and artifacts of the peasant uprising in 209 B.C against the Qin emperor.
  • Jiaxing, Zhejiang Province – known for its ancient water towns of Wuzhen and Xitang.
  • Shaoxing, Zhejiang Province – a historic city that is famed for its ancient scholars, bridges, and tranquility.
  • Shaoshan, Hunan Province – a base for ‘Red Tourism’ and birthplace of Mao Zedong.
  • Wuyuan, Jiangxi province – known for its natural landscapes, in particular, golden rape flowers in spring plus history dating back to the Tang Dynasty.
  • Huanglong, Sichuan Province – home to the spectacular Huanglong Scenic and Historic Interest Area.
  • Anshun, Guizhou province –  a natural scenic area that is home to the Huangguoshu Waterfall National Park, Dragon Palace Cave Scenic Spot, Miao villages, and Getu River Scenic Area.
  • Yuanyang, Yunnan Province – home to the Honghe Hani Rice Terraces and many villages.
  • Tongren, Guizhou – Home to many ethnic-minority villages of the Miao, Tujia, Dong, Gelo, Man and other minority.
  • Kaili, Guizhou province – Famed for its natural landscapes and Miao ethnic minority villages such as Xijiang Qianhu Miao Village, Langde Miao Ethnic Minority Village, and Zhenyuan Ancient Town.
  • Kuqa, Xinjiang – a historical Buddhist Kingdom on the edge of the Taklamakan Desert.
  • Korla, Xinjiang  – home to many attractions including  Ancient City of Loulan, Bosten Lake, Bayanbulak Grassland, Lop Nur, Takla Makan Desert, Iron Gate Pass and Yadan Spectacle.
  • Yarkent, Xinjiang – another city on the ancient silk road.
  • Dunhuang,  Gansu Province  – an ancient silk-road city that is known for its attractions including Mogao Caves, Yangguan Pass, Yumenguan Pass,  Dunhuang Museum,  Echoing-Sand Mountain,  Crescent Lake, White Horse Pagoda,  Western Thousand-Buddha Cave,  and Yardang National Geopark.
China’s Top 10 Video Sharing Websites (aka YouTube Equivalents)

China’s Top 10 Video Sharing Websites (aka YouTube Equivalents)

Youtube’s Chinese equivalents were born on hosting ripped content from overseas, such as popular western TV series and movies, and grew from humble bootlegging websites into fully fledged internet companies.

So popular in fact, from tapping into a massive Chinese netizen audience, that many listed on the stock markets of the US (yes, there is a certain irony). Most content nowadays is licensed, and many of the popular sites are self-producing local shows. Of course, there’s still the regular uploads of daily life and crazy antics from Chinese netizens, news bulletins, documentary, opinion, DIY videos and everything you could imagine.



Here are the Top 10 video sharing sites in China, plus a few extras.

No 1

No 2

No 3

No 4

No 5

No 6

No 7

No 8

No 9

No 10

There’s several more outside the Top 10 including,,,,,

Coming to China? Here’s your one page resource list

Coming to China? Here’s your one page resource list

Beijing, China - March 26 - The Meridian Gate at the Palace Museum (Forbidden City) 2010

Here’s a whole bunch of resources for China travelers and Ex-pats, enjoy.

Travel Inspiration
Trover features an easy to use Pinterest style interface for perusing travel photos of China, plus map

Travel Booking (accommodation and flights – has English speaking booking service) (accommodation and flights)

Trains loads of advice on train journeys, train types, stations, seating configurations and more. Book China train tickets online Trains booking – searchable train schedules – Rail network map including High Speed Rail

Intercity Buses

Emergency phone Numbers/ Useful numbers (travel complaints etc.)

Wiki Travel China
Wikipedia > China – the Chinese version of Wikipedia – you’ll need to use a translate tool

Travel Guides & Tips brief and to the point, fact-filled guides on cities and attractions. – loads of reviews and forums – books and online guides – books and online guides – Discover China is the official tourism site for China

Travel Q&A
Travellr has a small but helpful community, not as active as Tripadvisor, but it still may be quite useful:

The leader in travel Q&A, the China forum has some fantastically helpful members

Social News Sharing – I wouldn’t take anything to serious, unless it’s marked [serious], for expats this is one place you probably wanna be joined in on, just to keep sane on long stays.

City Guides – Events, nightlife, jobs and local life + Travel Shanghai, Suzhou, Guangzhou, Beijing – all major cities and more. – Guangzhou, Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen – Shanghai – Chengdu – Kunming – Xinjiang and the Silk Road travel guide – Hong Kong – possibly one of the best city specific destination guides there is, the app is awesome too.

Restaurant reviews (Chinese – use Bing translator)

Local Recipes (Chinese) (Chinese)

Chinese Cuisine guides – a guide to ordering food with translations – Introduces the popular cuisines – A Field Guide to Chinese Street Food – Calorie and sodium guide

Travel Blogs China
Blog posts from the team at Context Travel feature detailed guides on visiting the top attractions at Beijing and Shanghai.

Travel Guides and Phrasebooks
Check out my curated list of books, apps and more here

Alternatives to Google services
Bookmarking – accessible from anywhere, pc, tablet, smartphone. Works a treat.


Translate (there’s also an English app for smartphones) – en<>cn dictionary – [smartphone app] super useful Chinese dictionary – [smartphone app] just like above, with a few more features

VPN – so you can access Google services, Facebook/Twitter, and almost everything outside of China.

Watch Video – most have a lot of English language content, there are also some HK movies with English subs Chinese Youtube Chinese Youtube (download required) watch movies and TV series (download required) watch movies and TV series

Music (Chinese – you can use English in the search box and find just about everything, to listen and download for free, hmmm..)

Social Apps – a great way to keep connected with people you meet, there’s an English version and it has translate feature. – very few people use email, everyone has QQ. It has many features, mostly used for chat and file sharing.

Learning Chinese – a really cool, simple and free app. If you find someone to teach you Chinese, this is also useful for providing structure for your learning.
More listed here

Humor offbeat China news TMD/MAMAHUHU the Shanghai-based comedy sketch group

History will get you started – superb podcast for China history fans

Culture guides has a lot of info on dating and living in China – Language and culture

Visa info

Know some more? Please let me know and I’ll add them in 🙂

Getting a China Visa in Hong Kong

Getting a China Visa in Hong Kong

My 30 day visa for mainland China had expired and even though I had only been in Hong Kong for a day I knew that I wanted to go back and explore more of China. So, it’s off to do a visa application for China while in Hong Kong.

There are many ways to go through the visa process while in Hong Kong including at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or via the many travel agents offering visa services, and even via some accommodation houses, particularly backpacker hostels.

I’m not sure which way is best but for my first time I went with the relative safety of the state owned travel agency, China Travel Service, commonly known as CTS. CTS have branches all over Hong Kong, so they were not to hard to find.  Hong Kong  – CTS Branch Map

The visa process can take three working days, and I’d landed in HK before the weekend so I was going to have some extra days in Hong Kong. I found out later that I could have paid a little more and asked for an express service, ah well.

Unless you want to stay in Hong Kong for several days its worth paying for the fast visa service as it will probably cost less than the accommodation and daily  expenses…

The CTS branch in Mong Kok had a designated visa desk with English speaking staff who can help you with the right visa type and to fill in the form. You pay the fee and hand over your passport, they give you a receipt and an exact time to return to pick up your passport with its newly stamped visa. If the visa application is unsuccessful they refund the fee minus a 50HKD service charge from memory.

I also needed two passport photos which is pretty easy as there was a couple of people out the front waiving signs offering ‘visa photos’. I followed the lady around the corner, under the building and into the shop where I jumped in front of the camera and seconds later, for not much more than a couple of Australian dollars, I had passport photos.

I left the CTS office with several days to explore Hong Kong….

update.. aslo see the latest post on getting a China mainland visa in HK