THE 100 MOST BEAUTIFUL PLACES
Hongcun (宏村, lit. “Hong village”) is a village in Yi County in the historical Huizhou region of southern Anhui Province, China, near the southwest slope of Mount Huangshan. The village is arranged in the shape of an ox with the nearby hill (Leigang Hill) interpreted as the head, and two trees standing on it as the horns. Four bridges across the Jiyin stream can be seen as the legs whilst the houses of the village form the body. Inside the “body”, the Jiyin stream represents the intestines and various lakes such as the “South Lake” (Nanhu) form the other internal organs. The architecture and carvings of the approximately 150 residences dating back to the Ming and Qing Dynasties are said to be among the best of their kind in China. One of the biggest of the residences open to visitors, Chenzhi Hall, also contains a small museum. Together with Xidi, the village became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000. Scenes from the film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon were filmed on location in Hongcun.
Huangshan (黄山), is a mountain range in southern Anhui province in eastern China. Vegetation on the range is thickest below 1,100 meters (3,600 ft), with trees growing up to the treeline at 1,800 meters (5,900 ft). The area is well known for its scenery, sunsets, peculiarly-shaped granite peaks, Huangshan pine trees, hot springs, winter snow, and views of the clouds from above. Huangshan is a frequent subject of traditional Chinese paintings and literature, as well as modern photography. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and one of China’s major tourist destinations. Huangshan is also the famous place for Chinese teas of high quality, such as Huangshan Maofeng, Keemun Black, and Blooming Tea.
Mount Jiuhua (九华山; literally: “Nine Glorious Mountains”) is one of the four sacred mountains of Chinese Buddhism. It is located in Qingyang County in Anhui province and is famous for its rich landscape and ancient temples. Many of the mountain’s shrines and temples are dedicated to Ksitigarbha (known in Chinese as Dìzàng, Chinese: 地藏, in Japanese as Jizō), who is a bodhisattva and protector of beings in hell realms according to Mahayana Buddhist tradition. Pious Buddhists often visit Anhui to climb to Greater Tiantai peak, which is regarded as Jiuhuashan’s most important peak, although it is not the tallest.
Badaling (八达岭) is the site of the most visited section of the Great Wall of China, approximately 80 kilometres (50 mi) northwest of urban Beijing city in Yanqing County, which is within the Beijing municipality. The portion of the wall running through the site was built in 1504 during the Ming Dynasty, along with a military outpost reflecting the location’s strategic importance. The highest point of Badaling is Beibalou (北八樓), approximately 1,015 metres (3,330 ft) above sea level. Badaling Great Wall was built in the Ming Dynasty (1505) to occupy a commanding and strategic position for protecting the Juyongguan Pass (Juyongguan section of the Great Wall ) on its south, further protecting the city of Beijing. The portion of the wall at Badaling has undergone restoration, and in 1957 it was the first section of the wall to open to tourists.
The Ming tombs are a collection of mausoleums built by the emperors of the Ming dynasty of China. The first Ming emperor’s tomb is located near his capital Nanjing. However, the majority of the Ming tombs are located in a cluster near Beijing and collectively known as the Thirteen Tombs of the Ming Dynasty (明十三陵; literally: “Ming Thirteen Mausoleums”). They are within the suburban Changping District of Beijing Municipality, 42 kilometres (26 mi) north-northwest of Beijing city center. The site, on the southern slope of Tianshou Mountain (originally Huangtu Mountain), was chosen based on the principles of feng shui by the third Ming emperor, the Yongle Emperor. After the construction of the Imperial Palace (Forbidden City) in 1420, the Yongle Emperor selected his burial site and created his own mausoleum. The subsequent emperors placed their tombs in the same valley.
Beijing (北京市) is the capital of the People’s Republic of China and the world’s third most populous city proper. It is also one of the world’s most populous capital cities. The city, located in northern China, is governed as a direct-controlled municipality under the national government with 16 urban, suburban, and rural districts. Beijing Municipality is surrounded by Hebei Province with the exception of neighboring Tianjin Municipality to the southeast; together the three divisions form the Jingjinji metropolitan region and the national capital region of China. The city’s history dates back three millennia. As the last of the Four Great Ancient Capitals of China, Beijing has been the political center of the country for much of the past eight centuries. The city is renowned for its opulent palaces, temples, parks, gardens, tombs, walls and gates, and its art treasures and universities have made it a center of culture and art in China. Encyclopædia Britannica notes that “few cities in the world have served for so long as the political headquarters and cultural centre of an area as immense as China.”Beijing has seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites – the Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, Summer Palace, Ming Tombs, Zhoukoudian, as well as parts of the Great Wall and the Grand Canal. Beijing hosted the 2008 Summer Olympics and was chosen to host the 2022 Winter Olympics, which will make it the first city to ever host both events.
Baodingshan (宝顶山, also known as Mount Baoding, Precious Summit Mountain, and Summit of Treasures) is a Buddhist site in Chongqing. The site is located on a limestone outcropping at an elevation of 500 meters, fifteen kilometers north of the city of Dazu, a market town that dates to 758 CE and the city is ringed by religious sites dating from 892 to 1249 CE. Primary construction at Baodingshan took place during the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279 CE) but it remained largely unknown to the outside world until its reopening to the public in the 1980s, the earliest documented research on the site dating to 1944. The site has since been designated a World Heritage Site since 1999, falling within the collective grouping of Dazu Rock Carvings, a reference to the district in which Baodingshan is located. Dazu County covers 1400 square kilometers northwest of Chongqing on the road to Chengdu. During the Song Dynasty (960–1279 CE), this area of the Chengdu plain was considered one of the wealthiest regions in China.
The Three Gorges (三峡) are three adjacent gorges along the middle reaches of the Yangtze River in the People’s Republic of China. The Three Gorges have long been renowned for their spectacular scenery, and the “Three Gorges Scenic Area” is classified as a AAAAA scenic area (the highest level) by the China National Tourism Administration. The Three Gorges span from the western—upriver cities of Fengjie and Yichang in Chongqing Municipality eastward—downstream to Hubei province The Three Gorges region attracts global attention due to the Three Gorges Dam, which is firmly changing the culture and environment of the river and Three Gorges region. The Yangtze River (Chang Jiang)—Three Gorges region has a total length of approximately 200 kilometres (120 mi). The Three Gorges occupy approximately 120 kilometres (75 mi) within this region. Although it is primarily famous for its scenery, the Three Gorges region is also a historically and culturally important location in China. Many settlements and archeological sites are under submersion from the rising Three Gorges Dam.
Gulangyu is the third largest island off the coast of Xiamen, a city in Fujian Province in southern China. It is about 2 km2 (0.77 sq mi) in area. It is home to about 20,000 people and is a domestic tourist destination. The only vehicles permitted are small electric buggies and electric government service vehicles. Visitors can reach it by ferry from the ferry terminal in Xiamen. Local residents are allowed to use a shorter 5 minute ferry to/from Heping Ferry Terminal. Tourists and non-locals must now take a longer 20 minute ferry ride from Dongdu International Terminal, as of October 20, 2014 with a fare increase from 8 yuan to 35 yuan. This has been in order to reduce tourist numbers accessing the island in an effort to conserve it. Gulangyu Island is renowned for its beaches and winding lanes and its varied architecture. The island is on China’s list of National Scenic Spots and also ranks at the top of the list of the ten most-scenic areas in the province.
The Wuyi Mountains (武夷山; also known as Bohea Hills in earlier Western documents) are a mountain range located in the prefecture of Nanping, in northern Fujian province near the border with Jiangxi province, China. The highest peak in the area is Mount Huanggang at 2,158 metres (7,080 ft) on the border of Fujian and Jiangxi, making it the highest point of both provinces; the lowest altitudes are around 200 metres (660 ft). Many oolong and black teas are produced in the Wuyi Mountains, including Da Hong Pao (Big Red Robe) and lapsang souchong. The Wuyi Mountains are located between Wuyishan City, Nanping prefecture in northwest Fujian province and Wuyishan Town, Shangrao city in northeast Jiangxi province. The mountains have been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, for cultural, scenic, and biodiversity values since 1999.
The Fujian tulou ( 福建土楼; literally: “Fujian earthen buildings”) are Chinese rural dwellings unique to the Hakka in the mountainous areas in southeastern Fujian, China. They were mostly built between the 12th and the 20th centuries. A tulou is usually a large, enclosed and fortified earth building, most commonly rectangular or circular in configuration, with very thick load-bearing rammed earth walls between three and five stories high and housing up to 800 people. Smaller interior buildings are often enclosed by these huge peripheral walls which can contain halls, storehouses, wells and living areas, the whole structure resembling a small fortified city. Most of the tulou (with the exception of the Dadi tulou cluster in Hua’an county) are found in a relatively small geographical area, straddling the boundary between the Yongding and Nanjing counties, Fujian province. A total of 46 Fujian tulou sites were inscribed in 2008 by UNESCO as World Heritage Site, as “exceptional examples of a building tradition and function exemplifying a particular type of communal living and defensive organization [in a] harmonious relationship with their environment”.
Dunhuang (敦煌市) is a county-level city in northwestern Gansu Province, Western China. The 2000 Chinese census reported a population of 187,578 in this city. Dunhuang was a major stop on the ancient Silk Road and is best known for the nearby Mogao Caves. It has also been known at times as Shazhou and, in Uyghur, Dukhan. Dunhuang is situated in a rich oasis containing Crescent Lake and Mingsha Shan (鸣沙山, meaning “Singing-Sand Mountain”), named after the sound of the wind whipping off the dunes, the singing sand phenomenon. Dunhuang commands a strategic position at the crossroads of the ancient Southern Silk Route and the main road leading from India via Lhasa to Mongolia and Southern Siberia, as well as controlling the entrance to the narrow Hexi Corridor, which led straight to the heart of the north Chinese plains and the ancient capitals of Chang’an (today known as Xi’an) and Luoyang.
Jiayu Pass (嘉峪关; literally: “Excellent Valley Pass”) is the first pass at the west end of the Great Wall of China, near the city of Jiayuguan in Gansu province. Along with Juyong Pass and Shanhai Pass, it is one of the main passes of the Great Wall. The pass is located at the narrowest point of the western section of the Hexi Corridor, 6 kilometres (3.7 mi) southwest of the city of Jiayuguan in Gansu. The structure lies between two hills, one of which is called Jiayuguan Pass. It was built near an oasis that was then on the extreme western edge of China. The pass is trapezoid-shaped with a perimeter of 733 metres (2,405 ft) and an area of more than 33,500 square metres (361,000 sq ft). The length of the city wall is 733 metres (2,405 ft) and the height is 11 metres (36 ft).
The Maijishan Grottoes (麦积山石窟), formerly romanized as Maichishan, are a series of 194 caves cut in the side of the hill of Majishan in Tianshui, Gansu Province, northwest China. This example of rock cut architecture contains over 7,200 Buddhist sculptures and over 1,000 square meters of murals. Construction began in the Later Qin era (384-417 CE). They were first properly explored in 1952-53 by a team of Chinese archeologists from Beijing, who devised the numbering system still in use today. Caves #1-50 are on the western cliff face; caves #51-191 on the eastern cliff face. They were later photographed by Michael Sullivan and Dominique Darbois, who subsequently published the primary English-language work on the caves noted in the footnotes below. The name Maijishan consists of three Chinese words (麦积山) that literally translate as “Wheatstack Mountain”, but because the term “mai” (麦) is the generic term in Chinese used for most grains, one also sees such translations as “Corn rick mountain”. Mai means “grain”. Ji (积) means “stack” or “mound”. Shan (山) means “mountain”. The mountain is formed of purplish red sandstone.
The Mogao Caves ( 莫高窟), also known as the Thousand Buddha Grottoes (千佛洞), form a system of 492 temples 25 km (16 mi) southeast of the center of Dunhuang, an oasis strategically located at a religious and cultural crossroads on the Silk Road, in Gansu province, China. The caves may also be known as the Dunhuang Caves, however, this term is also used as a collective term to include other Buddhist cave sites in the Dunhuang area, such as the Western Thousand Buddha Caves, and the Yulin Caves farther away. The caves contain some of the finest examples of Buddhist art spanning a period of 1,000 years. The first caves were dug out in 366 AD as places of Buddhist meditation and worship. The Mogao Caves are the best known of the Chinese Buddhist grottoes and, along with Longmen Grottoes and Yungang Grottoes, are one of the three famous ancient Buddhist sculptural sites of China. An important cache of documents was discovered in 1900 in the so-called “Library Cave,” which had been walled-up in the 11th century. The content of the library was dispersed around the world, and the largest collections are now found in Beijing, London, Paris and Berlin, and the International Dunhuang Project exists to coordinate and collect scholarly work on the Dunhuang manuscripts and other material. The caves themselves are now a popular tourist destination, with a number open for visiting. The Mogao Caves became one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1987.
The Gansu Zhangye National Geopark (甘肃张掖国家地质公园, herein, the ″Zhangye National Geopark″), is located in Sunan and Linze counties within the prefecture-level city of Zhangye. It covers an area of 322 square kilometres (124 sq mi). Known for its colorful rock formations, it has been voted by Chinese media outlets as one of the most beautiful landforms in China. Zhangye Danxia is known for the unusual colours of the rocks, which are smooth, sharp and several hundred meters tall. They are the result of deposits of sandstone and other minerals that occurred over 24 million years. The result, similar to a layer cake, is connected to the action of the same tectonic plates responsible for creating parts of the Himalayan mountains. Wind, rain, and time then sculpted extraordinary shapes, including towers, pillars, and ravines, with varying colours, patterns, and sizes. China Danxia, or Danxia landform of China, is the general name of the unique type of landscapes and in August 2010, China Danxia was inscribed onto the World Heritage List.
Xiahe (夏河) is a county in Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Gansu province, the People’s Republic of China. It is home to the famed Labrang Tibetan Buddhist monastery, one of the largest Tibetan Buddhist monasteries outside the Tibet Autonomous Region. The monastery complex dominates the northern part of the village[clarification needed]. The white walls and gilded roofs feature a blend of Tibetan and Indian Vihara architectural styles. The monastery contains 18 halls, six institutes of learning, a gilded stupa, a sutra debate area, and houses nearly 60,000 sutras. The town of Xiahe is populated largely by ethnic Tibetans, as well as some Hui and Han Chinese. The area is highly rural and pastoral (including yak and other animal rearing). The geography is mountainous. In recent years it has become a tourist attraction. The town was named Xiahe in 1928.
Mount Danxia (丹霞山) is a noted scenic mountainous area near Shaoguan city in the northern part of Guangdong, People’s Republic of China. It is described on the local signage as a “world famous UNESCO geopark of China”. The Danxia area is formed from a reddish sandstone which has been eroded over time into a series of outcrops surrounded by spectacular cliffs and many unusual rock formations known as Danxia landform. There are a number of temples located on the mountains and many scenic walks can be undertaken. There is also a river winding through the mountains on which boat trips can be taken. In the 2010 UNESCO list of world heritage sites, Mount Danxia was recorded as a natural World Heritage Site as part of China’s Danxia landform.
Diaolous (碉楼) are fortified multi-storey watchtowers, generally made of reinforced concrete. These towers are located mainly in Kaiping County, Guangdong province. The first towers were built during the Ming Dynasty, reaching a peak in the 1920s and 1930s, when there were more than three thousand of these structures. Today, approximately 1,833 diaolou remain standing in Kaiping, and approximately 500 in Taishan. They can also occasionally be found in numerous other areas of Guangdong, such as Shenzhen and Dongguan. Although the diaolou served mainly as protection against forays by bandits, a few of them also served as living quarters. Kaiping has traditionally been a region of major emigration abroad, and a melting pot of ideas and trends brought back by overseas Chinese. As a result, many diaolou incorporate architectural features from China and from the West. In 2007, UNESCO named the Kaiping Diaolou and Villages (开平碉楼与村落) in China as a World Heritage Site.
Ban Gioc – Detian Falls (板約瀑布, 德天瀑布) is a collective name for two waterfalls on the Guichun River (归春河), that straddle the international border between China and Vietnam; more specifically located between the Karst hills of Daxin County, Guangxi, and Trùng Khánh District, Cao Bằng Province. The waterfall is 272 km (169 mi) north of Hanoi. The waterfall drops 30 m (98 ft). It is separated into three falls by rocks and trees, and the thundering effect of the water hitting the cliffs can be heard from afar. It is currently the 4th largest waterfall along a national border, after Iguazu Falls, Victoria Falls, and Niagara Falls.
The Li River (漓江) is a river in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China. It flows 83 kilometres (52 mi) from Guilin to Yangshuo, where the karst mountains and river sights highlight the famous Li River cruise. The Li River originates in the Mao’er Mountains in Xing’an County and flows in the general southern direction through Guilin, Yangshuo and Pingle. In Pingle the Li River merges with the Lipu River and the Gongcheng River and continues south as the Gui River, which falls into the Xi Jiang, the western tributary of the Pearl River, in Wuzhou. The 437-kilometre (272 mi) course of the Li and Gui Rivers is flanked by green hills. Cormorant fishing is often associated with the Lijiang (see bird intelligence). Its unusual karst topography hillsides have often been compared to those at Halong Bay, Vietnam.
The Longsheng Rice Terraces (龙胜梯田), also called the Longji Rice Terraces (龙脊梯田), are located in Longsheng County, about 100 kilometres (62 mi) from Guilin, Guangxi, China. The terraced fields are built along the slope winding from the riverside up to the mountain top, between 600 m to 800 m above sea level. A coiling terrace line that starts from the mountain foot up to the mountain top divides the mountain into layers of water in spring, layers of green rice shoots in summer, layers of rice in fall, and layers of frost in winter. The terraced fields were mostly built about 650 years ago. Longji (Dragon’s Backbone) Terraced Rice Fields received their name because the rice terraces resemble a dragon’s scales, while the summit of the mountain range looks like the backbone of the dragon.
Chishui (赤水) is a town of about 300,000 people in the northwestern part of Guizhou province, just on the border with Sichuan. It’s a gateway to incredible scenic spots of natural biodiversity. Red rock landforms known as “China Danxia”, can be found in several different places, and all of them belong to UNESCO world heritage sites. To plan a trip in this area, and visit everything properly, you need at least two days. Danxia landforms are divided into eastern and western sector. Western sector is larger and involves a national park, and various scenic spots on the way to the Chishui great falls. The most famous spot in eastern sector is so called “Buddha rock”, but besides it there is a bamboo forest and few more smaller scenic areas.
Huangguoshu Waterfall (黄果树瀑布; literally: “Yellow-Fruit Tree Waterfalls”), is one of the largest waterfalls in China and East Asia located on the Baishui River (白水河) in Anshun, Guizhou province. It is 77.8 m (255 ft) high and 101 m (331 ft) wide. The main waterfall is 67 m (220 ft) high and 83.3 m (273 ft) wide. Known as the Huangguoshu Waterfall National Park, it is 45 km (28 mi) southwest of Anshun City. Together with minor waterfalls, the charms of the waterfall is a natural tourist draw, classified as a AAAAA scenic area by the China National Tourism Administration.
Xijiang is a village in Eastern Guizhou, known as the largest Miao village in China. It bears the title ‘thousand household village’ and has a little over a thousand residential dwellings, which amounts to a population of over 5000, of which 99.5% are Miao. It is often quoted by researchers as a living fossil for the study of the Miao people’s history and traditional culture. It is host to a number of festivals, particularly around the Chinese new year, where Miao from surrounding villages gather. The dark wooden houses are laid out compactly over two adjacent spurs, at the base of which a river flows. From the entrance gate on the opposing hill, there is a spectacular view of the entire village. The village is situated within a deep valley in the protected LeiGongshan national park, and the surrounding countryside makes for hikes ranging from short to up to a few hours, into the surrounding rice fields and forested hills.
Zhaoxing (肇兴) is a pretty Dong minority town nestling in a valley a long way away from anywhere. It’s full of old wooden buildings, wind and rain bridges, and drum towers, and surrounded by beautiful scenery. There are five old wooden drum towers and a few old wind and rain bridges scattered throughout town. They’re best discovered by wandering through the back streets. You can hike through the rice paddies above the town. Guest-houses will be able to help with directions. The walk up the valley is particularly picturesque.
Tianya Haijiao (天涯海角; literally: “Edges of the heaven, corners of the sea”) is a popular resort in the southern part of Hainan province, People’s Republic of China. It is located 24 kilometres (15 mi) to the west of Sanya’s municipal region. The venue is considered the southernmost point of China’s land area despite the fact that Jinmu Cape actually is. It is for this reason that it is a popular sightseeing destination for tourists, as well as the fact that, on clear days, various islets are visible. In Chinese literature, the cape is mentioned in many famous poems, such as “I will follow you to Tian-Ya-Hai-Jiao”, which means the couple will never be separated. Therefore, many newlyweds spend part of their honeymoon visiting the place.
Yalong Bay is a 7.5 kilometres (4.7 mi) beach located southeast of Sanya City, Hainan Province, China. It is also known as the Yalong Bay National Resort. Many internationally operated hotels have opened in Yalong Bay, including the St Regis Yalong Bay Resort, Sheraton Sanya Resort, Marriott Hotel, Ritz-Carlton Sanya Resort, Pullman Yalong Bay] and MGM Grand Resorts. Several domestically-operated hotels including Resort Horizon, Mangrove Tree Resort, and Cactus Resort are also operating in the area.
Chengde (承德), previously known as Jehol or Rehe, is a prefecture-level city in Hebei province, situated northeast of Beijing. It is best known as the site of the Mountain Resort, a vast imperial garden and palace formerly used by the Qing emperors as summer residence. In 1703, Chengde was chosen by the Kangxi Emperor as the location for his summer residence. Constructed throughout the eighteenth century, the Mountain Resort (避暑山庄; literally “avoiding the heat mountain villa”) was used by both the Yongzheng and Qianlong emperors. The site is currently an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Since the seat of government followed the emperor, Chengde was a political center of the Chinese empire during these times.
Jinshanling (金山岭), is a section of the Great Wall of China located in the mountainous area in Luanping County, 125 km northeast of Beijing. This section of the wall is connected with the Simatai section to the east. Some distance to the west lies the Mutianyu section. Jinshanling section of the wall was built from 1570 CE during the Ming Dynasty. The Jinshanling section of the Great Wall is 10.5 km long with 5 passes, 67 towers and 3 beacon towers. The initial section of the wall has been restored to original condition, but the condition of the wall deteriorates towards its natural state as it approaches Simatai.
Shanhai Pass, known in Chinese as Shanhaiguan (山海关), also called Yu Pass (榆关), is one of the major passes in the Great Wall of China. The words “First Pass Under Heaven” ( 天下第一关) are engraved above one of the gates, and so the site is also known by that name. It is located in Shanhaiguan District, Qinhuangdao, Hebei province. In 1961, the pass became a National Cultural Site of China. It is a popular tourist destination given its situation at the eastern end of the main line of the Ming Dynasty Great Wall. The location where the wall meets the Bohai Sea is nicknamed “Old Dragon’s Head” (老龙头). The pass lies nearly 300 kilometres (190 mi) east of Beijing and is linked via the Jingshen Expressway that runs northeastward to Shenyang. Throughout Chinese history, the pass served as a frontline defense against ethnic groups from Manchuria, including the Khitan, Jurchen and the Manchus.
The Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival’ (哈尔滨国际冰雪节) is an annual winter festival that takes place with a theme in Harbin, Heilongjiang, China, and now is the largest ice and snow festival in the world. At first participants in the festival were mainly Chinese, however it has since become an international festival and competition. The festival includes the world’s biggest ice sculptures.
Jingbo ( 镜泊湖) is a lake located in the upper reaches of the Mudan River among the Wanda Mountains in Ningan County, Heilongjiang, in the People’s Republic of China. Earlier names for the lake include Meituohu Lake, Huhanhai Lake, and Bi’erteng Lake. The length of the lake from north to south is 45 kilometers (28 mi) and the widest distance between east and west is only 6 kilometers (3.7 mi). The area is 95 km2 (37 sq mi) and the storage capacity is 1.63 billion m3. The south part of lake is shallow with the deepest place in the northern part at 62 meters (203 ft). The lake was created about 10,000 years ago when volcanic eruptions in the region blocked the flow of the Mudanjiang River. The northern side of the river cascades down the Diaoshuilou Falls, a 40 m (130 ft) waterfall formed by the lake. This lake is famous for its craggy limestone cliffs (similar to those of Guilin) and its turquoise-colored waters containing 40 types of fish and fresh water coral.
Kaifeng (開封), known previously by several names (see below), is a prefecture-level city in east-central Henan, China. It was once the capital of the Song dynasty, and is one of the Eight Ancient Capitals of China. Kaifeng is one of the Eight Ancient Capitals of China. As with Beijing, there have been many reconstructions during its history. In 364 BC during the Warring States period, the State of Wei founded a city called Daliang (大梁) as its capital in this area. During this period, the first of many canals in the area was constructed linking a local river to the Yellow River. When the State of Wei was conquered by the State of Qin, Kaifeng was destroyed and abandoned except for a mid-sized market town, which remained in place.
The Longmen Grottoes (龙门石窟; lit. Dragon’s Gate Grottoes) or Longmen Caves are one of the finest examples of Chinese Buddhist art. Housing tens of thousands of memes of Buddha and his disciples, they are located 12 kilometres (7.5 mi) south of present-day Luòyáng in Hénán province, China. The images, many once painted, were carved as outside rock reliefs and inside artificial caves excavated from the limestone cliffs of the Xiangshan and Longmenshan mountains, running east and west. The Yi River (Chinese: 伊河) flows northward between them and the area used to be called Yique (伊阙, “The Gate of the Yi River”). The alternative name of “Dragon’s Gate Grottoes” derives from the resemblance of the two hills that check the flow of the Yi River to the typical “Chinese gate towers” that once marked the entrance to Luoyang from the south.
The Shaolin Monastery (少林寺), also known as the Shaolin Temple, is a Chan (“Zen”) Buddhist temple in Dengfeng County, Henan Province, China. Dating back 1,500 years when founded by Fang Lu-Hao, Shaolin Temple is the main temple of the Shaolin school of Buddhism to this day. Shaolin Monastery and its Pagoda Forest were inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010 as part of the “Historic Monuments of Dengfeng”. The name refers to the forests of Shaoshi (少室; Shǎo Shì) mountain, one of the seven peaks of Song mountains. The first Shaolin Monastery abbot was Batuo (also called Fotuo or Buddhabhadra), a dhyāna master who came to China from India or from Greco-Buddhist Central Asia in 464 AD to spread Buddhist teachings.
Yellow Crane Tower ( 黄鹤楼) is a traditional Chinese tower located in Wuhan, in central China. The current structure was built in 1981, but the tower has existed in various forms since at least AD 223. The current Yellow Crane Tower is situated on Sheshan (Snake Hill), one kilometer away from the original site. It is on the bank of the Yangtze River in Wuchang District, Wuhan, in the Hubei province of central China. The original site of the tower was on the Yellow Crane Jetty, a location situated west of Xiakou. The Yuanhe Maps and Records of Prefectures and Counties notes that after Sun Quan, founder of the kingdom of Eastern Wu, built the fort of Xiakou, a tower was constructed at this location and named after the Yellow Crane Jetty.
The Wudang Mountains (武当山) consist of a small mountain range in the northwestern part of Hubei, China, just south of Shiyan. They are home to a famous complex of Taoist temples and monasteries associated with the god Xuan Wu. The Wudang Mountains are renowned for the practice of Taichi and Taoism as the Taoist counterpart to the Shaolin Monastery, which is affiliated with Chinese Chán Buddhism. For centuries, the mountains of Wudang have been known as an important center of Taoism, especially famous for its Taoist versions of martial arts or Taichi. The first site of worship—the Five Dragons Temple—was constructed at the behest of Emperor Taizong of Tang.Further structures were added during the Song and Yuan dynasties, while the largest complex on the mountain was built during the Ming dynasty (14th–17th centuries) as the Yongle Emperor claimed to enjoy the protection of the god Beidi or Xuan Wu. Temples regularly had to be rebuilt, and not all survived; the oldest extant structures are the Golden Hall and the Ancient Bronze Shrine, made in 1307. Other noted structures include Nanyang Palace (built in 1285–1310 and extended in 1312), the stonewalled Forbidden City at the peak (built in 1419), and the Purple Cloud Temple (built in 1119–26, rebuilt in 1413 and extended in 1803–20). The monasteries such as the Wudang Garden were made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994.
Fenghuang County (凤凰县; literally: “phoenix county”) is under the administration of Xiangxi Tujia and Miao Autonomous Prefecture, Hunan province, China, bordering the prefecture-level cities of Huaihua to the southeast and Tongren (Guizhou) to the west. It has an exceptionally well-preserved ancient town that harbors unique ethnic languages, customs, arts as well as many distinctive architectural remains of Ming and Qing styles. The town is placed in a mountain setting, incorporating the natural flow of water into city layout. Over half of the city’s population belong to the Miao or Tujia minorities. It was the center of the unsuccessful Miao Rebellion (1854–73), which created a Miao diaspora in Southeast Asia during the last two centuries. The city is revered in Miao traditions and funeral rites and is the location of the Southern China Great Wall (中国南方长城; 中國南方長城; ), a fortification built by the Ming dynasty to protect the local Han Chinese from Miao attacks.
Tianmen Mountain (天门山) is a mountain located within Tianmen Mountain National Park, Zhangjiajie, in south-central Hunan Province. A cablecar was constructed[when?] by the French company Poma from nearby Zhangjiajie railway station to the top of the mountain. Tianmen Mountain Cableway is claimed in tourist publications as the “longest passenger cableway of high mountains in the world”, with 98 cars and a total length of 7,455 metres (24,459 ft) and ascent of 1,279 metres (4,196 ft) The highest gradient is an unusual 37 degrees. Tourists can walk on kilometres of paths built onto the cliff face at the top of the mountain, including sections with glass floors. An 11 kilometres (6.8 mi) road with 99 bends also reaches the top of the mountain and takes visitors to Tianmen cave, a natural hole in the mountain of a height of 131.5 metres (431 ft).
Zhangjiajie (张家界) is a prefecture-level city in the northwestern part of Hunan province, People’s Republic of China. It comprises the district of Yongding and counties of Cili and Sangzhi. Within it is located Wulingyuan Scenic Area which was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992 as well as an AAAAA scenic area by the China National Tourism Administration. The Wulingyuan Scenic and Historic Interest Area comprises the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, the Tianzishan (天子山) mountain ranges, Baofenghu (宝峰湖) and the Suoxi Valley (索溪峪), and is a very popular filming and tourist destination. Also in the Zhangjiajie area, Huanglongdong (黄龙洞) and Longwangdong (龙王洞) are caves known for many natural rock formations (much like Wulingyuan) and its underground cataract. The Bailong Elevator is also located in the area.
The Badain Jaran Desert (巴丹吉林沙漠) is a desert in China which spans the provinces of Gansu, Ningxia and Inner Mongolia. It covers an area of 49,000 square kilometres (19,000 sq mi). By size it is the third largest desert in China. This desert is home to some of the tallest stationary dunes on Earth, with some reaching a height of more than 500 meters (1,600 ft), although most average at around 200 meters (660 ft). Its tallest dune is also measured, from base to peak, as the world’s third tallest dune and highest stationary dune in the world. The desert also features over 100 spring-fed lakes that lie between the dunes, some of which are fresh water while others are extremely saline. These lakes give the desert its name which is Mongolian for “mysterious lakes”. It is also crossed by one river, the Ruo Shui (“weak water”), which has formed an alluvial plain in the desert.oli.
Hulunbuir or Hūlúnbèi’ěr (呼伦贝尔市) is a region that is governed as a prefecture-level city in northeastern Inner Mongolia, in China. Its administrative center is located at Hailar District, its largest urban area. Major scenic features are the high steppes of the Hulun Buir grasslands, the Hulun and Buir lakes (the latter partially in Mongolia), and the Khingan range. Hulun Buir borders Russia to the north and west, Mongolia to the south and west, Heilongjiang province to the east and Hinggan League to the direct south. Hulunbuir is a linguistically diverse area: next to Mandarin Chinese, Mongolian dialects such as Khorchin and Buryat, the Mongolic language Dagur and some Tungusic languages are spoken there.
The Mausoleum of Genghis Khan (成吉思汗陵) is a temple devoted to the worship of Genghis Khan. It is located along a river in Kandehuo Enclosure, Xinjie Town, Ejen Khoruu Banner, Ordos Prefecture-Level City (formerly Yeke Juu league), Inner Mongolia, People’s Republic of China. Genghis Khan worship is a religion popular among Mongolians, with ties to traditional Mongolian shamanism. There are other temples of this worship culture in Inner Mongolia and Northern China. The mausoleum is a cenotaph, where the coffin contains no body but only headdresses and accessories, because the actual Tomb of Genghis Khan has never been discovered. It was built between 1954 and 1956 by the government of the PRC in the traditional Mongol style. The mausoleum is located in the town of Ejin Horo Qi, 115 kilometers (71 mi) north of Yulin, and 55 kilometers (34 mi) south of Dongsheng.
Sun Yat-sen’s Mausoleum (中山陵) is situated at the foot of the second peak of Mount Zijin (Purple Mountain) in Nanjing, China. Construction of the tomb started in January 1926, and was finished in spring of 1929. The architect was Lu Yanzhi, who died shortly after it was finished. Sun was born in Guangdong province of China on 12 November 1866, and died in 1925 in Beijing, China. On 23 April 1929, the Chinese government appointed He Yingqin to be in charge of laying Dr. Sun to rest. On 26 May, the coffin departed from Beijing, and on 28 May, it arrived in Nanjing. On 1 June, 1929, Sun was buried there. Sun, considered to be the “Father of Modern China” both in mainland China and in Taiwan, fought against the imperial Qing government and after the 1911 revolution ended the monarchy, and founded the Republic of China.
Nanjing (南京市) has a prominent place in Chinese history and culture, having served as the capitals of various Chinese dynasties, kingdoms and republican governments dating from the 3rd century CE to 1949. The city has a number of other names, and some historical names are now used as names of districts of the city, and among them there is the name Jiangning (江寧), whose former character Jiang (江, River) is the former part of the name Jiangsu and latter character Ning (寧, simplified form 宁, Peace) is the short name of Nanjing. When being the capital of a state, for instance, the ROC, Jing (京) is adopted as the abbreviation of Nanjing. As a city located in southern part of China, it first became Chinese national capital as early as in Jin dynasty, and the name Nanjing was officially designated to the city in Ming dynasty, about a thousand years later. Nanjing is particularly known as Jinling or Ginling (金陵, literally “Gold Mountain”) and the old name has been used since the Warring States Period in Zhou Dynasty.
Founded in 514 BC, Suzhou (苏州市) has over 2,500 years of history, with an abundant display of relics and sites of historical interest. Around AD 100, during the Eastern Han Dynasty, it became one of the ten largest cities in the world mostly due to emigration from Northern China. Since the 10th-century Song Dynasty, it has been an important commercial center of China. During the Ming and Qing Dynasty, Suzhou was a national economic, cultural, and commercial center, as well as the largest non-capital city in the world, until the 1860 Taiping Rebellion. When Li Hongzhang and Charles George Gordon recaptured the city three years later, Shanghai had already taken its predominant place in the nation. Since major economic reforms began in 1978, Suzhou has become one of the fastest growing major cities in the world, with GDP growth rates of about 14% in the past 35 years. With high life expectancy and per capita incomes, Suzhou’s Human Development Index ratings is roughly comparable to a moderately developed country, making it one of the most highly developed and prosperous cities in China.
Huangling Village (黄陵县), located on the east tourist line, is about 24 miles (39 kilometers) from Wuyuan County. With an area of 1,235 acres (5 square kilometers), it is like a pearl embraced by Shier Mountain. This village is full of an atmosphere of simplicity and elegance. It features cable transport, ancient residences, terraces, ocean of flowers, and folk customs. Built on a hillside, houses in Huangling Village have a unique characteristic “U” shape. In the autumn of each year, villagers dry crops in order to preserve their year’s produce. “Dry Crops In Autumn” has become a typical symbol of local culture, and it represents a comfortable and relaxing life style. Nowadays, this special and interesting scene attracts more and more visitors to tour and take photographs.
Jingdezhen (景德镇市) is a prefecture-level city, previously a town, in northeastern Jiangxi province. It is known as the “Porcelain Capital” because it has been producing pottery for 1,700 years. The city has a well-documented history that stretches back over 2,000 years. During the Han Dynasty, Jingdezhen was known as Xinping. Historical records show that it was during this time that it began to make porcelain.Xinping then was renamed Changnanzhen (Changnan Town) during the Tang Dynasty since it sits at the south bank of Chang river. In 1004 CE during the North Song Dynasty, it was renamed again as Jingdezhen, taking the era name of the emperor during whose reign its porcelain production first rose to fame.
Mount Lu or Lushan (庐山), also known as Kuanglu (匡庐) in ancient times, is situated in the northern part of Jiangxi province in southeastern China, and is one of the most renowned mountains in the country. The oval-shaped mountains are about 25 km long and 10 km wide, and neighbors Jiujiang city and the Yangtze River to the north, Nanchang city to the south, and Poyang Lake to the east. Its highest point is Dahanyang Peak (大汉阳峰), reaching 1,474 m above sea level, and is one of the hundreds of steep peaks that towers above a sea of clouds that encompass the mountains for almost 200 days out of the year. Mount Lu is known for its grandeur, steepness, and beauty, and is part of Lushan National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996, and a prominent tourist attraction, especially during the summer months when the weather is cooler.
Mount Sanqing (三清山) is a renowned Taoist sacred mountain located 25 miles (40 km) north of Yushan County in Jiangxi Province, China with outstanding scenery. Sanqing means the “Three Pure Ones” in Chinese as Mount Sanqing is made up of three main summits: Yujing, Yushui, and Yuhua, representing the Taoist trinity. A Chinese phrase “三峰峻拔、如三清列坐其巅” (“Three steep peaks, like the Three Pure Ones sit the summits”) explains why it was named San Qing. Amongst the three hills, the Yujing hill (1817 meters above sea level) is the highest. Mount Sanqing has been classified as a national park of China. It is a famous honeypot as well as a shelter for animals and plants. It contains more than 2300 species of plants and 400 species of vertebrates. The total area of Mount Sanqing is 229 km². It became a National Geopark in 2005 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008.
The Jinggang Mountains (井冈山) are a mountain range of the Luoxiao Mountains System (罗霄山), in the remote border region of Jiangxi and Hunan Provinces, in Central and East China. The range lies at the junction of four counties – Ninggang, Yongxing, Suichuan and Lingxian. The mountains cover some 670 km2 (260 sq mi), with an average elevation of 381.5 metres (1,252 ft) above sea level. The highest point is 2,120 m (6,960 ft) above sea level. The Jinggang Mountains is known as the birthplace of the Chinese Red Army, predecessor of the People’s Liberation Army) and the “cradle of the Chinese revolution”. After the Kuomintang (KMT) turned against the Communist Party during the April 12 Incident, the Communists either went underground or fled to the countryside. Following the unsuccessful Autumn Harvest Uprising in Changsha, Mao Zedong led his 1,000 remaining men here, setting up his first peasant soviet.
Wuyuan County (婺源县) is a county of Jiangxi province, People’s Republic of China. It is under the jurisdiction of the prefecture-level city of Shangrao. Wuyuan, on the boundary of three provinces in Jiangxi’s northeastern corner, has a landscape dotted with strange caves, deep secluded rocks and numerous historic sites. Wuyuan County is home to some of the best-preserved ancient architecture in China. Wuyuan’s structures were built in 740 during the Tang Dynasty, its remoteness and inconvenient transportation protecting its villages from too many visitors.
Chagan Lake (查干湖;) is a lake in Jilin. The name “Chagan” is from Mongolian, meaning “white lac”. The lake is often referred to as Holy Water Lake by local people. The lake is known for traditional winter fishing that dates back to prehistoric times. The annual Winter Fishing Festival is held to remember the old winter fishing tradition. Fishermen first drill many holes through the thick ice and then place net under the ice. The Lake set a Guinness World Record of a single net that yielded 104,500 kg (230,400 lb) fish in 2005, and broke its own record with168,500 kg (371,500 lb) of fish in 2008.
The Changbai Mountain Range (长白山) is a mountain range on the border between China and North Korea. It is also referred to as the Šanggiyan, Jangbaek, or Ohnan mountains. The range extends from the Northeast Chinese provinces of Heilongjiang, Jilin and Liaoning to the North Korean provinces of Ryanggang and Chagang. Most peaks exceed 2,000 metres in height, with the highest mountain being Paektu Mountain. The range represents the mythical birthplace of Bukūri Yongšon, ancestor of Nurhaci and the Aisin Gioro imperial family, who were the founders of the Manchu state and the Qing dynasty of China. The Chinese name literally means “Perpetually-White Mountain Region”.
About nine miles from Shanhaiguan Pass, in Suizhong County, Liaoning province the grand wall spans the about 100-meter (0.06-mile) wide Jiujiang River. It is the Jiumenkou Great Wall. This section of Great Wall was first built in Northern Qi Dynasty (479 – 502) and was an important military pass over a long period of time. It was rebuilt to a larger scale in the Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644). The southern end of the wall starts from lofty mountains, connecting to the section of the wall running from Shanhaiguan Pass. It climbs along the mountain ridge till finally arriving at the banks of Jiujiang River. The wide river doesn’t stop the wall’s resolute pace forward. A huge wall bridge stretches over the river, forcing its way to the north.
The Mukden Palace (盛京宫殿), or Shenyang Imperial Palace (沈阳故宫), was the former imperial palace of the early Manchu-led Qing dynasty in China. It was built in 1625 and the first three Qing emperors lived there from 1625 to 1644. Since the collapse of imperial rule in China, the palace has been converted to a museum that now lies in the center of Shenyang city, Liaoning province. Early construction began in 1625 by Nurhaci, the founder of the Qing dynasty. By 1631, additional structures were added during the reign of Nurhaci’s successor, Huangtaiji. The Mukden Palace was built to resemble the Forbidden City in Beijing. However, the palace also exhibits hints of Manchu and Tibetan styles. In 2004, it was included on the UNESCO World Heritage List as an extension of the Imperial Palace of the Ming and Qing Dynasties, or Forbidden City, in Beijing.
Red Beach (红海滩), located in Dawa County, Panjin, Liaoning, is famous for its landscape featuring the red plant of Suaeda salsa (Chinese: 碱蓬草) of the Chenopodiaceae family. It is based in the biggest wetland and reed marsh in the world. The landscape is composed of shallow seas and tide-lands. The Sueda is one of the few species of grass that can live in highly alkaline soil. Its growth cycle starts in April when it is coloured light red, while the colour of the mature species is deep red.
The 108 Buddhist Pagodas lies at the east of Xiakou Mountain on the western shore of the Yellow River. They are the primary attractions of the tourism areas in Qingtongxia Reservoir near Yinchuan City. One of the most famous scenic spot in the Qingtongxia is one hundred and eight Pagodas, located in the Yellow River west bank on a steep hillside. Here used to be grand temple buildings, nowadays, most of the temples were ruined, only left pagoda. This 108 pagodas form in 12 rows, the overall layout is narrow on the top and wide on the bottom, form an isosceles triangle, which is a unique style. It was said that these special pagodas were built in the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368). All of them were built a pearl-shaped top covered with lime, looks like the white pagoda of the Yuan Dynasty at the Beijing Miaoying Temple. Due to the 108 dharma bodies, it had such name.
Occupying an area of some 50 km2 (19 sq mi), the Western Xia tombs at the foot of the Helan Mountains in the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region of northwestern China includes nine imperial mausoleums and 250 tombs of imperial relatives and officials. This burial complex lies some 40 km (25 mi) westward from capital city of the Western Xia, the Xingqing fu or Xingqing, what is modern-day Yinchuan, capital of Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. Some 17,000 m2 (180,000 sq ft) have so far been excavated, and efforts are underway to secure and preserve the remains of this poorly understood era. The Western Xia dynasty (also known as Tangut Empire), existed between 1038 and 1227, when it was conquered by the Mongols under Genghis Khan. The empire was founded by the Tangut ethnic group, about which little is currently known. Of current excavations, only the No.3 mausoleum has been adequately excavated and researched. This mausoleum is attributed to Western Xia’s first emperor Jingzong, born Li Yuanhao, (1003-1048), has been determined as a pavilion-tower construction fusing both traditional mausoleum and temple styles with Buddhist characteristics.
Shapotou District ( 沙坡头区) is a district of Zhongwei, Ningxia Province, China, noted for the Tengger Desert. It is the site of the world-renowned Shapotou Desert Experimental Research Station. The research station is located at the southern end of the dune sea on the banks of the Yellow River. Research at station includes dune stabilization using grasses and microbial mats. Regions stabilized in the 1950s are now used for fruit and vine crops. Sand dune stabilization in the region is required to curtail burial of the trans-Asia Baotou–Lanzhou Railway.
Qinghai Lake (青海湖), Kokonor or Tsongon Po is the largest lake in the People’s Republic of China. Located in Qinghai province on an endorheic basin, Qinghai Lake is classified as a saline and alkaline lake. Qinghai Lake has a surface area of 4,317 square km; an average depth of 21m, and a maximum depth of 25.5m as measured in 2008. The current Chinese name “Qinghai,” the older Mongolian name Kokonor, and the Tibetan name translate to “Green Sea”, “Blue Lake” and “Teal Sea”, respectively. Qinghai Lake is located about 100 kilometres (62 mi) west of the provincial capital of Xining at 3,205 m (10,515 feet) above sea level in a hollow of the Tibetan plateau. Twenty-three rivers and streams empty into Qinghai Lake, most of them seasonal. Five permanent streams provide 80% of total influx.
Dongguan Mosque (东关清真寺) is a mosque in Xining. It is the largest mosque in Qinghai province. It was built in 1380, and now boasts a history of more than 600 years. The Mosque is not only famous for its magnificent architecture but also as a religious education center and as the highest learning institution of Islam.
Sanjiangyuan National Nature Reserve, or the Three Rivers Nature Reserve, contains the headwaters of the Yellow River, the Yangtze River and the Mekong River. The reserve, established in 2000, is to protect the headwaters of the three rivers. Located in the hinterlands of the Qinghai-Tibet plateau in southern Qinghai with at an altitude of over 4,000 meters, the reserve covers an area of about 150,000 square kilometers (15 million hectares), larger than the total area of England and Wales of the UK. It is the largest and highest natural wetland in China.
Kumbum Monastery also known as Ta’er Monastery is a gompa founded in 1583 in a narrow valley close to the village of Lusar in the historical region of Amdo, nowadays the Qinghai province in the People’s Republic of China. Its superior monastery is Drepung Monastery, immediately to the west of Lhasa. It was ranked in importance as second only to Lhasa.
The Terracotta Army (兵马俑; literally: “Soldier-and-horse funerary statues”) is a collection of terracotta sculptures depicting the armies of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China. It is a form of funerary art buried with the emperor in 210–209 BCE and whose purpose was to protect the emperor in his afterlife. The figures, dating from approximately the late third century BCE, were discovered in 1974 by local farmers in Lintong District, Xi’an, Shaanxi province. The figures vary in height according to their roles, with the tallest being the generals. The figures include warriors, chariots and horses. Estimates from 2007 were that the three pits containing the Terracotta Army held more than 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses and 150 cavalry horses, the majority of which remained buried in the pits nearby Qin Shi Huang’s mausoleum. Other terracotta non-military figures were found in other pits, including officials, acrobats, strongmen and musicians. The site was listed by UNESCO in 1987 as a World Cultural Heritage Site.
Mount Hua (华山) is a mountain located near the city of Huayin in Shaanxi province, about 120 kilometres (75 mi) east of Xi’an. It is the western mountain of the Five Great Mountains of China, and has a long history of religious significance. Originally classified as having three peaks, in modern times the mountain is classified as five main peaks, of which the highest is the South Peak at 2,154.9 metres (7,070 ft). Mount Hua is situated in Huayin City, which is 120 kilometres (about 75 miles) from Xi’an. It is located near the southeast corner of the Ordos Loop section of the Yellow River basin, south of the Wei River valley, at the eastern end of the Qin Mountains, in southern Shaanxi province. It is part of the Qinling or Qin Mountains, which divide not only northern and southern Shaanxi, but also China.i.
Xi’an (西安), formerly romanized as Sian, and also known as Chang’an (長安) before the Ming dynasty, is the capital of Shaanxi Province, People’s Republic of China. It is a sub-provincial city located in the center of the Guanzhong Plain in Northwest China. One of the oldest cities in China, Xi’an is the oldest of the Four Great Ancient Capitals, having held the position under several of the most important dynasties in Chinese history, including Western Zhou, Qin, Western Han, Sui, and Tang. Xi’an is the starting point of the Silk Road and home to the Terracotta Army of Emperor Qin Shi Huang. Since the 1990s, as part of the economic revival of inland China especially for the central and northwest regions, the city of Xi’an has re-emerged as an important cultural, industrial and educational centre of the central-northwest region, with facilities for research and development, national security and China’s space exploration program.
The Temple of Confucius (孔庙) in Qufu, Shandong Province, is the largest and most renowned temple of Confucius in East Asia. Since 1994, the Temple of Confucius has been part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site “Temple and Cemetery of Confucius and the Kong Family Mansion in Qufu”. The two other parts of the site are the nearby Kong Family Mansion, where the main-line descendants of Confucius lived, and the Cemetery of Confucius a few kilometers to the north, where Confucius and many of his descendants have been buried. Those three sites are collectively known in Qufu as San Kong (三孔), i.e. “The Three Confucian [sites]”..
Mount Tai (泰山) is a mountain of historical and cultural significance located north of the city of Tai’an, in Shandong province, China. The tallest peak is the Jade Emperor Peak (玉皇顶), which is commonly reported as 1,545 metres (5,069 ft) tall, but is described by the PRC government as 1,532.7 metres (5,029 ft). Mount Tai is known as the eastern mountain of the Five Great Mountains of China. It is associated with sunrise, birth, and renewal, and is often regarded the foremost of the five. Mount Tai has been a place of worship for at least 3,000 years and served as one of the most important ceremonial centers of China during large portions of this period.Mount Tai has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987.
Shanghai (上海) , with a population of more than 24 million (with over 9 million migrants), is the largest and traditionally the most developed metropolis in Mainland China. Shanghai was the largest and most prosperous city in the Far East during the 1930s. In the past 20 years it has again become an attractive city for tourists from all over the world. The world once again had its eyes on the city when it hosted the 2010 World Expo, recording the greatest number of visitors in the event’s history. Shanghai is split in two by the Huangpu River (黄浦江 Huángpǔ Jiāng). The most basic division of the area is Puxi (浦西 Pǔxī) West of the river, versus Pudong (浦东 Pǔdōng), East of the river. Both terms can be used in a general sense for everything on their side of the river, but are often used in a much narrower sense where Puxi is the older (since the 19th century) central part of the city and Pudong the mass of new high-rise development across the river since the 1980s.
Pingyao’s old town (平遥) is typically considered the best ancient walled city in China, and is on many lists of the best walled cities in the world. The city walls of Pingyao were constructed in the 3rd year of the Hongwu Emperor (1370). The walls have six barbican gates. The north and south sides have one gate each. The east and west sides have two gates each. This pattern is similar to that of a turtle (the head, tail and four legs), earning Pingyao the moniker “Turtle City.” The walls measure about 12 metres high, with a perimeter of 6,000 metres. A 4-metre wide, 4-metre deep moat can be found just outside the walls. Aside from the four structured towers at the four corners, there are also 72 watchtowers and more than 3,000 battlements. In 2004, part of the southern walls collapsed but were reconstructed. However, the rest of the city walls are still largely intact and are considered among the best-preserved ancient city walls on this scale. This makes the city walls the centrepiece of the UNESCO Heritage Site. Pingyao was the financial centre of China in the late Qing Dynasty. During those times, there were as many as 20 financial institutions within the city, comprising more than half of total in the whole country.
The Hanging Temple, also Hanging Monastery or Xuankong Temple (悬空寺) is a temple built into a cliff (75 m or 246 ft above the ground) near Mount Heng in Hunyuan County, Datong City, Shanxi province, China. The closest city is Datong, 64.23 kilometers to the northwest. Along with the Yungang Grottoes, the Hanging Temple is one of the main tourist attractions and historical sites in the Datong area. Built more than 1,500 years ago, this temple is notable not only for its location on a sheer precipice but also because it is the only existing temple with the combination of three Chinese traditional religions: Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism. The structure is kept in place with oak crossbeams fitted into holes chiseled into the cliffs. The main supportive structure is hidden inside the bedrock. The monastery is located in the small canyon basin, and the body of the building hangs from the middle of the cliff under the prominent summit, protecting the temple from rain erosion and sunlight. Coupled with the repair of the dynasties, the color tattoo in the temple is relatively well preserved. On December 2010, it was listed in the “Time” magazine as the world’s top ten most odd dangerous buildings.
The Yungang Grottoes ( 云冈石窟) are ancient Chinese Buddhist temple grottoes near the city of Datong in the province of Shanxi. They are excellent examples of rock-cut architecture and one of the three most famous ancient Buddhist sculptural sites of China. The others are Longmen and Mogao.The site is located about 16 km west of the city of Datong, in the valley of the Shi Li river at the base of the Wuzhou Shan mountains. They are an outstanding example of the Chinese stone carvings from the 5th and 6th centuries. All together, the site is composed of 252 grottoes with more than 51,000 Buddha statues and statuettes. In 2001, the Yungang Grottoes were made a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Yungang Grottoes are considered by UNESCO to be a “masterpiece of early Chinese Buddhist cave art and represent the successful fusion of Buddhist religious symbolic art from south and central Asia with Chinese cultural traditions, starting in the 5th century CE under Imperial auspices.” It is classified as a AAAAA scenic area by the China National Tourism Administration.
Mount Emei (峨眉山 Emei Shan) is a mountain in Sichuan Province, China, and is one of the Four Sacred Buddhist Mountains of China. Mt. Emei sits at the western rim of the Sichuan Basin. The mountains west of it are known as Daxiangling. A large surrounding area of countryside is geologically known as the Permian Emeishan Large Igneous Province, a large igneous province generated by the Emeishan Traps volcanic eruptions during the Permian Period. At 3,099 metres (10,167 ft), Mt. Emei is the highest of the Four Sacred Buddhist Mountains of China. Administratively, Mt. Emei is located near the county-level city of the same name (Emeishan City), which is in turn part of the prefecture-level city of Leshan. It was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996.
Huanglong (黃龍; literally: “yellow dragon”) is a scenic and historic interest area in the northwest part of Sichuan, China. It is located in the southern part of the Minshan mountain range, 150 kilometres (93 mi) north-northwest of the capital Chengdu. This area is known for its colorful pools formed by calcite deposits, especially in Huanglonggou (Yellow Dragon Gully), as well as diverse forest ecosystems, snow-capped peaks, waterfalls and hot springs. Huanglong is also home to many endangered species including the giant panda and the Sichuan golden snub-nosed monkey. Huanglong was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1992.
Jiuzhaigou (九寨溝) is a nature reserve and national park located in the north of Sichuan province, China. Jiuzhaigou Valley is part of the Min Mountains on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau and stretches over 72,000 hectares (180,000 acres). It is known for its many multi-level waterfalls, colorful lakes, and snow-capped peaks. Its elevation ranges from 2,000 to 4,500 metres (6,600 to 14,800 ft). Jiuzhaigou Valley was inscribed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1992 and a World Biosphere Reserve in 1997. It belongs to the category V (Protected Landscape) in the IUCN system of protected area categorization.
Larung Gar (洛若乡) or the Larung Valley is a town in Sêrtar County of Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, in Sichuan.The population of over 40,000 comprises primarily monks and nuns making it possibly the largest religious institute in the world, and is based around the Serthar Institute founded by Jigme Phuntsok. It was founded in 1980 in the uninhabited valley by Jigme Phuntsok, a lama of the Nyingma tradition. The academy has grown substantially since: as of 2015, it is home to over 40,000 monks and nuns. Nuns and monks are segregated by age and sex. Housing for monks and nuns are divided by a winding road that divides the city.
The Leshan Giant Buddha (乐山大佛) is a 71-metre (233 ft) tall stone statue, built during the Tang Dynasty, depicting Maitreya. It is carved out of a cliff face that lies at the confluence of the Minjiang, Dadu and Qingyi rivers in the southern part of Sichuan province in China, near the city of Leshan. The stone sculpture faces Mount Emei, with the rivers flowing below his feet. It is the largest stone Buddha in the worldand it is by far the tallest pre-modern statue in the world. The Mount Emei Scenic Area, including Leshan Giant Buddha Scenic Area has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996.
Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, or simply Chengdu Panda Base, is a non-profit research and breeding facility for giant pandas and other rare animals. It is located in Chengdu, Sichuan. Chengdu Panda Base was founded in 1987. It started with 6 giant pandas that were rescued from the wild. Its stated goal is to “be a world-class research facility, conservation education center, and international educational tourism destination.”
Huangyaguan or Huangya Pass (黄崖关; literally: “Yellow Cliff Pass”) is a small section of the Great Wall of China located in the north of Ji County, Tianjin municipality, approximately 78 miles (126 km) north of urban Tianjin city. The site lies on a steep and abrupt mountain ridge. Huangyaguan was originally built over 1400 years ago in the Northern Qi Dynasty and reinforced with brick walls in the Ming Dynasty. In 1984, major repair work has been performed on over 3 kilometres of the wall including on 20 water towers and 1 water pass. The pass is a major tourist attraction within Tianjin and was listed as a site of relics protection in 1986.
Everest Base Camp is either of two base camps on opposite sides of Mount Everest. South Base Camp is in Nepal at an altitude of 5,364 metres (17,598 ft) , and North Base Camp is in Tibet at 5,150 metres (16,900 ft). A visit to the North (China-side) Base Camp currently requires a permit from the Chinese government, on top of the permit required to visit Tibet itself. Such permits must be arranged via travel companies in Lhasa as part of a package tour that include hiring a vehicle, driver and guide. The North Base Camp is accessed by vehicle through a 100 km road branching to the South from the Friendship Highway near Shelkar. The “tourist Base Camp” is located about halfway between Rongbuk Monastery; the actual climbers’ Base Camp is at the foot of Rongbuk glacier.
Namtso Lake (纳木错) is a mountain lake on the border between Damxung County of Lhasa prefecture-level city and Baingoin County of Nagqu Prefecture in the Tibet Autonomous Region of China, approximately 112 kilometres (70 mi) NNW of Lhasa. Namtso was born in the Paleogene age, as a result of Himalayan tectonic plate movements. The lake lies at an elevation of 4,718 m (15,479 ft), and has a surface area of 1,920 km2 (740 sq mi). This salt lake is the largest lake in the Tibet Autonomous Region. However, it is not the largest lake on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. That title belongs to Qinghai Lake (more than twice the size of Namtso); which lies more than 1,000 km (620 mi) to the north-east in Qinghai.
The Potala Palace ( 布达拉宫) in Lhasa, Tibet Autonomous Region was the chief residence of the Dalai Lama until the 14th Dalai Lama fled to India during the 1959 Tibetan uprising. It is now a museum and World Heritage Site. The palace is named after Mount Potalaka, the mythical abode of the bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara. The 5th Dalai Lama started its construction in 1645 after one of his spiritual advisers, Konchog Chophel (died 1646), pointed out that the site was ideal as a seat of government, situated as it is between Drepung and Sera monasteries and the old city of Lhasa. It may overlay the remains of an earlier fortress called the White or Red Palace on the site, built by Songtsän Gampo in 637.
Turpan (吐鲁番) has long been the centre of a fertile oasis (with water provided by the karez canal system) and an important trade centre. It was historically located along the Silk Road, at that time other kingdoms of the region included Korla and Yanqi. The name Turfan itself however was not used until the end of the Middle Ages – its use became widespread only in the post-Mongol period. The center of the region has shifted a number of times, from Yar-Khoto (Jiaohe, 10 km to the west of modern Turpan) to Qocho (Gaochang, 30 km to the southeast of Turpan), and to Turpan itself. Historically, many settlements in the region have been given a number of different names, some of which refer to more than one place – Turpan/Turfan/Tulufan is one such example.
Mori Forest of Diversiform-leaved Poplars (木垒胡杨林景区) is a tenacious ancient species, can be found at the south edge of Junggar Basin, 150 km away from Mori County, covering an area of 35 square kilometers. With a history of 65 million years, the forest is the oldest primeval forest of diversiform-leaved poplars in the world, and is known as a “living fossil”.
Koktokay Scenic Spot (可可托海景区) is an ideal place for sightseeing, vacationing, hiking, photographing and scientific expedition. It is the origin of the Irtysh River, which is the only river in China flowing into the Arctic Ocean. The geopark consists of four major parts: the Irtysh Grand Canyon, Cocoa Sullivan Lake, Ilaymu Lake and Kalaxianger Earthquake Fault Zone. Koktokay means “green forest” in Kazakh language and “blue river bend” in Mongolian, implying that it has been a beautiful place since ancient times.
Tianshan Grand Canyon (天山大峡谷) also called Keziliya valley, located in the Aksu region in northern Kuqa, from east to west in depth is about 5.5 kilometers long. A reddish-brown rock carving by wind and rain, canyon winding path leading to a secluded spot, where can see a new world, the mountain body is various, the open sky, overlapping ditch with the valley. Nantian valley, ghost valley, crescent gorge, tiger tooth bridge and Motian cave such landscape modeling is vivid.1.4 km away from the cliff, there is a Tang dynasty grottoes. On the south and north, west of grottoes wall remaining murals and Chinese characters, and is 700 meters from canyon accompany by the mysterious valley.
The Three Pagodas of Chongsheng Temple (崇圣寺三塔) are an ensemble of three independent pagoda towers arranged on the corners of an equilateral triangle, near the town of Dali, Yunnan province, China, dating from the time of the Kingdom of Nanzhao and Kingdom of Dali in the 9th and 10th centuries. The Three Pagodas are located about 1.5 km (0.93 mi) north of scenic Dali, Yunnan province. They are at the east foot of the tenth peak of the massive Cangshan Mountains and face the west shore of the Erhai Lake of ancient Dali. The Three Pagodas are made of brick and covered with white mud. As its name implies, the Three Pagodas comprise three independent pagodas forming a symmetric triangle. The elegant, balanced and stately style is unique in China’s ancient Buddhist architectures, which makes it a must-see in the tour of Dali. The Three Pagodas, visible from miles away, has been a landmark of Dali City and selected as a national treasure meriting preservation in China.
The Stone Forest or Shilin (石林) is a notable set of limestone formations about 500 km2 located in Shilin Yi Autonomous County, Yunnan Province, People’s Republic of China, near Shilin approximately 90 km (56 mi) from the provincial capital Kunming. The tall rocks seem to fall to the ground in the manner of stalagmites, with many looking like petrified trees thereby creating the illusion of a forest made of stone. Since 2007, two parts of the site, the Naigu Stone Forest (乃古石林) and Suogeyi Village (所各邑村), have been UNESCO World Heritage Sites as part of the South China Karst. The site is classified as a AAAAA-class tourist site.
Tiger Leaping Gorge (虎跳峡) is a scenic canyon on the Jinsha River, a primary tributary of the upper Yangtze River. It is located 60 kilometres (37 mi) north of Lijiang City, Yunnan in southwestern China. It is part of the Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Areas World Heritage Site. At a maximum depth of approximately 3,790 meters (12,434 feet) from river to mountain peak, Tiger Leaping Gorge is one of the deepest and most spectacular river canyons in the world. The inhabitants of the gorge are primarily the indigenous Naxi people, who live in a handful of small hamlets. Their primary subsistence comes from grain production and hikers, foreign as well as Chinese.
Lijiang (丽江市) is famous for its UNESCO Heritage Site, the Old Town of Lijiang. The town has a history going back more than 1,000 years and was once a confluence for trade along the “Old Tea Horse Caravan Trail”. The Dayan Old town is famous for its orderly system of waterways and bridges, a system fast becoming but a memory as the underground water table drops, probably due to over-building in the suburban areas. Lijiang’s culture combines traditional Nakhi culture and incongruous elements learned from Ming dynasty Han Chinese traders who settled in the region centuries ago. Nakhi people have kept alive a timber and mud brick housing style which they learned from Nanjing traders. Local carpenters still build elaborately constructed timber house frames from memory without blueprints or other diagrams.
Shangri-La (香格里拉市) is a county-level city in northwestern Yunnan province, People’s Republic of China and is the location of the seat of the Dêqên Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. In the second half of the 20th century Shangri-La was called Zhongdian (中甸) but was renamed on 17 December 2001 as Shangri-La (other spellings: Semkyi’nyida, Xianggelila, or Xamgyi’nyilha) after the fictional land of Shangri-La in the 1933 James Hilton novel Lost Horizon, in an effort to promote tourism in the area. The original Tibetan population previously referred to this place by its traditional name Gyalthang or Gyaitang, meaning “Royal plains”. This ancient name is reflected in the Tibetan Pinyin name of the town of Jiantang (建塘; Jiàntáng), the county seat.
Yuanyang County (元阳县) is located in Honghe Prefecture in southeastern Yunnan province, China, along the Red River. It is well known for its spectacular rice-paddy terracing. Part of the area now forms the 45th World Heritage Site in China. The terraced areas of interest to visitors are mainly found between 1000 and 2000 metres above sea level. The winter temperatures here, although never freezing, are such that they only support one rice crop a year. After the harvest, from mid-September till mid-November depending on the elevation, the terraces are filled with water until April, when planting begins. The vast majority of the ethnic minority women in Yuanyang county still wear traditional clothes as their daily attire. The main ethnic group is the Hani who share the region with several other minorities such as the Yi and Miao. Market days in the villages tend to be very colourful when the different minority groups in the vicinity, each in their own traditional costume, come together to trade and socialise.
Qiandao Lake (千岛湖, Thousand Island Lake), a human-made lake located in Chun’an County, Zhejiang Province, China, was formed after the completion of the Xin’an River hydroelectric station in 1959. 1,078 large islands dot the lake and a few thousand smaller ones are scattered across it. The lake covers an area of 573 km2 (221 sq mi) and has a storage capacity of 17.8 km3 (4.3 cu mi). The islands in the lake cover about 86 km2 (33 sq mi). Qiandao Lake is used to produce the Nongfu Spring brand of mineral water. Over 90% of the area is forested. The islands in the lake include Bird Island, Snake Island, Monkey Island, Lock Island (featuring supposedly the world’s biggest lock), and the Island to Remind You of Your Childhood.
West Lake (西湖) is a freshwater lake in Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang province in eastern China. It is divided into five sections by three causeways. There are numerous temples, pagodas, gardens, and artificial islands within the lake. West Lake has influenced poets and painters throughout Chinese history for its natural beauty and historic relics, and it has also been among the most important sources of inspiration for Chinese garden designers. It was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2011, described as having “influenced garden design in the rest of China as well as Japan and Korea over the centuries” and reflecting “an idealized fusion between humans and nature”.
Mount Putuo (普陀山) is an island southeast of Shanghai, in Zhoushan prefecture of Zhejiang province, China. It is a renowned site in Chinese Buddhism, and is considered the bodhimanda of the bodhisattva Avalokitesvara (Guanyin). Mount Putuo is one of the four sacred mountains in Chinese Buddhism, the others being Mount Wutai, Mount Jiuhua, and Mount Emei (Bodhimandas for Manjusri, Ksitigarbha, and Samantabhadra respectively). Mount Putuo lies in the Eastern Sea of China and incorporates the beauty of both mountain and sea. Its area is approximately 12.5 square kilometers and there are numerous famous temples. Every year on February 19, June 19, and September 19 it welcomes millions of people for the celebration of the birth of Guanyin.
Wuzhen (乌镇) is a historic scenic town, part of Tongxiang, located in northern Zhejiang Province. Located in the centre of the six ancient towns south of Yangtze River, 17 kilometres (11 mi) north of the city of Tongxiang, Wuzhen displays its history through its ancient stone bridges, stone pathways and delicate wood carvings. Wuzhen is divided into six districts. These are: the traditional workshops district, the traditional local-styled dwelling houses district, the traditional culture district, the traditional food and beverage district, the traditional shops and stores district, and the water township customs and life district. Following an east-west-east circuit created by these six districts, visitors can witness reenactment of traditional practices and cultures.
Xitang (西塘) is an ancient scenic town in Jiashan County, Zhejiang Province, China. Its history dates back to at least the Spring and Autumn Period when it was located at the border of the State of Yue and Wu. Xitang is a water town crisscrossed by nine rivers. The town stretches across eight sections, linked by old-fashioned stone bridges. In the older parts of town, the buildings are set along the banks of the canals, which serve as the main transportation thoroughfares in the area. Xitang also contains numerous antique residences and temples, such as the Temple of the Seven Masters. The town keeps a tranquil ambience and scenic beauty, making it a very popular tourist attraction. It is frequently depicted in Chinese landscape painting. Xitang locations were featured in the final sequences of the motion picture Mission: Impossible III.
Yandang Mountains or Yandangshan ( 雁荡山, lit. “Wild Goose Pond Mountain(s)”) refers, in the broad sense, to a coastal mountain range in southeastern Zhejiang province in eastern China, covering much of the prefecture-level city of Wenzhou (from Pingyang County in the south to Yueqing County in the northeast) and extending to the county-level city of Wenling in Taizhou prefecture. The mountain range is divided in two by the Oujiang River, the two parts being the North Yandang and South Yandang. More narrowly, Yandangshan is also used more narrowly to refer to Mount Yandang, a specific part of the North Yandang around an ancient caldera near a small town of the same name (雁荡镇, Yàndàng Zhèn). The highest peaks of North Yandang are located here, and this is also the main tourist spot.