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8 Wonders of China

  • Apr 30, 2011
With China being the 2nd largest economy in the world, more and more people are visiting China for business. However, perhaps unknown to most (other than the Chinese), China has some of the most beautiful sceneries and cultural heritage in the world. Visiting these places of interest may take a little more effort than say visiting Hong Kong or Singapore since most Chinese out of Shanghai and Beijing don't speak English domestically. However, if you need help with travels to China, just give me a buzz and I'll see what I can do.

In the mean time, enjoy some of these magnificent places in China. It's not an exhaustive list as there are just too many places one can visit in China. To see everything, you need to live here for at least a year or two!
Great Wall
A symbol of the longevity of the Chinese civilization, this is the largest man-made architecture in the world. A symbol of perseverance & nationality of the Chinese people. It is enduring & one of human's greatest achievement in historic times.

The most popular and touristy sector of the Wall is on Badaling. However, if you've more time to venture, I'd suggest heading to the Mutianyu section rather. This is a more scenic, less commercialized and more enjoyable part of the Wall. For those who wants the rugged, Shimatai/Jinshanling area is THE area to go to.

See the full review, "Looking in from outer space...".
The Terracotta Army
The idea is bigger than the site and it is really truly unimaginable how they did it back then, some thousand of years ago. The Terracotta Army find is a significant in terms of history and archaeology. Personally, I visited it late in the afternoon and in the midst of winter. It was cold and not a pleasant visit.

Unless it means a great deal to you personally, seeing the Terracotta Army in person is not as great as seeing it on TV! It's mostly for the historical buffs! Nonetheless, it is significant if you're interested in Chinese civilization.

The most beautiful sceneries can be found along the Li River which spans from the city of Guilin to Yangshuo and Xingping. River cruises ply the river among spectacular mountains and limestones formations (very much like those in Halong Bay, Vietnam). One can walk around the river or even swim in it if you are game. Take a look and you'll wonder why this is the no. 1 tourist spot (nature) in China!

See the full review, "桂林山水甲天下,阳朔山水甲桂林 The Best of China!".
Mount Huangshan
This is the mountain every hiker must go if it's his/her passion to hike a mountain in China. I've visited on 3 separate occasions and yet I've only see a tiny portion of this magnificent mountain. Do it while you are young though, this is not one easy mountain to hike and can be real taxing on the knees. Nonetheless, it's one of the most interesting with some beautiful landscapes. One won't know how beautiful it is until one has been up there!

There are direct flights from Shanghai to Huangshan. It takes only about an hour or so by flight.
Jiuzhaigou Valley Scenic and Historic Interest Area
If Huangshan is the most spectacular mountain in China, then Jiuzhaigou has the clearest water in China. Jiuzhaigou is a nature reserve in Sichuan. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage site and has many colorful and beautiful "lakes".

Huanglong is another national park which is about an hour from Jiuzhaigou and also the location of the airport that flies from Chengdu to this area. Visitors can spend a total of 4 days in this area to enjoy the beautiful landscapes, especially during the Autumn. It's fabulous!

In addition, if you plan on heading Tibet, Huanglong is the best place to test if you are able to venture into 4000 m elevation without getting altitude sickness. From here, if one has problem with breathing, it is easily to go to a lower level. It's not possible once you reached Tibet itself as Lhasa itself has the lowest elevation at some 3900 m!

Many foreigners are enthralled by the idea of visiting Tibet. Many also do not think Tibet belongs to China. Nonetheless, Tibet is in the Chinese Territory, in other words, if you are planning on visiting it, you'd need a special permit from the Chinese Government!

Whatever you believe or think about Tibet being part of China is not important to me. I visited this territory in 2003, before the completion of the highest railway in the world. Now, if you'd like to visit Tibet, I'd encourage you to take the train from Xining in China. That stretch of the rail road would be the most scenic. Not all the way from Beijing. That'd be too long a journey and a drag unless you're going with an entire family or group of friends.

I flew in to Lhasa back then from Chengdu in Sichuan. It wasn't a long flight but it was quite a sight and a spectacular landscape welcomes visitors to Lhasa. Lhasa is the capital city of Tibet and it lies some 3900 m above sea level. Around it are numerous mountains even higher. So, from the air, the view was spectacular!

What to see in Tibet? Other than the Potala Palace (which I wasn't impressed with!), the natural landscapes of Tibet appeals to me more. Just like when I was first captured by the movie 7 years in Tibet starring Brad Pitt which literally sealed my "fate", aka I must see this place for myself!

Xigaze & Namtso Lake are the places to be!

See the full review, "The Roof of The World".
Forbidden City
For most first time visitors to China, this is the palace where they will head. Forbidden City is now the palace museum and has countless number of rooms where the Emperor used to live with his many concubines. U don't need a guide in Forbidden City unless you plan on knowing the details about the Chinese history. Getting to it is easy and all you need is to walk from one end to another end. You do need at least 4 hours to tour this palace though. It's huge!!!

I do enjoy visiting the Forbidden City quite a bit. It has some fascinating museum pieces on display and one can easily spend a full day here. However, you should eat first before you enter this place. Otherwise, it'll be at least another 4 hours before you get any food!

See the full review, "Once forbidden to us mortals".
Three Gorges Dam
There was a time when many areas in China were flooded during the monsoon. However, the government decided to build the Three Gorges Dam, the largest in the world now, I believe. I was told before the Dam was built, some of the areas around the Three Gorges had some of the best sceneries in the world. 

The cruise around the Three Gorges is still very popular. However, the landscapes have been altered due to the water level and since I didn't get to see it before the Dam was built, I have no idea how different it was. For me though, I wasn't really impressed with the cruise. However, if you're technically inclined, the Three Gorges Dam is an engineering feat so you might be interested in touring this area as well.

The cruise as far as I'm concerned is a rip-off for the foreigners. Yes, we are on a better boat and get better facilities but the price difference is great. Naturally, you are treated like the VIP on these foreign boats. Locals are not allowed on these boats, it seems. I was asked to show my passport when I first made the reservation. As I spoke Mandarin and they had no idea if I'm local or foreigner, I need to prove my status! That I thought is discriminatory!!!

There are many more beautiful places in China but many are not so accessible to foreigners unless you are able to speak Chinese. Hence, I'm not including them on this list. However, when I do get the time, I'd be writing reviews on each of these places so if you're interested in certain areas, you may write me an email and I'd see if I can prioritize those areas when I begin writing the reviews. I've been to all the provinces in China and have visited many areas of China so it'll take me some time to get to all of them. Stay tune!

What did you think of this list?

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October 04, 2011
The US has just north of 300m citizens. China has 1,300m! They hardly hear Washington's saber rattling, economic follies, and turn instead to a unification of Vietnam, Burma, Cambodia Thailand, and others, even Putin emerges again in Russia calling for Asian unity, a Pan-Eurasian Empire in the making? Imagine the collective population this can represent visa vie the U.S.! Time now for Canada to strengthen her Asian ties, her Russian ties, and leave the U.S. to its own fiat "Funny Money" printing sessions. Will Harper see the light, realize the real situation soon enough to rescue our savings, our very economy from the "Panty Raid" on our dollar Bernanke and the Fed's have threatened?
June 02, 2011
Sharri. I've been to half of these and have to look for the others on my next visit. You should go back to see the Terracotta Warriors. It was the most amazing thing I have seen in my life. I got there early and during the summer so I got the whole story behind them while I was there. I simply blew me away.
June 01, 2011
You missed "human rights violations." Gotta figure that in there somewhere!
May 31, 2011
Great review! I've always wanted to visit China so now I have a checklist :-)
May 26, 2011
aahhhh......I do want to sample more of the food there than anything else. It must be a huge difference to the food here.
May 09, 2011
Of course it had to be 8! :P I've been to six of these. Gotta make it out to Huangshuan and Tibet. Being genetically Chinese though, I'm a little weary of Tibet, but I still would really, really love to visit it. Sounds like you had a good time though, so perhaps I'll really have to make it there someday! :)
May 10, 2011
Cool! I didn't realize you've been to China that often!
May 12, 2011
Yup, up until about two years ago, I used to go twice a year. Actually, I would go to Hong Kong, but since Hong Kong is so close to China, it would've been a shame to have flown so far and not hopped on a train or short flight over to China :P
May 26, 2011
Question: someone told me that American citizens need a special Visa to visit Mainland China? is this true?
May 26, 2011
It's true. Unless you have Hong Kong or Chinese citizenship (there might be other exempt countries), you should have a Visa handy. Luckily, it's not too hard for someone with a U.S. passport to get if you're just vacationing.
May 27, 2011
I do believe the Japanese & Singaporeans don't need one though (surprise, surprise!). Most other citizens need one! It's relatively easy. However, foreigners can only apply for per-entry kind of visa. Those whose race is Chinese can get yearly multiple entry visa.
April 30, 2011
Awesome list Sharrie. Now im longing for a China trip.
April 30, 2011
Thanks, Brew! Speaking of trips, it's been awhile for me although I'm traveling quite a bit around China for the last 3 years. I'm about to leave it though and am hoping for one more round of Tibet this summer but that might prove to be too ambitious! So much to see... so little time & funds, LOL!
About the list creator
Sharrie ()
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I'm a traveler at heart & have been nicknamed Travel Queen by friends & colleagues alike. Traveling has been my life passion for the last decade or so. As we enter a new decade, I'm excited … more
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