Drawn by an air of mystery, the number of visitors heading to China has been rising rapidly. The World Tourism Organization predicts that by 2020 China will become the world’s most popular tourist destination. Not one visitor will fail to be impressed by the splendour of China’s greatest sights.
The Great Wall has been completely rebuilt in parts in modern times, but its dizzying loops across the horizon still leave most visitors lost for words. The Forbidden City, at the heart of Bĕijīng, draws crowds that make its original majesty hard to imagine, but the labyrinth of side passages still leaves the more inquisitive visitor spellbound. And, although images of Xī’ān’s Terracotta Warriors are familiar from coffee table books, nothing can prepare the visitor for coming face to face with an army of thousands.
China may not be quite the rapidly modernizing economic success of investment fable, but nor is it the medieval backwater of travellers’ tales – the truth lies somewhere in between. Not far from the excitement and wealth of the shiny, high-rise cities, water buffalo pull the plough, and donkey carts are still a popular form of transport. For the visitor, making a foray into the countryside will rarely fail to yield a lively village market or a distressed pagoda on a hill.
China is such a vast and varied land and most of its great sights are scattered far and wide. Our list of top twenty places to visit in China will allow you to pick and choose from a diverse range of attractions to suit your interests, timescale, and budget.