Top Places in China Expats Must Visit!

Liz Smith
Liz Smith

Liz Smith left the daily grind in the States to travel the world with her husband. Eventually teaching English in China & loving it, she began sharing her experience with others who are interested in embarking on this new adventure!

 / Apr 24, 2018


China has grown to be one of the largest economies in the world. From manufacturing, machine building, tourism to telecommunications, it is evident that it has a diverse economy. As an expat, the best way to learn more about the great cities of China is by taking time to explore and visit some of the most exciting and cool places in China.


Luckily, the cities in China have a lot to offer. By visiting them, one can get to learn about the ancient history of China. The ancient history can be juxtaposed to the modernization and the existing skyscrapers. Also, it is a fun way of being able to go on adventures in the various attraction sites and picturesque scenes.


Here are some of the most popular and scenic areas that expats living in China simply must visit!


1. Beijing


Beijing is one of the places you have to visit. Other than being the capital city, it has many attractions which you can visit. Whether you would like to get a feel of the historic sites such as the Great Wall of China, the Forbidden City or the Temple of Heaven to being able to see various tallest skyscrapers in the world. It gives you the chance to learn more about both the ancient and the present.



The Great Wall of China is arguably one of the most visited attractions in the country. The Great Wall, which is found in the northern part of the city, stretches around 8000 kilometers divided into sections. This provides a fun place to go hiking. The Forbidden City, on the other hand, is the epitome of ancient history. The palace features more than 9,000 rooms which were constructed between the years 1406 to 1420. To add on that, there other attractions such as the Tiananmen Square, Summer Palace and National Museum of China. An ESL teacher can learn a lot about ancient China by making a trip to Beijing.


2. Shanghai


This is one of the largest as well as the most well-developed city in China. It has grown to become a significant economic hub in Asia and across the whole world. Whereas it does not have as many historical sites compared to other cities, it makes up for it by having an interesting architecture such that of the Shanghai World Financial Centre or the Oriental Pearl Tower.



Shanghai is also home to various exciting attractions such as; the Shanghai Ocean Aquarium, Shanghai Art Museum, Disneyland, the Bund, Huangpujiang River, Yu Garden and the Jade Buddha Temple among many others. At night, the city lights up thus giving those walking along the streets such a surreal experience.


3. Xi’an


If you are a big fan of ancient history, the Xi’an City should be among the first cities to visit while you are living in China. It is very rich in ancient history and culture. Buildings such as the City Wall and the Bell Tower will take you back to how life was centuries ago. 



The sculptures of the Terra Cotta Army is also very essential for the Xi’an city. The figures feature warriors and horses which signify those that guarded the tomb of the Qin Emperor. Also, there are natural sites such as Mt. Huashan and the Huaqing Hot Springs which are cool places to visit.


4. Suzhou


The beauty of the Suzhou city lies in the gorgeous gardens, water towns and stone bridges within it. Most of the known attractions include the Lion Grove Garden, the Grand Canal, Tiger Hill and the Humble Administrator’s Garden.



The Lingering Garden, located in Suzhou, makes part of three other popular gardens in the city. It was built centuries ago by Xu Tiashi during the Ming Dynasty. Each one of the gardens found in this city was designed such that it has an extraordinary beauty which cannot be found elsewhere.


5. Chengdu


Chengdu is popularly known across the world as being the home for giant pandas. If you are yet to have the pleasure of seeing Pandas, a trip to this city will fill your curiosity. One can get to see and learn more about pandas at the Dujiangyan Panda Valley and the Panda Breeding and research center. 




Also, the city has other fascinating attractions such as the Leshan Giant Buddha, historic sites like the Wuhou Memorial Temple, Mout Emei and many more. An expart on a trip to Chengdu can also get to relish Sichuan cuisines.


6. Lijiang


Lijiang features temples, museums, and very many eye-catching natural attractions. Therefore, it is a fantastic place for those who love outdoor experiences and trekking. 



Some of the fascinating attractions in Lijiang include the Tiger Leaping Gorge, the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, Lugu Lake and the Jade Springs Park among others. Many expats find Lijiang to be a perfect place to visit over a vacation.


7. Dali


Dali is also another one of the most ancient towns that boast of an impressive list of attractions. It is no wonder that it receives many visitors across the year. Some of the most the interesting palaces that one can visit to learn more about culture include; The Culture Town of Nan Zhao, the Rock Cave of Lion Pass, Yuer Garden and the Weishan Yi and Hui Autonomous country.




After the Dianchi Lake, the Erhai Lake in Dali is one of the largest highland lakes found in China. Also, the Three Pagodas, a Buddhist temple in Dali, is a perfect place to get to learn more about the Buddha religion.


8. Fenghuang Ancient City


The Fenghuang ancient city is referred to as being ancient because it was built during the Qing Dynasty. Among the top attractions in the town include the South Great Wall. It is the only wall that is located in the southern region of China. Also, a visit to this city will allow one to get an experience of the Tou Jiang River, which is the biggest river in China.



Other popular attractions include the Huangsiqiao Castle, the Longevity Palace, and the Shianjiang Miao Village.


9. Guilin


Guilin has received a lot of praise for its natural beauty. This is because a more significant percentage of its attractions are natural. For instance, Elephant Trunk Hill is a natural hill which takes after the shape of an elephant. 



Other fascinating sites in Guilin include Longsheng Rice Terrace, the colorful Reed Flute Cave, the Li River, and the Two Rivers. One can also take a stroll along the Daxu ancient town after a morning of exploring the beauty of Guilin.


10. Yangshuo


A trip to the town of Yangshuo will lead to an adventure of a lifetime. There is great beauty in the in the karst mountains and peaceful nature. Whether it is taking a ride on a boat on the Yulong River or going for rock and mountain climbing on the Moon Hill, you might end up being spoiled for choices. However, one thing remains true; Yangshuo is a fun place to visit.



The Yulong Bridge, Yangshuo Park, the Xingping Ancient Town and the Fuli Ancient Town are some of the other exciting destinations to visit in Yangshuo.


11. Guangzhou


The fact that this city features in Trip Advisor’s top 10 most popular tourist areas in China means that a trip to the city will be worthwhile. With tourist attractions such as Chen Clan Academy, Yuexiu Park, the Pearl River and the bi-annual Canton affair, there is a lot of cool places and things to do while in the city.



Also, the Chimelong Safari Park found in Guangzhou is considered as being one of the best in Asia. A visit to this park gives an expart the chance to see some of the biggest Safari Animals, a Water Park, a Crocodile Park and many more activities in the Park. To add on that, Guangzhou hosts the famous 600 meters Canton tower, which is the second tallest tower in China.


12. Kunming


Kunming has good climate thus can be visited any time of the year. Some of the cool and fun places to visit while at Kunming is; the Stone Forest, the Dianchi Lake, the Green Lake, the Western Hills and Dragon Gate, West Hill the Jiuxiang Caves or the Golden Temple. 



Also, it is home to fantastic museums such as the Yunnan Nationality Museum and the Yunnan Provincial Museum. The attractions will definitely give an expart a better understanding of the Chinese culture.


What's Number One on Your China Travel Bucket List?


China is such a massive and diverse country, that it could take years to explore.  That's one of the benefits of being an expat in China because you actually have time to explore all these different corners of the country -- and truly appreciate it rather than zipping through like a traditional tourist.  


There are a lot of fun activities and attractions that one can enjoy in these cities, but venturing out into the countryside to explore the more rural and scenic parts of China is really a treasure. From the ancient towns, natural attractions, museums and beautiful gardens, each experience will leave you looking forward to making a trip to the next one.  So where do you want to go first???


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Liz Smith

Liz Smith left the daily grind in the States to travel the world with her husband. Eventually teaching English in China & loving it, she began sharing her experience with others who are interested in embarking on this new adventure!