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China see + do

Most visitors enter China via its two main air gateways, Beijing and Shanghai, and most do the majority of their sightseeing in those two cities. There is certainly plenty to see and do: Beijing, the capital, is home to an array of imperial temples and palaces, plus Tiananmen Square, and affords easy access to the Great Wall. Overlaid on this historic setting is a portfolio of impressive new architecture commissioned to complement the 2008 Olympic Games. Shanghai is China's pulsing capital of entertainment, shopping, and nightlife, but it also has some of the nation's finest heritage and Art Deco architecture. Another must-see city is Xi'an, site of Emperor Shihuangdi's beguilingly lifelike terra-cotta warriors and handsome city walls. Other notable cities are Hangzhou, for its much-cherished West Lake and tea plantations, and Suzhou, for its UNESCO-listed Chinese gardens.

China's spectacular interior landscapes are worth exploring, particularly the less-visited alpine valleys of Guizhou province and, in normal circumstances, the soaring peaks of Sichuan province. However, following the earthquake that has ravaged the area, the U.S. State Department has advised visitors to avoid going to Sichuan. Yunnan province, with its verdant beauty and myriad ethnic minorities, is increasingly popular, particularly the attractive towns of Lijiang and Dali, and jungle hiking around Xishuangbanna.

Yangtse River cruises have long been popular, though increasingly less so as the famed Three Gorges is flooded to facilitate a controversial hydroelectric dam. More bucolic is the river cruise between Guilin and Yangshuo, which sails through picturesque countryside with limestone karst formations and pinnacles rising from the green pastures—a scene captured on China's 20 yuan currency note.

Beyond the mainland are two of China's principal attractions, the Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau. The former British colony of Hong Kong struts its stuff as the self-styled "world city" of Asia, and offers the region's best shopping and finest hotels, as well as eclectic dining and nightlife. By contrast, the former Portuguese colony of Macau boasts fine Iberian plazas, cathedral ruins, and municipal buildings—and Asia's most dynamic casino scene.

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Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Centre, Shanghai

More interesting than it sounds, this dramatic five-story glass building showcases the city's future urban development through detailed models and multimedia...more

see the Shanghai guide
Editors' Pick
Shanghai Museum, Shanghai

With 120,000 works of art on view, this premier collection of Chinese artifacts warrants at least half a day to browse the ten galleries of calligraphy, jade,...more

see the Shanghai guide
Editors' Pick
Outlying Islands, Hong Kong

There are more than 230 Hong Kong islands, a handful of which make great day-trip destinations from the Central city district. Take the Star Ferry from Hong...more

see the Hong Kong guide
Editors' Pick
Olympic Park

Beijing's giant Olympic Park features two of the most eye-catching sports venues in history. Herzog & de Meuron's circular 91,000-seat "Bird's Nest" National...more

see the Beijing guide
Editors' Pick
Old City (Nanshi), Shanghai

Once home to the impoverished Chinese masses—who lived in close quarters here while wealthy foreigners spread out around them—the old city is full of...more

see the Shanghai guide
Editors' Pick
Ohel Moshe Synagogue, Shanghai

During the 1930s and 40s, more than 10,000 Jews fleeing Nazi persecution landed in Shanghai, which offered refuge to "stateless individuals." Herded by...more

see the Shanghai guide
Editors' Pick
National Museum of China

Reopened to great fanfare in March 2011 after a four-year renovation, the world's largest museum flanks the east side of Tiananmen Square. Inside its cavernous...more

see the Beijing guide
Editors' Pick
Maglev Train, Shanghai

Blink and you'll miss the ride. The world's fastest passenger train, with a top speed of 268 miles per hour, takes just eight minutes to journey back and forth...more

see the Shanghai guide
Editors' Pick
Macau, Macau

Macau's gambling revenues may have surpassed those of Las Vegas, but cultural tourists and foodies can hit the jackpot here, too. The Portuguese colonized this...more

see the Hong Kong guide
Editors' Pick
Huguang Guild Hall, Beijing

Peking opera is performed nightly at this intimate (300-seat) 19th-century guild hall; you can enjoy the high notes and crashing gongs while sipping tea...more

see the Beijing guide
Editors' Pick
Results 11-20 of 32  | previous   1 2 3 4 next
Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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