One of the things we most regret about living as expats in China is that we will not have the opportunity to visit all of the amazing cultural and geographic wonders it has to offer. 

Because of our limited time available to travel, we will have to prioritize what we most want to see in China while we’re here. Fortunately, our friends Will and Brad from AbsoluteVisit, who are currently on an epic 2-year quest to visit the world’s top 100 most amazing locations, have helped us narrow down the options to see China’s most amazing sites.

In September, the “AbsoluteVisit” adventure will bring the guys to China  (where we hope to meet up with them!) to explore some of the best this incredible country has to offer. To follow along with their epic adventure in China and throughout the world, subscribe to them here. The “AbsoluteVisit” journey, which commenced on January 7, 2013 in Capetown, South Africa, will include the following sites throughout China, as well as dozens more in 62 countries throughout the world. Their goal is to inspire you to travel the world, and their stunning travel photography and engaging travel stories have certainly inspired us to get out there and explore more of China.

According to AbsoluteVisit, here are 10 things you must do on your trip to China:

1.) The Great Wall (Beijing & beyond)

Great Wall of China

You can’t come to China without spending at least a day at the Great Wall. It’s easily accessible from Beijing. We recommend visiting Badaling, the most popular place to visit, or Simitai, a section of unrestored wall that includes a good four hour hike. (Read about how I celebrated my 30th birthday on the Great Wall!)

2.) The Forbidden City (Beijing)

Forbidden City Beijing China

The Forbidden City, located across the street from Tiananmen Square, was home to 24 Ming and Qing emporers for over 600 years, from 1406 to 1911. This massive complex will take you most of a day to explore, but it’s well worth the time. It covers 178 acres, so wear your walking shoes!

3.) Hong Kong view

Hong Kong skyline China

4.) Li River Cruise (Guangxi Province)

Li River Cruise China

The Li River is one of China’s most recognizable landscapes, with majestic karst formations rising along the river’s edge. Take a one day (or multi-day!) cruise along the river and absorb the beauty that is quintessential China.

5.) Lijiang

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This real-life Shangri La boasts over 800 years of history, dating back to China’s Song Dynasty.

6.) Potala Palace

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Potala, which means “the sacred place of Buddhism,” was the primary residence of the Dalai Lama. The Great Fifth Dalai Lama started the construction in 1645 and today it functions as a museum that draws tourists and followers from all over the world.

7.) Shanghai Skyline

Shanghai Skyline China
Shanghai is one of the most populated cities in China, so it’s no surprise it is constantly buzzing with life. The high-rises range in architectural styles – like the Bund, located on the bank of the Huangpu River, which is a good example of 20th-century architecture.

8.) Terra Cotta Warriors (Xi’an)

Terra Cotta Warriors China
Thousands of life-sized clay soldiers were constructed to guard the tomb of Qin emporer Shi Huang. Over 1,800 structures have been uncovered so far.

9.) Wulingyuan (Hunan Province)

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Located in Hunan Province, Wulingyuan boasts over 3,000 quartzite sandstone structures, many of which tower over 2,000 feet tall. This stunning landscape was the inspiration for the setting of the film Avatar.

10.) Yangtze River Cruise

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Cruise down the world’s third longest river that has for thousands of years played a vital role in China’s agriculture, transportation, and commerce, taking in the views, as well as a piece of history.


Thanks to Brad and Will for offering us their recommendations for places we absolutely must visit while in China. I hope we can make it to all of them!

Be sure to follow along with Brad and Will as they travel the world on their AbsoluteVisit trip.

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