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Top 10 China Tourist Places for Culture Lovers

China is an old country with long, uninterrupted history that can be dated back to at least 5,000 years ago and the long history is always marked by rich culture. To learn the profound Chinese culture while travelling, the famous historical remains and cultural heritages are the best tourist places to go. Here are the top 10 tourist places in China for Chinese culture enthusiasts.


Forbidden City - Imperial Culture of Ming & Qing Dynasties

Forbidden City
Forbidden City is a marvelous tourist place in China that culture lovers cannot miss. It was the imperial palace in Ming (1368 - 1644 AD) and Qing (1644 - 1911 AD) Dynasties, and is the largest wooden architecture complex throughout the world. Constructed in the right center of Beijing with wooden palaces, white marble terraces, golden glazed tiles, fine-carved mythical animal statues, etc., Forbidden City is the best place showcasing the imperial stateliness with everything in symmetrical layout and strict hierarchy. You can witness the halls where the emperors held ceremonies, handled the government affairs, and the palaces where the emperors and their families lived, and the well-designed gardens they once had fun. Insides, you can also find many delicate and high-end daily necessities used by the royal families.

 Recommended Tour:  One Day Beijing Tour with Forbidden City from $130

Beijing Tours

Great Wall of China - The Way Ancient Chinese Defending Their Homelands

Great Wall of China
The Great Wall is a more than 21,196 kilometers (13,164 miles) long wall lying along the northern border of ancient China. Since the first emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang (259 - 210 BC) ordered to connect the scattered former sections and thus created the extremely grand military walls to prevent the invasions from the north, the Great Wall has been repaired dynasty after dynasty and witnessed many wars. It, the best tourist places in China, is also an evidence how the ancient Chinese protected their territory: building military defensive lines consisting of not only block walls, but also watchtowers and passes. In the event of an invasion, the soldiers on duty on the watch tower would fire and smoke to tell the nearby troops to come. In the peaceful years, the areas around the Great Wall were busy for trade, as Han people and the northern minorities exchanged their goods. Nowadays, the most-visited sections include Badaling, Mutianyu, Juyongguan in Beijing, Jiayuguan in Gansu, Huangyaguan in Tianjin, and so on. Time permitting for a discovering China culture tour, China Great Wall Museum at the foot of Badaling is suggested, for you to know the history and culture of Great Wall better.

 Recommended Tour:  One Day Private Hiking on Badaling Great Wall from $102

Great Wall Tours

Terracotta Army – Portrayal of Strong Qin Empire

Terracotta Army
In the northeastern suburb of Xi’an, Terracotta Army, as the funerary objects buried with Qin Shi Huang, is another ancient wonder made in Qin Dynasty (221 - 207 BC). Qin Shi Huang unified the whole China and ended the wars with a strong army, which is the prototype of the terracotta warriors having the same size with real men. Besides, it has a large number of chariots and weapons. Therefore, Terracotta Army, one of the top China tourist places, is a great destination for a China culture trip to learn how the masterful and powerful army of Qin Dynasty looks like and the funeral culture of that time.

 Recommended Tour:  2 Days Xi'an Tour Package to Terracotta Army from $239

Xi'an Tours

Shaanxi History Museum - Treasure House of Qin, Han & Tang Dynasties

Shaanxi History Museum
Xi’an, as the capital of three significant dynasties in China history including Qin, Han (202 BC - 220 AD) and Tang (618 - 907 AD), is among the best destinations for a China culture tour. While among the various cultural sites in Xi’an, Shaanxi History Museum is the best place to go. As a top museum in China, Shaanxi History Museum, located at south downtown of Xi’an, collects more than 1.7 million relics, including the pre-Qin bronzes, the gold and silver wares of Han and Tang Dynasties, Tang murals in tomb chambers, pottery wares, Tang tri-colored pottery sculptures, ancient inscriptions, paintings, carvings, etc. You could find almost all the related relics about the ancient life in Shaanxi, among which many are the national treasures, in particular, the relics from Tang Dynasty. For visitors who love Chinese culture, it is a prefect destination out of the top tourist places in China.
Confucius Temple in Qufu
Qufu in Shandong Province is the hometown of Confucius as well as the birthplace of Confucianism. Thus these three attractions in Qufu are the holy China tourist places for those interested in Confucianism and to learn the life stories of the ancient ideologist Confucius during a China culture trip. Confucius Temple is the largest worship site to Confucius around the country, and you may watch the worshipping ceremony if you are lucky to come across the rites. Confucius Family Mansion, just as the name implies, is the ancestral house of Confucius and direct descendants from him. Confucius Cemetery, of course, is his family graveyard surrounded by large woods.

 Recommended Tour:  3 Days Private Shandong Tour to Jinan, Tai'an & Qufu from $689

Ancient City of Pingyao – Homeland of Ancient Shanxi Merchants

Ancient City of Pingyao
Pingyao Ancient City is quite remarkable among all the ancient towns in China. It is a rare China famous tourist place keeping the townscapes of what it was like in Ming and Qing Dynasties, when the local merchants did their business all over the country and even in Europe and other Asian countries, making Pingyao the then financial center of China. During the China culture travel there, you can learn the commercial culture of ancient Shanxi merchants. Among the attractions inside the town, do not miss Rishengchang, an early form of modern bank. What’s more, the visit-worthy attractions in the Ancient City include Pingyao City Wall, Ancient Ming-Qing Street, Ancient Government Office, Temple of the City God, Pingyao Confucius Temple, etc. In the surrounding, several compounds of the rich merchants, like Qiao Family Compound, Chang Family Compound, and Wang Family Compound, are good sights to learn their daily lives.

 Recommended Tour:  2 Days Private Tour to Pingyao Ancient Town from $289

Pingyao Tours 

Henan Museum – Cultural Achievements of Central China

Henan Museum in Zhengzhou, an unmissable tourist place in China for a culture trip, possesses 170,000 valuable relics, which are among the bests to display central China’s culture, a main civilization taken as the source of China culture. You could know the developing process of central China from the primitive time to the Qing Dynasty, as you come to watch the exhibitions. The most treasured relics include the Jiahu Bone Flute of 7,800-9,000 years ago, bronzes of pre-Qin ages, the unearthed mural of earliest time, jades, stone wares, potteries, porcelains, stone carvings, etc. You may also enjoy the music performed by traditional Chinese instruments there.

Mogao Caves – Dunhuang Culture along Silk Road

Mogao Caves
Situated at the oasis out of the deserts in Dunhuang, Mogao Caves is the largest art mecca of Buddhism culture housing 735 caves on the cliff, with 45,000 square meters (53,819 square yards) murals and 2,415 colored clay sculptures. After the first cave was built in the Age of Five Hus and Sixteen States (304 - 439 AD), more and more caves were constructed, in a gradually-varied yet unique style in the place of Dunhuang. Especially in the time when Silk Road was busy, the caves were mushroomed with excellent murals and sculptures, so this tourist places in China is also considered as a treasure along the ancient Silk Road.

 Recommended Tour:  Private Dunhuang Day Tour with Mogao Caves from $206

Dunhuang Tours

Sanxingdui Museum – Representative of Old Shu Culture

Sanxingdui Museum – Representative of Old Shu Culture
Sanxingdui Museum, 38 kilometers (24 miles) south to Chengdu, displays the relics unearthed on the Sanxingdui Archaeological Site that is supposed to be an ancient city 3,000-5,000 years ago. It is the best tourist place in China to learn the local Shu culture and the sources of Yangtze River civilization on your culture trip China. The most distinctive exhibitions include the 2.62 meters (8.6 feet) high bronze statues, 1.38 meters (4.5 feet) wide bronze masks, almost 4 meters (13 feet) high bronze trees, and jades, etc., many of which are strange-shaped with a primitive beauty.

Chengdu Tours

Potala Palace – Symbol of Tibetan Buddhism & Culture

Potala Palace
Potala Palace in Lhasa is the most magnificent Tibetan style architecture, first built in the 7th century as a royal palace, a fortress as well as a temple. It is the architecture complex at the highest altitude worldwide and the most important landmark in Lhasa even in the whole Tibet. For Tibetans, it is a holy site where many of them come for pilgrimages. While as a famous China tourist place, it is a treasure house of pagodas, sculptures, murals, scriptures and Thangkas and the best place to learn Tibetan culture and Buddhism.

- Last updated on Jul. 20, 2023 by Catherine He -
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