Embark on a captivating journey through China’s beautiful places, where ancient wonders meet the marvels of modernity. In the heart of Beijing, the Forbidden City stands as a regal sentinel, echoing tales of imperial grandeur and captivating history.
Venture to the surreal landscapes of Zhangjiajie, the inspiration behind Avatar’s Hallelujah Mountains, and marvel at nature’s artistic prowess. Glide through the serene waters of West Lake in Hangzhou, a city Marco Polo once hailed as “the city of heaven.” China, with its rich cultural tapestry, unfolds like a captivating story where dynasties whisper secrets, and landscapes paint poetry. Discover the allure of China’s beautiful places, where time dances between ancient echoes and futuristic rhythms.
Best time to visit scenic & beautiful places in China
Optimal times to explore China are during the pleasant spring months of April to May and the autumn season from September to October, characterised by warm temperatures and minimal humidity and rainfall.
Most beautiful and scenic tourist places in China
Guilin & Yangshuo
China’s scenic wonders in Guilin and Yangshuo are absolutely unmissable. Cruise down the Li River, where limestone peaks create a mesmerising landscape straight from a Chinese ink painting. Experience tranquillity in Yangshuo’s picturesque blend of rice fields and vibrant markets. Guilin boasts the surreal beauty of the Karst Mountains and the enchanting Reed Flute Cave. Whether cycling through serene countryside or exploring majestic peaks, Guilin stands out as one of the most beautiful places in China, offering a cherished adventure in the heart of breathtaking landscapes.
How to reach:
By air: Guilin Liangjiang International Airport is the nearest airport, 84.4 km away
Best places to stay: Yangshuo Mountain Retreat, Sugarhouse, Yangshuo Xingping Misty Wonderland Hotel
Best time to explore: April to November
Explore the enchanting beauty of Zhangjiajie, renowned as one of China’s most scenic places and immortalised in the movie Avatar. Marvel at the towering sandstone pillars, mist-shrouded peaks, and sparkling streams in the UNESCO-listed Zhangjiajie National Forest Park. The landscapes, reminiscent of the Hallelujah Mountains in Avatar, offer a surreal journey. For the adventurous, the heart-thumping Zhangjiajie Glass Bridge provides a breathtaking canyon walk. Tianzi Mountain and Yuanjiajie areas boast dreamlike rock formations and lush valleys. Located in the Wuling Mountain range, Zhangjiajie is a must-visit, seamlessly blending natural beauty and adventure in one of the most scenic places in China.
How to reach:
By air: Zhangjiajie Hehua International Airport is the nearest airport, 3.9 km away
Best places to stay: Pullman Zhangjiajie, No.5 Valley Inn, Zhangjiajie Neodalle International Holiday Hotel
Best time to explore: September-October
Zhangye’s Danxia Landscape
Discover the mesmerising “Rainbow Mountains” in Zhangye, known for the vibrant Danxia landscape with curvy, multi-hued formations reaching several hundred metres high. Nestled in northwest China on the Silk Road, Zhangye’s unique geological wonder showcases colours like an oil painting against a pure blue sky when touched by sunlight. A hotspot for photographers and Silk Road explorers, Zhangye offers a glimpse into a fairy world with its Danxia Landform Park covering over 10 square kilometres. Immerse yourself in the breathtaking beauty of one of the most beautiful natural places in China.
How to reach:
By air: Zhangye Ganzhou Airport is the nearest airport, 25.8 km away
Best places to stay: Qilian Pearl Hotel Zhangye
Best time to explore: June to September
Renowned for its scenic beauty, Hangzhou, described by Marco Polo as “the city of heaven,” is a captivating destination. The iconic West Lake considered one of China’s most beautiful sights, mirrors willow-lined banks, pagodas, and blooming lotus flowers, making it undeniably beautiful. Spring paints the lake, ancient structures, and causeways with blossoms seen in elegant Chinese paintings. Dive into Chinese tea culture by visiting plantations, witnessing tea-making, and savouring China’s cherished tea. Hangzhou celebrated for its historical depth and natural beauty, features Xixi National Wetland Park, a rare urban wetland blending nature and culture.
How to reach:
By air: Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport is the nearest airport, 32.7 km away
Best places to stay: Sheraton Hangzhou Wetland Park Resort, JW Marriott Hotel Hangzhou, Four Seasons Hotel Hangzhou at West Lake
Best time to explore: October to November
The Forbidden City
Exploring Beijing, one of China’s most beautiful cities immerses you in history, and at its heart lies the Forbidden City. Once an imperial residence, it spans the Ming to Qing Dynasties, showcasing grandeur and cultural richness. Beyond clichés, it’s a must-visit, being among the world’s largest and best-preserved ancient palaces.
Stepping through crimson gates transports you to a bygone era, revealing intricate architecture, precious artefacts, and regal traditions. Traverse grand halls like the Hall of Supreme Harmony and stroll through the Imperial Garden, each narrating China’s imperial history. The Forbidden City isn’t just a site; it’s a captivating journey through China’s cultural tapestry, and not to mention, one of the most beautiful places in Beijing, China.
How to reach:
By air: Beijing Capital International Airport is the busiest airport in the city
Best places to stay: Four Seasons Beijing, Beijing Marriott Hotel Changping, Stey-Wangfujing
Best time to explore: Mid-October to the end of November
Open hours: 08:30 am to 5 pm from 1st April to 31st October; 08:30 am to 4:30 pm from November 1 to March 31
Address: 4 Jingshan Front Street, Dongcheng District, Beijing, China
The Bund, Shanghai
Shanghai, among China’s most beautiful cities, epitomises an East-West blend, seamlessly merging history and modernity. The Bund, a testimony to Shanghai’s colonial past, showcases a striking contrast between historic colonial buildings and a futuristic skyline, featuring landmarks like the Oriental Pearl TV Tower.
A leisurely stroll unveils this visual journey through time. As daylight fades, the Bund metamorphoses into a luminous spectacle, lights dancing on the Huangpu River. For panoramic views and a glass-bottomed floor experience, ascend the Oriental Pearl TV Tower. Whether an admirer of history, architecture, or cityscapes, the Bund stands as one of the unmissable beautiful places in China.
How to reach:
By air: Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport is the busiest airport in the city
Best places to stay: The Sukhothai Shanghai, Mandarin Oriental Pudong, The Ritz-Carlton Shanghai, Pudong
Best time to explore: Early morning or before sunset
Yunnan, an expansive province in southwest China and one of the most beautiful, romantic places in China, captivates with treasures like the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, Tiger Leaping Gorge, and the Stone Forest in Kunming, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The ancient town of Dali boasts Buddhist towers, including China’s tallest pagoda at 69 metres. Pudacuo, China’s inaugural national park meeting global conservation standards, showcases diverse flora and fauna, including orchids and endangered black-necked cranes. In Yuanyang, the terraced landscapes, shaped by the Hani people, paint a mosaic of reflections, transforming with seasons. Beyond its natural allure, Yunnan offers a glimpse into the traditional lives of the Hani ethnic group.
How to reach:
By air: Kunming Changshui International Airport is the nearest airport, 8.8 km away
Best places to stay: Grand Hyatt Lijiang, Hilton Yuxi Fuxian Lake, Hotel Indigo Dali Erhai
Best time to explore: October to April
Kanas in North Xinjiang
Embraced by the lush forests and mountains of Altay, Kanas stands as a pristine mountain lake, celebrated as the “tourism pearl of Mountainous Altai” with improved access for travellers. Its enchanting hues shift with the seasons, ranging from crystal blue to deep green or grey, earning it the moniker “the colour-changing lake.” Adjacent to Kanas Lake lies a village inhabited by the Tuwan tribe, a Mongolian ethnic branch devoted to Lamaism. Immerse yourself in their centuries-old traditions by visiting or even staying with these welcoming families, adding cultural depth to your exploration of one of China’s most beautiful natural places.
How to reach:
By air: Burqin Kanas Airport is the nearest airport, 50 km away
Best places to stay: Hilton Urumqi, Hua Ling Grand Hotel Urumqi
Best time to explore: May to early October
Lijiang unfolds as a breathtaking masterpiece, boasting an ancient town, with snowy peaks, highland lakes, and majestic canyons. Immerse in Naxi minority life with a stroll through Lijiang Ancient Town, or ascend Jade Dragon Snow Mountain via cable car for panoramic glaciated views. Adventurous hikers can forge exclusive trails, wading streams for an intimate encounter with this sacred mountain. Tiger Leaping Gorge, the best hiking trail in China, offers a two-day odyssey through awe-inspiring bends and the tumultuous Jinsha River. Rich in natural and cultural wonders, Lijiang is a year-round haven, securing its spot among the most scenic places in China.
How to reach:
By air: Lijang Airport is the nearest airport, 27.3 km away
Best places to stay: Pullman Lijiang Resort and Spa, Intercontinental Lijiang Ancient Town Resort, Amandayan
Best time to explore: Late March to May and mid-October to November
The Great Wall of China
An iconic marvel, the Great Wall of China beckons with over 13,000 miles of historic grandeur. Welcoming more than 10 million visitors annually, it’s a must-see, offering breathtaking vistas and a deep connection to China’s past. To escape the crowds, explore Mutianyu, a less-visited gem. Whether climbing its steep steps or capturing panoramic views, the Great Wall is an unforgettable journey through empires and dynasties. A testament to architectural prowess, it stands as one of China’s prettiest places, where every brick whispers tales of resilience and history.
How to reach:
By air: Beijing Capital International Airport is the nearest airport, 62.1 km away
Best places to stay: Sansa Village Boutique Hotel at Mutianyu Great Wall, San Sa Village, Brickyard Retreat at Mutianyu Great Wall
Best time to explore: March to May, September to early November
(Hero and feature image credit: Efired/Shutterstock)
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
– What makes Zhangjiajie National Forest Park so special?
Zhangjiajie National Forest Park is famed for gravity-defying sandstone pillars, scenic trails, and its “Avatar Mountains,” a fantasy landscape.
– Why is the Li River in Guilin considered one of the most picturesque places in China?
The Li River in Guilin is renowned for its surreal karst peaks, serene waters, and traditional bamboo-lined landscapes, creating breathtaking scenery.
– What is the historical significance of the Great Wall of China, and why is it a scenic attraction?
The Great Wall of China holds historical significance as a defensive structure and symbol of China’s ancient power. Scenically, it spans diverse terrains, providing awe-inspiring vistas.
– What can visitors expect at Jiuzhaigou Valley?
Stunning natural beauty with vibrant, crystal-clear lakes, waterfalls, and snow-capped peaks in a UNESCO World Heritage site.
– What makes the Yellow Mountains (Huangshan) a popular scenic destination?
The Yellow Mountains (Huangshan) are popular for their dramatic granite peaks, ancient pine trees, hot springs, and unique granite rock formations.
– Are there any hidden gems in China for travellers seeking scenic beauty?
Lijiang, Kanas in Northern Xinjiang, Guilin, among others.
– Are these scenic places accessible to all travellers, including families with children and seniors?
Some of these places involve hikes and walking, so travelling with seniors might not be suitable. Check with your travel guide beforehand.