The Ultimate China Bucket List: 25 Things You Must Do In China

With ancient temples and giant pandas,  karst landscapes and mega cities, China has it all. If you’re visiting China for the first time or moving there to become an expat, you’ll no doubt know to do the Great Wall in Beijing and the Shanghai Bund – but there are even more hidden treasures you may have never heard. After living in China for more than seven years, I’ve had the chance to travel to some incredible places in China.  From riding horses in Inner Mongolia, camping on the Great Wall, to hiking in Zhangjiajie National Park, the famous mountains that inspired the movie Avatar. From seeing the Terracotta Warriors in Xi’an and rafting on the Li River in Yangshuo, to eating spicy hotpot in the megacity of Chongqing and traveling to the far north of China to Harbin for the largest Ice Sculpture Festival in the world.  It has definitely been an adventure beyond my wildest dreams. So, grab your tissue packs (check out my tips for traveling China), book your train tickets, and start crossing these items off your China bucket list! Here’s my complete China Bucket List, including things I’ve already done and what I hope to do! 1. The Great Wall: Beijing, China A trip to China isn’t complete without seeing the Great Wall. I’ve been to 6 sections of the Great Wall and have had a great experience at each part! Not sure which section to visit? Check out my blog: Which Section of the Great Wall Is Best To Visit? You can also go camping on the Great Wall to catch sunrise! I camped on the wall with Great Wall Fresh and had an awesome time.  Completed: 14 times so far 2. Raft Down the Li River: Yangshuo, Guangxi Head to Guilin and Yangshuo in the Guangxi Province for the most beautiful rafting trip of your life. You’ll see the stunning karst landscape and the famous location for the photo on the 20 RMB bill.  Completed: June 2016, October 2017 3. Go Hiking in Zhangjiajie: Hunan  Zhangjiajie is the inspiration behind Avatar’s Hallelujah Mountain. You definitely need to spend a few days in the area to hike everywhere! For more information on hiking here, check out my Guide To Hiking The Avatar Mountains in Zhangjiajie. Completed July 2018 4. Visit Giant Pandas in Chengdu The Giant Panda is a huge cultural icon for China! Take a trip to Chengdu to one of the research centers and see these giant pandas, as well as their cute babies! Completed: February 2016 5. The Forbidden City: Beijing, China The Forbidden City is a must-see when visiting China. Ideally you need several hours to walk through this giant palace area, and make sure to buy your tickets ahead of time to make sure they are not sold out. If you’ve never been, I wrote a guide to help you find the best places to take photos of the Forbidden City. Completed: February 2016, January 2019, August 2019 6. Hike Huangshan, the Yellow Mountains of China When you hike the Yellow Mountains in the Anhui Province it feels like you’re stepping into a postcard. These beautiful mountains can be done in a one or two day trip – check out my Itinerary for Hiking Huangshan for more information. Completed: May 2019 7. Walk on a Glass Bridge  China has quite a few famous glass bridges. There’s a giant one in Zhangjiajie, and several glass walkways on Tianmen Mountain, as well as other places. In Beijing there is also a UFO Glass Platform which is a really neat structure! 8. Relax in Hainan: the “Hawaii of China” Hainan is known as China’s Hawaii. With beautiful sandy beaches and warm sunny weather, it’s the perfect tropical vacation for those not wanting to leave China. Completed: November 2020 9. World’s Largest Ice Festival in Harbin The Ice and Snow World Festival is the biggest snow festival in the world in one of the coldest cities in China: Harbin. If you’re brave enough to survive the cold it’s worth seeing! I visited for the first time this year and was totally amazed by the giant ice sculptures. Completed: January 2020 10. The Bund in Shanghai The Bund is one of the most iconic sites not just in Shanghai, but also in China! Day or night it’s an incredible site and looks especially cool if you take a cruise on the river. Completed February 2016, August 2019, November 2019 11. The Terracotta Warriors Located in Xi’an, the Terracotta Warriors are a famous cultural site depicting the armies of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China. There are three separate pits of warriors filled with more than 8,000 soldiers and countless horses and chariots. Completed February 2016, July 2020 12. Drink Tsingtao Beer in Qingdao If you travel to China, drinking a Tsingtao beer is a must! It’s an even cooler experience if you go

The Ultimate China Bucket List: 25 Things You Must Do In China

With ancient temples and giant pandas,  karst landscapes and mega cities, China has it all. If you’re visiting China for the first time or moving there to become an expat, you’ll no doubt know to do the Great Wall in Beijing and the Shanghai Bund – but there are even more hidden treasures you may have never heard.

After living in China for more than seven years, I’ve had the chance to travel to some incredible places in China. 

From riding horses in Inner Mongolia, camping on the Great Wall, to hiking in Zhangjiajie National Park, the famous mountains that inspired the movie Avatar. From seeing the Terracotta Warriors in Xi’an and rafting on the Li River in Yangshuo, to eating spicy hotpot in the megacity of Chongqing and traveling to the far north of China to Harbin for the largest Ice Sculpture Festival in the world. 

It has definitely been an adventure beyond my wildest dreams. So, grab your tissue packs (check out my tips for traveling China), book your train tickets, and start crossing these items off your China bucket list!

Here’s my complete China Bucket List, including things I’ve already done and what I hope to do!

1. The Great Wall: Beijing, China

A trip to China isn’t complete without seeing the Great Wall. I’ve been to 6 sections of the Great Wall and have had a great experience at each part! Not sure which section to visit? Check out my blog: Which Section of the Great Wall Is Best To Visit?

You can also go camping on the Great Wall to catch sunrise! I camped on the wall with Great Wall Fresh and had an awesome time. 

Completed: 14 times so far

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2. Raft Down the Li River: Yangshuo, Guangxi

Head to Guilin and Yangshuo in the Guangxi Province for the most beautiful rafting trip of your life. You’ll see the stunning karst landscape and the famous location for the photo on the 20 RMB bill. 

Completed: June 2016, October 2017

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3. Go Hiking in Zhangjiajie: Hunan 

Zhangjiajie is the inspiration behind Avatar’s Hallelujah Mountain. You definitely need to spend a few days in the area to hike everywhere! For more information on hiking here, check out my Guide To Hiking The Avatar Mountains in Zhangjiajie.

Completed July 2018

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4. Visit Giant Pandas in Chengdu

The Giant Panda is a huge cultural icon for China! Take a trip to Chengdu to one of the research centers and see these giant pandas, as well as their cute babies!

Completed: February 2016

panda

5. The Forbidden City: Beijing, China

The Forbidden City is a must-see when visiting China. Ideally you need several hours to walk through this giant palace area, and make sure to buy your tickets ahead of time to make sure they are not sold out. If you’ve never been, I wrote a guide to help you find the best places to take photos of the Forbidden City.

Completed: February 2016, January 2019, August 2019

WeChat Image_20190804133124

6. Hike Huangshan, the Yellow Mountains of China

When you hike the Yellow Mountains in the Anhui Province it feels like you’re stepping into a postcard. These beautiful mountains can be done in a one or two day trip – check out my Itinerary for Hiking Huangshan for more information.

Completed: May 2019

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7. Walk on a Glass Bridge 

China has quite a few famous glass bridges. There’s a giant one in Zhangjiajie, and several glass walkways on Tianmen Mountain, as well as other places. In Beijing there is also a UFO Glass Platform which is a really neat structure!

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8. Relax in Hainan: the “Hawaii of China”

Hainan is known as China’s Hawaii. With beautiful sandy beaches and warm sunny weather, it’s the perfect tropical vacation for those not wanting to leave China.

Completed: November 2020

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9. World’s Largest Ice Festival in Harbin

The Ice and Snow World Festival is the biggest snow festival in the world in one of the coldest cities in China: Harbin. If you’re brave enough to survive the cold it’s worth seeing! I visited for the first time this year and was totally amazed by the giant ice sculptures.

Completed: January 2020

WeChat Image_20200117141423

10. The Bund in Shanghai

The Bund is one of the most iconic sites not just in Shanghai, but also in China! Day or night it’s an incredible site and looks especially cool if you take a cruise on the river.

Completed February 2016, August 2019, November 2019

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11. The Terracotta Warriors

Located in Xi’an, the Terracotta Warriors are a famous cultural site depicting the armies of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China. There are three separate pits of warriors filled with more than 8,000 soldiers and countless horses and chariots.

Completed February 2016, July 2020

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12. Drink Tsingtao Beer in Qingdao

If you travel to China, drinking a Tsingtao beer is a must! It’s an even cooler experience if you go to the Tsingtao Brewery in Qingdao, Shandong Province. You can tour the brewery and sample the freshly made beer, or grab a few bottles with friends and take it to the beach.

Completed: June 2019, August 2020

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13. Stay in a Yurt in Inner Mongolia 

Inner Mongolia has deserts, grasslands, horses, camels, and YURTS. You’ve gotta stay in one if you visit Inner Mongolia – it’s all part of the experience.

Completed: October 2018

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14. Longsheng Rice Terrace

The Longsheng Rice Terrace is located in Longsheng county, about 100 km north of Guilin. These vast terraces are a stunning scenic area.

Completed: Not yet!

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15. Visit the Canton Tower in Guangzhou

The iconic tower in Guangzhou lights up the skyline at night and can be seen all around the city. If you’re in the Guangdong Province, the Canton Tower is must visit. Head to Zhujiang New Town metro station for a close look at it. While you’re in the city, make sure you also try some famous Cantonese dim sum and these 20 Things You Must Do In Guangzhou

Completed: December 2015, October 2016, August 2017, November 2020. I actually lived in Guangzhou for a year, so actually frequently saw it from 2017-2018