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Experience your destination with peace of mind. Learn what steps operators are taking to keep you safe and search for activities with increased health and safety measures. Before you go, check local regulations for the latest information.

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Things to Do & Must-See Attractions in China

China, the king of Asia, is simultaneously ancient and futuristic, rural and metropolitan, traditional and cosmopolitan. In a land of paradoxes, culture and cuisine project a distinct identity enhanced by vast landscapes and iconic landmarks. Tick off a New7Wonder of the World at the Great Wall of China; soak up Hong Kong’s unique island culture; and immerse yourself in attractions such as the Temple of Heaven, Tiananmen Square, and Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, a nonprofit dedicated to the preservation of the endangered species. Each city, be it Shanghai, Beijing, or Xi’an, offers fine food, lively entertainment, and rich history.
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Victoria Peak (The Peak)
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Overlooking the Central district on Hong Kong Island, Victoria Peak (Tai Ping Shan) is one of the best vantage points for stupendous views of the harbor and high-rises. Rising 1,810 feet (552 meters), Victoria Peak is topped with the touristy Peak Tower complex of shops, restaurants and 360-degree Sky Terrace viewing platform.

Go for a stroll through the Victoria Peak Garden, follow one of the many nature walks on the mountain, and stay on for nightfall to see Hong Kong's spectacular nightly light show.

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Hong Kong Disneyland®
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Anyone who’s experienced either of the Disney Magic Kingdom resorts in the United States will feel a sense of déjà vu when walking in to Hong Kong Disneyland. The Disney franchise has stayed true to form with a topnotch amusement park experience combining a few classic attractions, like Space Mountain and the Jungle Cruise with some new offerings, like the Toy Soldier Parachute Drop in the newly opened Toy Story Land. The park is split into six themed areas: Main Street USA, Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, Toy Story Land, Grizzly Gulch and Adventureland.

Weekdays have the lightest crowds, but no matter when you visit, remember to pick up a Fast Pass for the big attractions.

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Terracotta Warriors Museum (Emperor Qinshihuang’s Mausoleum Site Museum)
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The 1974 discovery of thousands of life-sized Terracotta Warriors near Xian was one of the archaeological sensations of the 20th century. The figures date from 210 BC and were meant to guard the first emperor of China in the afterlife.

A huge statue of the emperor now guards the entrance to the Terracotta Warriors and Horses Museum, undeniable high point of any trip to Xian. To avoid disturbing these priceless treasures, they were left in situ with enormous structures now shielding them from the elements.

Three enormous pits are filled with row upon row of these remarkable effigies, with the first pit alone holding some 6,000 examples in excellent condition. There is a fourth exhibition space which holds other pieces found here, including bronze horses and chariots.

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Mutianyu Great Wall
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Located 56 miles (90 kilometers) northeast of Beijing, the Great Wall at Mutianyu was restored in 1986 after the section at Badaling rose in popularity. This section of the great wall includes a long, flat segment winding along the heavily forested hilltops of the area. This segment extends 1.6 miles (2.5 kilometers) with 22 watchtowers spread out along the way, allowing you to walk the wall for more than an hour, sometimes in solitude. If you have a full day to spare for a Great Wall tour, the Mutianyu segment is a good choice. It’s less crowded than Badaling but is still easily accessible and incredibly scenic, particularly on a misty day. Visitors can either climb to the top, with steps in good condition and handrails the entire way, or take a cable car to the top. When you’re ready to return to the bottom, either take the cable car back down or ride a toboggan back to the base.
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Ngong Ping 360
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It used to be that visitors landing in Hong Kong’s airport quickly hopped on the metro or hailed a taxi to Kowloon or Hong Kong Island, completely skipping Lantau Island. Thanks to a massive development project, Lantau is now home to some of Hong Kong’s most popular attractions, the Ngong Ping Cable Car among them.

The 3.5-mile (5.7 kilometer) takes passengers on a 25-minute journey from the Tung Chung metro terminal to the plateau at the peak of Ngong Ping. From the gondolas, you’ll be able to look out over the South China Sea with views over verdant Lantau Island and its Tian Tan Buddha, which you can visit upon arrival at the top.

Cable car passengers have the choice of riding the standard car or a Crystal Cabin equipped with a glass bottom. For special occasions, you can ride the 360 Sky Lounge, a private cabin appointed with Swarovski crystals.

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Big Buddha (Tian Tan Buddha)
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The Big Buddha (Tian Tan Buddha), located on Lantau Island, has the very specific distinction of being the largest outdoor seated bronze Buddha on earth. Including its podium and lotus flower, the entire statue stands 112 feet (34 meters) tall. The stature was erected in 1993 and faces north toward Mainland China.

When you make the climb the 268 steps to the Big Buddha’s base, you’ll have panoramic views over the surrounding mountains and South China Sea. Just opposite the statue sits the Po Lin Monastery, one of the most important in Hong Kong. Come hungry and eat at the highly rated vegetarian restaurant run by the monastery.

Saturdays and Sundays are always busy at the Big Buddha, as this is when locals and many mainland tourists come. While you can ride a bus to the top of the mountain, the best and most scenic way to go is on the Ngong Ping Cable Car from the Tung Chung MTR station.

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Lantau Island
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Lantau Island is twice the size of Hong Kong Island, but only a fraction of the population live here, leaving its beaches, hills and national parks to visitors to enjoy.

The highlight is the Po Lin monastery and temple, reached by the Ngong Ping 360 cable car on the western side of the island. The temple’s amazing seated bronze Giant Buddha is the world’s largest.

Hong Kong Disneyland offers more familiar entertainment, and the island’s fishing villages, walking trails, beaches and seafood restaurants are also popular.

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Po Lin (Precious Lotus) Monastery
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Po Lin (Precious Lotus) Monastery, is one of the city’s most important Buddhist sites. It was established in 1906, long before the Big Buddha was erected, by three monks traveling from China. The three men discovered a flat stretch of land amid the verdant mountains and though it would be a perfect place for meditative religious practice. The monastery didn’t gain a spot on the global tourist map until 1993 when the Buddha statue was completed, and today it welcomes thousands of tourists who ride the cable car to see the statue and gaze out over the South China Sea.

The monastery itself is easy to overlook but is well worth a visit, particularly for the excellent vegetarian restaurant run by the monks. Dishes vary season to season and are made from fresh, locally sourced ingredients thought to help cleanse the body and spirit.

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Tai O
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Ming Tombs (Ming Shisan Ling)
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The Ming Dynasty Tombs, or Ming Shisan Ling, are located outside of central Beijing and are home to the tombs and mausoleums of the Yongle Emperor. Currently, these tombs are a UNESCO World Heritage site, and are listed as part of the World Heritage object, Imperial Tombs of the Ming and Qing Dynasties.

The Emperor, who built the Forbidden City, also chose the site for these Ming Tombs mausoleums according to the art of Feng Shui. Back in the Ming era, this secluded valley north of Beijing was closed to visitors and heavily guarded. The ground was considered so sacred that not even an emperor could ride a horse there. Three tombs are open to the public; only one, the Dingling, has been excavated (sadly, with artifacts being badly damaged). The other two tombs are more atmospheric. The highlight of the experience is probably the Spirit Way, the long approach to the mausoleums.

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More Things to Do in China

Great Wall at Badaling

Great Wall at Badaling

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Few bucket lists are complete without a walk along the Great Wall of China, famously one of the New 7 Wonders of the World and a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1988, and undoubtedly the most visited section is the Great Wall at Badaling. Often visited on a day trip from Beijing, Badaling was the first part of the wall to open to tourists back in 1958 and now draws up to 10 million annual visitors. Built in 1502 during the Ming Dynasty, the wall at Badaling runs for 2.3 miles around the Jundu mountain, reaching an altitude of over 1,000 meters and spanning almost 6 meters at its widest point – wide enough for 5 horses to gallop abreast. The popularity of Badaling means that it is often overrun with tour groups, but there are still many good reasons to visit - not only is Badaling the most thoroughly restored section of the wall and offers magnificent views, but it’s the most accessible, with a cable car and pulley train available for those who don’t want to walk to the top.

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Tung Chung

Tung Chung

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Forbidden City (Palace Museum)

Forbidden City (Palace Museum)

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Have you ever wondered what's so forbidden about the Forbidden City? It's called that because it was closed to the outside world for 500 years. This was the seat of the Ming and the Qing emperors, and no one could enter - or leave - the imperial domain without their permission. These days, the Chinese mainly call it Gu Gong, or Former Palace.

The Forbidden City, or Beijing Imperial Palace, is BIG - you'll need to allow at least one day for your visit. UNESCO have listed it as the largest collection of ancient wooden structures in the world. There are nearly 1,000 rooms in over 800 buildings. However, because it's been ransacked by invaders and gutted by fire several times (wooden buildings, lanterns, you do the math) most of the structures date from the 18th century on. As you move around the gardens and palatial buildings, which have now been converted to museums, you'll start to get a feel for what it was like to live the imperial life.

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Tiananmen Square (Tiananmen Guangchang)

Tiananmen Square (Tiananmen Guangchang)

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Mao built the largest square in the world to flaunt the epic scale of the Communist project. This square is bounded by the Museums of Chinese History and Chinese Revolution, the Great Hall of the People, and the Chairman Mao Mausoleum. In 1989 pro-democracy rallies ended in the massacre of protesters in the streets, yet, it can be a bright, bustling sort of place, full of kids flying kites
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Summer Palace (Yiheyuan)

Summer Palace (Yiheyuan)

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The Summer Palace - also known as Yiheyuan - was built in 1750. In those days, it was called the Garden of Clear Ripples, and was a lakeside oasis where the royal court could escape the dust and heat of the Forbidden City in summer.

It was razed twice by foreign armies and completely rebuilt, most extensively by Empress Dowager Cixi in the 19th century. To fund her projects, she's said to have diverted a bunch of money destined for the Chinese navy. Ironically, one of her grand schemes was a marble boat that sits at the edge of the lake.

The grounds were declared a public park in 1924. These days, the 290 hectares (716 acres) of the 'Gardens of Nurtured Harmony' are madly popular with both tourists and locals.

The gardens are liberally scattered with temples, covered walkways, pavilions and bridges. Longevity Hill, one of the garden's main features, was constructed from the earth excavated when the lake was extended.

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Temple of Heaven (Tiantan)

Temple of Heaven (Tiantan)

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A Ming temple, Temple of Heaven or Tian tan was built by the Yongle Emperor, who also built the Forbidden City, as a stage for the important rituals performed by the emperor, or Son of Heaven. Chief among these were the supplication to the heavens for a good harvest and the Winter Solstice ceremony, which was supposed to ensure a favorable year for the entire kingdom.

In those days it was believed that heaven was round and earth was square, so the architecture of the buildings (round, set on square bases) and the layout of the park (squared off at the Temple of the Earth end, rounded at the Temple of Heaven end) reflect this belief. The buildings are rich in symbolic detail - variations on the number nine, which represented the emperor; coloured glazes which represent heaven and earth; and pillars which represent the months of the year, the seasons and time. There are also echo stones where you can stand to hear your voice reverberate.

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Victoria Harbour

Victoria Harbour

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Riding a Star Ferry across Victoria Harbour from Kowloon to Hong Kong Island is a signature Hong Kong experience.

The low-slung, double-decker, green and cream ferries are a Hong Kong emblem, dating back to 1888. Until the cross-harbor road tunnel and underground train link were built, the only way to cross between Kowloon and Hong Kong Island was by ferry.

Take a trip by day to experience the harbor and see the buildings on both sides, then take another trip at night to see the buildings light up and enjoy the nightly Symphony of Lights.

You can also cruise Victoria Harbour aboard a circular Star Ferry harbor tour, or book yourself onto an evening dinner cruise to sit back and drink in those twinkling views.

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Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade

Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade

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Clock Tower

Clock Tower

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In 1910, the Kowloon-Canton rail line began service, shuttling passengers between Mainland China and Hong Kong. Five years later, the Clock Tower was erected at what was then the Kowloon Station, where it still stands today. The 144-foot (44-meter) tall red brick and granite structure has since become one of the city’s most recognizable landmarks, and a quite meaningful one for Mainlanders who passed through the station on the way to their new lives in Hong Kong and abroad.

Located in Tsim Sha Tsui in Kowloon, the Clock Tower is easily accessible from the Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade, Avenue of Stars and Star Ferry Pier. If you’re in the Tsim Sha Tsui area, it’s worthwhile stopping by to see one of the city’s Declared Monuments and to do some people watching, as the public area in front of the Clock Tower has turned into a popular hangout among locals.

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Hong Kong Convention and Exhibit Centre (HKCEC)

Hong Kong Convention and Exhibit Centre (HKCEC)

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Built in 1988 (with new additions built in the mid-1990s), the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibit Centre is a hub for both business and entertainment. Comprised of two convention halls, five exhibition centers, two theaters, seven restaurants and fifty-two meeting rooms, the centre plays host to some 50 international trade fairs each year.

Travelers lucky enough to visit during one of the massive trade fairs will get an up-close look at the seamless service the Convention and Exhibit Centre is known for worldwide. But those who come in a quiet time of year can still explore the building’s impressive architecture, venture into the picturesque harbor and sample delicious local cuisine from one of the convention centre’s well-known restaurants.

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Yuyuan Garden (Yu Garden)

Yuyuan Garden (Yu Garden)

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South Gate (Yongningmen)

South Gate (Yongningmen)

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The Ancient City Wall at in Xi'an is one of the best-preserved city walls in China. It was built in the 14th century during the Ming Dynasty, under the regime of Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang, and expanded upon from walls remaining from the Tang Dynasty. Visitors can either cycle or walk along the Ancient City Wall, which is almost 14 kilometers long and takes around three hours at a leisurely pace. The site features a moat, a drawbridge, the main towers, watchtowers, and gates, all of which combine to depict an impressive ancient defense system.

The South Gate is situated near the Bell Tower and is widely considered to be the most significant, with greeting ceremonies by the government held in the South Gate Square, which has recently been restored. Like the other gates, the South Gate features three towers – the gate tower, which holds the drawbridge, the narrow tower and the main tower.

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The Bund (Waitan)

The Bund (Waitan)

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The Bund (or Waitan) is the grand center of Colonial architecture in Shanghai. The former International Settlement runs along the waterfront of the Huangpu River, facing the Pudong district ('Bund' is a word of Indian derivation meaning 'embankment'). Loosely known as the "museum of international architecture," the Bund attracts visitors who are interested in the artsy side of Shanghai.

When foreign powers entered Shanghai after the Opium Wars of the 19th century, the Bund existed as a towpath. It quickly became the center of Shanghai as Western traders built banks, trading houses and consulates along its length, and has been synonymous with Shanghai's east-meets-west glamor ever since. Today the Bund faces the new wave of trading development - the vast towers of Jin Mao, the World Finance Center and the Oriental Pearl TV Tower in the financial district of Pudong.

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