25 Famous Landmarks in China

China Landmarks: Incredible Chinese Landmarks

China Landmarks: China is an incredible country and would you expect anything less from these Famous Landmarks in China?

landmarks in china

I have had the opportunity to travel to this country several times and I am always in awe of these landmarks of China. I think you will be too!

This list of Chinese Landmarks contains famous monuments of China and historical landmarks in China you won’t want to miss!

  1. The Great Wall at Mutianyu 

Location: Huairou District, northeast Beijing. 

Mutianyu is a section of the iconic Great Wall of China. The Mutianyu section is the best-preserved and longest restored section of the Great Wall. This section of the Great Wall was originally built in the 550s AD and has been restored, rebuilt and strengthened multiple times since its original construction over 1400 years ago.

landmarks in china

There are 23 watchtowers over the 1 ½ mile long stretch of the Great Wall which is also full of beautiful architectural design throughout. Although this section of the Great Wall is the best restored and best-preserved section, it is not the most populous section among tourists. There are cable cars leading visitors directly to the wall, making it very accessible. The Great Wall is an iconic landmark of not only China, but globally too. Making a stop by the Great Wall during a visit to China is atop every bucket list; and visiting the Mutianyu section remains to be the best section to visit. 

  1. The Forbidden City

Location: Dongcheng, central Beijing

Built in the 15th century and designed by architect Kuai Xiang; with the original purpose of being the Chinese Imperial Palace and being the home of Chinese Emperors for almost 500 years. The forbidden city is the largest palace structure in the world and the best-preserved imperial palace in China.

landmarks in china

The Palace has over 8,700 rooms over almost 1,000 buildings on the 38-acre land. The Forbidden City is one of the most popular landmarks and tourist attractions in China, bringing in no more than 80,000 visitors a day. Although it is now open to visitors, it never used to be that way. The palace got its name ‘Forbidden City’ due to it previously being forbidden to “ordinary” people during the days of it housing the Chinese Emperors. This infamous palace was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987, ensuring its protection and preservation for many years to come. 

  1. The Terracotta Warriors

Location: Shaanxi, northwest China

The Terracotta Army was constructed in 210BCE with the purpose of being buried with the first emperor of China and protecting him in his afterlife. There are three different sections of the terracotta army, containing over 8,000 individual terracotta warriors. Pit 1 is the most impressive and largest of all three; it is believed to have originally contained over 6,000 warriors although only 2,000 are currently on display.

landmarks in china

All warriors stand facing in the same direction and are the same width and distance away from each other. It is truly a magnificent and unique experience to be able to walk along all these large terracotta warriors constructed so many centuries ago. What is even more impressive is every warrior was designed differently. From the facial expression to hairstyle and clothing; every warrior is different and was designed so. Because the warriors were built so long ago, advanced tools were not an option and most of the construction was done by hand of those in charge of designing and constructing these historic statues. 

  1. The Bund in Shanghai

Location: central Shanghai, China

The bund is a protected historical district along the waterfront in central Shanghai. For more than a century, the Bund has been one of the most iconic and recognizable parts of Shanghai. The mile-long stretch along the Huangpu  River is full of ancient architectural buildings with styles ranging from gothic to neoclassical.

landmarks in china

Take a stroll down this stretch of land and appreciate the 50+ architectural masterpieces situated along this beautiful riverside. The Bend is a great place for photography, due to the combination of so many beautiful architectural designs. The bund is also a great place to take a day or night cruise up and down the river as well as taking a simple stroll and appreciating the long history and great beauty that this place has to offer.

  1. Potala Palace

Location: Lhasa, southeast Tibet

The Potala Palace is the highest ancient palace in the world, being over 12,300-feet above sea level as well as being sat over 300-feet over the city of Lhasa. The palace sits on a land of over 32-acres and has over 1,000 rooms in the 13-story building. The Palace was built in the 17th century and its purpose was to be the home for the Dalai Lama’s during the winter months, up until the late 1950s when it was transitioned into a museum.

landmarks in china

The Potala Palace is separated by two parts; the white palace and the red palace. The red palace is the higher of the two and has an infamous golden roof that is so beautiful, you don’t want to miss it. The main purpose for the red palace was for a place of worship and prayer by the Dalai Lamas. The white palace was the main residence for 10 successive Dalai Lamas. If ever given the chance, visiting the Potala Palace should be on everyone’s to-do list during a trip to China. 

  1. Dujiangyan Panda Base 

Location: Dujiangyan City, Chengdu

The Dujiangyan Panda Base is a new giant panda breeding base in China, also known as the China Conservation and Research Centre for the Giant Panda (CCRCGP). The Panda Base was completed and opened in 2013, with the aim to protect giant pandas after an earthquake hit the nation in 2008.

chinese landmarks

Giant Pandas are a protected species of China and at the Dujiangyan panda base, visitors will get a chance to get up close and personal with these beautiful creatures. There are opportunities for short-term volunteer work with the pandas to get a better understanding of these animals and the care it requires to keep them safe. it’s a unique experience and something that you will remember for a lifetime if ever given the opportunity. 

  1. Li River Landmark

Location: Guilin, Guangxi Province

Likely one of the most recognisable landmarks in all of china, this river scenery has been on the back of the 20-yuan bill since its issue in 1999. This famous landmark image was taken in Yangshuo and is located along the Li River cruise route. The cruise along this river which is a common tourist attraction in the area, slows down at the spot of the landmark in order to allow the passengers on the boat to get a good look at this beautiful image.

chinese landmarks

The landmark itself contains many different shapes, materials and sizes throughout, making it a unique piece of art amongst China. The monument is greatly appreciated by Chinese locals and travelers to the area; the area is repeatedly featured amongst the nation’s media outlets and has inspired many great art projects. There are many ways to be able to view and experience this wonderful landmark that will undoubtedly make any experience at Li River unforgettable. 

  1. Mount Everest

Location: along the Nepal-China border

Mount Everest is the highest mountain in the Himalayan mountain range and is considered to be the highest point on Earth at almost 30,000-feet above sea level.

chinese landmarks

The first successful recorded summit was in 1953 by New Zealand mountaineer, Sir Edmund Hilary! Since this attempt, thousands of people have been drawn to Mt Everest with the goal of successfully climbing it to the summit. A handful of people have completed it and it remains to this day one of the hardest mountain climbs as well as one of the most famous. 

  1. Tianzi Mountain

Location: Zhangjiajie, Hunan Province

Stunning views of rugged peaks which rise and fall atop one other is what you will find at Tianzi Mountain. This mountain is one of four beautiful scenic points in Wulingyuan. From the peak, visitors have an incredible view over the Wulingyan area.

chinese landmarks

The views differ depending on the season, but they are always incredible. Tianzo Mountain was formed over 300million years ago through erosion, slowly turning these rocks into the beautiful rugged peaked quartz stone scenery they are now. This is a beautiful sight that will leave you amazed. 

  1.  Tiger Leaping Gorge 

Location: Jinsha River, Lijiang City, Yunnan 

The Tiger Leaping Gorge is a scenic canyon and one of the biggest and deepest gorges in the world. This UNESCO World Heritage Site has rare species of both plants and wildlife that roam the area. The paths high above the river and along the canyon, include some inexpensive accommodation for visitors who want to spend overnight exploring the beauty and wonder of this beautiful, scenic gorge.

chinese landmarks

This area has also been a popular hiking spot since the 1980s, however, it is considered a strenuous hike and should only be attempted by experienced hikers. Visiting the Tiger Leaping Gorge has other benefits too, such as being in close proximity to other natural and historical sites. 

  1.  Temple of Heaven

Location: Dongcheng, southeast Beijing

Historically, this was the most important imperial temple in China. From the 15th to 20th century, the Ming & Qing dynasty emperors would come here for worship. On the 670-acre lot, there are several buildings that hold different purposes.

chinese landmarks

The most recognizable and beautiful building is the tall, circular Hall of Prayer for a good harvest, located in the north of the grounds. The buildings and landscape around the grounds are described by many as being a masterpiece of architectural design. Located in central Beijing, this is one of the top tourist attractions and activities in the city.

  1. Leshan Giant Buddha

Location: Leshan, Sichuan

This 232-foot buddha, carved into the side of Lingyun mountain is the largest Buddha in the world. It’s considered alongside the UNESCO World Heritage Sites and is a popular sightseeing landmark as well as a common Buddhist worshipping site. This giant Buddist statue depicts a seated Buddha with a smile on his face and his hands upon his knees. The statue’s head itself is almost 50-feet high and his features include an 18-foot nose, 22-foot ears; and up to 100 people can fit inside the statue’s instep.

chinese landmarks

Visiting the statue by foot, gives the best close-up experience of the Buddha, walking along the nearby pathways gives visitors the best chance to see every angle of this amazing statue. The alternative way to see the Buddha is by boat. This way, visitors get to see the Buddha from a distance, although you also get a wonderful panoramic view of the largest Buddha in the world. 

  1. Longmen Grottoes

Location: Luoyang, Henan

Luoyang’s biggest attraction, these are among four of China’s most famous ancient caves. This landmark sits on over 7-acres of land and took a total of 400 years to construct. The largest Buddha is over 55-feet tall, while the smallest is less than an inch tall. There are thousands of grottoes and 60% of them date back to the Tang Dynasty during the first century.

chinese landmarks

The caves have different styles from one another due to having been constructed over so many centuries, dynasties, and design eras.  To visit these Buddha, visitors will need to climb up 99 steps, however, it is well worth it when up close to these statues and so close to all the thousand, century’s old statues. 

  1.  Ruins of St Pauls

Location: Santo Antonio, Macau

In the early 17th century, St Paul’s church was constructed and was considered as being the greatest church in the city of Macau. The church was destroyed 200-years later in 1835 from a fire, only leaving behind the remains of what once was a beautiful large piece of Chinese architecture.

chinese landmarks

Only the large 88-foot façade and grand staircase remain to this day and is open to the public to view and experience this piece of history. Although the church has long been burnt down, the beauty it once had is still held up in the ruins that remain. It is a common attraction to the city and a great activity to do if ever in the area. 

  1.  Huanglong Pools

Location: Minshan Mountain Range, northwest Sichuan

This is a beautiful scenic area, famous for their colourful lakes, beautiful valleys and forests and their mountains topped with snowfall. This area has unofficially been called a world wonder due to its stunning landscape. This scenic got its name due to it looking, from a distance, like a large golden dragon spanning across the valley and through the mountains.

chinese landmarks

These pools are quite well known in the area, and across the globe. Many people travel to this area to the crystal-clear waters, so clear in fact in most of the pools you can see all the way down to the bottom of the pool. This area is so beautiful and sacred to those from here, that the locals find it difficult to find any other water and pool formation that can compare. 

  1.  Mount Taishan

Location: Tai’an, Shangdon Province 

This is a historical and culturally significant mountain with beautiful views and wonderful surrounding scenery. Mount Tai is a natural formation dating back over 2-billion years ago! The iconic mountain is still growing, at an average rate of 0.5mm a year. There are five sacred mountains in this area, Mount Tai being one of them, and considered as the leader of the sacred mountains even though it’s not the largest or grandest.

china famous landmarks

Due to the location of the mount, being close to the sea and the river and the direction in which it faces, it is seen as being very significant in the Chinese culture. Mount Tai represents sunrise, birth and renewal. People from all over the country come to Mount Tai to pray and hold ceremonies dedicated to previous emperors. This is a beautiful mountain with a long history of deep significance to the Chinese culture. The location is in central Shangdong Province making it an accessible activity if visiting this area. 

  1.  The Summer Palace 

Location: northwest Beijing

The best preserved and largest imperial garden in the world, located near central Beijing! Over 260 years old, the palace had the original purpose of being the summer home to the imperial families. The open and airy feeling of the beautiful gardens were a nice escape from their primary residence, the Forbidden City.

china famous landmarks

Officially a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the summer palace is said to have the most beautiful garden landscape design. There are numerous activities you can do here, including taking a boat ride, watching traditional Chinese performances and walking through the impressive gardens. 

  1.  Suzhou Gardens

Location: eastern coast, China

Suzhou is one of the wealthiest, most popular, and most beautiful cities in China. Suzhou is known for its impressive garden landscapes, and the beautiful canals and bridges throughout the city, comparable to those in Venice, Italy.

china famous landmarks

The extensive and stunning gardens all around Suzhou have gained an international reputation and are known as being some of the most beautiful in China. So much that the gardens themselves are considered UNESCO World Heritage Sites. This is the perfect city to visit if you want to experience the unique canals of China, stunning scenery landscape as well as experiencing some lovely Chinese culture. Another attraction to the city is the food, the city is full of delicacy and top hot spot restaurants.

  1.  Saint Sophia Cathedral

Location: Harbin, northeast China

One of the largest Orthodox churches, at over 170-feet tall, Saint Sophia was constructed in the early 20th century for Russians living in Harbin. The structure of the building is in the shape of a cross with a large green dome atop the main hall.

The building shares similarities with the red square in Moscow, Russia and has stunning exterior and interior designs. It is undoubtedly one of the most amazing, magnificent buildings in northeast China. A lovely attraction to the city and a lovely place to visit when traveling. 

  1.  Zhangjiajie National Forest Park

Location: Zhangjiajie, Hunan Province 

Recognized in the early 1980s as China’s first National Forest Park, with almost 12,000 acres. The most recognizable feature of the park is the tall rugged rock pillars throughout the park. The pillars are believed to have been a result of physical erosion through the years, thanks to seasonal changes and weather conditions during the seasons.

china famous landmarks

There are cable cars, trams, shuttle busses and elevators located around the park to make it easy for tourists to maximise their time spent here by visiting as many of the parks’ attractions as possible. There are also the more quiet and lesser known areas of the park for those visitors who want to hike deep into Zhangjiajie and explore more of what this wonderful beautiful place has to offer. 

  1.  Hangzhou’s Historical West Lake

Location: Hangzhou, Zhejiang

This is an iconic sight of strong symbolism and significance in Hangzhou. In fact, the west lake is regarded by some as being one of the most beautiful sights in China. The lake is divided into 5 sections, there are 3 islands within the lake, there are mountains and causeways surrounding the lake. There are many ways to be able to experience the lake and the beauty that it encompasses.

china famous landmarks

Visitors to the lake are able to go on boat rides through the lake or take advantage of the beautiful lakeside pathways by walking and/or biking around the lake. This way, visitors are able to experience not only the wonderful lake but get to see the beauty in the landscape surrounding the lake as well and get to experience the Chinese culture in the neighborhood of the West Lake. 

  1.  Three Pagodas

Location: Dali, Yunnan Province

The Three Pagodas of Dali are a famous sight in China, well-known for their large stature, their beauty, and their preservation through the years. The central Paoda is over 1,100 years old and remains to be one of the largest Pagodas ever constructed in China.

china famous landmarks

The Three Pagodas are positioned to look like a triangle, they are constructed from brick and situated at the bottom of one of the highest mountain peaks in the area. The tallest of the three, is considered to be the best preserved of all buildings from the Tang Dynasty area. The two other Pagoda’s built about a century later are from a different design area but are still as beautiful as their original counterpart. A trip to the Three Pagodas is often considered to be the highlight of any trip to Dali.  

  1.  Mogao caves

Location: Dunhuang, Gansu Province 

Also known as the ‘Caves of the Thousands Buddhas’ is the most famous buddha caves in China. These caves were carved out of cliffs made from sandstone and are approximately a mile long. The caves were constructed over the period of 10 dynasties and 10 centuries from the 4th to 14th.

china famous landmarks

The caves include over 480,000-sqft of mural paintings and over 2,000 buddha statues. The Mogao caves are widely considered to be the greatest and largest collection of buddha in the world. Of the 2,000 over ½ of them still remain in good preserved state, allowing them to still be appreciated by visitors to the cave. The mural paintings can be viewed throughout the caves, on the walls and the roof and still remain in fairly good condition. 

  1.  Yangtze River Cruise

Location: China

The Yangtze River is the longest river in Asia, the longest river in the world to flow entirely through one country and the 3rd longest river in the world. The Yangtze River flows almost 4,000-miles through 6 Chinese cities. The best way to experience the Yangtze river is to get upon the cruise that travels from one end to the other.

china famous landmarks

Aboard the cruise, visitors will get a chance to see some of the most magnificent scenery in China. The cruise travels through three dams, including the largest in the world. The cruise itself is also unmissable with countless activities to do onboard, to keep you occupied, relaxed and having fun. Many of China’s great tourist attractions, and famous landmarks are seen from the Yangtze river cruise, so you surely will not miss out on anything. 

  1. Hanging Monastery 

Location: Datong City, Shanxi Province 

This is one of the most unique Monasteries in the world, due to the fact that it is hanging 164-feet above ground. The Monastery is hanging on the side of one of China’s sacred Taoist mountains, Mount Heng. The Monastery was constructed over 1,500 years ago during the Wei Dynasty and is the main attraction to Mount Heng.

china famous landmarks

The construction of the monastery is just as fascinating, this construction began from the top and was built downwards, the pillars there now were added much later for further support and safety. This is undoubtedly a unique building, not just in China, but unique around the globe too. It is a must see for anyone visiting China and will leave everyone amazed at the true beauty of this hanging masterpiece. 

Nicole

Nicole LaBarge is a travel expert who has been traveling internationally for over 25 years and she has visited over 115 countries all while working a 9-5. She has lived in England, Scotland, Japan and New Zealand. Check out her detailed destination guides and travel product guides.

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