Things to do in China
The home of countless different cultures and a history that stretches back 5,000 years, coming up with an itinerary to cover such a country as complex as China can be daunting. Fortunately some of the highlights that every visitor to China will want to see provide a place to start.
Forbidden City. The Chinese imperial palace from the 15th century until the abdication of the last emperor in 1912, Beijing's Forbidden City includes 980 different buildings and is the largest collection of ancient wooden structures in the world.
The Great Wall. The earliest portions of the Great Wall along China's northern border date from the seventh-century BC. Counting all of its various branches, the Wall is estimated to stretch more than 13,000 miles in one of the world's most astounding built wonders.
Terracotta Army at Xi'an. Over 8,000 terracotta warriors and 130 chariots drawn by 520 horses were produced in the third century BC to accompany the then emperor into the afterlife upon his death. This fascinating army was buried and undiscovered until 1974, when a local farmer stumbled across them.
Shanghai’s latest secret?Lane 248, a gritty, narrow street now inhabited by artsy cafés and intimate boutiques, hidden behind Taikang Road.
You wouldn’t want to spend too long on these swaying, rattling conveyances—especially during peak times, when tough-as-boots old ladies use their elbows and brollies to make their way along the crowded aisles.
An old villa is the setting for this spa in the French Concession. A Qin brick façade and Ming-era furniture add to the authentic feel. A stream bubbles in the foyer, and the massage rooms are neat and warmly-lit.
Take home China’s drink.
Part of the sprawling Old City God’s Temple district—also home to the Yuyuan Bazaar—Nan Fang Curio Market is a collection of stalls selling vintage clothing and costumes.
Part museum, part teahouse, and part salon.
To begin your Hong Kong culinary education, have your hotel wangle an invitation to Saturday brunch at the China Club, a members-only oasis taking up the top three floors of the old Bank of China building. This is as central as you can get in Hong Kong’s Central district.
A 12-seat Japanese whiskey bar stocked with a selection of rare vanilla- and cherry-scented whiskeys.
The television headquarters will be the second-largest building in the world, after the Pentagon, and the architects Rem Koolhaas and Ole Scheeren have attributed at least part of the building’s dramatic form to the need to make it visible in the heavily polluted air hanging over Beijing.
This spa in the heart of Pudong offers a modern take on ancient Chinese wellness: the vast glass-and-stone building encompasses a spa, health center, wine bar, library, and restaurant.
A must see in Suzhou, 45 minutes by train from Shanghai. In the main area, covered walkways open onto a pond with arched bridges and flowering shrubs.
Jokes about all the tea in China aside, this shopping center (with a main cluster of stores surrounded by street stalls) is a must-visit for cuppa lovers.
The museum offers a superb survey of the region’s 5,000-year history.
Set right in the heart of the legendary Lan Kwai Fong nightlife zone, this restaurant/bar/club clears its tables after dinner so people can shake a leg.
The Long March Space, which is well known for its public-art projects along the route of Mao's Long March, uses its space at 798 more as a base than as a gallery.