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.
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 main draw of this area west of Tiananmen Square is the new Financial Street area, home to high-rise office towers, a cluster of five-star hotels, and the tony Seasons Place Mall.
Xintiandi was the birthplace of the Chinese Communist Party; now this restored two-block district is defined by upscale shops and restaurants.
This 1,800-foot mountain, whose looming peak is visible from almost all of Central district, doubles as the address for Hong Kong’s wealthiest residents.
This unassuming shop with a white front and simple black signage stands out on a road of fashion shops. Owner Liu Xiao Lan, a member of the Miao ethnic group, sells handmade items with an emphasis on Miao-crafted goods. The variety can include handcrafted tapestries, ornaments, and shoes.
Nothing says China like a silk panda-motif necktie. Tax-free at 198 yuan ($29), it’s a bit more than you’d pay in town, but the quality is solid.
A perfect respite from the tourist throngs along West Lake. Inside the low tiled wall is a garden with lotus-covered ponds and a courtyard where locals gather for tea and gossip.
Lan Kwai Fong, the city's nightlife epicenter, is where you'll find this speakeasy-like lounge, a moodily lit, wood-paneled brasserie and bar. Start downstairs with oyster shooters at Bloom before heading upstairs for cocktails at Prohibition-inspired Lily.
New-media artist Teddy Lo opened this gallery, with tech-savvy installations such as a light display that channels data from the Hang Seng Index and New York Stock Exchange.
This tower and its counterpart, the Drum Tower, kept Beijing people up to date on the official time through three dynasties. Drums beat out at night, while the bells rang out during the day. The Bell Tower burned in the Qing Dynasty and was rebuilt, this time of fire-proof brick.
In-the-know shoppers head to this Tianamen square locale for bespoke qipaos (traditional full-length dresses) in rich silk or brocade.
Outside, there are large and colorful carvings etched on the mountains, all portraying Chinese fables and ancient dynasties. Inside the temple, the whispers of prayer bring you into a different world.
The store carries a surprising breadth of products: from reproductions of communist-era comic books to artist's backpacks.
Original Debut: Unveiled in 1932 by Hungarian architect L. E. Hudec (responsible for more than 60 Shanghai landmarks), Grand Cinema had Art Deco flourishes, a glistening three-tiered roof shaped like a water lily, and—unfortunately for the warm-blooded—no inner cooling system.