Why should you visit China?
Public opinion seems to be a bit mixed when it comes to the idea of traveling to China.
It isn’t a destination that’s on the top of everyone’s travel list. And yet China is one of the most amazing destinations that you’ll ever experience.
China is absolutely huge and along with that size comes amazingly diverse natural landscapes, cultures and food traditions.
If you love the exotic, the different, the strange, and the familiar, then you’ll absolutely love this travel destination.
So, in my humble opinion, here are 10 great reasons to visit China.
1. Thousands of years of history
China is one of the Four Ancient Civilizations, which are four places in the world where the culture developed continuously in the same geographical location.
Its history goes back more than 3,000 years and is appropriately colorful and tumultuous.
You can see this history for yourself when you travel around China, exploring the treasures that the ancient peoples left behind.
There are arguably more ancient treasures in China than in any other country on earth, and they vary from city walls to buried armies, temples, pagodas, and even giant Buddhas.
Some of the most interesting historical landmarks in China include:
- Great Wall of China
- The Forbidden City
- Terracotta Army
- Summer Palace
- Potala Palace
- Longmen Grottoes.
If you haven’t heard of some of these, then check out my article about the famous places in China.
2. The food is so much better than you expect
If you’ve only eaten Chinese food in your home country, then you have no idea what real Chinese food is like!
The food served in Chinese restaurants in Western countries is usually altered to suit foreign tastes.
Basically, this means that it tastes very little like the real thing. There’s also very little variety compared to what you’ll find in China.
China is truly one of the world’s epicenters for great food. And because China is so large, the food is vastly different from one province to another.
Here’s my guide to trying as much great food in China as possible:
- Visit Shanghai for absolutely incredible international cuisines
- Don’t be afraid to eat in markets for great, fast snacks
- If you enjoy spicy food, head to Sichuan province in west China
- Try to go off the beaten track and try cuisines that are less well known such as the sour, spicy, and fresh Yunnan cuisine
- Try Hong Kong cuisine if you’re looking for food that’s close to Western tastes as an introduction.
The only problem with eating in China is that it can be difficult to decide when you don’t really know what the dishes are.
Here are the top dishes to try in China, in my opinion:
- Peking duck
- Ma Po tofu
- Hot pot
- Dumplings (any kind)
- Scallion pancakes
- Sweet and sour pork
- Wonton soup.
Honestly, the food alone is enough reason to travel to China!
3. So many natural wonders
Most people who question why to visit China think of it as an uncompromisingly modern country filled with huge, concrete cities. And this is definitely one side of China.
But the other side is endless stretches of natural landscape that hold some of the most incredible natural wonders you’ve ever seen.
Some of the best natural landscapes to visit in China are:
- The Yellow Mountains
- Tiger Leaping Gorge on the Yangtze River
- Zhangjiajie’s ‘floating’ peaks, which inspired the movie Avatar
- Li River karst scenery in Guilin
- The rainbow hued ponds and glaciers in Jiuzhaigou.
4. Incredibly rich culture
When you think of China, you probably think about kung fu, Chinese food, and maybe Chinese medicine.
But there’s so much more to Chinese culture than just what makes its way into the mainstream.
China not only has a rich dominant culture, which has given rise to things like poetry, opera, porcelain and calligraphy. It’s also home to hundreds of ethnic minorities, each of them with their own culture and traditions.
Some of the best places to experience the culture of China’s ethnic minorities are:
- Tibet, for a religious experience you’ll never forget
- Yunnan, for the world’s last matrilineal society, the Mosuo people
- Guizhou to see a traditional Miao village
- The city of Kaili, known as the minority capital of China
- The countryside outside of Guilin, the traditional home of China’s largest minority, the Zhuang.
There probably isn’t time for you to experience all the culture that China has to offer, unless you spend years in the country. But you can do your best to try!
5. All the comforts of the modern age
If you’re a Westerner, then you’ll probably expect China to be a little behind your home country in terms of modern conveniences.
In fact, this couldn’t be further from the truth. When I first traveled to China, I found that they were years ahead, with standard modern conveniences that put my home country (Australia) to shame.
Here are some of the ways that China is using modern technology to make traveling easier:
- High-speed and very comfortable trains that travel almost anywhere you’d want to go
- Digital wallets on Chinese apps, which make paying for everything easier
- A very comprehensive internet shopping system that means you can get anything, fast
- Easy-to-use online booking platforms that link everything so you can pay, book, and share your plans with a few taps.
Even street food vendors have QR codes so you can just scan your phone and go!
6. Traveler safety
For every traveler, especially those traveling alone, safety is a huge concern. But this isn’t the case in China.
In China, crimes against foreigner are extremely rare and violence is almost unheard of. In fact, China is one of the few countries where it’s usually safe for a woman to walk alone at night.
Of course, you should still take basic precautions when you’re traveling around China. In crowded tourist areas, you’ll still need to be on the lookout for shady looking people, and unlicensed taxis can still be a big issue.
But generally, you’ll feel very safe in this country and that’s one of the best reasons why you should visit China.
I’ve actually written an entire article titled, Is China safe? Please take a read to find out more.
7. Budget friendly
If you come from a Western country, then China can be a very budget-friendly travel destination.
It’s not as cheap as other parts of Asia, but everything from the tours to transport and especially food is very friendly to a tight budget.
This means that you can spend even longer in the country or go to more areas while you’re there!
If you’re looking to reduce the expense even more, then take a few friends with you and split the bills, or choose local-branded hotels rather than Western chains.
See also: Best China hotel booking apps
8. Amazing, modern cities
Are you looking for easy places to travel where you’ll have all the modern conveniences? Then why not explore some of China’s cities?
China’s cities are a good choice if you’re tired and just want to see a new place where you can get around easily, buy the things you need, and enjoy modern amenities.
They’re also a great option if you’re worried about traveling without well-developed infrastructure.
China’s big cities are modern, have all the modern conveniences and great infrastructure for tourists. They also have so much to do that you’ll never get bored, no matter how long you stay.
I’ve lived and worked in Fuzhou before, so I’m a little biased when it comes to the best Chinese cities to visit (you can see my Fuzhou itinerary here).
But if Fuzhou is too ‘unheard of’ for you, then I recommend checking out some of the links below:
- Beijing travel guide
- Shanghai travel guide
- Shenzhen travel guide
- Xi’an travel guide
- Hong Kong travel guide
9. Friendly people
China doesn’t get as many tourists as other destinations, which is why the locals are usually so happy to see foreigners.
The local people in big cities like Shanghai and Beijing are used to tourists of course, but once you move outside of that circle, you’ll find the people warm, friendly, and very curious about you.
While I was in China, I lost count of the number of times that I posed for photos with random locals.
It also wasn’t unusual for curious locals to follow me around the shops, making suggestions and giggling when I couldn’t understand them.
This kind of openness and curiosity are rare in a world where some destinations see thousands of travelers every day.
So, do your best to learn a couple of words in Mandarin so that you can stun and amaze the locals who want to talk to you just because you’re there.
10. Awesome shopping
If you like to hit the shops and give your wallet a workout, then there’s no better country to do that in then China.
China has absolutely huge, modern shopping malls, and streets filled with all kinds of stores.
There are also plenty of markets, selling things from clothes and shoes to high-tech electronics, such as the enormous Huaqiangbei Electronics Market in Shenzhen.
China exports products all over the world, so you can get things much cheaper in the place where they’re made. Just look out for the fakes!
If you’re looking for something more unusual, like a traditional Chinese souvenir, then keep your eyes open for some of these things:
- Chinese tea sets
- Calligraphy sets or scrolls
- Carved jade
- Silk scarves or pajamas
- Opera masks
- Cloisonné (traditional enamelware).
Just remember to bargain in China. It’s what the locals do!
If you have some time to kill on your flight over, check out the guide on counting money in Chinese to help you at the shops.
A quick travel tip
If you’re planning a trip, remember that the Chinese internet is censored.
(This is actually one of the reasons not to visit China, according to one blogger.)
So, when using hotel Wi-Fi you won’t have access to your favorite sites and apps like Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp, Google, Gmail and so on, unless you get a VPN before you leave your country.
Fortunately, VPNs are inexpensive and you can see the top VPNs for China here.
Why visit China: A summary
China is intoxicatingly foreign and at the same time, fairly easy for Westerners to adapt to.
That’s what makes this place such a good choice for anyone who has an adventurous spirit and wants to see the world as it really is.
When I spent time in China, I found the country baffling, beautiful, strange, amazing, infuriating, and logical.
You could use almost any adjective to describe China and it would probably fit perfectly well!
I hope I have persuaded you to travel to The Middle Kingdom. If not, and you want even more reasons to visit China, then check out the cute and wild animals you can find there or be amazed by these fun facts about China.
Main image credit: Jessica Murphy on Pixabay.