From the time of the 1949 revolution until the mid-1970s, the People's Republic of China was essentially closed to foreigners. Since then, the government has aggressively promoted inbound tourism. Ancient attractions include the Great Wall, the Forbidden City of Beijing, the ancient Terracotta Warriors of Xi'an, and the Potala Palace of Tibet. Natural attractions include the Karst Mountains in Yangshuo, the Yangtze River, and the Jiuzhaigou nature reserve. In recent years, many modern attractions have also emerged.
Beijing's Tiananmen Square is the best-known destination in China, a modern attraction with ancient origins. It is the largest city square in the world and can accommodate more than a million people for public celebrations. The magnificent Monument to the People's Heroes (completed in 1958) is more than 120 feet high. Other modern additions to the square include the Great Hall of the People, the National Museum of China and the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong.
The two most-recent major attractions were constructed for the 2008 Olympic Games: the National Aquatics Center (known as the Water Cube) and the National Stadium (known as the Bird's Nest). Both of these structures were constructed to be the most imposing of their kinds in the world.
Foreign tourists are attracted to three major shopping districts that combine the modern with the traditional. Xiushui Street (the Silk Market) is a hard- and soft-goods market offering some of China's finest silk and craft products. The "golden rule" is that no price is fixed and that haggling is the standard. Beijing Hongqiao Market is a huge indoor mall featuring locally-manufactured goods, from electronics to household goods. The Wangfujing district is considered the central heart of Beijing with shopping opportunities ranging from modern department stores and boutiques to food stalls and street vendors.
While Beijing is China's capital, Shanghai is known as the nation's most modern cosmopolitan city. The classic attraction of Shanghai is the Bund along the Huangpu River that features grand buildings of the early 20th century European style interposed with recent constructions including theatres, art houses and concert halls.
Nanjing Road is considered the top commercial district in China with nearly two million visitors each day. Dozens of modern museums grace Shanghai, ranging from Science and Technology to Art to Automotive. Some of the world's most impressive skyscrapers are in Shanghai, including the World Financial Center, the Jin Mao Tower and the Oriental Pearl TV Tower.
Shanghai is also offers impressive family attractions, including Shanghai Disneyland and the Shanghai Ocean Aquarium that includes the world's longest underwater tunnel. The unique Disc Go-Karting Club was completed in 1997 with the world's largest indoor track.
The modern city of Hong Kong boasts the greatest concentration of skyscrapers in the world, with 50 percent more than second-place New York City. It is also home to the world's largest concentration of shopping malls, many on a massive scale. The third major attraction of Hong Kong is the famous Nathan Road, known as the world's brightest corridor due to the massive neon hoardings, video displays and flashing advertising platforms that dominate the space and sky.
The Chongqing People's Liberation Monument is the premier modern attraction of western China, featuring the nation's largest pedestrian street and a 90-foot tower. It is in the midst of a modern shopping and entertainment district.
The world-class zoo in Chongqing features over 5000 rare animals, including Golden Hair monkeys and South China tigers, as well as a unique Panda Room that allows visitors an intimate viewing experience.
Article Written By Timothy Aldinger
Timothy Aldinger brings 20 years of experience as an instructional design consultant and corporate training strategist in the automotive, environmental, health and insurance industries. His professional writings have been published by Ford Motor Company, Chrysler Corporation, General Motors, Volkswagen, Toyota, Nissan and many other major corporations. Aldinger received his Bachelor of Arts in political theory from Michigan State University.