Asia China Destinations


China is a gigantic country and in the 2 months I was there I only saw a fraction of what it has to offer.
Most of the sites I visited were everything I hoped for and more.
But some were complete letdowns.

Everything I wanted to see that involved nature was absolutely amazing, beautiful, stunning, and whatever other descriptive adjective you can think of.
But it was some of the man-made sites that were not worth my time or money.

Luckily this is a small list.
Because most of what China has to offer is awesome.
So without further ado, here’s the 5 major attractions in China you should avoid.


Municipality: Beijing.
City: Beijing.

Attractions in China. The Forbidden City. Stairs full of people.

The Forbidden City was borrrrring.
It’s 180 acres(72 hectares) of similar looking old buildings with thousands of tourists walking through like cattle.
If you venture off to the side buildings, instead of going straight through the middle, you can break away from the crowds and have some areas to yourself.

After a few minutes of the same stuff over and over I was rushing to get to the end.
If you REALLY like Chinese architecture and history you might find this place interesting.
But Chinese history is so extensive I knew I wouldn’t retain a fraction of the information in this place.

Better Recommendation:
The Summer Palace was my favorite site in Beijing.
It’s a great place to spend the day.
And there’s a variety of areas to check out.
There’s also less people the closer it gets to sunset.


Municipality: Beijing.
City: Beijing.

Attractions in China. Panda Bear lying on its back eating bamboo.

Before going to the Beijing Zoo I hadn’t been to a zoo in over 10 years.
I think most zoos are animal prisons, so I’m not too keen on any of them.

The Beijing Zoo might have been the worst zoo I’ve ever gone too.

I only went along to join a friend that wanted to see Pandas before she left China.
While we were there we stopped by the reptile area as well.
I love reptiles and wanted to see the poisonous snakes from Asia.
This was such a huge disappointment.
More than half of the tanks were completely empty.
And the tanks that did have reptiles in them were so small.

As we walked from the reptiles to the Pandas I noticed that most of the zoo seem neglected.
It was also quite empty.
That is until we arrived at the pandas.

It’s no surprise that the pandas are the main attraction here.
But it seems like it’s the only area of the zoo that gets any care too.

If you’re going to China and want to see Pandas, don’t see them at a zoo in Beijing.
The panda sanctuaries in Chengdu are much nicer.
There’s also no other animals there to get neglected.

Better Recommendation:
The Great Wall(Mutianyu).
The Mutianyu section of the Great Wall is a fun part of the wall to visit.
You can take a cable car up and a toboggan down.
This section of the wall isn’t very touristy either.


Province: Shaanxi.
City: outside Xi’an.

Attractions in China. Terracotta Warrior statues in dirt.

I was couchsurfing in Xi’an and my host was the 1st one to tell me that the Terracotta Army is a waste of time.
She said that all her other guests always come back and say “It was so-so.”
They were all correct.
With the Terracotta Army you’ll be letdown if you don’t see it.
But then you’ll be letdown when you do see it.

If you’re into archaeology you’ll probably love this place.
But for me it was a bunch of statues in dirt.
It’s an OK site but I saw the whole place in 50 minutes.
And it takes 1 hour to get there and 1 hour to get back.
So I didn’t think the time and effort was worth the payoff.

Better Recommendations:
Spend the whole day hiking Mt. Hua.
It’s a bit of a journey to get there.
But the payoff is actually worth it(if you like hiking).
Plus, you can do the worlds most dangerous hike if you really want to push yourself.

An activity that is easier and closer to Xi’an is renting a bike on the Xi’an wall and biking around it.
It’s quite relaxing and there’s some nice views of the city.


Municipality: Chongqing.
City: Chongqing.

Attractions in China. Cable car crossing over Yangtze River heading towards Chongqing city.

I’ll admit that I went to Chongqing just to experience a high density city.
And that’s really all it is.
I didn’t come across anything that made Chongqing seem like a place worth staying at.
The nicest thing was a night stroll along the Jialing River near the Hongya Cave Folk Residences.
Across the Jialing River a lot of skyscrapers are lit up and it’s a pretty cool sight.

The Yangtze River is another river that cuts through part of the city.
But that river looks like chocolate milk and rust.
There’s nothing nice about it all.
Unless you really like mud and pollution.

Better Recommendation:
If you’re in Chengdu(Sichuan Province) looking for somewhere to go I’d recommend a 3-day trip to Juizhaigou National Park.
Without a doubt one of the prettiest places I have ever seen.
But in August of 2017 that area was hit by a 7.0 magnitude earthquake destroying most of the park.
A lot of relief work was put into the park, but I’m not sure what it looks like anymore.


Province: Yunnan.
City: Dali.

Attractions in China. Three Pagodas in front of a cloud covered mountain.

Dali is a city I constantly kept hearing about.
It sounded like a party place that had a fun chill-out vibe.
But the first thing I noticed when I arrived was the entire place looked like an outside Mall.

Dali is 100% catered to tourism.
Every store looks the same.
Most of them even sell the same stuff.
And nothing about this place seemed authentic.

One day I rode a bike to Erhai Lake and experienced one of the weirder things on my trip.
The entire lakeside town was shut down.
I saw about 30 residents in this entire place.
Upon further research I found the reason why.

Better Recommendations:
Stay in Lijiang(2 hours from Dali), it has so much to offer.
You can spend a day hiking and relaxing around Jade Dragon Snow Mountain.
Ride bikes to the ancient towns of Shuhe and Baisha.
Or you can spend 2 days hiking through Tiger Leaping Gorge.
Tiger Leaping Gorge is one of the easiest hikes I did in China.
Plus, the views of that place are amazing.

They’re not the best attractions in China.

Like I said earlier, most Chinese attractions were great.
These ones were unfortunately either too crowded, boring, or overhyped.

Have you been to any of these sites and cities?
What did you think of them?

Let me know in the comments below.

Jeremiah Cooper

By Jeremiah Cooper

Welcome to Live Life Extreme, a travel blog about thrill-seeking travel through some of the largest cities to off the beaten path getaways.

My name is Jeremiah and I'm a photographer from Arizona.
I'm always in search of picturesque landscapes and adrenaline pumping adventure.
Follow me as I show you What and What Not to do when visiting new places in search of Cheap Travel and Cheap Thrills.

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