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China's best cities and regions to visit on holiday

Rich in history and culture, China is a popular destination for adventurous travellers. Here, we list a few of our favourite places to visit.

xian city wall and ancient tower at dusk
The Xi'an city wall and ancient tower are popular with tourists looking to experience Chinese culture.

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The land of the dragon has long drawn travellers to its vast countryside and ancient civilisation, and this is a perfect destination for those wanting to learn a little more about Chinese national culture. 

There are lots of Saga tours running out of the UK that offer holidays to this fantastic country, but with China being so diverse it’s worth narrowing down a few must-see cities so you don’t find yourself swamped with choice. 

We’ve listed a few of our favourite destinations in China, all of which we visit in our selection of tours to the Middle Kingdom:

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The financial hub of the largest economy in the world, Shanghai is China at its most modern and dazzling.  

Once the colonial outpost of the British, it has since become a bastion of Chinese progress. 

Indulge yourself by checking into some of the most lavish hotels in the country, with views of the imposing skyline that includes the tallest building in China; the Shanghai Tower. 

Then explore the ground level by wandering the markets such the Antique Market on Dong Tai Road or pick up a souvenir of your own design at the Pearl Market.


If you love pandas, then southern city in China is for you. 

The home of this lovable endangered animal, Chengdu is also where you can indulge in some of the best cuisine China has to offer. Sichuan cuisine uses garlic and chilli peppers as well as the famous Sichuan pepper that adds the signature spice that food from this area is known for. 

This southwestern city is often used as the gateway city to the UNESCO World Heritage site where the Dazu Stone Carvings are, or the Buddhist spiritual home of Lhasa in Tibet, China.


South of Beijing lies the old capital of China, called Xi’an. The city has all the leftover marks of its illustrious past as China’s royal and political seat. 

It is ringed by a Ming-era city wall that visitors can tour on bike, a fascinating Muslim quarter, and of course it’s most famous attraction, the Terracotta Warriors of China. 

See thousands of intricately carved clay soldiers, ordered into creation by Emperor Qin to be his army in the afterlife, and to lie in wait next to his tomb.


No list would be complete without touching on the cultural capital of China. The city of Beijing has all the iconic Chinese icons the world has come to know, from the grand to the peculiar. 

You can find the famous Forbidden City, a giant complex of palaces and servants quarters where for generations of Chinese Dynasties rose, ruled and fell.

A huge portrait of Chairman Mao sits above the gates as you enter, a symbol of the old dynastic China meeting the Communist China we know today. 

Walk down the Hutongs of the city—narrow alleys packed with courtyard houses, Chinese snack foods and trinkets. Not far out of Beijing you can walk the Great Wall of China,  an ancient military defence which spans over 13,000 miles across the north of China.

If you’re interested in discovering China for yourself and booking a tour, contact Saga or look at the holidays we offer on our website and we can help you explore this beautiful, complex, immense country that has sparked the imaginations of millions of people hoping to learn more about a rich culture.

Browse our huge collection of holidays and cruises, including adventurous touring trips, relaxing beachfront getaways and luxury ocean cruises. Find out more here


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.