China has always been remained an attractive destination for tourists because of its rich culture and history. You probably have heard about the famous Great Wall, the Forbidden City or the Terracota Army. However, there are a few lesser-known places in China that are also well worth a visit.
Yungang Grottoes are 18 kilometers west of Datong city, in the Shanxi province. This 1500-year old Buddhist landmark, built during the reign of Northern Wei Dynasty, houses 252 caves and 51,000 Buddha statues. The tallest of these statues stands 17 meters and the tiniest is just two centimeters. The most preserved cave grottoes (16 through 20) shelter five Buddhas modeled after five Wei emperors. This historical Buddhist site can be one of most spectacular places on your China tours.
Golden Pebble Beach
Visiting Golden Pebble Beach (which is also known as Jinshian Scenic Area) is bound to be marvelous. It is in the northeast of Dalian City. This place contains geological wonders that formed several millennia ago. You can see hundreds of peculiar rocks in various shapes. Some of the structures came in the shape of animals like monkeys, camels, turtles, dinosaurs, tigers, etc. The largest of these rocks is a 40-meter high “dinosaur who explores the sea”. It is said to resemble a giant dinosaur bath in the sea.
These multi-storied watchtowers were built at the beginning of the 20th century by Kaipingers, returning Chinese immigrants from Europe, America and southeastern parts of Asia and with them they brought different architectural styles they saw abroad. Kaipingers built fortified buildings and watchtowers to protect local people. More than 1800 fortified towers were erected around the city of Kaiping, in the Guangdong province. Your China tour will remain incomplete without visiting these historic structures.
The Three Confucius Sites
In the fifth and sixth centuries BCE, Confucius (Kong Fuzi) taught a way of life based on social values and high ethical standards. This philosophy is known as Confucianism. The ancient architectural buildings and stone tablets of Three Confucian Sites highlight Confucian culture and teachings. The Three Confucius sites, situated in Qufu, Shandong province, are:
- Kong Family Mansion
- The Cemetery of Confucius
- Qufu Confucius Temple
This site in Chengdu (capital of China’s Sichuan province) was accidentally discovered during a real estate construction project in February 2001. Ivory, jade, elephant tusks, bronze and gold objects, and carved stone objects were all found there. It suggests there used to be an ancient civilization there over 300 years ago. Definitely include Jinsha sites in your China tours to get to the heart of Sichuan’s culture.
Situated on a People’s Square in the Huangpu district of Shanghai, this museum contains a huge collection of invaluable collection of historical contents. During your China tours, spend at least half a day here to enjoy its excellent artifacts of bronze, ceramics, paintings, furniture, calligraphy, seals, jades, ancient coins and sculptures.
The Three Pagodas
The three pagodas are the main attraction of Dali, an ancient city in the southwest Yunan province. The tallest among these Buddhist towers were first built during the reign of the Tang dynasty in mid-ninth century. This 69m tall (16 stories) ‘skyscraper’ pagoda is still the tallest tower in China. This three-holy tower forms an equilateral triangle. If you are thinking about China tours you must include Three Pagodas of Dali in your destination list.
Flying Tiger Memorials
For World War II buffs, you need to include the Flying Tigers Memorials of Tengchong, Yunan in your China tours. During WWII, American and Chinese pilots jointly defeated the Japanese invasion of Yunan. These fighter pilots were given the name “Flying Tigers”. There are approximately 80,000 relics to explore at this site.
Han Yang Ling Mausoleum
The Han Yang Ling, or the Yang Mausoleum of Han, are the burial tombs of Emperor Jing, a remarkable emperor of the Western Han Dynasty, and his wife Empress Wang. It is comprised of two large burial mounds and 86 smaller burial pits. The emperor and his wife are buried under the large burial mounds, surrounded by smaller pits. There is also a criminal’s graveyard on this site. This mausoleum has the world’s largest underground museum.
You cannot get to the root of history during your China tours without visiting Mogao Caves in Dunhuang. Majors artifacts here have witnessed the evolution of Buddhist art in China. It was continuously built for 1000 years during the rise and fall of several dynasties. As you explore the caves, you can relive the past and see the various styles and techniques came with different dynasties.
As you can see, there are many sites in China that are not as famous as the most popular ones, but getting off the beaten path can reward you with some historical treasures and provide an authentic experience.