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9 Jan, 2013

Top 10 Best Tourist Destinations of China in 2012

By Lu Na, China.org.cn

January 6, 2013 — Thanks to its long history, many scenic spots and superb services as well as accommodations, Beijing, the capital of China, ranked number one on the list of 2012 best city for tourism on Chinese mainland, according to a report recently released by Forbes China.

Tourism is known as the “Smokeless Industry” or the “Invisible Trade.” It is an emerging economic sector which features less investment and big profits. The industry is not only related to beautiful attractions, but also to a large number of services, including transportation, dining, shopping and entertainment.

With China’s rapid development, more and more Chinese have taken to traveling on holidays. According to the 2011 data of China National Tourism Administration, the nation had at that time received 135 million inbound tourists and earned US$48.46 billion in foreign exchange revenues, a 1.2% and 5.8% increase respectively compared to 2010. The number of domestic tourists exceeded 2.64 billion and income reached up to 1.9 trillion yuan (US$304.7 billion), increasing 13.2% and 23.6% respectively compared to the 2010 numbers. Tourism has become one of China’s fastest growing industries.

According to the report, this year’s rankings are based on six tourist criteria, including the inbound tourism number, the domestic tourism number, tourism foreign exchange earnings, domestic tourism income, the number of star hotels and the number of outstanding scenic spots (rated higher than 4A).

Top 1: Beijing. Score: 0.8978

Beijing, the capital of China, is a great city with a history of more than 3,000 years. It’s the center of the country’s politics, economy, culture and art. As one of China’s ancient capitals, Beijing is home to a great number of cultural and historical sites, which make it a huge magnet attracting numerous tourists from all over the world. The top attraction has to be Tian’anmen Square, the world’s largest city square and an icon of China. On the north side of the Square lies the 600-year-old Forbidden City, the largest and the best-preserved imperial palace on the planet.

Also, make sure you do not neglect the Summer Palace, the largest and best-preserved royal garden in China. Other top Beijing attractions include the breathtaking Great Wall of China, Temple of Heaven, Temple of Earth, National Stadium and Beijing 798 Art Zone. You can also tour the various traditional hutongs and courtyards to experience the hustle and bustle of local life.

Top 2: Shanghai. Score: 0.7779

Sitting on the estuary of the Yangtze River, Shanghai is a renowned international metropolis as well as a popular tourist destination. Tourists will marvel at the views in this vibrant land, which perfectly blends traditional with modern elements, as well as eastern with western culture. Famous historical landmarks, including the Bund, the City God Temple and the Yuyuan Garden should not be missed when touring this city. The Bund, a 1.5-kilometer long waterfront area, is noted for dozens of splendid historical buildings in various styles, including Gothic, Baroque, Romanesque, Renaissance, and Neo-Classical.

Another stunning attraction is the Pudong Skyline, which features a number of mega skyscrapers including the symbolic Oriental Pearl Tower, the Jin Mao Tower, the Shanghai World Financial Center and the presently-under-construction 632-meter Shanghai Tower. Tourists will also be enthralled to go to the Memorial Site for the First National Congress of the CPC, Shanghai Xintiandi (New Heaven and Earth), and the premier shopping street-Nanjing Road.

Top 3: Guangzhou. Score: 0.4338

Guangzhou, also known as Canton, is China’s third biggest city. It is famous throughout China and the world for its cuisine and foreign trade. Aside from the endless skyscrapers and shopping malls in this dynamic metropolis, there is a lot of culture and history to see. As one of the twenty-four most famous historical and cultural cities across China, Guangzhou boasts numerous historical relics, including the Bright Filial Piety Temple, the Ancestral Temple of the Chen Family and the Western Han Nanyue King’s Tomb Museum. Additionally, the city features a large amount of western style architecture such as the Sacred Heart Cathedral.

Top 4: Chongqing. Score: 0.412

As a major city in southwestern China, Chongqing is known for its long history, gorgeous scenery and spicy yet delicious local cuisine. Famous scenic spots include Southern Hot Spring Park, Ciqikou Old Town, Dazu Rock Carvings and the Three Gorges Museum. Even if you would only like to stay in the city itself, this will make for a memorable experience. Have some tea, enjoy the local food, chat with the locals, walk through the antique streets, or just hang out in Chongqing’s unique towns.

Top 5: Hangzhou. Score: 0.3274

Hangzhou is the capital city of southeastern China’s Zhejiang province. Dubbed the “Paradise under Heaven,” the city is well-known in the world for its splendid natural scenery and numerous historical relics. The West Lake is undoubtedly Hangzhou’s most renowned attraction. Surrounded by mountains on three sides, the lake is like a glittering pearl under the blue skies, enthralling tourists with its stunning natural beauty and cultural heritage.

Near the lake is a scenic area which comprises many notable spots, including the Solitary Hill (Gushan); the mausoleum of General Yue Fei, a celebrated hero of the Song Dynasty (960-1279); and the Ling Yin Temple, one of China’s largest Buddhist temples. Tourists can also pay a visit to the Hefang Old Street to obtain various kinds of souvenirs, silk, and the renowned Longjing Tea.

Top 6: Shenzhen. Score: 0.3264

Located in the southern part of China, Shenzhen, one of the most developed cities in China as well as one of the fastest growing cities in the world, is attracting more and more domestic and foreign elites. It has been voted one of the 10 most attractive Chinese cities for foreigners. The coastal economic giant features breathtaking natural scenery as well as spectacular architecture. Famous attractions include the Window of the World, the Shenzhen Safari Park, plus the Da Meisha and Xiao Meisha Scenic Areas. Moreover, the long but not so scorching hot summer, the agreeable winter temperatures and its cleanliness make Shenzhen an ideal destination all-year-round.

Top 7: Suzhou. Score: 0.3132

Suzhou in Jiangsu Province is a city comprising of rivers and canals as well as a city of gardens — hence its nickname “Venice of the Orient.” The city is famous for its amazing natural beauty and exquisite gardens. It boasts a large number of garden buildings constructed during the Ming and Qing Dynasties. A dozen of them are still in good condition today, including the top four classic gardens — the Fisherman’s Net Garden, the Lion Grove, the Humble Administrator’s Garden and the Lingering Garden. The Humble Administrator’s Garden and Lingering Garden are important cultural relics at national level protection.

Top 8: Tianjin. Score: 0.2812

Located in northeastern China, Tianjin is a rapidly developing municipality and has so far served as the venue for many important forums, such as the World Economic Forum. About 300 out of 500 companies on the Fortune Global list had set up sub companies in here by the end of 2010, turning the area into a base of advanced industry, financial reform, and innovation. Apart from its beautiful city scenery, Tianjin boasts numerous historical and cultural spots, including the Tianjin Ancient Culture Street, the Century Clock, the Drum Tower and the Xikai Catholic Church.

Top 9: Nanjing. Score: 0.2291

Located in the eastern part of China, Nanjing, the capital of Jiangsu province, features glorious history, unique culture and amazing night scenery. Known as one of China’s Four Great Ancient Capitals, the city boasts countless historical relics, including the Nanjing City Wall, the Ruins of the Ming Dynasty Imperial Palace, the Confucius Temple, and the Ming tombs — part of the UNESCO World Heritage. In addition, visitors who love the night sky must not miss out on Qin Huai River, a place which offers its visitors the most spectacular night scenery.

Top 10: Wuhan. Score: 0.1986

Located in Central China, Wuhan, the capital of Hubei Province, is one of the most prosperous cities in China. With its convenient transportation system, it can be accessed easily from any place across the nation. It is also one of China’s most ancient cities, featuring some 3500 years of history. The city can boast numerous scenic spots such as the Hubei Provincial Museum, one of the leading museums in China, which is home to more than 200,000 precious relics; and the Yellow Crane Tower, one of the most famous towers in China. Besides the aforementioned, Hubu Lane and Jiqing Street are the most popular places to enjoy a local snack or pick out some beautiful additions to your wardrobe. Although very hot in summer, people can visit the Wuhan Jiangtan tourist area to indulge in some water games or simply enjoy the area’s amazing scenery.