From walking on the Great Wall to eating fried bugs, China offers something fun for everyone. Activities come in all price ranges, starting with free, like at English corners. Here are some ideas to add fun to travelers’ trips to the Middle Kingdom.
Walking on Great Wall of China Provides Historic “Fun”
The Great Wall of China is the number one tourist attraction in Beijing. Sites near Beijing where travelers can walk on history include Badaling, the most visited and home to the Great Wall Museum; rugged Simatai, especially the hike between there and Jinshanling; Mutianyu and Huanghua. All are doable on day trips from Beijing.
Enjoy Exotic Snacks at Night Food Markets
Night food markets are popular with snackers who have the late-afternoon /early evening hungries. Every city has at least one where the hungry can buy individual portions of foods ranging from dumplings, pork kebobs and noodles to deep-fried scorpions. Regional specialties will be available such as hui mian (mutton and noodles) in Kaifeng and liangpi (noodles in spicy sauce) in Taiyuan. The biggest and most popular night food market in Beijing is at the north end of the Wangfujing pedestrian mall.
Ponder Playful Pandas
Pandas are rapidly replacing dragons as a symbol of China. Most big cities have zoos that showcase pandas, but most people will view pandas at the Beijing Zoo, which has two panda houses, or the Panda Breeding Center at Chengdu in southwest China. After seeing the pandas at the Beijing Zoo, wander over to the Beijing Aquarium, which is the world’s largest inland aquarium.
Meet the Chinese at English Corners
English corners draw Chinese who want to practice their spoken English. They’re usually located near universities, and so draw many students. But Chinese of all ages and professions come to speak English. They love it when native English speakers show up as it gives them the opportunity to learn the latest slang and to hear authentic pronunciations. English corners are usually once a week, in the evening. They are a good opportunity for personalized contact with the Chinese.
Visit Cuandixia, an Ancient Village Near Beijing
Travel back in time to Cuandixia, a centuries-old village nestled on a mountainside outside of Beijing. The village, once dying out, is getting new life as a living history museum. Cuandixia was a rest stop between Beijing and Xi’an several hundred years ago. Cuandixia farmers used to sell their produce to the Forbidden City.
Take a Boat Ride Through Canals
Hit the water at Shanghai. Take a cruise on the Huangpu River for a different view of the famous Bund. Visit a nearby water town, so-called because of the canals which wander through the town. Board a gondola for a ride through the canals at Tongli, a peaceful village located an hour or so by bus from Shanghai. Tourist buses leave from Shanghai Stadium in the morning, returning in late afternoon. Suzhou, a much larger water town famous for its silk and canals, is also doable on a day trip from Shanghai.