fuzhou-city-skyline

5 Lesser Known Cities You Might Want to Visit in China

The bright lights and the bustle of China’s big cities are what it’s known for. Cityscapes of Shanghai and Hong Kong are well recognized in the media and the Great Wall graces the bucket lists of many around the globe.

While China’s larger cities certainly live up to the hype, the country is huge and full of other cities that are interesting as well. If you want to pair your visit to China’s tourist track with some more off beat places, check out these lesser known cities that just might pique your interest.

#1 Fuzhou

Located in southeast China, this city is home to millions of people, but many have never even heard of it. While there isn’t much there to draw in international visitors, Fuzhou is quite popular with Chinese citizens as it has some historically significant sites, fantastic food and is a hub for Chinese tea.

Visitors come to roam around Forest Park, full of hiking trails, intriguing buildings and gorgeous mountains.

There is also a gorgeous city park, modern shopping centres, quirky coffee shops and Old Street which is full of shops and museums depicting the Ming and Qing dynasties.

The best part about Fuzhou is that it is very much an authentic Chinese city, depicting what daily life is like for the locals there.

fuzhou-city-skyline

#2 Xiamen

Only a short train ride from Fuzhou is Xiamen, a coastal city that has become increasingly popular amongst Chinese tourists.

It’s more westernized than other smaller cities but not quite to the level of Shanghai and Beijing. There is a large and well landscaped city park and plenty of international restaurants and cafes to sample different cuisines.

During summers, most people head to the beaches, especially on the small island that is accessible by ferry. Even for those with no interest in the beach, the island is a charming place to wander around and sample the snacks sold by the vendors.

Photo Source: Google Image

Photo Source: Google Image

#3 Shangri-la

Full of Tibetan culture, this city in the mountains is an epicenter of fantastic scenery.

There are plenty of outdoor activities to do here like hiking, biking, exploring the old town and roaming around nearby villages.

Aside from all the outdoor adventure and stunning architecture, one of the best things to do here is experiencing the culture.

From trying local dishes like yak and yak milk to visiting monasteries or doing a home-stay with a local, you can experience a new kind of Chinese culture straight from the source. And, if you get tired of it all, head over to one of the natural hot springs or heated saunas to give yourself some relaxation time.

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#4 Harbin

Situated right on the Russian border, this is a city with a culture that straddles the two countries.

It’s a different kind of China and one certainly worth exploring. Walk around the city to get a view of the Russian buildings or down Zhongyang Dajie to see the Byzantine, Baroque and Jewish examples of architecture.

Guests to the city typically enjoy the riverfront park, St. Sophia Cathedral, the Siberian Tiger Preserve, Sun Island, Grape Kingdom and the Old Quarter.

Other activities of interest include a gondola ride over Songhua River, the Temple of Heavenly Bliss, Heilongjiang Provincial Museum, and the Deer Flat Mountain Ski Resort.

Harbin is mostly famous for its snow and ice sculpture festival that features sculptors from all over the globe and puts on one of the world’s best displays of the craft.

Photo Source: Google Image

Photo Source: Google Image

#5 Dalian

Holding the largest port in northern China, this sprawling city is quite popular with Chinese tourists. Comprised of 8 districts, the city offers something intriguing for almost anyone.

There is Japanese and Russian architecture, beaches, universities, hot springs, forest parks and plenty of shopping opportunities.

Tourists tend to spend their days at the zoo, viewing the cherry blossoms, relaxing on the beaches, or watching sports. The nightlife in Dalian is another draw as visitors partake in the KTV, after hours bars and the cinemas hosted by modern shopping complexes.

A big attraction in Dalian is the annual beer festival that features brews from both domestic and international breweries as well as events and live music to experience as well.

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Shannon Ullman

Hey! I'm a published American travel blogger and teacher. My travel writing has been featured on Huffington Post, Elite Daily, Matador Network and Thought Catalog. I spent over a year living and traveling around China while I taught English there. I have also visited dozens of other countries around the world.