Top 5 UNESCO World Heritage Site Attractions To See On Your China Luxury Tour

The extraordinary nation of China has the distinction of having more UNESCO World Heritage Sites than any other country on Earth – with an astounding 55 in total. This ought to come as no surprise, given its staggering 5,000-year history and cultural significance in world history. Here are the top 5 UNESCO World Heritage Site attractions to see on your China luxury tour.

The Great Wall Of China

Nothing better symbolizes China more so than the extraordinary Great Wall of China. This marvel of human ingenuity is a must-see on your luxury tour. Inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987, construction on this awe-inspiring structure commenced in the 7th BCE. Several fortification walls were built to protect Chinese states for nomadic groups that inhabited the surrounding steppe. By the time of the reign of the first emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang (220 to 206 BCE) stretches of the walls were joined together. During the Sui, Northern Qi, Han, and Ming dynasties, the Wall was expanded even further to form what we now recognize as the Great Wall.

Today, more than 10 million people visit the Great Wall of China. Unfortunately, many portions of the structure have deteriorated, over the passage of time. Yet, there are still several sections that definitely warrant a visit. During the 1950s, the section known as the Badaling area (located about 43 miles from Beijing) was rebuilt and now has become a popular spot for visitors experience this magnificent structure.

The Terracotta Warriors

The tomb complex of Emperor Qin Shi Huang is one of the greatest archeological finds on Earth, and a must-see on your luxury tour of China. Not discovered until 1974, China’s first emperor was buried with platoons of clay soldiers, known as the Terracotta Warriors. Each of the thousands of clay warriors is unique, and a masterpiece unto themselves. Taking almost 40 years to complete, Emperor Qin Shi Huang’s tomb replicated the Qin capital, Xianyang. In 1987, the attraction was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Emperor Qin Shi Huang took the throne in 246 B.C. at the age of 13. By 221 BCE, he had conquered a collection of warring city-states and became the first emperor of a unified China. When Emperor Qin Shi Huang died in 210 BCE, he left an indelible legacy on Chinese history. Not only had he unified kingdoms into one nation, but ended feudalism, and built the Great Wall.

The cultural significance of the tomb complex is immeasurable, as nothing of this nature has ever been discovered in China. Qin Shi Huang’s mausoleum is the largest preserved site in the country. The Terracotta Warriors are considered one of the greatest archeological finds in history.

West Lake

Located in the heart spectacular Hangzhou, is West Lake – an incredible must-see attraction on your luxury tour. In 2011, UNESCO deemed the park a World Heritage Site. With a history that stretched almost two millennia, the attraction holds tremendous cultural significance.

The park was first constructed into its present form during the Song Dynasty (960 AD to 1279 AD). It was during this time that three causeways were constructed, which divide West Lake. In the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period, Hangzhou was named the capital, thus making it a hub for both local and foreign trade.

Divided into five distinct sections, stretching over 7 square kilometers, this magnificent park has numerous artificial islands, gardens, temples, and pagodas to captivate visitors. Over the centuries, the utter beauty of West Lake has inspired everything from poets and artists, garden design throughout Asia and beyond.

Forbidden City

Situated in the heart of central Beijing, is the world-famous Forbidden City, which is one of the most renowned palaces in China, if not the world. In 1987, UNSECO inscribed it as a World Heritage Site. Each year, millions of visitors come to marvel at the magnificence of this site.

Construction began during the Ming dynasty from 1406 and ended in 1420 CE, covering 180 acres and consisting of 980 structures. More than a million laborers were involved in the construction process, making it the largest construction project in Chinese history, save for the Great Wall of China. The Forbidden City gets its name because, it was forbidden to enter save for royalty, royal officials, and servants. The Forbidden City served as a palace domicile for emperors and their families into the early 20th century.

Because of its central location and profound cultural and historical significance, the Forbidden City is a must-see attraction for any China luxury tour.

Summer Palace

With its innumerable experiences sights, sounds, Beijing is the bustling capital of China. Situated just on the outskirts of the metropolis, is the spectacular Summer Palace. Deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1998, the Summer Palace offers a stunning natural oasis of vast gardens, lakes, and palaces. This was a place of respite for emperors and their families to escape the bustle of Beijing, and enjoy the serenity of this beautiful locale.

Development of the location began in the Jin dynasty in 1153 CE. By the Qing dynasty (1636-1912 CE), it was an imperial garden. The palace was first constructed in 1750 but unfortunately succumbed to ruin during the Second Opium War of the 1850s. However, Emperor Guangxu issued a reconstruction project in 1886, for use by Empress Dowager Cixi and thus, was renamed the Summer Palace.

With several main attractions including Kunming Lake and Longevity Hill, the Summer Palace offers visitors outstanding beauty and tranquility at every corner. This UNESCO World Heritage Site attraction is a must-see on your luxury tour of China.

Recommended China Luxury Tours

13-Day Multi-City China Tour With A Buddhist Twist

Highlights of the tour include the leisurely night cruise on Huangpu River. The lovely giant pandas in Chengdu and amazing Leshan.

2-Day Chongqing Tour Featuring Dazu Rock Carvings

Highlights of Chongqing Tour: Explore Dazu Rock Carvings, an important UNESCO World Heritage Site, about 2 hours drive away from Chongqing.

3-Day Huangshan Tour From Shanghai

3-Day Huangshan Tour From Shanghai Highlights includes the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Yellow Mountain.

Want to see more tours? View our China Luxury Tours page.

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Sarah Bauder

Sarah has been extensive experience as a scribe, from travel writer to screenwriter, to a writer short stories. When she’s not doing one of those three things, she enjoys traveling, cooking, adventuring, reading, and anything involved being in (or under) water.
Sarah Bauder