China is one of the largest countries in the world, so its home to an abundance of breath-taking locations bound to make anyone’s Instagram followers jealous. With so many photogenic places to visit and things to do, narrowing it down was quite the task! But our team of travel experts have picked out their top 8 most Instagram-worthy places in China.
The Great Wall
This is undoubtedly the most well-known attraction in China, but it’s got to be mentioned – The Great Wall is a photographer’s dream! With rolling mountains sprawling as far as the eye can see, the landscape looks great no matter what season you visit. Expect blossoming trees in spring, clear blue skies and luscious green in summer, a sea of orange and red hues in autumn, and a pictures blanket of snow in winter. Plus, there are so many different photo opportunities there besides the classic landscape snap, from a candid of you climbing or gazing out to a framed shot through a watchtower window.
Expert tip: Try to catch the sunrise or sunset while you’re there to capture the most beautiful skies! With our China tours you can camp on The Great Wall, so you can watch the sunset while drinking a beer and unzip your tent to catch the sunrise in the morning.
The Forbidden City
The Forbidden City is the largest imperial palace complex in the world, and the biggest preservation of ancient wooden structures. With 980 buildings within its wall, the complex has so much to offer. Its variety of backdrops is a haven for photographers, as no two photos will look the same as you make your way around the grounds. From its iconic main gates to the intricate details of Chinese traditional architecture, it’s not hard to spend a whole day here!
Expert tip: Cross over the road to Jingshan Park for the best bird’s eye view of the entire palace complex. If you can, visit during Golden Hour to catch the beautiful yellow hues over the buildings.
Hangzhou West Lake
West Lake is the only lake heritage site in China and is the most popular tourist destination in Hangzhou. UNESCO even describes it as an influencer of lakes across the rest of China and even Japan and Korea over the centuries. Its perimeter of 15km is lined with pagodas, temples, pavilions, gardens and artificial islands, making it a paradise for photography lovers. In fact, the lake is famously known for its ‘Ten Scenes’, ten starkly different backdrops found around and on the lake. Much like the Great Wall, one of West Lake’s best features is that it looks idyllic during every season, and at every time of the day.
Expert tips: Hire a bike and cycle around the lake to ensure that you visit as many of West Lake’s beautiful backdrops as possible! Want to get an epic bird’s eye view of the whole lake? Hike up to the top of Jiuyao Mountain for the best vantage point.
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Shanghai has one of the most iconic skylines in the world, and the best part about it? It’s practically impossible to take a bad photo of it! A walk along The Bund directly across the river will give you a great shot of the entire skyline. It looks great during the day, but the most break-taking shots can be taken at sunset for a beautiful pastel sky, and after dark, when the buildings are wonderfully lit up. For an even more epic Instagram post, why not capture a day and night picture in the same position for an amazing transformation!
Expert tip: For that truly unique photo guaranteed to make your Instagram followers jealous, head to Vue Bar and enjoy a cocktail in their rooftop jacuzzi, with the Pudong Skyline as a backdrop!
Leshan Giant Buddha
Located just outside of Leshan City, this giant Buddha is the biggest carved stone Buddha in the world! Taking over 90 years to build, and dating back to the year 803, this truly is a gram-worthy site. To get a sense of just how huge this statue is, one ear alone is 7m long! Start at the top for an up-close feature shot of the Buddha’s beautifully detailed face, and embark on the climb down to the foot of the statue for the perfect dramatic shot.
Expert tip: Taking a boat ride along the river will give you the best view of the statue in its entirety, and the surrounding cliff face!
Xi’an Ancient City Walls
The Ancient City Walls are by far the most photographed place in Xi’an, and we can see why. Covering a distance of over 13km, this fortification is one of the largest ancient military defence systems in the world! The best way to explore the wall is the hire a bike and cycle along the top of it, giving you plenty of opportunities for candid shots people cycling or taking in the view. Visiting the wall at night, when the towers are lined with neon lights and the hanging lanterns are glowing, is an unmissable Instagram opportunity.
Expert tip: Try to visit in the evening so you can experience the vast, yellow sunsets and catch the beautiful lights that decorate the towers after the sun sets.
From pavillions, halls, ponds, rockeries, and cloisters, Shanghai’s Yu Garden has got it all. With six scenic areas, the opportunities are endless for the range of Insta-worth shots you could snap up in an afternoon exploring here. In some areas of the garden, you can get both the intricate, ancient architecture of the pagodas, and the city’s modern skyscrapers in the same shot, which would make for an awesome #transformationtuesday.
Expert tip: Visit during the Spring to catch the garden’s many flowers and trees blossoming, your photos will be all the more dreamy!
The section of the Li River that runs from Yangshuo to Guilin is one of the most breath-taking places in all of China. The river is surrounded by unique karst mountain peaks for as far as the eye can see! A scene from the horseshoe bend in the river even features on the 20 RMB note. There are so many amazing photographic opportunities on offer, whether it’s action shots of the local fishermen or just a standard landscape picture, any photo that you take is guaranteed to come out nicely! You can even take a bamboo raft cruise along the river for an even more immersive angle.
Expert tip: Climb to the top of the Moon Hill for the best panoramic views of the river and surrounding mountains. For a really tranquil photo, climb up early to catch the sunrise and the morning mist!
Inspired to visit China and give your Instagram feed the glo-up it’s been waiting for? Check out our Flagship 25-day China Backpacking Adventure that visits every single place on this list! Or get in touch with any questions.