This year, China is getting some extra vacation days for their National Holiday. The Chinese government extended its National Holiday from three days to seven days to promote domestic tourism. 

This year, the proper phrase is, “People mountain, people sea.” Cities are busier than before with more people having time to travel. 

I don’t think anyone’s complaining about the extra time off work, except maybe big corporations. Expats living in China have two choices. They can have a staycation, or they can tour the city. 

China has many beautiful cities to see. The more unique the city, the more famous it is around the world. Each place has its own pace, food, and culture surrounding it. 

From the time I entered China to when I went back to the United States, I never stopped traveling. I went to smaller cities on minor holidays and traveled to bigger cities and other countries on longer holidays. 

These five cities were my favorite places I visited. They are beautiful and had interesting places to see. 

I know what you’re thinking. “Tell us the cities already!” Of course! Here are my top five cities to see on October Holiday! 

  1. 1 Beijing

    My favorite city is the one I lived in for years. You can’t visit China without visiting Beijing. 

    If I left Beijing during the holidays, why would I tell people to go there? Most of the touristy areas in China are in Beijing! 

    The Great Wall is a two-hour bus ride from Beijing. The Temple of Heaven was a fifteen-minute subway ride from my apartment! 

    What about the Forbidden City? That's in Beijing too! 

    Some people would balk and ask about the pollution. From 2013 to 2019, Beijing made considerable strides in cleaning up its air. 

    Most of the problems disappeared when the city converted to natural gas from coal in the wintertime. 

    I could keep going, but I’d be rambling. The point? See Beijing! It’s beautiful in the fall! And don’t forget to try the roast duck!

  2. 2 Qingdao

    Imagine spending your morning walking up and down the coastline and then taking a tour of the city’s beer factory. 

    After the tour, you could get yourself a bag of beer and spicy clams. Even if you don’t like clams, you can find a dish that goes well with the beer. 

    These things are some of the best things about Qingdao. The city has German influence, which you can see in the architecture. 

    Beach lovers can visit the many beaches in the area, too! 

    No Qingdao visit is complete without a tour of the Tsingtao beer museum. You can see where they make the beer and try a glass for a bit of money.

    There is a wine museum next door for you to try too! I’m not a beer drinker, but I enjoyed Tsingtao beer. 

    Not a drinker? Don’t worry! You can go sailing at the Olympic Marina! The May Fourth Square is great for people-watching. 

    You can also check out the China Sea Level Datum. If you’d rather read a book by the sea, that’s fine, too! 

    Qingdao is a gorgeous place to be! 

  3. 3 Xi'an

    I have three words for you. Terra Cotta Warriors. It’s one of the most famous parts of Xi'an, and it’s also one of the reasons people explore the city. 

    Xi'an is a city full of history. Besides the Terra Cotta Warriors, it’s the endpoint of the Silk Road. And the Xi’An museums are fascinating places. 

    Foodies would love exploring the so-called Muslim Street in Xi'an. There is so much food to try, you won’t be able to eat everything in a day! 

    And for the religiously pious, you can see the Grand Mosque deep inside the street. I don’t remember how I got there, but I stumbled upon it. 

    I’m not Muslim. I’m not religious at all. But I felt peaceful exploring the mosque. 

    Great food and history are the reasons to stop by Xi’an

  4. 4 Nanjing

    History hasn’t been kind to Nanjing. Around World War II, Japan invaded China and did horrifying things to the people living in Nanjing. 

    It’s said about 300,000 people died in the six weeks of occupation. Even with that somber history, the city is still one of my favorites in China. 

    The memorial museum and park are some of the most beautiful places in the city. There is a bar district for people who want to drink and have a good night. 

    One of my favorite things about the city is the museums. Museums in China are a whole different level compared to what we’re used to in the US. 

    You’re not just looking at old pieces of art. There are so many interactive exhibits in these museums that they’re a new experience themselves. 

  5. 5 Chengdu

    Do you like pandas? Is hot pot one of your favorite Chinese dishes of all time? Do you like the slower pace and beautiful architecture? 

    You would love to spend time in Chengdu. Chengdu is one of the biggest cities in the west of China. 

    It’s next door to Tibet, so when you find a restaurant, your choices are hot pot and Tibetan. I’m kidding, but those two restaurants dominate the city. 

    Of course, I recommend you see the panda sanctuary. It doesn’t look like a zoo, and the pandas look happy, lazing about the area. 

    There are clear pathways to walk on so you can take pictures and see the animals. I do wonder if the pandas are trained. 

    Some of the pandas pose perfectly. It didn’t take the experience away from me

  6. 6 Honorable Mentions

    Five cities aren’t enough, I know. There are so many more cities I didn’t mention. But I’ll give you three cities that deserve honorable mentions. 

    • Shanghai. I liked Shanghai. The Bund is cool. But I was only there to see Disneyland.
    • Hangzhou. West Lake is one of the most beautiful landscapes I’d ever seen. It’s fun watching people walk around in costumes while walking around the lake. 
    • Suzhou. It’s a lovely city, but there isn’t much to do outside of the gardens. And I’m still salty about getting scammed by a cab driver there.

    Even if you don’t make all of these cities on this vacation, more holidays are coming. You can still visit them and make a grand adventure out of your time in China. 

    There are many cities I didn’t get to see in my six years there. However, I plan on going back for a visit once borders open again. 

    Until then, I can look at random cities and dream of a future visit! 

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Keara Hopkins

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