The perfect balance between tradition and modernity can be found in China.

There are a lot of highlights in this country. You can discover what makes China tick by taking a tour of one of its big cities. They are large and frenetic, but they also have pockets of calm. The jagged peaks and pine forests draped in a sea of mist look like they have been lifted straight from one of the country's masterpiece scroll paintings. China is one of the world's most ancient civilizations and has a rich past.

Trying to narrow down the must-sees is a problem. Help is available. Here are our picks of the best places to visit in China.

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1. Beijing

Best can't-miss destination in China

Beijing is home to many of China's top attractions, including the Great Wall, Tiananmen Square, and the Summer Palace. Its appeal goes much further than that. Get lost among its labyrinth of traditional hutongs, marvel at its cutting-edge modern architecture, feast on Peking Duck and a million other dishes from across the country. You don't want to miss this spot in China.

2. Tiger Leaping Gorge

Best landscape to trek through

One of China's most famous treks is a hiking trail that goes through a World Heritage- listed gorge. It's one of the deepest gorges in the world because it's framed by snowcapped mountains and the Jinshajiang River.

3. Terracotta Warriors, Xi'an

Best archaeological discoveries

The enigmatic army of life-sized statues remains of the world's most remarkable archaeological finds were discovered in 1974. They were built to protect the tomb of the emperor. It is an experience to meet the warriors face to face.

Shopping crowds on Shanghai's Nanjing Road
Commercial bustle in Shanghai's main shopping district © MarinaD_37 / Shutterstock

4. Shanghai

Best city for a sense of past and future

Everything you've heard about the city is true. You can see it for yourself by taking a stroll through the French Concession. From the grand display of 1920s architecture and the city's sophisticated restaurants and rooftop bars to the sci-fi neon-lit skyscrapers across the bay, China brought to life.

5. The Great Wall

Best iconic sight in China

The Great Wall is China's most famous landmark. One of the Seven Wonders of the World, this 21,196 km-long (13,170 mile-long) fortification was built over two centuries. Beijing has some of the most accessible stretches, stretching from the east coast to the far western desert.

6. Guangzhou

Best city for dim sum

One of China's largest and most fascinating hubs is the Cantonese mega city. There is an interesting mix of old and new in the city, which is home to 1500-year old Buddhist temples. Some of the best dim sum in China can be found in the Cantonese cuisine.

Pastoral landscape on Yulong river, Yangshuo, China
Between Guilin and Yangshuo lie China's iconic landscape of karst peaks © Liufuyu / Getty Images

7. Karst Peaks, Guilin

Best countryside scenery

The scenery of the Li River and rice paddies can be seen from the distance. Farmers and water buffalo can be seen along the way if you ride a bike or raft.

8. Chengdu

Best place to see pandas

One of China's most popular cities for travelers is Chengdu, with its charming teahouses, lively nightlife and fiery Sichuan food. Most people are here to see pandas. If you want to see a panda in the wild, you have to go to the giant panda breeding research base. The ancient Shu kingdom had temples, pavilions, and museums.

9. Longji Rice Terraces, Guangxi

Best scenic rice paddies

Few rice paddies in China are as beautiful as the ones in Longji. There are views of sculpted, iridescent green terraces with swirling patterns reminiscent of a giant thumbprint to be found here.

10. Forbidden City, Beijing

Best attraction

Beijing's Forbidden City is one of China's imperial sights. The palace was not open to the public for 500 years until the overthrow of the last emperor in 1911. It attracts 20 million visitors each year, but is still awe inspiring.

The head of the Le Shan Buddha
Le Shan is home to the world's largest ancient Buddha © Ungvari Attila / Shutterstock

11. Le Shan, Sichuan

Best monument

The monumental 1200-year old Buddha image is carved into the rock face at the confluence of two rivers. The monument is 71m tall and 28m wide and is the world's largest ancient Buddha. It's an experience coming face to face with it.

12. Xi'an

Best for Silk Route legacy

This is one of the oldest and grandest, known for its extraordinary Terracotta Warriors, but also remarkable in its own right. The beginning of the Silk Road can be traced back to the place that is now known as the Muslim Quarter.

13. Zhangjiajie

Best dramatic landscapes

The scenery in the film was inspired by the rock formations ofZhangjiajie. You can take it all in as you walk over the bridge. You can also bungee jump off it if you want to.

14. Mogao Grottoes, Dunhuang

Best Buddhist art

One of the world's most important collections of Buddhist art is located in the frontier town of Dunhuang. The mural and statue-filled Mogao Grottoes are among 490 Buddhist caves in the area.

The article was last updated about 6 hours ago.