Top ChoiceBuddhist Temple in Chengde

Puning Temple

With its squeaking prayer wheels and devotional intonations of its monks, this is Chengde’s only active Buddhist temple. It was built in 1755 in anticipation of Qianlong’s victory over the western Mongol tribes...

Top ChoiceBuddhist Temple in Zhengding

Longxing Temple

Considering its age – almost 1500 years old – we think this is one of the most impressive temples in northern China. It's certainly Zhengding’s star attraction. Popularly known as Dafo Temple (大佛寺, Dàfó Sì), or...

Top ChoiceHistoric Site in Chengde

Bìshǔ Shānzhuāng

Bìshǔ Shānzhuāng

The imperial summer resort is composed of a main palace complex with vast, parklike gardens, all enclosed by a handsome 10km-long wall. The entrance price is steep (as it is with all the main sights in Chengde),...

Top ChoiceWalls in Shanhaiguan

Jiao Shan Great Wall

Although a heavily restored section of the Great Wall, Jiao Shan (角山, Jiǎo Shān) nevertheless offers an excellent opportunity to hike up the Wall’s first high peak – a telling vantage point over the narrow tongue...

Top ChoiceBuddhist Temple in Chengde

Putuozongcheng Temple

Also known as Potala (布达拉, Bùdálā), Chengde’s largest temple is a not-so-small replica of Lhasa’s Potala Palace and houses the nebulous presence of Avalokiteshvara (Guanyin). A marvellous sight on a clear day,...

Buddhist Temple in Jimingyi

Jiming Mountain

Dominating the skyline to the northwest of the town, Jimingyi's namesake mountain means Cock's Crow Mountain, and is topped by the largest and oldest temple in the area, the Temple of Eternal Tranquillity (永宁寺,...

International in Chengde

Magic Room

The witch's forest lair theme is fun, but it's the food that's truly charmed – a mix of Western comforts (steak, chips, salads, pasta and top-notch handmade pizzas) and Eastern treats (the Taiwanese braised-pork...

Bridge in Shijiazhuang

Zhaozhou Bridge

China’s oldest bridge still standing, Zhaozhou Bridge has spanned the Jiao River (Jiǎo Hé) for 1400 years. As the world’s first segmental arch bridge (ie its arch is a segment of a circle, as opposed to a...

Mountain in Shijiazhuang

Cangyan Mountain

This is the site of the transcendent, cliff-spanning Hanging Palace, a Sui-dynasty construction perched halfway up a precipitous gorge. If you think you’ve seen it before, you probably have – this was one of the...

Walls in Shanhaiguan

Jiumenkou Great Wall

In a mountain valley 15km north of Shanhaiguan stretches the only section of the Great Wall ever built over water. Normally the Wall stopped at rivers, as they were considered natural defence barriers on their...

Buddhist Temple in Chengde

Pule Temple

This peaceful temple was built in 1776 for the visits of minority envoys from the west (Kazakhs and Uyghurs among them). At the rear of the temple is the unusual Round Pavilion, modelled on the Hall of Prayer for...

Buddhist Temple in Zhengding

Kaiyuan Temple

This temple dates from AD 540 but was destroyed in 1966, the first year of the Cultural Revolution. Little remains apart from a bell tower and the dirt-brown Xumí Pagoda (须弥塔; Xūmí Tǎ), a well-preserved,...

Historic Site in Shanhaiguan

Old Dragon Head

Famous across China (although a little overhyped if we're being honest), Old Dragon Head, 4km south of Shanhaiguan, is where the Great Wall meets the sea. It's photogenic for sure, but bear in mind that what you...

Dumplings in Shanhaiguan

Alley Dumplings

Housed in a 200-year-old building, this endearing family-home restaurant, run by a welcoming elderly couple, offers delicious dumplings (饺子, jiǎozi) with three choices of fillings: pork and cabbage (白菜猪肉, báicài...

Historic Site in Shanhaiguan

First Pass Under Heaven

The Great Wall's main gate as it snaked down the mountains towards the sea, the First Pass served as Shanhaiguan's east gate and principal watchtower. Two storeys tall, with double eaves and 68 arrow-slit...

Gate in Zhengding

Zhengding City Wall (South Gate)

Up until about five years ago, all that remained of Zhengding's 24km-long, 6th-century city wall were sporadic stretches of tall earthen mounds, but now it seems the plan is to rebuild the whole thing. At the...

Dumplings in Chengde

Dà Qīng Huā Jiǎozi

The finest dumpling house in Chengde, this excellent establishment has a big choice of juicy jiǎozi (dumplings; ¥18 to ¥32 per serving). Choose boiled (水饺, shuǐ jiǎo) or steamed (蒸饺, zhēng jiǎo), then pick your...

Hebei in Shijiazhuang

Yáng Mázǐ Dà Bǐng

This no-frills canteen-like restaurant specialises in dà bǐng (大饼; plate-sized, golden-fried, pastry twirls with a variety of both savoury and sweet fillings), ideally washed down with a bowl of millet porridge...

Buddhist Temple in Chengde

Anyuan Temple

A copy of the former Gurza Temple on Xinjiang's western border, this rarely visited complex dates back to 1764, built to commemorate the Qianlong emperor's annexation of the region around Tiān Shān. Only the...

Historic Building in Yujiacun

Qingliang Pavilion

Completed in 1581, this three-storey pavilion was supposedly the work of one thoroughly crazed individual – Yu Xichun, who wanted to be able to see Beijing from the top. It was, according to legend, built...