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China Travel Tips and Best Photo Spots

There’s so much to see and do in China!  While you don’t want to miss anything, you certainly can’t see everything.  Many people want to know the best places to go to get away from crowds, the best places to take memorable photos, and other tips and tricks for making the most of their China travel.

In this guide, we’ll offer some helpful tips to taking good photos at tourist destinations and attractions around China, beating the crowds, and some general information, safety, and other tips to keep in mind.

If you do bring a DSLR or other true camera, make sure you have all the cables, batteries, and accessories you need, and keep them together a camera bag is a great option for this.  You don’t want to end up at the Great Wall or another perfect site for photos, just to find out your camera battery is dead or memory card full.  And speaking of the Great Wall...

The Great Wall 

You can’t visit China without going to see the Great Wall – it’s one of THE main attractions for any trip.  It’s nearly 4,000 miles long!  There are many spots you can go to see it, both from the ground and atop the wall.  Some of the best spots are near Beijing, and Mutianyu is particularly popular.

To avoid the crowds and lines (which can be quite long here and at other Wall locations), get to the site early, to be ready to enter right when it opens. The best time to get good photos, at least in very crowded places, is when there are fewer people around.  Crowded places are less crowded when there are fewer crowds, amazing!  At the majority of tourist destinations in China, and indeed, in the world in general, morning, around the time the sites or attractions first open, is usually the least crowded time of the day.

Not only does this offer more opportunities for good photos without a bunch of crowds, but you can generally see more of the tourist attractions you came to see, and not feel as rushed or pressured because of lines or crowds.  And you want to make sure you enjoy your time, so being less pressured or cramped by crowds is definitely a plus.

The Great Wall

Guilin

Guilin, in south-central China, is known as one of the most scenic areas of China. Natural beauty and splendor await at every turn.  From the scenic Li River to the various hills, mountains, nature preserves, and parks, this area is so dramatically different than say downtown Beijing or Shanghai, it’s hard to believe it’s the same country.

This is also a great place for avoiding large crowds, as although it is popular with tourists, so much of the activity here is outdoor – there are plenty of spots to kind of go your own way and do your own thing, with nature trails, hiking, and similar activities.

One of the best photo and travel tips here is to remember where you are, and where your subject is, when taking pictures.  Asking them to keep moving or backing up, or you, yourself, backing up bit by bit, in order to get the perfect picture, can be quite dangerous when you’re on a hike, on a hill or cliff.  So always be aware of your surroundings, and keep safety in mind – both when taking photos and when travelling in general.  It holds especially true if you go on a river tour on the Li River, too – as nice as it is to see, ending up in the river with your camera and day bag will surely put a damper on your vacation!

Overview Yangshuo's panoramic view from Xianggong Mountain

The Forbidden City

The Palace Museum, also known as The Forbidden City, is located in Beijing, and is a popular tourist site, serving as the actual palace from 1420 to 1912.

Today, it is home to nearly 1,000 buildings and thousands of artefacts, relics, and art pieces from over the centuries of Chinese history.   Like the Great Wall, a good tip for avoiding crowds here is to get there early in the day.  Also, take note that only 88,000 tickets per day are available, so be sure to arrange your tickets in advance if you want to be sure you will be able to get in.

As a photo tip here, be sure to go outside the city, and up at Jingshan Park, where you can get an amazing overview of the entire complex from an elevated location, and snap some amazing and memorable photos.  Another is to be sure you are taking photos of things you, yourself, would want to see.  No one wants to be bored to death later on with the pictures you’ve taken of every single painting or artefact you saw inside the Forbidden City.  Take good photos, and take plenty of them, but be judicious in your choice of subjects.

The Forbidden City in Beijing

Yunnan Province 

Yunnan Province is located in the extreme southwest of China, bordering Tibet, Vietnam, Myanmar, and Laos.  The western portion of the province is very mountainous, with the eastern part holding the majority of the population.  This area is well-known for a massive amount of plant and animal diversity (as well as ethnic diversity among the citizens).  There is a great deal of outside activities here, with a milder climate than many areas in China.  This is a great place to avoid crowds, as, despite its popularity as a tourist destination, like Guilin, it is fairly easy to go off and do your own thing, enjoying the natural beauty.

Yunnan Province of China

And that leaves us with a great opportunity to provide one more excellent trip tip relating to photos.  Don’t get caught up in trying to get the best photos of your trip to show off, to post online, to impress people, or anything like that.  Sure, it’s ok to take some photos for those reasons, but don’t get stuck behind your smartphone or camera and miss out on what you are there to see.  Enjoy the sites you are SEEING, and experiences you are EXPERIENCING, while you are there.  No camera can capture or re-create those experiences, and for many people, a trip to an exotic locale like China is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing.  Don’t focus so much on photos and forget to take it all in and be there, in the present.

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No matter you want to visit the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, and amazing Guilin Karst landscapes, Trippest mini group tours make your trip more smoothly.

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