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Best Places to Visit in China: According to Chinese Currency

Let the iconic images on the backs of Chinese banknotes

be your guide to the top tourist attractions in China

by Chelsea La Near

China is a massive country with a rich and ancient history, which can make planning a trip there an overwhelming endeavor.

If you’re wondering how to start planning your Chinese adventure, take advice from their paper currency. The back of each note features one of China’s most significant sites.

But Where's the Great Wall?

Interestingly, China didn’t choose their most visited attractions to feature on their 5th edition of currency, issued in 1999, but ones that are an important part of the cultural and historical fabric of the country.

You will notice the absence of The Great Wall of China, one of the most iconic sites not just in China, but in the world. The Great Wall can be found on the 1 yuan note of the 4th edition of yuan banknotes, which was just taken out of circulation last year.

The sites featured on the 4th edition are also worth a look, but we’ll focus on six great places to visit in China according to the most recent notes.

West Lake, Hangzhou (1 Yuan Note)

The image of “Three Ponds Mirroring the Moon” (Santan Yinyue) can be seen at West Lake in Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang Province. West Lake has been inspiring artists throughout Chinese history with its serene beauty and wealth of historic relics. Revered temples, pagodas, and gardens can be found along its calm banks and man made islands. Hangzhou is easily accessible from Shanghai - only one hour on the bullet train, or a two-hour drive - and busses and subways can get you to West Lake from there.

Mount Tai, Shandong Province (5 Yuan Note)

Going up in value and elevation is the 5 yuan note with an image of Mount Tai (Taishan) at sunrise. While little known outside of China, Mount Tai is the easternmost, and therefore the first, of “The Five Great Mountains” - sacred mountains that have served as important religious sites for imperial China. In addition to the mountain’s historical and cultural significance, it also boasts impressive views and landscapes. Being the first sacred mountain to see the sunrise, Mount Tai is associated with birth and renewal. Tai’an, the city nearest to the mountain, can be reached in 2 hours via Beijing’s South Railway Station.

Kui Gate, Yangtze Three River Gorges (10 Yuan Note)