Tue, March 03, 2009
City Guide > Sightseeing

China's most over-rated tourist sites

2009-03-03 10:23:27 GMT2009-03-03 18:23:27 (Beijing Time)  City Weekend

China's most over-rated tourist sites

Results of a recent travel survey were released, naming the World' s Most Disappointing Tourist Spots. The ignominious top ten run as follows:

• The Eiffel Tower

• The Louvre (Mona Lisa)

• Times Square

• Las Ramblas, Spain

• Statue of Liberty

• Spanish Steps, Rome

• The White House

• The Pyramids, Egypt

• The Brandenburg Gate, Germany

• The Leaning Tower of Pisa

It got me to thinking about the most over-rated tourist spots in China. My list goes as follows:

Three Gorges

Used to be a great trip (which included the Little Three Gorges and the Really Little Three Gorges), now it’s a bore unless you go on something like the MS Yangzi Explorer where you stay in a luxury cabin and get massages every day. The thrill of passing through the Three Gorges Dam, world’s largest hydroelectric station, is ephemeral and anticlimactic.

Forbidden City

Sorry, but the crowds alone put this one out of the running for me. There are some cool spots there, such as the newly-opened study, but it doesn’t live up to the hype.

Tian’anmen Square

While we’re on the subject of Beijing, Tian’anmen Square is also overrated. The fences surrounding the entire thing make me completely claustrophobic, the security makes me paranoid and the whole thing is a logistics nightmare. Get caught in a crowd there and your whole afternoon is shot.


Sanya hotels are some of the most profitable in China (my sources tell me), but the place is a disaster as far as I’m concerned. Think Waikiki without the Japanese tourists. The water is cold, the only bikinis are on fat foreigners and outside the resort zones the whole place seethes with a nasty vibe. China’s Hawaii my foot.

Almost Any Revolutionary Site

Too much propaganda, not enough English and an overall veneer of sterile neglect make almost any homage to the Revolution irrelevant to foreign tourists. Mao’s home in Hunan might be the sole exception.


China’s Number One mountain is a total bore. It’s packed with tourists, the cable car up is terrifying, the hotels are overpriced and shabby and did I mention the tourists? Much better to hit up neighboring Jiuhua Shan or the Daoist mountain Qiyun Shan


Confucius’ hometown in Shandong is totally rebuilt in the most oppressive Disneyland style. It’s obvious that someone was trying to hard to appease the ghosts of persecutions past in. The Kong Family Mansion doesn’t hold a candle to the Wang Family Courtyard in Pingyao.

Well, that’s me. Anyone care to disagree?

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