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The Ultimate Chinese Provinces Guide

The Adventure China Team
The Ultimate Chinese Provinces Guide
Author: The Adventure China Team
16.12.2019 11:46AM

It's hard to comprehend the sheer size of China. From vast mountain ranges, deserts and canyons, through to bustling metropolitan cities, the country has it all.

China’s allure isn’t just aesthetics, either. The country is absolutely steeped in history, with its culture leaving an indelible mark all around the world. It still holds huge influence in the modern world and is on track to be the most visited country in the world by 2030.

That is in part due to the sheer size of the country. The combined number of provinces, municipalities, autonomous regions and special administrative regions is well over 30, and they all have a unique personality. From the bright lights and frenetic energy of Macau, to the incredible spectacle of ice festivals in Heilongjiang, China, quite literally, has something for every visitor.

If, like us, you want to discover more about these ancient lands, you’re not alone. Through Adventure China, loads of applicants every year fly out to begin their own adventures in the country, where working at summer camp allows them to make an incredible impact with Chinese children. From here, their exploration is boundless, with staff travelling far and wide to explore what makes this country so special.

Whatever takes your fancy, China will have it. Match your personality to a province and find a new favourite place on the planet. China has enough railroads that combined they can loop around the Earth twice and with many being bullet trains, you’ll get to wherever you want to go far quicker.

China is broken down into not only provinces, but other types of areas as well. It may sound a little confusing, but we've broken down each below:


China's provinces create areas within the country, in a similar geographical sense to countries in the UK, or States in the U.S. These then adhere to the laws and rules set out by the central government.

Autonomous Regions

These regions have some level of autonomy, but as a whole they act in a similar way to a province. For those travelling around the country, it's easier to consider them as another area to tick off, similar to provinces.

Special Administrative Regions

These regions are considered to be administrative divisions of China, however they have complete autonomy over their legal and judicial systems. So the best way to describe this is that they're part of China and separate, both at the same time.


Municipalities are the highest level of classifications that areas can get in China and are in the direct governance of the Chinese government. They're ranked the same as provinces, which are also considered 'first tier' of administrative divisions in China.

If you’ve placed at a summer camp in China, or you want to discover more about somewhere you’ve heard about, check our navigation out below, find your chosen Chinese province and learn even more.

Anhui, one of the Chinese provinces.

Anhui Province

Location: South East China

Major Cities in Anhui Province: Hefei, Wuhu, Huangshan City

Things to Do in Anhui Province: Xihai Grand Canyon, Hefei Wetland

Interesting Facts:

  • There are cave markings in Anhui and drawings which date back to over 2.5million years ago
  • Anhui is completely landlocked
  • Some of the mountain ranges in Anhui go up to over 6000ft.
Beijing, one of China's municipalities.

Beijing (Municipality)

Location: North East China

Things to Do in Beijing: Forbidden City, Great Wall of China, Tiananmen Square

Interesting Facts About Beijing:

  • Beijing is the Capital city of China and is one of the oldest areas in the world, with places indicating that there was life there form approximately 750,000 years ago.
  • It has an incredible 7 UNESCO World Heritage Sites
  • Beijing was also the capital of 6 notable dynasties which crossed over 21 centuries
Chongqing, one of the Chinese provinces.

Chongqing (Municipality)

Location: South West China

Things to Do in Chongqing: Dazu Rock Carvings, Fengdu Ghost City, Three Natural Bridges

Interesting Facts About Chongqing:

  • It’s become a major economic force, as it’s located on two huge rivers, the Yangtze and Jialing.
  • As it’s located near the Yangtze river, foggy conditions has led to it being called the ‘Fog Capital’ of China.
  • The massive Three Gorges Dam is here, which is the world’s largest hydroelectric dam.
Fujian, one of the Chinese provinces.

Fujian Province

Location: Southeastern Coast of China

Major Cities in Fujian Province: Fuzhou, Xiamen

Things to Do in Fujian Province: Gulangyu Island, South Putuo Temple

Interesting Facts About Fujian Province:

  • China’s current leader, Xi Jinping, had work in Fujian for over 15 years.
  • Fujian actually translates out to “Happy Establishment”, and it’s the largest city, Fuzhou, translates to “Happy City”
  • It’s a key trading area for goods like tea
Gansu, one of the Chinese provinces.

Gansu Province

Location: Northwest China

Major Cities in Gansu Province: Lanzhou

Things to Do in Gansu Province: Mogao Caves, Crescent Lake

Interesting Facts on Gansu Province:

  • The highest point of the province is the Tuanjie Peak of Qilian Mountain, which has an elevation of 5808m.
  • Gansu was on the old Silk Road trading route, meaning it was an incredibly important trading province
  • There are over 450 different rivers in Gansu
Guangdong, one of the Chinese provinces.

Guangdong Province

Location: Southern Coast of China

Major Cities in Guangdong Province: Guangzhou, Shenzhen

Things to Do in Guangdong Province: Test

Interesting Facts About Guangdong Province:

  • Guangdong has one of the longest coastlines out of any of the Chinese provinces
  • It is home to the Pearl River Delta, which spans an incredible 2900 square miles
  • It has the highest population and GDP out of any province in China.
Guangxi, one of China's autonomous regions.

Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region

Location: Southern China

Major Cities in Guangxi: Nanning, Guilin

Things to Do in Guangxi: Li River, Moon Hill

Interesting Facts About Guangxi:

  • Guangxi also borders the country of Vietnam
  • The word Guang translates to “expanse”, referring to its land, which is considered to be open and wild.
  • The highest point is Kitten Mountain, which peaks at 7024ft.
Guizhou, one of the Chinese provinces.

Guizhou Province

Location: Southwest China

Major Cities in Guizhou Province: Guiyang, Anshun

Things to Do in Guizhou Province: Huangguoshu Waterfall, Fanjingshan

Interesting Facts About Guizhou Province:

  • It is considered one of the first main homes of civilisation, with remains dating back nearly 250,000 years ago
  • It’s certainly very hilly, with over 90% of the land being covered in mountains or hills
  • In 2016, the world’s biggest single-aperture radio telescope was built, which put the province on the map as a major player in high-spec technology. Since then, the likes of Google, Oracle, Apple and Microsoft have set up there.
Hainan, one of the Chinese provinces.

Hainan Province

Location: Island off South China

Major Cities in Hainan Province: Haikou, Sanya

Things to Do in Hainan Province: Wuzhizhou Island, Sanya Bay

Interesting Facts About Hainan Province:

  • It is the most southerly point of China, and the name literally translates to the 'South of the Sea'.
  • It is the smallest province of China by land size.
  • It has a tropical monsoon climate, and the coldest it will drop is never any less than 16degrees Celcius.
Hebei, one of the Chinese provinces.

Hebei Province

Location: Northern China

Major Cities in Hebei Province: Handan, Shijiazhuang

Things to Do in Hebei Province: Jinshanling, Eastern Qing Tombs

Interesting Facts About Hebei Province:

The name translates to 'North of the River', which is referring to the Yellow River below it. Geographically, the province rings itself around the municipalities of Beijing and Tianjin. The Great Wall of China winds itself through a portion of Northern Hebei province.

Heliongjiang, one of the Chinese provinces.

Heliongjiang Province

Location: Northern China

Major Cities in Heilonjiang Province: Harbin, Mudanjiang

Things to Do in Heilonjiang Province: Saint Sophia Cathedral, Bingxue Big World

Interesting Facts About Heilonjiang Province:

  • It’s China’s most northern province, which actually borders Russia.
  • The name translates to Black Dragon
  • It is home to one of the largest and most impressive Ice festivals in the world, at Harbin.
Henan, one of the Chinese provinces.

Henan Province

Location: Central China

Major Cities in Henan Province: Zhengzhou, Luoyang

Things to Do in Henan Province: Shaolin Temple, Longmen Grottoes

Interesting Facts About Henan Province:

  • Henan is a landlocked province, and the name translates to “South of the Yellow River”, which is China’s second-longest river, and the 6th longest in the world.
  • Henan has one of the largest populations in China, with 98 million people
  • Across over 20 different dynasties or Chinese kingdoms, nearly 200 Kings settled their capital cities in Henan and is widely considered to be where Chinese culture began.
Hong Kong, one of China's special administrative regions.

Hong Kong (Special Administrative Region)

Location: Southern China

Things to Do in Hong Kong: Victoria Peak, Lantau Island, Tian Tan Buddha

Interesting Facts About Hong Kong:

  • Hong Kong translates to 'Fragrant Harbour'
  • Hong Kong currently has the most skyscrapers in the world and is also one of the most densely populated areas in the world
  • 40% of the land is actually country park
Hubei, one of the Chinese provinces.

Hubei Province

Location: Central China

Major Cities in Hubei Province: Wuhan, Yichang

Things to Do in Hubei Province: Wudang Mountains, Yellow Crane Tower

Interesting Facts About Hubei Province:

  • Large cave systems have been found in Hubei province, with Tenglong Caves being one of the largest Karst cave systems in the country
  • There are 4 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Hubei province
  • The name translates to North of the Lake, referring to Dongting Lake, which lies in the Yangtze River basin.
Hunan, one of the Chinese provinces.

Hunan Province

Location: Southern China

Major Cities in Hunan Province: Changsha, Zhangjiajie

Things to Do in Hunan Province: Zhangjiajie National Forest, Tianmen Mountain

Interesting Facts About Hunan Province:

  • Whilst Hubei is “North of the Lake”, referring to Dongting Lake, Hunan is “South of the Lake”.
  • It is also the birthplace of Mao Zedong, the founder of the People’s Republic of China.
  • It is known to be an incredibly artistic place, with skilled craftspeople creating embroidery, stone carvings and more.
Inner Mongolia, one of the Chinese provinces.

Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region

Location: Northern China

Major Cities in Inner Mongolia: Hohhot, Hulunbuir

Things to Do in Inner Mongolia: Mausoleum of Genghis Khan, Hulan Lake

Interesting Facts About Inner Mongolia:

  • It is bordered in the North by the countries of Mongolia and Russia
  • It covers an absolutely huge area, at about 12% of China’s total land area.
  • Inner Mongolia has a huge range of environments, from luscious grasslands to arid deserts.
Jiangsu, one of the Chinese provinces.

Jiangsu Province

Location: Eastern China

Major Cities in Jiangsu Province: Nanjing, Suzhou

Things to Do in Jiangsu Province: Dr. Sun Yat-sen's Mausoleum, Lake Tai

Interesting Facts About Jiangsu Province:

  • Jiangsu is known for its fertile lands, and has the nicknames of ‘the land of rivers and lakes” and 'the country of fish and rice'.
  • It has the highest density of of academics, which includes universities, colleges and more. It is also home to a lot of the world’s biggest exporters, who have used the province as their Chinese base.
  • Suzhou, one of the major cities, is in TripAdivsors top 20 cities in China to visit.
Jiangxi, one of the Chinese provinces.

Jiangxi Province

Location: South East China

Major Cities in Jiangxi Province: Nanchang, Jiujiang

Things to Do in Jiangxi Province: Mouny Sanqing, Mount Longhu

Interesting Facts:

  • The name translates to 'West of the River', referring to the massive Yangtze River.
  • It’s known for its porcelain and pottery making, with it dating back over 1000 years.
  • It’s been an important area in Chinese history, as it lay on a major route that trade, armies and the population would travel on.
Jilin, one of the Chinese provinces.

Jilin Province

Location: North East China

Major Cities in Jilin Province: Jilin City, Changchun

Things to Do in Jilin Province: Beidahu Ski Area, Changbai Waterfall

Interesting Facts About Jilin Province:

  • Jilin actually borders both North Korea and Russia.
  • It’s known as a winter destination, with the well known ski resort Beidahu being here.
  • You can find Jingyuetan National Forest Park here, which translates to “Clear Moon Pool”, and includes ski slopes, a man made beach, temples, tombs and much more.
Liaoning, one of the Chinese provinces.

Liaoning Province

Location: Northeast China

Major Cities in Liaoning Province: Dalian, Shenyang

Things to Do in Liaoning Province: Red Beach, Mukden

Interesting Facts About Liaoning Province:

  • Liaoning is another province which borders North Korea, and also the Yellow Sea.
  • Dalian is a major port city for China.
  • The Mukden Palace has become a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Macau, one of China's the Special Administrative Regions

Macau (Special Administrative Region)

Location: South Coast of China

Things to Do in Macau: Ruin's of St Paul's, Macau Tower, Resorts & Casinos

Interesting Facts About Macau:

  • It is widely considered to be the second richest territory in the world and it brings in over 3x the amount Vegas does in profits
  • It has the world's highest bungee jump, off the Macau tower
  • The Historic Centre of Macau is also recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Ningxia, one of the Chinese provinces.

Ningxia Province

Location: North Central China

Major Cities in Ningxia Province: Yinchuan, Zhongwei

Things to Do in Ningxia Province: Shuidonggou Site, Shahu Lake

Interesting Facts About Ningxia Province:

  • Most of Ningxia is desert and is one of the smallest provinces in China.
  • It is home to the “108 Stupas”, which are buddhist dagobas organised in formation next to the yellow river.
  • It was also situated along the Silk Road, meaning it was heavily influenced by those travelling and trading along its route.
Qinghai, one of the Chinese provinces.

Qinghai Province

Location: North West China

Major Cities in Qinghai Province: Xining, Golmud

Things to Do in Qinghai Province: Qinghai Lake, Kumbum Monastery

Interesting Facts About Qinghai Province:

  • It is the 4th largest province in China by area, yet it has the 3rd smallest population.
  • The Yangtze and Mekong Rivers have their sources in the province, whilst the Yellow river also originates here.
  • It has a number of incredible spots, including Qinghai Lake (the biggest lake in China), which is also known as ‘the roof of the world” due to it being high up on the Tibetan plateau (3600m high up, in fact).
Shaanxi, one of the Chinese provinces.

Shaanxi Province

Locations: North West China

Major Cities in Shaanxi Province: Xi'an, Xianyang

Things to Do in Shaanxi Province: Terracotta Army, Mount Hua, Muslim Quarter

Interesting Facts About Shaanxi Province:

  • The capital, Xi’an, is one of the oldest Cities in China and is actually the oldest of the great ancient capitals.
  • The name “Shaanxi” translates to Land West of the Shan Pass”.
  • The UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Mausoleum and Terracotta Army Museum can be found here in Xi’an.
Shandong, one of the Chinese provinces.

Shandong Province

Location: East Coast of China

Major Cities in Shandong Province: Qingdao, Jinan

Things to Do in Shandong Province: Mount Lao, May Fourth Square

Interesting Facts About Shandong Province:

The name translates to “East of the Mountains”. It is the second most populous province in China. It formed an important part of ancient and modern trade routes, meaning it’s now become an economic hub.

Shanghai, a municipality, one of the Chinese provinces.

Shanghai (Municipality)

Location: Central Coast of China

Things to Do in Shanghai: The Bund, Yu Garden, Oriental Pearl TV Tower

Interesting Facts About Shanghai:

  • The Chinese government set out to make Shanghai ‘the New York of Asia’, and the city now boasts nearly 30million people.
  • It has the longest and most completely metro system in the world, with over 400 miles of track.
  • The name translates to ‘On the Sea’, referring to the fact it is based on the East China Sea.
Shanxi, one of the Chinese provinces.

Shanxi Province

Location: North China

Major Cities in Shanxi Province: Datong, Pingyao, Taiyuan

Things to Do in Shanxi Province: Yungang Grottoes, Hanging Temple

Interesting Facts About Shanxi Province:

  • It’s very well known for its various temples and artifacts.
  • Pingyao is one of China’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
  • It is also home to Mount Wutai, which is one of Buddhism's most holy places.
Sichuan, one of the Chinese provinces.

Sichuan Province

Location: South West China

Major Cities in Sichuan Province: Chengdu, Leshan

Things to Do in Sichuan Province: Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, Leshan Giant Buddha

Interesting Facts About Sichuan Province:

  • A large stretch of Asia’s longest river, the Yangtze, runs through the province.
  • The province itself is larger in area in Germany, and has a similar population.
  • Two famous high altitude national parks, Jiuzhaigou and Huanglong, can be found here, with the former being on average over 6,600ft and the latter being over 10,500ft.
Taiwan, one of the Chinese provinces.

Taiwan Province

Location: Island off East China

Major Cities in Taiwan Province: Taipei, New Taipei City

Things to Do in Taiwan Province: Taipei 101, Sun Moon Lake

Interesting Facts About Taiwan Province:

  • It’s the origin of a lot of popular Asian snacks, such as Bubble tea and stinky Tofu which both originate here
  • The Taipei 101 is 508m tall and was the world's tallest building from 2004 to 2010.
  • It has a lot of interesting traditions, such as people wearing white to funerals
Tianjin, one of the Chinese provinces.

Tianjin (Municipality)

Location: North East China

Things to Do in Tianjin: Tianjin Eye, Huangya Pass, Tianjin Radio and TV Tower

Interesting Facts About Tianjin:

  • It’s only about 130km away from Beijing, so it will take you about half an hour by train to get between the two
  • It’s the 5th largest city in China
  • It’s a well educated area, with China’s first university starting here and now, more than 100 of the Fortune 500 companies have invested in the area.
Tibet, one of the Chinese provinces.

Tibet Autonomous Region

Location: North China

Major Cities in Tibet: Lhasa, Nagqu

Things to Do in Tibet: Kangchenjunga, Makalu

Interesting Facts About Tibet:

  • It is at an incredibly high average altitude, consisting of the Himalayas, whilst it also shares Mt Everest with Nepal.
  • It is the least populated province in China due to its mountainous terrain and it’s average mountain size is over 20,000ft.
  • You need a permit and a tour guide to even enter Tibet.
Xinjiang, one of the Chinese provinces.

Xinjiang Province

Location: North West China

Major Cities in Xinjiang Province: Kashgar, Urumqi

Things to Do in Xinjiang Province:Heavenly Lake of Tianshan, Flaming Mountains

Interesting Facts About Xinjiang Province:

  • It is absolutely huge, and is the largest province in China, which is made up of deserts and mountains.
  • It’s that big that it borders Russia, Kazakhstan and Mongolia.
  • It’s believed in Kanas lake, a big fabled creature lives there, although it has never been seen.
Yunnan, one of the Chinese provinces.

Yunnan Province

Location: South West China

Major Cities in Yunnan Province: Kunming, Lijiang

Things to Do in Yunnan Province: Tiger Leaping Gorge, Dynamic Yunnan Show

Interesting Facts About Yunnan Province:

  • Yunnan is considered the ‘2nd trip to China’ location. So once you’ve done the famous tourist hotspots of Beijing and Shanghai, Yunnan tends to be the next big places to go.
  • It also borders a lot of South-East Asia, including Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar.
  • It has 5 different UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Zhejiang, one of the Chinese provinces.

Zhejiang Province

Location: East China

Major Cities in Zhejiang Province: Hangzhou, Ningo

Things to Do in Zhejiang Province: West Lake, Lingyin Temple

Interesting Facts About Zhejiang Province:

  • Hangzhou is known as the ‘tea capital’ of China.
  • Hangzhou has two world heritage sights, including West Lake and the Grand Canal.
  • Zhejiang translates to ‘bent river’, as it’s named by the Qiantang river.

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