China’s Top 10 ‘Happiest Cities’ to Visit

West Lake in Hangzhou. (Image: Nat Krause/Wikimedia Commons)
West Lake in Hangzhou. (Image: Nat Krause/Wikimedia Commons)

The latest “Economic Life Survey” revealed this list of the happiest cities in China based on data from 2014.

This overview looks at residents in each city, and their natural environment, economy, life quality, and overall sense of satisfaction each year.

Many people were surprised not to see the big metropolises like Beijing or Shanghai included, according to Hangzhou Weekly.

Here’s the complete list with some of the cities’ highlights, showing why they were featured…

1. Harbin

Saint Sofia Orthodox Church. (Image: Lzy881114/Wikimedia Commons)

Saint Sophia Cathedral. (Image: Lzy881114/Wikimedia Commons)

A surprise for most at No. 1, Harbin is China’s coldest “happy city.” The best time to go is December to January when the Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival is on, but summer is pleasantly cool for a visit.

Highlights:

  • Shop at Central Street, Asia’s longest pedestrian street.
  • Meditate on Sun Island, or ski at Yabuli.
  • Try Harbin Red Sausage and Harbin Beer.

2. Nanjing

A view of Nanjing showing the Qinhuai River. (Image: Alex Rudd/Wikimedia Commons)

A view of Nanjing showing the Qinhuai River. (Image: Alex Rudd/Wikimedia Commons)

Nanjing is an ancient city with a modern image, and great local food. There are many lovely places to visit like the Presidential Palace, and the Qinhuai River. In spring, plums trees blossom at Meihua Mountain, while the trees on Xixia Mountain turn a glorious red in fall.

Highlights:

  • Night cruise on the Qinhuai River.
  • Smell the osmanthus blossoms at Xuanwu Park.
  • Visit the spectacular Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge.

3. Huizhou

Huizhou by night. (Image: goosmurf via Compfight cc )

Huizhou by night. (Image: goosmurf via Compfight cc)

Located in Guangdong Province with its warm climate, Huizhou is often described as “half city of mountain views, and half city of lake views.” Visitors find it a clean and harmonious city with a quaint atmosphere.

Highlights:

  • Visit West Lake to enjoy “5 lakes, 6 bridges and 18 scenic spots.”
  • Take in the city view from the top of Mount Luofu.
  • Eat the unique “3 Treasures” – steamed sliced pork with pickled vegies, Huizhou stinky tofu, and salt-baked chicken.

 

4. Hangzhou

West Lake in Hangzhou. (Image: Nat Krause/Wikimedia Commons)

West Lake in Hangzhou. (Image: Nat Krause/Wikimedia Commons)

Dubbed “Paradise Under Heaven,” Hangzhou is renowned for its beautiful landscapes, and historic relics. West Lake is a particularly famous attraction. The best season to visit is spring.

Highlights:

  • Try Longjing tea.
  • Visit Xixi Wetland and nearby ancient villages.
  • Cruise on West Lake in March.

5. Qingdao

Zhan Qiao Pier at Qingdao. (Image: M. Weitzel/Wikimedia Commons)

Zhan Qiao Pier at Qingdao. (Image: M. Weitzel/Wikimedia Commons)

Qingdao is a beautiful coastal city known as the “Sailing Capital” of China. The seafood is cheap and delicious. Summer is the best time to visit, and when the Qingdao Beer Festival is held.

Highlights:

  • Try out Qingdao’s top-class sailing facilities.
  • Drive on the world’s longest cross-sea bridge.
  • Climb Laoshan Mountain to enjoy the sea view.

6. Ningbo

Ningbo Tianyi Square. (Image: Shakura/Wikimedia Commons)

Ningbo Tianyi Square. (Image: Shakura/Wikimedia Commons)

Ningbo is one of the three major economic centers of Zhejiang Province, and its history dates back to the Hemudu culture in 4800 B.C. Spring is the best season to visit.

You’ll never forget the taste of “Ningbo Drunken Crab,” but be careful not to overindulge in seafood!

Highlights:

  • Stroll along Moon Lake, and go boating on East Lake.
  • Experience authentic Ningbo culture at the Drum Tower.
  • See the ancient wall at Cicheng Ancient Town.

 

7. Yantai

The view from Yantai Hill. (Image: Castelfranco/Wikimedia Commons)

The view from Yantai Hill. (Image: Castelfranco/Wikimedia Commons)

Yantai is situated in Shandong Province, next to the Yellow Sea, and the Bohai Sea. It has a long coastline, and over 60 islets. There are many festivals in spring. Summer is the best time to visit Long Island, and Golden Beach.

Highlights:

  • See an amazing mirage which usually appears in spring and summer.
  • Climb Kungyu Mountain.
  • Travel to Penglai Island, known as “paradise on earth.”

 

8. Xinyang

Xinyang tea farmland. (Image: Zytpz/Wikimedia Commons)

Xinyang tea farmland. (Image: Zytpz/Wikimedia Commons)

Located in Henan Province, Xinyang has a beautiful landscape, and is recognized as one of the birthplaces of Chinese civilization with a history of over 5,000 years. The best times to visit are spring and summer when the climate is pleasant.

Highlights:

  • Jigong Mountain is beautiful with a great summer resort.
  • Taste Xinyang Maojian tea.
  • Enjoy the natural hot spring spa resort Tangquanchi.

 

9. Chengdu

 

The entrance to Chunxi Street in Chengdu. (Image: Charlie Wong/Wikimedia Commons)

The entrance to Chunxi Street in Chengdu. (Image: Charlie Fong/Wikimedia Commons)

Chengdu is often called the most leisurely city in China, with its slow pace of life, and fun attractions. Chengdu’s delicious hot and spicy cuisine is famous, and there are lots of tasty snacks at Kuanzhai Alley.

Highlights:

  • Discover the Bashu tea culture, get buried in a wicker chair and hold a bowl of tea, watching the bustling markets.
  • Enjoy authentic Sichuan Opera Face Changing Art.
  • See pandas at Chengdu Panda Base!

10. Jinan

Qianfoshan Park in Jinan. (Image: Qquchn/Wikimedia Commons)

Qianfoshan Park in Jinan. (Image: Qquchn/Wikimedia Commons)

Known as “Spring City,” Jinan is an old city surrounded by mountains, and is located in Shandong Province. The best travel time is from September to November.

Highlights:

  • Enjoy the summer lotus at Daming Lake.
  • Listen to Jiulong Mountain Waterfalls.
  • See the Giant Buddha at Qianfo Mountain.
Funny, Romantic, Nostalgic, and Strange: 30 Winning Photos From Chinese Trains
Why Was Taiwan Voted Best Overseas Destination by Mainland Chinese?