The UK is full of amazing things to see and do – from the White Cliffs of Dover to the Scottish Highlands. There are historic landmarks, modern marvels and plenty of natural beauty all around, and if you ask people what the best place to visit in Great Britain is, it’s likely that you’ll get a huge range of answers.
Many of the UK’s top attractions are found in London. The capital is among the most widely visited locations in the country, and there are plenty of things for visitors to see and do, without ever leaving the city. These include The British Museum, The National Gallery, the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum, the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey and St Paul’s Cathedral.
While these popular attractions are certainly favourites among the general public, it’s also important to remember that people’s preferences about what they like to see and do vary widely – and a person’s culture can have an impact on what they want to see or do when visiting another country.
The most popular spots for Chinese tourists
Buckingham Palace and Bicester Village are the two UK attractions that are most visited by Chinese tourists, according to a report in the Telegraph.
The fact that visitors from the Far East want to see Buckingham Palace on a visit to the UK isn’t particularly surprising. As the official residence of the British monarch, and an impressive piece of Victorian architecture, the palace is a popular destination for tourists from around the world. It’s an iconic landmark and is also the place to see the Changing of the Guard ceremony and watch the royal guards in their impressive livery.
But why would Chinese tourists travel more than ten hours and thousands of miles, to go to Bicester Village (a place that most Brits probably don’t know much about)?
Bicester Village is a shopping outlet village in Oxfordshire. It is famous for hosting luxury brands such as Prada and Yves Saint Laurent – and hundreds of thousands of Chinese tourists visit every year to stock up on designer goods at affordable prices.
According to Visit Britain, some 50,000 Chinese people visited the UK between April and June of 2015. This was up 35 per cent on the same period in the previous year. And, while the surge in Chinese visitors may have been linked to President Xi Jinping’s visit, numbers of tourists from China have been on the rise – and it’s one of the UK’s fastest-growing tourism markets.
Why do Chinese tourists love the UK?
Visit Britain reports that Chinese visitors associate the UK with museums and appreciate the “romance” of the country. They also enjoy the beautiful landscapes, feel connected to nature and like to “have fun and laughter”.
Most Chinese visitors to the UK come for more than a week, and the average holiday lasts around ten days. During that time, each tourist spends an average of £2,688 – making Chinese tourism worth nearly £500 million to the British economy.
Besides Buckingham Palace and Bicester Village, what are some of the other main destinations for Chinese tourists in Britain? Outside of London, other popular cities include Edinburgh, Manchester, Oxford and Cambridge.
Within the capital, here are some of the favourite attractions:
- Big Ben – The famous bell tower at the Palace of Westminster is actually called the Elizabeth Tower, but most visitors and locals alike refer to the tower as Big Ben, the name of the massive bell housed inside.
- London Eye – This giant Ferris wheel on the South Bank of the River Thames was built in 1999 to celebrate the new Millennium. It’s now a popular tourist destination, and a ride in one of the pods offers excellent views across the capital – especially of the Houses of Parliament, which are just across the river.
- Baker Street – In Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s novels, Sherlock Holmes lived at 221B Baker Street. There’s now a museum at that address, dedicated to the fictional sleuth, and it’s set up as if the detective lives in the flat.
- Fish and chips – This quintessential British food is something that most tourists like to try at least once during their visit to the UK, and the good news is there are plenty of places to try this popular dish in London. You won’t have to look hard to find a chip shop in the capital, while many pubs and restaurants also serve up hearty helpings.
In addition, the Harry Potter Studio Tour and Stonehenge are two popular out-of-town attractions that can be enjoyed as part of a day trip from London.