Updated last year

Whether you are a fan of watching sports or enjoy an active lifestyle, China has everything one needs to keep fit and stay in tune with the latest games and competitions. China has a long sports history. Sports are more a culture than a habit in this Asian country. Apart from traditional sports which have been practised for hundreds of years like tai chi and kung fu, international sports such as football, volleyball, basketball and table tennis, have become very popular.

When in China, you won’t have trouble finding a group of people to play your favourite sport with - nor the facilities to do so. Most major cities in the country have specialised sports complexes and modern residential areas often come with table tennis rooms, tennis courts and even swimming pools in southern cities. To find like-minded people, check local expat or international forums and look for specialised sports clubs in your city.

Global sports

Global sports are now part of Chinese culture. The Chinese, especially youngsters, are more likely to play football, volleyball, basketball, cricket, tennis and table tennis, squash and even practise weightlifting. These sports, as well as gymnastics, are taught at school as well as in sports clubs and practised at a national or international level. Golf has been gaining popularity in the recent years, mostly due to its prestigious status. The sport is often used as team-building for high-level management as well as negotiation grounds for business deals. The country’s most famous golf club is Mission Hills Golf Club in Shenzhen, which was named “the world’s largest golf facility” by the Guinness World Records in 2004.

Note that China is one of the sportiest nations worldwide. Moreover, the country participates regularly in sports events such as the Summer and Winter Olympic Games, the Asian Football Cup, Universiades, Tennis Masters, the World Swimming Championship, etc..

Traditional Chinese sports

China is world famous for its traditional sports like martial arts and gymnastics. Tai chi chuan, fencing, shooting, archery and judo are very appreciated by the Chinese. Moreover, you will easily spot tai-chi chuan disciples early morning or in the afternoon in jogging and health trails. Yoga, which is a breathing and relaxation method, is also widely practised in China. Traditional sports are especially practised by the older generation and you are sure to see elderly men and women performing one of these disciplines in your residential complex.

A relatively new and peculiar form of exercise in China is a type of square dancing. Every evening, you will see the so-called “dancing grannies” near big residential complexes. They perform coordinated dance moves and usually wear matching clothing.

Another popular pastime is going up the mountain. Most city mountains in China are made into parks, equipped with paved stairs leading all the way to the top. On the weekends, a great number of people take to the mountains with their families for a relaxed walk up the stairs, snacking and taking photos at the top.

Other sports

In some regions, especially in the countryside, horseback riding, hiking, river rafting and mountain biking are also practised. In addition, if you like thrilling and adventurous sports, you can enjoy mountaineering, water skiing and even hang gliding. In coastal areas, water sports are popular: Xiamen is the go-to location for windsurfing in autumn and Wuzhizhou Island in Hainan is the country’s first commercial diving location.


Brain game lovers will be delighted to discover the ancient strategic chess-type “Go” game, Mah-jong, card games, and many others. Mah-jong is one of the most popular games played on specially-made tables. Most traditional hotels come with mah-jong rooms. You will see a lot of people on the street gathering in groups and playing card games. A variety of dice games are often played in bars: Liar’s Dice is China’s number one bar game.

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