Are you new to Asian dramas? Seen a dubbed drama on your usual TV channel or Netflix and you’re suddenly very interested in seeing more? Or maybe you’re like me, an initial K-drama viewer but suddenly you’re finding yourself tempted to dip your toes into something that is not a K-drama? Maybe Chinese dramas? And you don’t know where to begin?
Let me help you! ^_^
In this article, I have curated 10 Chinese dramas I would personally recommend (in no particular order). Hopefully, it caters to all sorts of audience.
Please note that my views are subjective and you may personally not agree with me in some of the picks~ in which case, I completely understand. I tried to cover dramas with all sorts of genres, eras and plot complexities so please do feel free to share your own opinions! I always love to get recommendations and suggestions. ^^’
(Click on the dramas' posters to get re-directed. SPOILERS ahead!)
- Year: 2014
- Episodes: 33
- Genre: Comedy, Romance
Shan Shan (Zanilia Zhao) is a somewhat innocent, slow, but very hardworking and positive young girl who has a very simple aim in life. Live in the big city and get an excellent job. Now although kind and positive, her whole town is very surprised when she is, by God’s some strangest miracle, selected for a position at one of China’s most renown companies. Oh, and did I forget she has panda blood?
Feng Tang (Hans Zhang), distant, calculating super-rich heir and the president of a giant conglomerate hired Shan Shan for one reason and one reason only ~ because of her blood. Something that his precious often susceptible to sickness sister needs. Then why, after getting to see the clumsy girl beyond her food-loving simple self~ does he find himself falling so madly in love with her?
- I love this drama. I can watch this over and over again. Why is that generally a good point? I normally NEVER watch a completed drama or movie again. Ever.
- Feng Teng is incredibly adorable in his wooing of Shan Shan. Not because he is that good at it~ he’s hopeless. It’s because he’s completely clueless at how to woo such an innocent, down to earth girl like her.
For example, He makes her pick out vegetables he doesn’t like from his lunch box every lunch break just to have her close. T_T
- Shan Shan is love. I don’t think there was ever a time in the drama where I wanted to kick her on the head just so that she gets some brains. No, she’s nice where she is supposed to be, she gets mad at Feng Tang where he deserved it, she’s compliant where she should be and adamant where it is needed of her.
- The supporting characters from Shan Shan’s side were simply adorable. I really liked her level-headed cousin, she always gave such good advice to Shan Shan.
- The Chemistry between Zanilia and Hans Zhang is A-class!
- NO SECOND LEAD SYNDROME IN SIGHT!
- It’s a very happy ending ladies and gentlemen!
- The hatefully ridiculous friend-zoned of a second female lead, Yuan Li Shu (Li Cheng Yuan) game is really strong in this one. I did a few happy dances when she finally fell for the second male lead instead.
- Never got myself to like Feng Teng’s sister Feng Yue (Zhang Yang Guo) who is nice to Shan Shan but still siding with her best friend. No, thanks.
- Shan Shan was REALLY insecure about her relationship with Feng Tang. (I would be too, tbh.)
- Feng Tang is a little emotionally distant sometimes.
- Year: 2016
- Episodes: 30
- Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
They meet in two worlds, they fall in love in both.
A genius, athletically talented, and visually blessed, Xiao Nai (Yang Yang), a computer science senior, is his college’s most popular boy. Oh, and he’s even the most powerful player on the really popular online game, A Chinese Ghost Story. Life seems to be planned and goals seem to have been made for the wonder boy~ when one day in his uncle’s internet café, he sees her.
Bei Wei (Zheng Shuang), also a computer science major, is the second most gorgeous girl on campus (Or so that’s what the hater’s say), exceptionally brilliant in her chosen major, she is also the only female player who is on the top 10’s list for the online game. Bei Wei’s very sorted and mature, she doesn’t take a lot of things to heart~ her life seems to be going alright~ and then one day… the number one player on ‘A Chinese Ghost Story’ asks her to be his wife.
Basically, two perfect people fall in love, you all.
- It’s a very simple love story.
- There aren’t any major plot twists.
- There is no angst.
- There is a crazy second female lead Yu Yao (Yiu Ling Lun) but she has NO effect on the main couple’s relationship. NONE.
- Hint at boy love between two side characters. (Who here loves Zhang Bin Bin?)
- Both parents are very supportive of the main couple’s relationship.
- Xiao Nai literally hacks and shuts down more than 4 online blogs or pages because they talk nasty about the main female lead. I find that strangely VERY cute.
- There is literally NO misunderstanding between the two couple.
- Xiao Nai is VERY possessive. Very.
- This is a very simple love story. If I had to describe this drama’s plot in a graph form, it would be like this:
It’s very steady, folks. For the audience that is alright with all the action in this drama consisting of game characters battling each other in the game world ~ and the real world is very steady. So, if you’re into plot twists or major thrill and angst and what not ~ this may not be the drama for you. You may not like it as much as I do.
- Xiao Nai is VERY possessive. Very.
- I NEVER judge a drama or the actors and actresses because of how they kiss in them. I mean that would be really dumb, but seeing a lot of people hate on Park Shin Hye (Love her!) because of that… I thought I’d put this here as well.... Yang Yang is a great kisser and all but Zheng Shuang (in this drama ~ In this one scene I think) is like a mannequin. SHE. DOES. NOT. MOVE. THOSE. LIPS. AT. ALL. Which was such a shame because Yang Yang went to town in this one particular scene… and she was just… sealed lips and frozen.
- Year: 2017
- Episodes: 58
- Genre: Historical, Romance, Drama, Fantasy, Melodrama
The most epic thing you’ll see this year (or whenever you decide to watch this).
Two beings, three worlds, three lives… three chances… will their love prevail in the end?
Lame introduction, I know. I apologize, this drama is too epic to formulate a proper introduction about in my own words… Let’s just keep it to “It’s the most epic thing you’ll see this year” yeah?
- SO. MUCH. ACTION!
- SO. MANY. PLOT. TWISTS!
- Amazing chemistry between both the first leads and the second leads (Dilmurat Dilraba & Gao Vengo)
- Such a beautiful drama (scenery and graphics wise) … true aesthetic.
- The main female lead Bai Qian (Yang Mi) is no weak, super forgiving damsel in distress. I’ve never seen a female character who slayed better than her (yet).
- Despite his shortcomings sometimes (in my opinion) the main lead Ye Hua (Mark Chao) was also very loyal towards the female lead’s character. I liked that at least.
- The second leads are LOVE.
- Angst. SO MUCH ANGST! My heart and tear gland almost did not survive this!
- The worst sort of female character that could be into the main male character. I still hate her till date.
- The main female character’s cousin sister was infuriating.
- I secretly wanted Mo Yuan (also played by Mark Chao) to be the main lead. I REALLY didn’t like it when he came back to life. It was really sad.
- The ending felt… sort of unsatisfactory (maybe because I wanted Mo Yuan~ I’m messed up. Don’t be like me.
- Year: 2015
- Episodes: 32
- Genre: Romance, Life, School
Zhao Mo Sheng (Tiffany Tang), a sunny and full of life Chemistry major, and He Yi Chen (Wallace Chung), the smartest student in the Law faculty, fell in love in College all thanks to the diligent wooing done by the positive and completely smitten Mo Sheng. It was meant to be forever, and it seemed like it would be. However, when Mo Sheng is fed lies from Yi Chen’s adopted sister, He Yimei (Jian Renzi), who is in love with Yi Chen, Mo Sheng confronts Yi Chen where Yi Chen tells Mo Sheng that he doesn’t want to see her again. Guttered, an inconsolable Mo Sheng really does disappear… moving to the States. But all is not what it seems for where Mo Sheng had a confrontation with Yi Chen, Yi Chen also had a visitor. Seven years pass and Mo Sheng finds herself returning to China. Fates be it and Mo Sheng and Yi Chen’s lives collide once again. However, neither of the two are what they were in college. A lot has changed since. A lot of things… except one. Love. With a second chance presented to them by fate… will the two manage to fight for each other this time around?
I think I’m going to watch this drama right after this. This will be my third time.
- The older Yi Chen is just crazy yo. One minute he’s treating Mo Sheng like a stranger and the next he’s at her doorstep, grabbing her and kissing her when she gets home! And in this one scene where he thinks she’s leaving him again… oh lord, someone bring me some holy water, please. Like, he’s crazy and mighty rough… but damnnn.
- Such great chemistry between the main leads. So. Much. Sexual. Tension!
- Great plot! Great pace!
- The main female lead’s best friend (Mi Viola) was the bomb! I loved her portions so much! Her love story was great as well! Glad she got the dude.
- Even the adopted sister gives up the second time around and falls for someone. In fact, she gets married. Thank god.
- Not A LOT of ‘drama’ happens that REALLY threatens the main couple’s relationship the second time around.
- Happy ending!
- The main male lead is crazy yo. He’s rough. Like physically. Not in an abusive way, but it’s not a loving caress as well ~ more… primal. Just a warning to the ladies who get offended and all ????
- When I mean a lot has changed in the 7 years. I mean something big.
- Year: 2016
- Episodes: 24
- Genre: Suspense, Thriller, Psychological, Romance, Investigation
Jian Yao (Ma Sandra), a fresh college graduate, had no idea that her life would never be the same when she applied and got accepted to be a translator for the brilliant, mysterious criminal psychologist, Simon Bo (Hu Wallace). Her world was never going to be the same. And when Simon’s past decides to catch up with him… neither will his.
- Every single murder case was so thrilling to watch!
- So much shite hitting the fan. IN. EVERY. SINGLE. EPISODE.
- No second lead syndrome. But If you do get it since the second male lead is Wang Kai, I do not blame you.
- Happy Ending. Actually, it’s a little disturbing, I won’t lie. You’ll see why.
- You may not really feel the main couple. I do not blame you. I thought they would be better being friends, but that’s just me. ^_^’
- So… the main male lead’s character is a little questionable. Like, is he good? Is he bad? Split personality? No personality?
- Year: 2016
- Episodes: 45
- Genre: Military, Historical, War
Set in 1937, during the days of war, Lan Yan Zhi (Zanilia Zhao) is the only child of a well off banker in Shanghai, and a very bright student with brilliant memory and deduction skills. Mistakenly she comes into possession of a letter which is from the Japanese army. When the potential meaning of the letter is discovered by Lan Yan Zhi, she thinks to contact the Chinese Army at once. However, despite the letter reaching the authorities, the exact opposite actions are taken by the Japanese army and she is accused to be the potential traitor. Head strong and intelligent Yan Zhi is told to prove her innocence by infiltrating her best friend, Feng Man Na’s (Tao Shin Ran) home, where she was when she discovered the letter, and track down a potential traitor. But what happens when she discovers that the traitor may just turn out to be her oblivious, delusional best friend’s own parents? And will the Chinese army ever let such a prize of a potential spy slip out of their grasp?
- The plot.
- The action.
- The emotions. So much emotion!
- The outfits~ so pretty!
- The chemistry between the main leads is amazing.
- The second male lead, Song Mian's (Yuan Mickey), silent love. I just couldn’t.
- The Villains were somewhat… cultured… and very open to spoiling the main leads.
- The happy ending.
- The second female lead, Ma Na, is a total psycho. I have NEVER seen a more crazy, delusional, ‘head stuck up her posterior’, evil of an ex-best friend before.
- Kinda gory. The female lead goes through a period where she’s being tortured. I was getting tortured through the screen.
- The writers decided to go to town with this one. Death. Death everywhere! SPOILER: Literally everyone dies except the main leads and this one dude who I couldn’t give two cents about. No regrets with watching this drama though. Maybe next year I’ll be able to watch it again!
- Year: 2014
- Episodes: 35
- Genre: Historical, Romance
Yu Jin (Liu Cecilia) is a wolf at heart, always observant and cunning. Although a Han, she raised within the desert tribes, and then later adopted by a pack of desert wolves, the leader of the pack, who she calls her brother. Years pass and she tires of living like a wolf… seeking to finally live like a human, Yu Jin decides to venture into the capital of Early Han Dynasty. In her journey to self-discovery she first meets the kind and calm Mo Xun (Hu Ge) who she falls deeply in love with, and then the mischievous, cold, and infuriating general Wei Wu Ji (Peng Eddie). When the brave and upfront Yu Jin confesses of her love to Mo Xun, she is refused. But why? And will she ever love again?
- The second lead gets the girl, guys. The friend zone has been overcome!
- No. Stop it! No matter how many times people tell me that Eddie Peng was the male lead, I refuse to believe it. Hu Ge felt more like the male lead to me. *swoons*
- This drama has Huskies pretending to be wolves. Watch it for the love of huskies.
- The female lead is not a damsel in distress. BONUS POINTS!
- Lots of fan service and hot chemistry between the two leads. Example: A hot make-out scene while bathing.
- SECOND MALE SYNDROME.
- So much angst in the second half. I cannot even.
- The female villain is such a cruel little piece of chicken poo! The extremely smelly sort.
- The ending is alright. Not sad… but it could have been better.
- Year: 2015
- Episodes: 50
- Genre: Historical, Romance, Wuxia, Fantasy
For anyone who loves pure angst. This one is for you.
Hua Qian Gu (Zanilia Zhao) has always believed that she is cursed.strangely, her scent lures worldly creatures and monsters. When she was born, her mother passed away during child birth. Her father past away when she turned 12. However, before he dies, he teachers her a few tricks to survive in this world alone. Deciding to take her life into her own hands, she heads to Mount Shu, where she hopes to do something about this curse of hers. However, bad luck follows her there also as upon reaching she is told that the leader of the sect has passed away. With such turn of evens, Qian Gu heads to another sect to seek help, where she meets Bai Zi Hua (Wallace Hu) who later becomes her mentor, teacher and maybe even her lover? … However, her curse is yet to leave her side… and her life is not meant to be so simple. If only things could just be simple for once.
- Zanilia Zhao.
- The demon king, Qian Gu (Ma Ke).
- Tragic Plot.
- Spoiler: Everyone dies. Almost.
- So many plot twists.
- The main lead kinda didn’t deserve her. His fetish for forbidden romance doesn’t help either. I know that I’m the drama the demon lord wasn’t a potential love interest but more of a ‘big sister’ BUT in the book, he loves her so I’ll pretend he loves her here as well! She would have done better with him anyway -.- <yes, I am bitter>
- Spoiler: The ending is sad. I’m not even going to sugar coat this.
- Only watch this if you find happiness in watching tragic things. Or if you have more balls than I have and these things don’t bother you.
- Year: 2016
- Episodes: 28
- Genre: Inter-species Romance, Immortal
Another one for those of you who enjoy or are not affected by sad endings.
Xue Ling Qiao (Kim Tae Hwan), is a mutant who has been asleep for centuries, is awakened by the unlucky actress Tian Jing Zhi (Wu Janice) in a car accident. He then forces his way into living at her house despite his mysterious past. On the surface, she acts like she’s not bothered by his super powers, but actually, she tries her best to get rid of this “monster.” Unexpectedly, their torment of each other gradually warms their relationship. This not only illuminates their romantic feelings but also reveals a shocking conspiracy that spans centuries. (Source: MDL)
- Humour present.
- Mutant-human love. I’ve seen everything now guys. Ghosts-human, vampire-human, werewolf-human, zombie-human, God-human, alien-human, mermaid-human, bird-human, and now mutant-human! I can now go sleep in my bed in peace!
- Janice Wu. Yes, I’m biased because the actress has the same name as I do (granted mine is spelt Jennise)
- The plot is alright. Interesting enough. Great for teenagers :D
- Crap ending. Just saying.
- Season 2 coming soon but with different actors~ so don’t expect continuity.
- Year: 2015
- Episodes: 24
- Genre: Historical, Comedy, Romance, Drama, Supernatural
A Chinese Remake of “Queen In Hyun’s Man”.
Basically, a man, Gong Ming (Jing Boran), from the real Queen’s time accidentally time travels to the future whenever his life is at risk, where he meets an up and coming actress Lin Xiang Xiang (Zheng Shuang), who is ironically playing the Queen in a new TV show/movie. As fates have it… the two fall in love.
- If you’ve seen Queen In Hyun’s man you’ll probably fly through this. That is why this is perfect for a Korean drama watcher transitioning into Chinese dramas. Familiar grounds.
- There are a lot of differences between the dramas. Good differences.
- Good chemistry between the couple
- No second lead syndrome
- A little more backstory in the main male lead’s life.
- Happy ending.
- It was good, but originals are always the best. So don't keep too many expectations.
Okay, I'll be honest~ these dramas are more than honourable mentions. They deserve to be on the list but I was restricted to 10 (which I tried to spread a little bit with the plot complexities and era in which they were set. Basically I wanted to keep it diverse here, something for everyone) HOWEVER ~ These dramas that I am listing now~ some of these dramas are on my own personal favourite's top 10 list, so do consider them as well. :)
Have you watched other Chinese dramas that you think would be on your Top 10 Beginner Friendly's list?
Started your journey with some other set of dramas? Please do share!
I'm always open to recommendations for Chinese dramas
(kinda like them better than K-dramas) ~ besides, sharing is caring! ^_^'
Thank you for reading!