China has long been a destination for tourists keen to stock up on fake designer handbags and electronics, but they have also been copying western buildings and even whole towns for years.

China is home to full-scale replicas of some very iconic structures, including the Eiffel Tower, White House, Sydney Opera House, and Great Sphinx of Giza. These “copycat” villages and theme parks are tourism-gold.

Tower Bridge is arguably one of London’s most impressive and well-known landmarks. A replica of the bridge in China is twice the size of the original.

The structure, which spans a river in the city of Suzhou, is 40 metres tall, and has four towers instead of two, and cost the country R170 million (£9.4 million) to build, according to The Sun.

The latest project is a R2.9 billion (£160 million) life-sized copy of the Titanic is also reported to be in the works since last December.

Late last year, work started on a £116 million life-size replica of the Titanic in China’s Sichuan province. Getty Images

Many of the copycat towns, based on villages in the UK or towns in the Austrian Alps, are almost completely empty but they are a big hit with investors and tourists, who like to visit for the novelty factor.

In ‘Thames Town’ a town near Shanghai, visitors can walk along cobbled streets and make phone calls from quintessentially British red telephone boxes.

Bianca Bosker, the author of Original Copies (a book about China’s Western-themed architecture) says China has a tradition of architectural mimicry that goes back over two thousand years.

“In the third century BC, for example, Emperor Qin Shi Huang celebrated his defeat of rival kingdoms by building replicas of their palaces in his own capital city,” Bosker told Forbes.

Other rulers showed off their authority by building elaborate gardens that were pre-modern versions of today’s theme parks. That past is key for understanding the present.”

See the photos and decide for yourself if these Chinese knock-offs hold up to the originals.

A replica of London’s Tower Bridge in the Chinese city of Suzhou is the latest copycat building to pop up in the country. Getty Images
A replica of the Karnak Temple, located at the abandoned Wanguo park in Wuhan, China, captures the Egyptian temple’s expanse and level of detail. Reuters Image
A 354-foot Eiffel Tower rip-off looms over a gated community in Tianducheng, China, where the architecture and landscaping mimics Parisian style. Reuters Image
Arc de Triomphe rises over 10 meters in Jiangyan, China. It’s one of three replicas of this Parisian landmark in the country. Reuters Image
A concrete-poured Great Sphinx of Giza towers over an unfinished theme park in Chuzhou, China. It looks like it still has its nose, though, unlike the real thing. Image: China Daily/Reuters
Its counterpart in the northern Hebei province, however, did get a nose lift. Egypt’s ministry of antiquities complained to UNESCO about this full-scale replica because it reportedly “harms the cultural heritage of Egypt.” Image: Reuters
Inspired by Moscow’s Kremlin, this white-walled, gold-domed complex houses several government bureaus and cost up to $3.5 million to build. Image: Reuters
The Louvre’s iconic pyramid was designed by Chinese-American architect I.M. Pei. This version in the Chongqing Municipality looks a little more gloomy. Image: Reuters
Beijing has its very own White House, sandwiched in a theme park alongside replicas of the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, and the US Capitol. Image: Claro Cortes IV/Reuters
The Roman Colosseum in Macau, China, seats 2,000 people and serves as an outdoor concert venue. Image: Paul Yeung/Reuters
Florentia Village is a retail park near Beijing that looks remarkably similar to Venice, including a Grand Canal with gondolas. Image: Alamy
This replica of Austria’s Hallstatt village is actually in China’s southern city of Huizhou in Guangdong province. Image: Alamy
Shanghai’s leaning Tower of Pisa is located over 5,000 miles away from the real deal, and yet, tourists take the same types of cheesy tourist photos with it. It’s a small world. Image: Reuters
The Chinese also have their own version of the French Arc de Triomphe, but theirs is in Zhengzhou, Henan province. Getty Images
This development just south of Dawang Qiao in Beijing is modelled after the Alpine Swiss town of Interlaken. Image: Alamy
Jackson Hole
Jackson Hole, a resort town in Hebei Province, China, is a replica of Jackson Hole in Wyoming, USA. You can find log cabins, Navajo rugs and cowhides a plenty in the strange town. Image: YouTube
Imitations of the Moai statues on Easter Island line a pedestrian walkway in Beijing’s business district. Image: Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters
A replica of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in Beijing, China, leads to a fake Sydney Opera House, one of Australia’s most beloved pieces of architecture. Image: David Gray/ReutersChin