The tiger is no longer crouching and the dragon in no longer hidden. The country that was a mystery to the rest of the world is now a leading travel destination.
Here are our top ten things to do in China:
Shanghai is one of the largest cities in the world and a global influence in commerce, culture, finance, media, fashion, technology and transport. While Shanghai’s modern shopping and nightlife will keep you dazzled for days, we recommend visiting some of its buildings from the jazz age when it was home to decadent expats and opium gangs.
2. The Great Wall
The Great Wall was built between the 6th century BC and the 16th century AD to protect the northern borders of China from the Mongols. Surveys put the length of the Ming Dynasty Great Wall at 5,500 miles. There are several well-maintained sections of the wall just a few hours from Beijing.
3. The Terracotta Army
The extraordinary archeological site at Xi’an consists of thousands of life-sized sculptures depicting the armies of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China. It’s estimated that there are 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots and 670 terracotta horses at the site.
4. Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City
Tiananmen Square is the world’s biggest square. It was also, of course, a place that changed world events during 1989. In Tiananmen Square you’ll find Mao’s mausoleum and behind his huge portrait the Forbidden City, which was the imperial palace for twenty-four emperors during the Ming and Qing dynasties.
5. The Summer Palace
The Summer Palace is where the emperor resided when not in downtown Beijing. The summer palace is made up of a vast number of exuberant pavilions, halls, temples and bridges—all set around the glassy Kunming Lake.
6. Chengdu Panda Base
China is the home to the giant panda and the Chengdu Panda Base is the premier place in China to see these amazing (amazingly cute) creatures. The base has habitats that are as close as possible to the wild, allowing visitors to observe the pandas’ natural behavior close up. The base is China’s leading center for wildlife research and conservation.
7. Yangtze River Cruise
The Yangtze is the third longest river in the world. On a Yangtze river cruise you can view panoramic landscape of steep mountains, high gorges and farm terraces. You’ll stop at Buddhist temples and observe China’s massive infrastructure of hydro dams.
This ancient wooden city of Hangzhou is straight out of “Crouching Tiger”. It is set on a lake between Shanghai and Beijing and offers an oasis in the industrial jungle of modern day China.
42% of Suzhou is covered by water. It is often called the ‘Oriental Venice’. The city is full of canals, stone bridges and pagodas. It is home to two of China’s mot famous historical streets: Pingjiang Street and Shantang Street. Suzhou contains some of the best examples of classical Chinese gardens in the world.
10. Li River Cruise
The Li River twists and turns between lush green rock formations. The river is a photographer’s dream as it passes through some of the most dramatic landscape in the country—scenery that Chinese artists have been painting for centuries.
You could easily spend your whole trip to China enjoying its fabulous food, fast fashion and reproduction gear but it’s worth remembering the country boasts thousands of years of important history and an incredible landscape too.