The 'Sleeping Dragon' has awoken. China is now the
country on everyone's lips for its booming economy rather than for
its rich and fascinating culture that stretches back over 5,000
years. From the buzzing metropolis of Shanghai to the majestic
grandeur of Beijing, the evocative karst limestone scenery of
Guilin or the splendours of Xi'an, China is begging to be
Shanghai has an energy that will set your heart racing. To
really understand what the city stands for take a boat trip down
the Huangpu River. On the Puxi side, marvel at the eclectic
assortment of 1930's neoclassical architecture. The Bund was
Shanghai's Wall Street and taking pride of place reflecting this
sentiment is the former Hong Kong & Shanghai Bank. On the
opposite side where two decades ago were paddy fields and market
gardens is Pudong; now Shanghai's financial heartland dominated by
The Shanghai World Financial Centre.
Where Shanghai is bright and sparkly, Beijing is massive and
secretive with a subtle charm that slowly and surely washes over
you. And what delights Beijing has in store. Recently described as
a playground for contemporary architects, it is for history that
you come to Beijing. Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, the
Temple of Heaven, the Summer Palace and the Great Wall of
Tiananmen Square is huge and imposing being the largest public
square in the world. If standing to attention is your thing, go to
the daily flag raising and lowering ceremony.
Directly opposite Tiananmen Square is the Forbidden City. As you
walk through courtyard after courtyard you realise that it truly
was a city within a city and for five hundred years was prohibited
to all but those who resided within its walls. Today it is the
world's largest and best preserved palace complex. The Temple of
Heaven, less grand and imposing than the Forbidden City is a
delight and a perfect example of Ming architecture. No trip is
complete without a visit to the Summer Palace. Built as a
playground for the Imperial Court, take in the temples, courts,
pavilions and lakes and wile away a few hours.
Time permitting, take alateraldiversion off the beaten track and
head off down some of the Hutongs for a peek at everyday life.
Learn about the booming contemporary art scene by heading out to
the 798 art area. And of course you must go to the Great Wall.
Touristy perhaps but a sight to behold as it snakes up and down
along the contours of the steep hillside.
Visit the world famous Terracotta Warriors in Xi'an. Row after
serried row of life sized warriors is a sight to behold. They were
made by master craftsman to accompany the first Emperor of China on
his last journey. The city of Xi'an, at the start of the Silk Road,
is also home to a wonderful Muslim Quarter. Wander around and
delight in the tastes of the delicious street food.
Those who just want sun, sea, sand and five star luxury should
head to Sanya. This is China's Cote D'Azur with hotels and spas to
contend with the best in the world. If after something still
typically Chinese, head to Guilin and The River Li. A trip down the
River Li to Yangshou is a must for visitors to the area.
One trip is not enough to do China justice. There are endless
lateral forays to be had: Xinjiang and the Silk Route; Gansu
province, known as little Tibet; or Shangri-La in Yunnan