china

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 explored.

 

Chinese New Year TraditionsFenghuang Amcient CityFloating MountainsLearn Kung Fu in a Shaolin TempleSee Giant Pandas in Sichuan ProvinceQin's Terrcotta WarriorsThe Great Wall of ChinaGo Cruising on the Yangtze River

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 China.

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 Province.

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