About China Travel
Beijing: The national capital city, Beijing has more treasures to explore than most people have time. The Forbidden City is the largest imperial palace complex in the world, with 9,999 rooms – one room short of the number that ancient Chinese believed represented ‘Divine Perfection.’ For 500 years, the palace was the administrative center of the country and the residence of emperors and empresses of Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. Massive Tiananmen Square is said to be able to hold one million people. The Great Wall runs through five provinces, a distance of 2,587 miles. Beijing’s historic temples include Temple of Heaven, from the 1500s, Temple of Confucius, Great Bell Temple, Niujie (Ox Street) Mosque, built in 996 A.D., and Yonghe monastery. The Summer Palace is a classic garden of serene beauty.
Xian: The capital during 11 dynasties, Xian exemplifies the extraordinary continuity of Chinese civilization. The phenomenal Terra Cotta Warriors were discovered here. Life-size warriors guarded the tomb of Emperor Qin Shi Huang, first emperor of the Qin Dynasty (246-209 B.C). More than 7,000 soldiers, horses, chariots and weapons have been unearthed at this UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Banpo Village Remains, also in Xian, was a settlement of the earliest inhabitants, typical of the Neolithic Yangshao culture. Archaeologists have recovered nearly 10,000 tools, 45 houses, 200 cellars, pottery kilns and burial sites.
Shanghai: This modern international metropolis is never still as it strives to balance its rich heritage with its future dreams. The Bund on the waterfront is a mix of building styles from Art Deco to ultra modern. Nanjing Road’s 600 or so shops draw shoppers from around the globe. Shanghai Museum houses art, pottery, paintings and calligraphies. Jade Buddha Temple features white jade Buddhas imported from Burma in the 19th century. Jin Mao Tower in the finance district in Pudong is the world’s third tallest building.
Guilin: The city has long been renowned for its unique setting, surrounded by hills. Two rivers, Li and Taohua, run through Guilin. Flowers, grasses, themed gardens, bridges, a brief cruise from Guilin to Yangshuo travels through countryside layered with folk tales and legends, past valleys, bamboo groves, limestone pinnacles and rock formations. Jingjiang Princes’ City is a famous walled city within Guilin, dating from the Ming Dynasty. It once served as an ‘inner city’ occupied by the princes and their families. The area has fascinating formations such as Seven-Star Cave, Ludi (Reed-Flute) Cave, Camel Mountain and Elephant Trunk Hill.
Hong Kong: Hong Kong’s story is unique in all of China. It is almost as western as it is Asian. Under British control for more than 150 years, it was returned to China in 1997. Hong Kong is one of two special administrative regions that operate under the “one country, two systems” policy. The Chinese government is responsible for the territory’s defense and foreign affairs, while Hong Kong maintains its own legal system, police force, monetary system and customs and immigration policies. Hong Kong emerged as a leading financial center in the late 20th century. It is an intriguing city, including the New Territories and Macau. Victoria Peak, reached by a tram, offers panoramic views. Ocean Park is one of top theme parks and aquariums in Southeast Asia. Aberdeen Harbor is home to hundreds of trawlers on which generations of fishermen and their families have lived. From the Hong Kong Disneyland to the traditional Po Lin Monastery and Big Buddha to high-fashion shops, Hong Kong is a destination of delightful eccentricities.
Yangtze River: The Yangtze River is the longest river in Asia and third longest in the world. A cruise on the fabled river travels through almost theatrical gorges tinged purple, past hillside villages. The river flows south 3,720 miles to end in the East China Sea. It has more than 700 tributaries and about 350 million people live in the river region. In 1995, construction began on the controversial Three Gorges Dam, which is now the largest electricity-generating facility in the world.
Yangshuo, Longsheng, Kunming & Lijiang: This region is known for its extravagant scenery of jagged mountains, lovely rivers and charming towns. The Li River winds through Yangshuo, a small town that can be explored on foot or by bicycle. The road to Longsheng passes by the dramatic ‘Dragon’s Backbone’ rice terraces, where farmers have grown rice the same way since the 13th century. Here, too, are several Chinese ethnic minorities such as Zhuang, Miao, Yao and Dong. Kunming is a political, economic and cultural center. Its old city, once walled, coexists with modern commercial districts, astronomical observatory and universities. About 75 miles from Kunming is Yunnan Stone Forest, a fantasy forest of karst formations covering more than 115 square miles. More than 200 million years old, thousands of limestone rock peaks, pillars, and stalagmites rise abruptly out of the earth. Lijiang is a thriving city, home to more than a million people. Its most endearing feature is Old Town. In and around Lijiang ethnic minorities developed, including the Dongba and the Naxi cultures.
Suzhou & Zhouzhang: Suzhou is noted for its classic gardens, which can be traced back to the 6th century B.C. By the time of the Ming and Qing dynasties, Suzhou City had become a city with more than 200 gardens. Suzhou’s gardens are known worldwide. Canglang Pavilion (Blue Wave Pavilion), Humble Administrator’s Garden, Lion Grove Garden, and Lingering Garden represent various architectural styles of past dynasties. Zhouzhuang, the “Venice of the Orient,” is one of the best known water towns, crisscrossed with canals and waterways.
Dunhuang: Dunhuang is in Chinese Central Asia, west of Xian, a former capital of China. It skirts the Taklamakan Desert. Two branches of the famous Silk Road trade route meet in the city for the final leg to China’s capital. Dunhuaung’s fame stems from 492 caves, Mogao Grottoes. This phenomenal site features about 17,373 square miles of frescos, 2,415 painted statues, paintings, and about 50,000 Buddhist scriptures, historical documents, and textiles. The murals and stucco sculptures were created over a span of nearly a thousand years.
Tibet: At an average elevation of 16,000 feet, Tibet’s nickname is “Roof of the World.” The first ruler was Songtsän Gampo (604–50 B.C.), who united and ruled Tibet as a kingdom. The country has preserved its ancient palaces, rich religious history, temples and monasteries. Potala Palace, originally built in the 7th century, was rebuilt in 1645 and is noted for grand buildings, complex constructions and spiritual atmosphere. Jokhang Temple in the center of old Lhasa, built in the mid-7th century A.D., has a four-story temple with superb golden roofs. Tibet’s stunning mountains, crystal lakes and rivers are ideal for biking, trekking, rafting and mountaineering.
Suggested China Tour Itinerary
Day 1: Arrive Beijing, China
Day 2: Beijing
Day 3: Beijing
Day 4: Beijing / Xian
Day 5: Xian / Shanghai
Day 6: Shanghai
Day 7: Shanghai / Depart
Custom China Travel Options
Hong Kong (3 days)
This is the quintessential city of East meets West, where ancient monasteries mix with fashionable boutiques, and traditional street opera complements classic Hong Kong ballet.
Guilin (3 days)
The city has long been renowned for its striking scenery. Two rivers run through the city and it is surrounded by mountain peaks.
Yangtze Cruise (4 days)
The famed Yangtze River travels through legendary landscapes, past hillside villages and remarkable gorges.
South China (8 days)
Kunming, Lijiang and Yangshuo, like Guilin, are noted for striking scenery, including the serrated Yunnan Stone Forest, and for the region’s fascinating ethnic Chinese minorities.
Suzhou & Zhouzhuang (4 days)
Suzhou is noted for its classic gardens, and the water city of Zhouzhuang is best known for its canals and waterways.
Dunhuang (3 days)
Desert town where two branches of the famous Silk Road trade route meet. Famous for the Mogao Grottoes, Caves of the Thousand Buddhas, some 400 caves, housing astonishing frescos, texts and other Buddhist art.
Tibet (5 days)
Tibet is the "Roof of the World." Its capital, Lhasa carries its nickname, 'City of Sunlight' well; and remains an entirely unique and spiritual city.