"Steeped in tradition yet fizzing with energy, China is quite simply one of the most remarkable places on the planet."

Touring in China

Steeped in tradition yet fizzing with energy, China is quite simply one of the most remarkable places on the planet. The world’s most populous country is on track to become its largest economy later this century, and the pace of change over the last 30 years has been astonishing. Communist discipline married to turbo-charged capitalism has seen provincial backwaters mushrooming into megacities practically overnight, and there’s a newfound swagger visible in everything from Shanghai’s skyscrapers to the show-stopping spectacle of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Nevertheless, vast swathes of China remain deeply rural in nature, and you don’t have to travel far from the big cities to find a way of life that has barely changed in centuries. China’s top attractions are well known - the Great Wall (no, you can’t see it from the moon), the Terracotta Warriors of Xi’an, and the extraordinary Forbidden Palace in Beijing. But there is so much more to China than the well-trodden path, from the lush limestone landscapes of Yunnan and the thrill of cruising the Yangtze to the unique Buddhist culture of Tibet. China also sits at the eastern end of the old Silk Road, which winds its way northwest across the Taklamakan Desert through the distant province of Xinjiang, with its distinct Central Asian culture. Whether you’re a China novice or a returning visitor, this vast country simply has so much to offer.

 

Touring Highlights of China

  • The Great Wall of China is one of the most impressive engineering feats of the ancient world. The fortifications stretch from Korea in the east to Xinjiang in the west, and sections of the wall date back nearly 3,000 years.
  • Xi’an, at the eastern end of the old Silk Road, is home to the remarkable Terracotta Army. Hundreds of warriors, chariots and horses were buried here with Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China, in around 210 BC.
  • Hong Kong stands apart from the rest of China, a fast-moving East-meets-West city of towering skyscrapers, mouthwatering foodie treats and stunning harbour views.
  • Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, is famous for both its sizzling cuisine and its panda breeding and research centre, where you can learn all about these adorable creatures.
  • The city of Shanghai has come to symbolise modern China, a futuristic metropolis of neon-lit skyscrapers that sit alongside the grand neoclassical architecture of the Bund.
  • China’s capital, Beijing, is a truly thrilling place. At its heart is the remarkable Forbidden City, the residence of the Chinese emperors for nearly 500 years.
  • Stretching from the mountains of Tibet to the Mekong River, Yunnan province is perhaps China’s most diverse region, home to an incredible mix of ethnic groups, spectacular rice terraces and beautiful temples.
  • Known as the ‘roof of the world’, Tibet is an impossibly picturesque and deeply spiritual place, with a fiercely independent Buddhist culture that has often set it at odds with the Chinese government.
  • A third of China’s population depends on the Yangtze River, and a cruise along this mighty waterway is an eye-opening experience; not least the spectacle of the vast and controversial Three Gorges Dam.
  • China’s remote north western province, Xinjiang, has an altogether different feel to the rest of the country, home to an independent-minded Muslim people, the Uighurs, and the vast expanse of the Taklamakan Desert.

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