China is a vast country known for its rich cultural and geographic diversity and natural splendour. It has a rich and enchanting historical legacy along with the profound impact of the marvels of modern technology and science. Every city and location is packed with glorious possibilities for the visitors. Here are a few of the key places that tourists must visit during the next Christmas holidays for a novel and unforgettable experience.
Beijing – The Capital City:
Beijing, the capital of the country has sights galore for the visitors. It preserves many of the traditions and heritage of having been the capital for more than 700 years now. The modernity,we find side by side, is no less majestic.The city is well connected by air to many parts of the world and the International airport here is the main one for most tourists arriving in China. Other cities in the country are well connected with Beijing by flight and efficient and very well-maintained high-speed trains.
You cannot miss the most famous landmark, the Great Wall. This ancient structure is the longest of its kind. The most popular section of the wall with foreign visitors is the Mutianyu. The traditional and well preserved Imperial Palace constitutes the main attraction of the Forbidden City. We can also visit the summer palace that the emperors of yester-years used during that part of the year. The place for royals to pray and worship was the Temple of Heaven.
Some of the unique experiences we can have are taking a rickshaw ride through the old alleys and visiting an old house with a courtyard. The Peking roast duck is a special delicacy. In the evening visitors can enjoy watching a kung fu display or a lovely opera. Spending 2 or more days in this great city can be a lifetime experience.
Xi’an – An Ancient Capital:
Xi’an is an equally famous city as Beijing and was the capital since 221 BC of a united China. It continued to be the country’s capital for the next 1000 years. It is but natural that the city is known for a large number of historical places and valuable relics. Xi’an also figured in history as the originating point of the famous trade route called the Silk Road. We know that this ran from Asia to Europe. Thus this city and the trade route played a major role in the commercial and economic relationship between the East and the West.
The city is packed with interesting and important tourist spots. The Terracotta Army is an impressive part of the royal tomb complex and is estimated to be as sold as 206 BC. The Old city wall that dates back to the 14th century is considered the world’s largest city fortification and runs to about 22 km.
The Wild Goose Pagoda is an ancient Buddhist temple and houses a huge library. The Muslim Quarter of the city is a place to try local snacks and meet the local Muslim folks. If you visit a local restaurant, you will be able to taste over 20 types of dumplings in different sizes and shapes. All in all, a visit to Xi’an will leave a permanent mark on your life.
Shanghai — China’s Largest City:
Shanghai, is a symbol of China’s modernity and rapid commercial and economic progress. It is treated by observers on par with cities like Paris and London in terms of its bustling life on one hand and remarkable modern skyscrapers on the other. The malls and various modern amenities make it a highly attractive modern city.
There are many attractive spots for visitors. The Bund area is great for exploring on foot by day or night. Here, the colonial era architecture and modern skyscrapers vie for attention on either side of the walk.
As a pleasant change from the hustle and bustle of the city we can visit the traditional Yu garden, to enjoy a serene and relaxed evening. The water town presents a beautiful sight of ancient canals. The tallest building in China is the Shanghai Tower. It offers a breathtaking view of the whole city and beyond.
The city boasts of the fastest train in the world – the Maglev, which touches a speed of over 430 km per hour. Another delightful experience is a cruise on the River Huangpu when you get to have a different and colorful view of the city. Tourists would take at least two days to enjoy many of the charms of this 21st -century city.
Guilin – Land of Karst Landscape:
Guilin, is a region of China that offers unsurpassed charm to attract tourists with its magnificent limestone scenery. It takes about an hour to reach Guilin from Hong Kong by flight and you don’t require any special or additional visa to travel to the place.
The beautiful Li River is a major attraction. Visitors can enjoy a leisurely river cruise or have a great time walking along the banks of the river. You can also take a helicopter ride over the river.
Foreign visitors would love to visit Yangshuo and experience the authentic rural life of the Chinese people. Another place that exudes natural charm is the Longji Terraced Fields . These rice terraces sprawling over the place present a wonderful sight. Often, you can watch the farmers busy with their farming activities. The favourite local food you might try out includes oil tea, rice noodles, and bamboo rice. A minimum of 3days would be needed to have a fairly good coverage to enjoy the charm of Guilin.
Chengdu – the Home of Giant Pandas:
Giant pandas are the special animals that fascinate any animal lover. We might be able to see one of two of them in some zoos around h world. However, there is nothing to beat the experience of seeing them in their natural habit and in good numbers in Chengdu. At Dujiangyan they even have a Panda Base where you can enroll for a volunteer program to look after the pandas. Another attraction is a giant statue of Buddha in Leshan carved out of the hill.
Visitorsare also sure to be charmed by the special authentic Sichuan food items such as Kung pao as well as spicy hotpot available here. You can even watch a local chef preparing such food. Jinli Old Street is a good place for this outing. A 2-3 days stay would give you enough time to enjoy the various charms of the Chengdu area,
Hangzhou – Shanghai’s Charming Backyard:
Hangzhou is a beautiful city located at one hour distance by speed train from Shanghai. The famous European traveler Marco Polo, who visited the city way back in the 13th century, described it as the ‘most elegant city in the world’. The local people also believe it is a heavenly place. Hangzhou has a rich royal heritage, Buddhist links and is also known for its tea culture.
The West Lake has an amazing scenic beauty and people enjoy walking, boating or cycling here. The Temple of Lingyin, a reputed Buddhist place of worship, shows a number of pagodas and grottoes to draw the tourists. The city is linked with Beijing by the Grand Canal. An unforgettable trip can be the tour of the tea gardens. A 2- day trip would be just adequate to cover the several sights of the splendid city of Hangzhou.
Suzhou – Water Towns and Gardens:
Suzhou is a great tourist attraction because of its water towns and Chinese gardens steeped in tradition. Two examples of these gardens are the Humble Administrator’s garden and Lingering Garden.
The natural gardens blend well with the man-made landscaping as well as the architectural structures. The place can be reached by high- speed trains in half an hour from Shanghai and five hours from Beijing. You can take rickshaw ride into the narrow streets to see local life at close range. Two days will give you enough time to enjoy the varied sights of Suzhou.
Majestic Beauty of Huangshan:
Huangshan is loved for its natural beauty and long and history. It has the Yellow Mountains, considered one of the best mountain ranges. It has a lot of pines and rocks of various odd shapes. Staying overnight on these mountains and watching the breathtaking sunrise will be simply wonderful.
You would also love to spend time into the Hongcun Village and Xidi village. These ancient villages share a history of around 800 years. These villages and the old style houses still retain the cultural heritage and serenity of the bygone days. You may need to spend about 3 to 4 days to get a complete feel of the place.
Hong Kong – City of Exquisite splendor:
Hong Kong, which was a British colony for centuries, is a fine blend of the British culture and Chinese traditions. It is a highly developed city with amazing shopping facilities at the numerous malls and the remarkable skyline with astounding skyscrapers. It is a very tourist-friendly place and hence there is always a constant flow of visitors into this island paradise that is now part of China. Street fashion factory located in the Causeway Bay is in itself a major tourist attraction.
Victoria Harbour and the surrounding with imposing skyscrapers offer a marvelous feast for the eyes especially when they are illuminated. The whole area can be viewed and enjoyed from the Victoria Peak that has a tram service. You can also take a ferry ride to go around the area. The theme parks like Disneyland and other gardens lend a special charm to the Lnatan Island. 2 to 3 days will be a reasonable period to allow you to enjoy the sights of Hong Kong well.
Lhasa – Gateway to Tibet:
Lhasa, is the capital of Tibet, which is now a part of China. It is the epic centre of Buddhist and Tibetan religious and cultural life. In the Tibetan language Lhasa means ‘place of the gods’. No wonder, the local people hold the place in great reverence.
The famous Potala Palace is the winter palace of Dalai Lama, the spiritual head of the Tibetans. It holds the Buddhist reassures like the holy stupas. The Barkhor Street of Lhasa is full of souvenir stores. You can watch the Lamas or the monks at close quarter if you visit the Sera monastery.
Just beyond the city of Lhasa,there is an abundant wealth of nature like Lake Namtso. The view of Mt Everest and Mt Kailash are awesome indeed. These are revered by the Tibetans. 4 or 5 days may be required to have a good holiday here.
Jiuzhaigou and its Alpine Lakes
Jiuzhaigou is located in the far way western region of China. It is known for its splendid and multicolored lakes. The mountainous forests around these lakes add to the natural charm. The colors of these lakes keep changing all through the day and year. This is explained as caused by the reflections of the mountainsides as well as the minerals and algae present in the lakes. The whole experience is enchanting and exhilarating for visitors.
Lijiang – An Awesome Ancient Town:
Lijiang is an ancient town with awesome natural beauty to boast of. It has around it a number of snow-clad mountains, glacial lakes, and astounding canyons. The beauty is truly breathtaking.
There is a well-managed cable car service that can take you to the Jade Dragon Mountain. From there, you can enjoy a marvelous view of the peak. The opportunity to hike along the deep gorge there is also available for those who have a spirit of adventure. Apart from the majestic natural beauty, we can also come across historical spots like the ancient towns of Lijiang and Shuhe.
The places mentioned above are truly a good sampling of all that China, the vast and most populous country in the world, has to offer. There is something for every kind of tourist. Historical monuments, modern cities and natural splendour at its best. Visiting any of these renowned tourist destinations, especially at Christmas time, will be an unforgettable experience to cherish all our life.