The ancient Great Wall of China is the most iconic landmark in the country. The wall is longer than 8,000 kilometers and was built from as early as the seventh century along an east to west line across the northern borders of China. In pre modern times the wall was recognized as a symbol of the cruelty and futility of the first emperor’s political and military ambitions. Today it is the most celebrated symbol of China.
China is an amazing country with its vast and diverse landscape ranging from subtropical forests in the south, deserts in the north, and forest steppes in the north-east to the deltas, hills and plains in the east. The country is divided into the regions of Northeast China, North China, Northwest China, Southwest China, Southeast China, East China and South Central China.
The country borders with Mongolia and Russia to the north, Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam to the south and North Korea to the east. China boasts a coastline of approximately 14,500 kilometers along the Pacific Ocean and is bounded by the East and South China Seas, Yellow Sea and Bohai Gulf.
At an elevation of more than 8,848 meters, Mount Everest is the world’s tallest mountain and straddles the border of China and Nepal. Mount Everest can be visited from either side. Prospective climbers train in a variety of ways to improve their physical condition for stamina, endurance and strength. Climbing the mountain remains a formidable challenge and one out of every four succeed.
The majestic Mount Everest is surrounded by Mount Cho Oyu, Mount Shishapangma, Mount Lhotse and Mount Makalu. Although the Everest Base Camp in Tibet is one of the most popular trekking destinations, there are climbers willing to take their chances with the Chinese bureaucracy.
Stunning Karst Scenery
China features some of the most spectacular Karst landscapes in western and central Guizhou, Yangzhou in Guangxi and Guilin. Danxia refers to various landscapes found in northwest, southeast and southwest China. The Danxia Landform in Fujian Province is one of the most unique and colorful formations on the planet.
Red sandstone and mineral deposits caused the unusual colors of the rocks. Danxia landforms are made of uplifted continental crust that eroded, exposing large layers of rock. Studies showed that long-term erosion provided large watersheds and localized erosion enhanced deepening the existing fractures. The landforms are also characterized by steep cliffs and multi-colored sandstone hills and mountains. In order to learn more about this phenomenal, ensure to visit the Zhangye Danxia Landform Geological Park in Gansu Province.
Guilin is a beautiful city with the Karst Mountains in close proximity. You can visit the well-known Elephant Trunk Hill on the banks of the Li River, explore Diecai Mountain with its butterfly museum and experience the relaxing area of Peach Blossom River. The Reed Flute Cave is situated approximately five kilometers west of Guilin and offers an impressive cave with stalactite and stalagmite formations. The carved stairway leading to the summit at Solitary Beauty Peak offers spectacular views of the city.
Yangshuo is also popular among tourists for its caves, temples and Karst peaks. The area around this city is renowned for its Karst formations throughout the world. The city offers more than 300 climbing routes and if you do not have your own climbing gear, you can rent some at Rusty Bolt Shop.
Sacred Sites in China
The Hanging Monastery is a remarkable sight and is located at the foot of the Mountain Heng approximately 64 kilometers southeast of Datong in the Shanxi Province. The monastery is built into a cliff and consists of about forty halls and pavilions supported by stilts and connected with each other by bridges and corridors. The temple houses around eighty bronze cast statues, clay statues and iron cast statues. The temple was originally built into the cliff to avoid the floods and to protect the monastery from sunshine, rain and snow.
The Mogao Caves is located about 25 kilometers from Dunhuang, Gansu Province and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The twelve Mogao Caves houses Buddhist art, manuscripts and a 35 meter Buddha statue. The Huyang Forest and Yueyaquan National Park are also in the area and worth a visit.
Another sacred site is the Longmen Grottoes near Luoyang. Longman is home to the world-famous flying Apsaras and fine works of Chinese calligraphy. There are more than 100,000 small and large Buddhist statues.
Mount Emei in the Sichuan Province, Mount Jiuhua in Anhui Province, Mount Putuo in Zhejiang Province and Mount Wutai in Shanxi Province are sacred mountains associated with Buddhism.
Massages in China
Various types of massages are available all over China. You can choose between head massages, foot massages, body massages or all three. The idea of a snake massage is not new and if you can have large slithering reptiles wriggle across your face, down your back and up your spine and it does not freak you out, it promises to be a soothing experience.
Cupping therapy is an ancient Chinese form of alternative medicine and the method of dry cupping appeals more to a relaxation approach. Wet cupping or controlled bleeding is also a method used in China.
Sauna and hot spring establishments in China typically offer massages for relaxation. However, “Happy Ending” massages are offered at many places. These massages are only legal in the city of Foshan in Guangdong.
Shopping in China
Silver coins, fresh water peals and pearl jewelry are sold in markets across China. Green and pale jade is made of a variety of stones mined in the country. Ningxia and Mongolian carpets are widely available in China, but it remains advisable to buy from stores with a reputation to uphold.
You should avoid purchasing products such as furs, bones, horns, skulls, ivory and coral in China. Under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species it is illegal to trade in such products; however, antique ivory items are legal.
China is well-known as one of the world’s leading manufacturers of clothing, accessories and shoes. You can purchase cheap clothes in China by bargaining for better prices. Items are usually priced with a much higher price and when you bargain, you can easily deduct a third or more from the price.
Tourist Visa for China
Tourist visas are fairly easy to get. A single entry visa is typically valid for a visit of thirty days and a double entry for up to ninety days. In order to apply for a visa you should have a valid passport, two passport photos and a copy of the Registration Form of Temporary Residence.