China Travel Guide, Simply Colossal

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china

If you want to compare China with any other country on our lonely planet, it would be a hard job, because China is very different and foreign, with an “alien” culture and fiercely nationalistic.

China is a huge country with an enormous population, the biggest on Earth actually, making for one fifth of world’s entire populace and also home for some of the most interesting place to visit if you’re into ancient cultures and architecture.

Let me mention just the Great Wall of China, visible from the Moon, the Forbidden City or the Terracotta Warriors. All these key touristic attractions come from China’s ancient and glorious past, from the times of the great emperors, the dynasties that define China as one of the world’s oldest and purest cultures.

Located in Eastern Asia and having a land surface approximately equal to the United States, China boasts with impressive figures : 1.4 billion people living on 9.596.960 square kilometers of land. The Chinese civilization is 4 millennia old and it has endured through its history all kinds of events, from revolutions to tumultuous upheavals, gold eras and harsh times until today’s economic boom.

China is the world’s most populous country and recently world’s biggest economy in terms of GDP. But the most important thing for you to remember as a potential tourist is China’s civilization, deep and complex, with an enormous cultural heritage that fascinated western explorers since immemorial times (Marco Polo is just an example).

China is a land of diversity, filled with contrasts. Its main cities, like Shanghai and Beijing (the capital) are highly developed urban areas, rivaling with any western mega city while the rural areas look timeless, just like 500 years ago, here you’re confronted with a very different reality.

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What to see, what to do

Even if it may sound strange, China’s beaches are actually pretty awesome, especially the tropical ones located on the southern coast (Sanya), in Hainan Island. Here you’ll find numerous and modern resorts, coconut palms and sandy beaches, the perfect place for watersports aficionados.

china-beach-holidayBeijing is the capital and place for numerous tourist attractions : The Tiananmen Square, a huge (and world’s largest) public square where those iconic events took place back in 1989, the circular Temple of Heaven dating back to the 15’th century, the Summer Palace (ancient imperial resort), the very beautiful Beihai Park and of course, the Forbidden City.

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China is also home to some of the world’s oldest Buddhist shrines, like the ones in Yungang Caves, located near Datong or the ones in Bingling Lamasery, near Lanzhou, dating from the 5th century, filled with carved figures and monuments.

Zhangjiajie’s Yellow Dragon Cave is the largest in Asia, the perfect place for exploring China’s “underground”, along with Guilin’s Reed Flute, Yangshuo’s Silver and Crown caves, with their stalagmites and stalactites lit by colored neon lights.

In China you can benefit from millennia of experience in acupuncture, massages and lots of herbal tonics, all part of TCM (traditional Chinese medicine). About 300 million people are riding their bicycles to get around, hence Cycling can be regarded as a national sport.

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The Great Wall of China is THE place to visit while you’re here, 2 thousand years old and stretching over 3375 miles on various terrains, including mountain peaks.

You can go hiking on Everest Base Camp in Tibet , horse riding  in inner Mongolia or go shopping for tea or silk in the ancient city of Hangzhou, the place that mesmerized Marco Polo hundreds of years ago (he said that Hangzhou was the most beautiful and magnificent city he ever saw).

Lhasa is the capital of Tibet, an iconic city  and the home of Dalai lamas, standing at 12,000 feet  of altitude.

Ming Dynasty Tombs are located near Beijing and here lie buried 13 of the 16 dynasty’s emperors.

Ming-Tombs

China is the place to go if you’re into mountain climbing (Everest mountains are the tallest in the world), here you’ll enjoy scenic natural wonders like the Qomolangma Nature Reserve and Namcha Barva, near the Brahmaputra River.

China harbors ancient Pagodas (Yingxian, Fan Bo or Kaifeng’s Iron pagoda) and while you’re at it, go take a peek at the giant Pandas in Sichuan province, a rare and endangered species.

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Shanghai is an urban powerhouse, a cosmopolitan city and one of the richest areas in China, where you can go shopping and visit the Temple of the City God.

Terracotta Army is a huge collection of old Chinese warriors, all of them made of clay, located 25 miles of the city of Xi’an. It was built way back in the 2nd century BC by the first emperor who managed to unify China, Shih Huang-Ti and this army was entombed with him to protect him in the afterlife (it was dug out in 1974).

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Food and Drink

Chinese cuisine is arguably the best in the world and is well renowned, especially Cantonese cooking (but this is just one “style”).

There are 8 major styles of cooking in mainland China : Fujian, Anhui, , Jiangsu, Hunan, Cantonese Shandong,  Zhejiang and Sichuan. Some of the most popular specialties include Peking duck, Mongolian hot pot, Shuijiao, dim sum, hairy crabs, xiao long bao, kung po chicken, dandan noodles, spicy beancurd, if you’re a gourmet you’ll enjoy the time of your life during your visit in China, believe me folks, Chinese people love to eat.

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Visa Requirements

To enter and visit China you’ll need a valid passport and an entry Visa.

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