Top Five Places To Visit In China

Top Five Places To Visit In China
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Jan 03, 2016

For travellers seeking both culture and adventure, China has it all. You can connect with ancient history, experience the old world charm of village life, and be dazzled by East meets-West city buzz, bright lights, amazing shopping. And, of course there’s the food! So where to start?

Lastminute.com’s China expert, Louise Ryan, shares her top tips.

Where to go:

1. Beijing:

Firstly tick off the ‘must do’ historical and cultural attractions. Get lost in the world’s largest palace, the Forbidden City, a huge network of imposing imperial buildings once home to China’s emperors. Cross through the ‘Gate of Heavenly Peace’ into Tiananmen Square. Many travellers pose for selfies here alongside hundreds of local tourists under the watchful gaze of Chairman Mao, whose huge portrait reminds you that this square has been the scene for incredibly sombre historic events.

For something a little less touristy, make like a local yourself and weave through the narrow laneways of historic Beijing neighbourhoods on a bike. Hire one at the base of the Drum and Bell Towers or catch a ride with one of the many peddle-powered rickshaws scattered around the area.

And finally, eat local! You can’t miss the Beijing roast duck expertly prepared with crisp condiments, pancakes and plum sauce at specialist duck restaurants. Try the Da Dong chain with many outlets across the city for guaranteed crispy goodness.


2. The Great Wall:

Just 90km outside of Beijing is a solid stretch of the Great Wall at Mutianyu (Note: you can also view the wall from Badaling which is closer to the city but much more touristy so it’s worth the extra travel). At Mutianyu, you can choose to hike up the steps or catch a cable car to the Wall – either way, the views of the path snaking over the steep mountainside are spectacular. And for a speedy way down the mountain, catch the toboggan ride to the waiting buses.


4. Xian:

This is a historic city, which seriously has to be seen to be believed. More than 3000 years old, the city is the undisputed root of Chinese civilization having served as the capital city for the Zhou, Qin, Han, and Tang dynasties.

Visiting the Terracotta Warriors (just 35km from the Xian city centre) is a bucket list ‘must do’ to tick off while in Xian.  The incredible warrior figures, date from approximately the late third century BCE and were discovered in 1974 by local farmers in Lintong District, Xi’an, Shaanxi province.

The figures vary in height according to their roles, with the tallest being the generals. You can make a day out of the visit, with the museum also offering a fascinating insight into the archaeological site.

Stay in Xian and catch either the local bus or jump on a tour to get out to the Terracotta Warriors.


4. Shanghai:

For 21st century city glam you can’t beat Shanghai’s cocktails, dazzling sky-high views, chic malls, high-end dining experiences, people watching and neon light displays.

Make sure you dedicate at least one day to shopping as this city is up there with the likes of Paris and New York. The fashion is amazing!  Well known shopping hot spots include the Tianzi Fang district, Nanjing Road and AP Plaza.

Finish your day with sundowners at one of the many high-rise cocktail bars overlooking the incredible city lights.


5. Hong Kong:

Complete your China discovery on the bustling, cosmopolitan island of Hong Kong.

Like other world cities, just walking Hong Kong’s busy city streets, admiring the towering skyscrapers and weaving downtown alleyways, is excitement in itself.

For a something unexpected – you may be surprised to know that Hong Kong has some pretty cool beaches! So if you need some down time head to Repulse Bay on Hong Kong Island.

If you really want to treat yourself, stay at the classic, chic and world famous The Peninsula Hong Kong. The daily afternoon tea is just gorgeous and the glamorous people watching in itself is worth the visit even if you aren’t staying there.


China: how to get around?

A significant slice of your budget is going to be spent on transport to get across the country. So make sure you plan and book major journeys in advance.

Planes – Fly to get across the country as quickly and easily as possible. There are loads of domestic carriers including: China Southern, Air China, Shanghai Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Beijing Capital Airlines and more!

Trains – The high-speed trains in China are an experience in themselves – ultra modern and at up to 300kph, they’re uber fast. On major routes, there are some good food options on-board and sitting in a cabin with some locals is a great opportunity to make some new friends. Within the major cities, the subways are surprisingly easy to navigate with English signs.

Taxi – Cabs are cheap by Aussie standards so hiring a taxi or private driver can be well worth it to save time and give you flexibility.

Where to stay?

In major cities, China’s accommodation ranges from multi-national hotel chains to traditional, more intimate courtyard guesthouses. While most hotels will offer free Wi-Fi, make sure you utilise the hotel’s concierge desk to help you book trains, restaurants and writing down addresses in Chinese.

When to go?

Spring and autumn provide comfortable climates for sightseeing in most regions of the country.

What to pack?

Your game face – Travel in China isn’t for the faint hearted. You may struggle to find English speaking locals, a breakfast that includes toast and in rural areas some small hotels even refuse board to foreigners. But fear not, getting off the beaten track will reward you in cultural spades.
Wi-Fi enabled phone & a Chinese SIM card – Google Translate will be your new best friend – fact. Remember to pick up a local SIM at airport arrivals.
An extra bag – From electrical to clothes, and designer bags to home wares – China’s plethora of shopping options will convert even the most die-hard non-shopper.

Have you visited China? Tell us about your travel experiences in the comments below!


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