My lovely friend Martin has been kind enough to guest blog this week with his Top 10 for China. He has been studying there for 11 months and has really got to know the country. check out his Top 10
CHINA: My Top 10 Sights
1. The Great Wall
Stretching all the way from the desert fortress of Jiayuguan to the Bohai Sea, the Great Wall is one of China’s must-see places. Marvel at the epic scale and scenery as you walk along one of the less touristed sections such as Simatai or Jinshanling, but don’t underestimate the difficulty – you will feel it the next day!
The Great Wall at Jinshanling
2. Beijing: Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven and the Summer Palace
The capital is a fascinating mix of the ancient and modern and offers a glimpse into China’s past and future. Walk through the gargantuan Tiananmen Square into the lost world of the Forbidden City as you discover China’s imperial past. Afterwards hit up Wangfujing, Beijing’s coolest shopping district and try eating a scorpion, among other things.
Temple of Heaven
3. Xian – Terracotta Warriors and the Muslim Quarter
China’s onetime ancient capital is a bustling modern city filled with historical gems and warm people. Before you visit the terracotta warriors to view the majesty of China’s dynastic past, soak up the atmosphere of Xian’s Muslim Quarter, eat street food and visit some of the many shops and galleries.
The eighth wonder of the world – China’s terracotta warriors
Just having played host to the 2010 World Expo, China’s biggest, most modern city has a different vibe to other parts of the country. But look beneath the glitzy exterior and find beautiful temples, great restaurants and ultra-hip art galleries not to mention some of China’s most recognisable architecture.
Qingdao isn’t just known for hosting the sailing events of the 2008 Olympics. The city is home to some of China’s best beaches, as well as Tsingtao – China’s most famous beer, which the locals drink from plastic bags. Get there in October for the Chinese answer to Oktoberfest at the Tsingtao brewery.
Another former capital, Nanjing was the scene for one of the darkest chapters in modern Chinese history – Reflect on ‘the rape of Nanking’ as you visit the city’s memorial hall. Also make a visit to Purple-Gold Mountain and the impressive Sun Yatsen Mausoleum and Ming Xiaoling Tomb.
View from the top: Sun Yatsen Mausoleum
It can sometimes be difficult to find peace and quiet in China, but chilled-out Dali is as good a place as any to look. Wander about the old town with its street stalls and parks, climb nearby mountains and make a trip to the three pagodas, some of the oldest buildings in southwest China and a symbol of Dali.
8. Chengdu Giant Panda Research Base
The highlight of any animal lover’s trip to China, take a day-long panda ‘internship’ and get to hang out with these amazing, beautiful and endangered animals for a day. Learn about panda habits, conservation and get the chance to have a photo with a baby panda.
Located in rugged northern Sichuan, this world heritage site’s pristine wilderness of crystal clear limestone lakes and amazing underwater forests make it a clear contender for the ‘most beautiful place in the world’. Ditch the crowds and walk the mountain trails, visiting Tibetan villages along the way.
Jiuzhaigou National Park
10. Chinese New Year:
Catch China’s biggest party anywhere in the country! Watch lion and dragon dances, eat great food and get caught up in the spirit as you try not to step on the fireworks being let off by crowds of revelers in the street. Chinese new year literally ends with a bang, with the lantern festival concluding the festivities for another year.