When you mention China, most people think of massive cities, and industry on a scale the world has never seen before all contributing to breakneck economic development. Did you know though, that China has one of the most varied landscapes of any country in the world? As well, there are 43 UNESCO World Heritage Sites scattered across this vast country. China is a truly unique and amazing destination that can easily accommodate pretty much anything you could possibly want to do while you are on vacation. To give you just a small taste of what China has to offer, I’d like to take you one a little tour of some of the more popular places.
is located in the north east part of the country, and the cultural centre of China. This city was once the home of the many Emperors of China and it’s the centre of government in modern China. So important was this city to the Chinese people that they protected it with a massive wall we know today as The Great Wall of China. This incredible construction covers an area of more than 21,000 square kilometres, and is one of those 43 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. This fascinating city is also home to the Forbidden City, a massive complex of pavilions, halls, royal homes and palaces. The architecture is really amazing, with marble, glazed tiles, stone carvings, and metal cladding on doors and walls. It is breath-taking to visit. The city isn’t all just old buildings though; a vibrant nightlife is there for you to discover as well, coupled with world class theatres and restaurants representing pretty much every part of the world. One place you definitely should try to visit for dinner is a Russian restaurant known as Traktirr; the steaks and Chicken Kiev here are excellent.
Qinghai, also known as Kokonor or Tsogon, is a huge province located in the centre of China. If you love nature and wide open spaces, then you will feel right at home here. In this province you will find some really interesting features such as the massive Qinghai Lake which covers almost 4500 square kilometres, providing a unique habitat for fish, birds and other animals. Surrounding the lake is a ring of incredibly high mountains, some rising more than 4000 metres above sea level.
Back on the east coast, we can turn our attention to the province of Shandong. This is one of the most heavily developed parts of the country, and the second most populated region due to the huge number of jobs available in the many port cities that line the coast. The capital, Quigdao, was under German control from 1898 to 1914, and theny left behind a legacy in making beer. Today, the Qingdao brewery produces some amazing beers in the traditional methods introduced by German Jesuit monks. In 1991, the Qingdao Beer Festival was established. It is closely modelled on Munich’s Oktoberfest, and adds a very unusual and interesting flavour to the beautiful resorts in Qingdao.
Now it’s time to turn your attention to the south central part of China and the Sichuan province. This region is famous for its rich and savoury food. The people living here are very proud of their food; in fact Sichuan food is considered to be one of the Four Great Traditions of Chinese food. You can describe the food as spicy, hot, fresh and fragrant with flavours produced by pepper, ginger, garlic, star anise, chilli and fermented soy beans. This province has its share of UNESCO World Heritage Sites as well, including the Giant Buddha carved into Leshan Mountain, and the lovely Jiuzhaigou National Park.
The last place we’d like to take you is to the Yunnan province in the south of China. This is considered to be one of the most diverse regions of the country. Here you will find mountains rising high above plains and meadows along the Tibetan border, and valleys filled with lush tropical vegetation. This province is home to two of the oldest cities in China, Dali and Lijiang. In 1997, the centre of Lijiang was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and you can see why when you visit. The old town is lined with ancient whitewashed homes which are topped by the classic Chinese curved roof. The provincial capital of Kunming is definitely worth a visit. If you do go, make sure you check out the Stone Forest – it is really amazing.
No matter where you go in this vast and incredible country, you will be given a warm welcome.
Shandong ©Matthes Telle