Exploring China

By on June 12, 2017

Decided to explore the Orient? You’re on an adventure and China holidays will be part of this. This is a quick guide to getting the best out of China while you’re out there and making the most of this unbelievable part of the world. Remember to take your camera. You’re going to be doing some serious snapping.

Exploring China
Image by maywong_photos, used under Creative Commons licence 2.0

How to truly enjoy China?

If you really want to soak up China, take your time. Unless you do something totally horrendous, you can always return! Don’t just charge through the Great Wall (besides, it’s not something you can just gallop along), the Terracotta army, the Forbidden City and a cruise of the Three Gorges all in one visit. Savour each and, of course,
get some piccies!

One of the best ways to get the most out of China is by booking a tour and indulging in a bit of luxury travel. You might be faraway, but you won’t have to worry so much about planning the day ahead, about jumping on and off connecting subway trains to get to your destination or about stopping to ask locals for directions to different attractions. You’ll be travelling in a comfortable coach or on an easy going cruise liner and leaving all those hassles to a tour guide or tour manager, who will take care of getting from you from A to B safely and in and out of each attraction on the itinerary as you travel around the country, whether you’re calling in at the Forbidden City or stopping off in Shanghai.

A tour can also place you at the heart of some China’s most inspiring scenery. If you go on a cruise, for instance, you can sail down some of the country’s most mesmerising rivers, like the Yangtze. Seeing Chinese mountains from a privileged vantage point such as a river is an enriching travel experience, not to mention the opportunity to take some truly fantastic pictures. A good tip for taking photographs of the river itself is to avoid using the flash, and if you wish to include anyone in your pictures, try to have them stand near a light source so that you don’t need to use the flash.

There’s also scope to visit historic cities, like Nanjing, which was the national capital during the Ming dynasty, and Wuhan, which is home to the Hubai Provincial Museum (renowned for exhibits including objects from the 443 BC tomb of the dignitary Marquis Yi) and modern cities like the thriving Shanghai with all its skyscrapers and its Bund waterfront.

Ultimately, you can have the best of both worlds when you’re on a tour of a country like China, taking in the urban and the natural. You’ll also be accompanied by the other travellers on the tour, so you can make new friends all the while.

Seeing China

China’s cultural and scenic landscapes are a real opportunity to deviate from the beaten path and see the authentic China. At the same time, however, there are some places you’ll feel you just can’t leave China without seeing. Here’s a selection of places to get your teeth and travel boots into:

Quanzhou

This historic port in the Fujian province of China is often forgotten about. Visitors head to the popular Xiamen, situated almost 60 miles to the southwest, unaware that this was actually China’s largest port during the Song and Yuan dynasties (960–1279 and 1271–1368, respectively).

Today, you can see the Maritime Museum, which looks slightly Soviet in its architectural style, and the remains of Song dynasty ships at the museum. You can also step in the temples of the city, a testament to the beliefs of the seafarers and their desire for peace, health and good fortune.

Beijing

Naturally, Beijing hogs a lot of the limelight, thanks to its famous Forbidden City. In the days of the Forbidden City, anyone who entered illegally paid with their life as the admission fee, but that’s not the case now of course. In fact, today you must enter through the Meridian Gate, which was originally for the use of the emperor only. How times have changed!

Then there is the Great Wall, a monumental feat of (military) engineering and possibly the most beautiful wall you’ll ever see, built to provide defence against the north. Well, that was the original idea, anyway. Not a lot of people actually know that, although the construction of the wall was continuous, this wall and UNESCO World Heritage site is not a continuous structure but rather works with other features of the land, such as mountains, to provide this defence against would-be invaders.

Great Wall of China
Image by capelle79, used under Creative Commons licence 2.0

Yangtze River

China’s main river, the Yangtze River, is the third longest river in the world and stretches a whopping 3,915 miles. Merely the basin of the river contains a third of the national population! The river itself runs parallel to the Mekong and Salween rivers. All three flow in relative proximity for over 250 miles.

Whatever you choose to see in China, you’ll find yourself wanting to return to see more. Plan your trip, but remember to take your time and truly experience the authentic China. It’s not to be missed.

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