China

Colossal, dizzying and fiercely foreign, China is an enigmatic and mysterious country, where modernity and tradition, as well as progress and conservatism, all coexist in a tumultuous tangle.

China’s rich and fascinating culture stretches back over 5,000 years. From the buzzing metropolis of Shanghai to the majestic grandeur of Beijing, the evocative karst limestone scenery of Guilin or the splendours of Xi’an, China is begging to be explored. Shanghai’s energy will set your heart racing. To really understand what the city stands for take a boat trip down the Huangpu River, where past and present face off against each other in the incredible architecture. On the Puxi side, marvel at the eclectic assortment of 1930’s neoclassical architecture, The Bund, Shanghai’s Wall Street and the former Hong Kong & Shanghai Bank. On the opposite side is Pudong; Shanghai’s financial heartland dominated by The Shanghai World Financial Centre. A trip to the world’s highest observation tower, smog withstanding, provides amazing views.

Away from the river, wander the French Concession along the tree lined streets and admire the huge villas that hark back to a bygone era when Shanghai was the most decadent city in the world. Of course, Shanghai is renowned for its nightlife. Dine in some of the world’s most amazing restaurants overlooking The Bund, sip cocktails in decadent and glamorous bars and catch the city’s bright young things rubbing shoulders in the coolest of clubs.

Where Shanghai is bright and sparkly, Beijing has a subtle charm that slowly but surely washes over you. Recently described as a playground for contemporary architects, it is for history that you come to Beijing; Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven, the Summer Palace and the Great Wall of China. Take your time at each and revel in the sheer scale, size and aura of these places. Look closely and everywhere there is a story being told in infinite detail.

Time permitting, take a lateral diversion off the beaten track and head off down some of the Hutongs for a peek at everyday life. Learn about the booming contemporary art scene by heading out to the 798 art area. Visit the world famous Terracotta Warriors in Xi’an. Row after serried row of life sized warriors were made by master craftsman to accompany the first Emperor of China on his last journey. The city of Xi’an, at the start of the Silk Road, is also home to a wonderful Muslim Quarter. Wander around and delight in the tastes of the delicious street food.

Head to Guilin and the River Li, where you can still savour a traditional way of life with cormorant fisherman and farmers tending their rice fields. It is this landscape that has been revered by artists and poets for centuries. One trip is not enough to do China justice. There are endless lateral forays to be had: Xinjiang and the Silk Route; Gansu province, known as little Tibet; or Shangri-La in Yunnan Province.

China is by far the most-visited country in Asia and one of the top travel destinations in the world. According to statisticians,.

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