Exploring China

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China is a land of rich history and the country has contributed a lot in the area of philosophy, science and overall world culture. Home to a fifth of the world's population and buzzing hub of commerce, China has much to offer for everyone and will be sure to provide a memorable experience.The Chinese civilization dates back thousands of years. And while their turbulent modern history colored and even destroyed some cultural perspectives, there is still much to see and learn. China is a vast country with wide-ranging landscapes and climatic conditions, so a decision about the best time to visit should be based on the area you plan to visit.

A general rule of thumb, the most comfortable season of the year is autumn (September to October). During that period, temperatures are reasonable throughout China (about 50-72F) with a limited amount of rain. Spring can also be delightful with the average temperatures roughly the same as in autumn (about 50-72F), but the weather can be quite unpredictable. Summer (from June to the end of August) can be extremely hot with temperatures well above 72 degrees, especially in the famous 'four furnaces' of China: Wuhan, Tianjin, Chongqing and Nanchang. Summer is also a rainy season, so visitors should not forget umbrellas, light raincoats and rubber/plastic shoes. Winter can be incredibly cold especially in the north, but the off season prices usually lead to some great travel deals.

The Cities

  1. Shanghai

Located on the East China Sea and the mouth of the Yangtze River, Shanghai is the largest city and most developed city in China. Its skyline is filling with skyscrapers while shiny shopping malls, luxurious hotels and prestigious arts centers are rising alongside. The city nights in Shanghai are representative of the Western view of China cities with bright neon signs, bustling streets and numerous businesses. The most popular place to go for a stroll is the Bund, Shanghai’s colonial riverfront along Huangpu River. The Bund (Zhongshan Road) has remained virtually unchanged and is instantly recognized as one of the famous landmark waterfronts in Shanghai for many, many years. There are various temples and gardens within Shanghai that make for some beautiful sightseeing, because some of them were left unattended in the past which enabled the forces of nature to reclaim them. These temples and gardens have since been restored and have now become tourist attractions from people all over the world.

Shanghai_China Tower

2. Beijing

The capital city and remains one of the most popular places to visit in China. Its history dates back more than 3,000 years and much of that history is still alive within its borders. Beijing literally means Northern Capital, a role it has played many times in China’s long history. The city is home to Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, the National Museum of China, as well as the Old and New Summer Palaces. These and other attractions are perfect for observing Chinese gardens, ancient architecture and Chinese culture from a range of periods in the country’s long history.

3. Xi’an

Once the start of the indispensable Silk Road that made commerce between many countries in Eurasia possible. It was also the imperial seat for no fewer than eleven dynasties, before the unification of China between 1000 BC and 1000 AD making it one of the Four Great Ancient Capitals of China. Its most famous attractions is the rather recently discovered Terracotta Army, the protectors of the tomb of the first emperor of China. Xi’an also boast 14th century city walls that are more than 12 km (8 miles) long. They are not only a part of the city history, but traveling in Xi’an sometimes requires going under, on or around them.

4. Yangshuo

A magnet for backpackers because of its affordable prices and laid-back atmosphere, but today it draws all sorts of travelers to enjoy its beautiful scenery and karst mountains. Yangshuo also makes a good base to take a day trip to Guilin for a leisurely trip on the Li River. Many travelers choose to rent bicycles for the trip back, since the route is relatively flat and gives them the opportunity to view farmers toiling in their fields.

hong kong sign

5. Hong Kong.

Located off China’s southeastern coast, Hong Kong is a glittering, world-class commercial center where Chinese culture, British colonial influences and modern day high-technology blend together. While it contains the world’s highest concentration of skyscrapers and one of the highest population densities, Hong Kong also offers plenty of green spaces, mountain views and beaches. Some of the must-see attractions include the famous Victoria Harbor, which is a spectacular sight at night with all the dazzling skyscrapers and The Peak, Hong Kong’s highest point which offers awe-inspiring views of the city.

A country of contrasts, China offers thriving cities, but also extremely rural and underdeveloped areas in the western part of the country. This is a country stuck between the developed and developing world. Rapid change has attracted curious people from around the globe, so it’s a great time to dip your toes into this amazing culture and explore the country.

Pack a well-made pair of travelling shoes and remember the words of Laotzu:

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step