China is a fascinating, diverse country that is one of my favorite places to recommend to travelers. A tour of China will push you out of your comfort zone, challenge you, amaze you. Its contradictions and ability to defy definition will present new intrigues each day, which travelers should come and see as soon as [...]
China is a fascinating, diverse country that is one of my favorite places to recommend to travelers. A tour of China will push you out of your comfort zone, challenge you, amaze you. Its contradictions and ability to defy definition will present new intrigues each day, which travelers should come and see as soon as possible before it changes yet again.
Beijing is a perfect example of this change. It is a sprawling world city yet it is easy for a traveler to spend a day exploring the old hutong neighborhoods, finding strange shops, eating dumplings (or more adventurous foods like frogs) and watching the older generation do their interesting exercises and playing games in parks. It is a marvel to me that place like this still exist in a place where many old neighborhoods are being destroyed to build skyscrapers. Yet for now anyway, it is still possible to see these communities in the great capital city. Of course, most people don’t travel to Beijing to see the nameless old communities with shared toilets but to go to the world class historic sites of Old China, like the Forbidden City, Summer Palace, Tiananmen Square, and the Great Wall.
Shanghai is a very modern city. It is a land of towering skyscrapers, the best shopping in China, as well as crazy nightlife. Walking down the street here you become part of a sea of people. It is fun to explore the different neighborhoods, each with its own personality, exploring boutiques in the French Concession to the local flavors of the Old City.
Chengdu is the destination for pandas. These beautiful animals have enchanted people with their cute, friendly appearances. There are other reasons to go to Chengdu — its location in the center of the country, its famous food, nice parks, excellent shopping, etc. but let’s be honest, we are willing to travel anywhere to see those pandas.
Xi’an is one of the top destinations in China because of its long history, which has resulted in many famous tourist sites, including the terracotta warriors. These have become a symbol, much like the Great Wall, of the history and the grand scale that China is so famous for. The history of the city, with beautiful old temples and pagodas, make Xi’an of particular interest to those interested in Chinese as it used to be. But Xi’an is not a city stuck in the past, and is a good place to experience modern Chinese city life as well.
The juxtaposition of the old and new in China is so striking at this moment that a tour is almost a necessity. This makes an interesting experience for travelers. While walking down a street of high-rises and malls you can find a lady selling fresh goat milk directly from her goats as if she were in the countryside. The old, the new, and the pandas make China such an interesting destination for the traveler.