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Delectable dim sum, floating islands, and a one-of-a-kind skyline are just some of Hong Kong’s unique features. Get an eyeful of traditional Chinese architecture in Ngong Ping village, then take the tram to the tippity-top of Victoria Peak for unparalleled views. The rocks and gentle hills of Nan Lian Garden will bring you inner peace, as will a calming cup of tea in a Stanley café. Become one with everything at the Chi Lin Nunnery, a serene Buddhist complex.
Welcome to a capital city whose story goes back at least 3000 years. In Beijing, you'll find a wealth of history, both ancient (the Hall of Preserving Harmony, Summer Palace, Forbidden City) and more recent (Chairman Mao Memorial Hall, Tiananmen Square). For the best market experience, choose the Dirt Market over the touristy Silk Market. A visit to the Great Wall, the longest manmade structure in the world, is absolutely essential.
The largest city in China is also its most cosmopolitan, offering visitors a chance to experience the past, present, and future all at once. The Huangpu River splits Shanghai into two districts: Pudong and Puxi. The Pudong skyline looks like it was ripped from the Jetsons, with the bulbous Oriental Pearl TV and Radio Tower looking a bit like a two headed lollipop. On the Puxi side, you can walk the Bund riverside district to get a taste of old Shanghai.
Formerly administered by the Portuguese, this high-energy city on the South China Sea is world-famous as a gaming destination and has also begun attracting visitors with an increasing array of shows, entertainment, and nightlife. The city's historic center, with its rich blend of Chinese and European architecture and culture, has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Perched in a high mountain valley, Huanglong or Yellow Dragon National Park offers invigorating adventure options. The ambitious can trek to Lhasa, whitewater raft or embark on multi-day river journeys. Alternatively, a five-mile trot brings you to five terraced, temple pools glowing with stunning hues.
China’s third-largest city is the capital of Guangdong Province and a thriving commercial center. Its location on the Pearl River and proximity to Hong Kong has made Guangzhou a strategic port for centuries. Glimpse old temples and gleaming steel towers on an architectural tour. Visit one of four Chimelong theme parks for thrills and chills. Once called Canton, Guangzhou is considered the home of traditional (read Cantonese) “Chinese food.” Foodies will find more restaurants per capita here than anywhere else in China.
Today the walls of the Ming dynasty and the Tang palace walls hint at the Xi’an’s glorious past. Stare in awe at the Terracotta Army, 7,000 terracotta statues of Qin Bingmayong Bowuguan warriors and soldiers. Dating from 210 BCE, they were discovered in 1974 and are still being excavated. Don't miss the Shaanxi History Museum or a chance to heat up at former imperial bathing spot, Huaqing Hot Springs.
Lijiang is a beautifully preserved ancient Chinese town, infused with cultural flavor. Strolling along the 800-year-old bridges and waterways of the world-famous Old Town district is like stepping back in time. Don’t miss the views atop Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, and the Dongba cultural center of Jade Water Village.
Hangzhou is the capital of Zhejiang Province and one of the seven ancient capitals of China. It was described by Italian traveler Marco Polo as the finest and most luxurious city in the world. The West Lake scenic area contains over 60 cultural relic sites and several attractions of natural beauty, and a cruise on the lake is a good option to view several sites. Hangzhou is also a good place to visit a tea plantation.
Suzhou is a major city on the lower Yangtze known for its canals, bridges, pagodas, and beautiful gardens. These gardens were built and owned by wealthy families and emperors hundreds of years ago, and make for a pleasant place to wander during nice weather. Suzhou is also a major center for silk production and manufacturing, and a tour of a silk factory here provides an interesting and educational glimpse of this Chinese textile industry. Suzhou is designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.