China is one of the largest countries in the world and is actually home to some of the worlds oldest recorded history. The diversity of the scenery and culture is incredible – offering a complete land of contrasts in one country. In recent years, tourism to China has been on the increase as the world wants to see more of the vibrant culture on offer here.
The capital, Beijing, sits to the north east of the country, with Mongolia and Kazakhstan to the north of China. The far west covers incredible deserts and plateaus with mountain passes making travel difficult. Explore the Tibetan Plateau, the highest region on earth with an average altitude of 4,900m. In the south, bordering Nepal and India are the worlds highest mountain peaks of the Himalaya, which can be accessed from China in the region of Tibet, and heading south east China borders Burma, Laos and Vietnam. Hong Kong sits on the South China Sea and is a major stop off for long haul flights and worth a few days to look around this vibrant city and Macau which sits 40 miles to the west.
You would have to spend months here to see all of China’s highlights but the main tourist draw cards include the historic cities of Beijing and Xian with their imperial palaces, the Great Wall and the Terracotta Warriors and for animal lovers of course the Giant Pandas, which are best visited at Chengdu, though there are opportunities to see them in the wild.
China has amazing natural splendor, if you want to get off the beaten track and take an activity holiday, there are mountains, deserts, grasslands and rainforests to enjoy trekking, horse riding, cycling or rafting as well as bird watching and nature tours.
The Forbidden City in Beijing contains almost 9000 prayer halls, living quarters and rooms just north of Tiananmen Square. The Temple of Heaven grounds are a spectacle every morning filled with people practicing their morning exercises. The Great Wall of China was built as a defence against invaders and is a selection of ‘segments’ of wall around the countries Northern borders. Xian is a fabulous city steeped in history of the Silk Road with it’s city walls intact including watchtowers and is also the site of the Terracotta Warriors.
Shanghai sits on the Yangtze River Delta and has amazing architecture and a colonial history with a good variety of shops and nightlife. There are musuems, gardens and markets all around this region. Along the Yangtze Delta are many water villages, some over a thousand years old with mazes of bridges and canals. The garden cities of Suzhou and Hangzhou are very much worth a visit too. Visit areas around Guilin for dramatic limestone karst scenery and take a raft trip floating down the Li River.
China has many festivals throughout the year, colourful and spectacular celebrating anything and everything! One of the most amazing is the Harbin Ice Festival where whole buildings are sculpted from ice and snow.
Getting around China can by done by road or internal flights but one of the best ways is by rail. There are public trains and luxury trains and a great rail network. Add on or include some of the island states to a China holiday – Hong Kong, Macau or Taiwan are fabulous places to explore and contrast to China.
Ask me to put together a bespoke holiday to China with whatever form of transport and size of group you prefer or combine with other parts of South East Asia. There is so much to see here and such a lot of ground to cover, it’s important to have a great local guide with you to explain all the sights and culture. I can offer a range of fabulous escorted tours run by local specialists, ask me for details (a few are listed below).
Sample itineraries for great value escorted tours to China:
GRAND YANGHTZEE CRUISE 19 days from only £2,990 pp Includes an 8 night 5* cruise on the majestic Yangtze.
GLORIES OF CHINA – 14 days from only £1,890 pp a classic and concise tour of China’s major sites.
CHINA HIGHLIGHTS – 27 days from only £2,390 pp See pandas at the famous Chengdu Panda Reserve!
A luxury river cruise on the Yangtze in China with fabulous service, food and facilities on board including a spa and treatment rooms. Special wellness, Easter and Summer Camp departures.
Giant Pandas are one of the most endearing and rare animals in the world. Contact me to arrange holidays to see them in the wild or in sanctuaries where they are protected in China.
An amazing journey through ancient China, taking in historic sites such as Xi’an and Beijing and traversing mountains, plains and the Gobi Desert, following the oldest trading routes and links between Eastern Europe and Asia.
Walking on the semi-ruined peaceful sections of the Great Wall of China takes you far from the tourist crowds and close to day to day rural life in China including two nights in homestays.