A lifetime’s supply of culture and beauty
It would take several lifetimes to explore all that China has to offer, and embarking on a China vacation means opening yourself up to unforgettable new experiences each and every day.
Join pilgrims in a hike up the country’s highest sacred peak, and explore iconic sites like the Forbidden City and Great Wall of China. Cycle through landscapes dominated by towering limestone peaks, and discover the ancient culture still hidden among the high-tech skyscrapers of the great cities. Get a taste of the extraordinary variety of Chinese cuisine in its delectable regional dishes, and experience tranquility in the country’s furthest reaches on the Tibetan Plateau.
At first glance, Beijing appears futuristic: its skyline is dominated by colossal skyscrapers, many with cutting edge designs, while the numerous 2008 Olympic Games venues - notably the 'Bird's Nest' - remain in place across the city. But among these modern architectural marvels, Beijing has much in the way of historic buildings, with six UNESCO-protected sites - none more famous than the Forbidden City. Explore this metropolis on foot or by rickshaw, discovering the ancient hutong alleyways and savoring the taste of Peking Duck, the city's signature dish.
Towering skyscrapers showcase the fast-growing modern side to the city known as the 'Pearl of the Orient', while the Bund riverfront's colonial buildings reveal an earlier chapter in its history. Different again are the city's temples, such as the famous Jing'an Temple, which provide a calm escape from the frenetic activity on the streets. Explore the city on foot and take in all the details, leaving plenty of time to try mouthwatering local dishes in some of Shanghai's internationally celebrated restaurants.
Located just outside the Silk Road city of Xian, the Terracotta Warriors are one of China's greatest treasures, and coming face to face with them for the first time is an unforgettable experience. Unearthed in 1974, the terracotta soldiers and horses form a whole army of models, buried with the emperor in around 210 BC. In Xian itself, hop on a bike to explore the network of alleyways that make up the Muslim Quarter, and discover the city's history in the Ming-era city walls.
It's easy to see why Chengdu's Giant Panda Research Center is a major draw to this fast-growing city. A tour of this research facility lets you come face to face with these gentle creatures, as well as teaching you about the important conservation work being done to protect this rare species. As well as pandas, you'll also discover traditional teahouses and peaceful monasteries and temples in and around Chengdu.
Join pilgrims and monks in ascending the steep steps up the slopes of 3,000m-tall Emei Shan, the highest of the country's four sacred Buddhist mountains and the place where China's first Buddhist temple was built. The ancient pathway takes you through atmospheric pine forests and sometimes even into the clouds, and your perseverance is rewarded with numerous cultural gems, not least the world's biggest Buddha.
With its cobbled streets and narrow canals, the UNESCO World Heritage old town of Lijiang has a real fairytale quality to it. The Jade Dragon Snow Mountain range is a picturesque backdrop to the city, while several different cultures mingle in the architectural styles of its buildings. Look out for the distinctive bright blue costumes of the Naxi people as you sip tea in a quaint tea shop and watch the world go by.
On the banks of the Erhai Lake, with a stunning backdrop to the Cangshan Mountains, discover the cultured city of Dali. Soak up its relaxed atmosphere as you explore cobbled streets and buy souvenirs from the local craft shops. Get to know sites such as the famous Three Pagodas, and head out of the city around the shore of the lake to discover unspoilt fishing villages and see thousands of butterflies filling the air at the serene Butterfly Spring.
Known as the 'City of Eternal Spring', Kunming has a mild climate that makes it a delight to explore on foot. Witness the China of days gone by at the colorful Bird and Flower Market, and get a taste of the city's favorite dish, 'Across-the-Bridge Noodles', named after a local legend. Further afield, discover the fascinating Stone Forest, a fascinating landscape of stalagmite-like limestone formations, and head into the Western Hills to find the area's beautiful temples.
Striking limestone peaks characterize the landscape around Guilin, where a cruise on the Li River provides a relaxing way of exploring this fascinating area. Discover the legends that bring to life the extraordinary Reed Flute Cave, and get to know Guilin itself: its leafy streets are small enough for a walking tour, which is easily the best way to discover its hidden gems.
On the Li River, fishermen use trained cormorants to catch their fish, an ancient art that adds to the feeling of stepping into a bygone era when you visit the relaxed southern town of Yangshuo. The backdrop to this ancient scene is tens of thousands of towering limestone peaks, which form a unique landscape best appreciated on a cycle around the local villages. Don't leave Yangshuo without shopping for souvenirs in the town's charming handicraft shops and markets.
Also known as Shangri-La - "paradise" - this magical city lies high on the Tibetan Plateau in a remote corner of Yunnan Province. Those intrepid enough to make the journey here are richly rewarded by treasures such as the 300-year-old Songzanlin monastery, along with spectacular mountain scenery all around. The city shares its culture and religion with Tibet, making you feel as though you've entered another country.
The name of the Tibetan capital translates as 'Palace of the Gods', and this enchanting city certainly lives up to its evocative name. The Dalai Lamas once made their home in the mighty Potala Palace, which continues to be an imposing presence in Lhasa, one of the world's highest cities. At Jokhang Temple, hear monks chanting as they've done for centuries, and in the Kyi-chu valley, take in breathtaking scenery.
As a world-renowned financial center, Hong Kong is packed with all the trappings you'd expect from a wealthy city: gleaming skyscrapers, upmarket restaurants, shopping malls filled with designer brands. But it's also a great introduction to Chinese culture, as well as being the home of dim sum, which is a must-try dish. Another unmissable highlight is the city view from Victoria Peak, on Hong Kong Island.
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Discover the Great Wall
Travel a little further from Beijing to see the famous wall at a less-crowded stretch at Mutianyu, or drive to Jinshanling where even fewer tourists venture.
Feast on the varied cuisine
Whether you are dining at a famous Peking duck restaurant or eating in a local home, discover regional specialities from Sichuan spice to the weird and wonderful.
Explore Hong Kong’s neighbourhoods
Explore Stanley’s seaside sights and Central’s antique district, stroll through Kowloon’s backstreets and sample the local delicacy, dim sum (yum cha). Families are sure to enjoy Hong Kong’s Disneyland, or Portugal’s colonial history take the JetCat ferry to Macau.
The Army of Terracotta Warriors near Xian
Buried for over 2000 years, see the overwhelming number of intricately carved warriors and horses, as well as other characters at this important archaeological site.
Cruise the Yangtze
Watch the natural beauty of the Yangtze River float past from the comfort of your own private balcony.
Meet a Giant Panda in Chengdu
The giant Panda Research Base in Chengdu is the best place to do this, where the focus is on conservation.
Watch the famous Shanghai acrobats
The acrobatic arts have a long history in China, seeing a great revival with the advent of the People’s Republic. Modern performances of acrobats performing near impossible feats combine this tradition with modern effects.
Explore by bicycle
Cycle along the imperial fortifications at Xian or amidst the soaring karst scenery of Yangshuo, through the backroads, villages, fish farms and lotus fields.
Travel the Silk Road
One of the world's great trade routes, the exotic Silk Road has fascinated travellers for centuries. Board a donkey cart ride to the Gaochang ruins near Turpan and soak up the atmosphere as the sun rises over this magical site.
Villages of the Yunnan
Find villages and monasteries that are less frequented by tourists amongst the mountains around the towns of Lijiang and Dali.
From the blog
Yunnan: 10 Reasons you need to visit
August 2016Want to explore a land of snow-capped peaks, fluttering prayer flags, traditional tea houses and ornate pagodas? Visit Yunnan.
Zhangjiajie: The Landscapes of Avatar Brought to Life
August 2016With its thousands of jagged pillars looming eerily out of clouds, Zhangjiajie National Forest Park looks like the setting of a science fiction movie.Few realize it actually is.
The Silk Road: East Meets West
May 2016The Silk Road has captured the imaginations of travelers for centuries. Here's five reasons why it should be your next adventure.