The Yellow River civilization, more commonly known as the People’s Republic of China is a tale written in history, art and culture. There are not too many places that have such a rich heritage as China, and for the longest time, China has been one of the most popular tourist destinations.
Along with its rich man-made history, China is also gifted with magnificent landscapes. But, being as huge as it is, it’s not possible to cover China in just one visit of fifteen days (that’s how long your typical visa would be). So here’s a list of things you must see on your very first visit to China.
Cities to visit in China
Beijing: Beijing is the political capital and cultural centre of China. Quite naturally, you’ll find some of the most important buildings here including embassies, offices of the state, museums, and several historical buildings. Tip: Do make it a point to drop by at the Beijing Zoo for some cuteness overload – a.k.a, giant pandas!
Xi’an: Another historically eminent city, Xian houses some of the greatest wonders of China, including the Terracotta Army, Bell Tower, City Walls and Wild Goose Pagoda. Xian happens to be one of the four most important cities of ancient civilisation and lies at the outset of Silk Road that carried much of China’s wealth into the country. Tip: Take a flight to Xian from Beijing instead of bullet trains. It’ll buy you two and half hours for cite-seeing.
Guilin: After Beijing in the north, and Xian in the centre, make Guilin your next stop in the south. The city is notable for its karst landscape which has given rise to some beautiful caves, and the fragrance of osmanthus trees. In fact, Guilin translates as Forest of Sweet Osmanthus. Some points of interest that you can access while in Guilin are the Reed Flute Cave, Silver Cave, Seven Star Cave, and Moon Hill. Tip: If possible, spend some time gazing at the beautifully lit pagodas by Fir Lake at night.
Things to do in China
Great Wall of China:
The Great Wall of China is considered to be one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The wall is made of various materials like bricks, wood, stones and runs for over a length of 21 kilometres across the country’s northern border. The wall was built to protect the Chinese states from European invasions and to protect the Silk Road Trade.
The Forbidden City at the heart of Beijing used to be the royal palace of the Qings and Mings. It is called Forbidden City because during the reign of the monarchs, it was entry without special permission was forbidden. Forbidden City is now a museum where you can witness the wonders of the Chinese empire.
Waitan is a waterfront area in Shanghai. It is particularly famous for housing 52 buildings of different architectural styles – there’s Romanesque, Baroque, Gothic, Beaux-arts, as well as Neo-classical, and Art Deco styles. Tip: Don’t forget to check out the light effects in pedestrian tunnels.
Out of all the Buddhist temples in China, the Jade Buddha Temple in Shanghai is the most significant. The temple houses two jade Buddha figurines with which the temple was founded, but a larger reclining Buddha made of marble was later donated by followers.
Qin Shi Huang’s Terracotta Army consists of at least eight thousand warriors. The figurines are as old as third century BCE and include soldiers, chariots and horses. It is believed that the remains of the Emperor Hunag’s army was built within these figurines and buried along with him, to protect him in the afterlife.
Reed Flute Cave:
The Reed Flute Cave is a hundred and eighty years old limestone cave in Guilin. It gets its name from the reeds growing outside its entrance that can be twisted into melodious flutes. The insides of the cave are filled with ink inscriptions that have been dated back to 792 AD.
The Li River in Guilin offers some of the most breath taking views of the karst peaks at every bend. Take a cruise on the river and you’ll see some really interesting formations, like the Elephant Trunk Hill.
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