China is one of the most exciting, fascinating and enchanting places to travel. It’s hard going, no doubt about that, English isn’t widely spoken outside of the major tourist cities, and the character form of the language make’s it impossible to ‘blag’ your way around as you sometimes can in other non English speaking countries.
But, my gosh it’s worth the effort; as long as you have a decent amount of time to spare of course. If not, and you’re on limited time (or you just prefer an easy life) book yourself onto a tour and sit back and enjoy all that this incredible and crazy country has to offer.
Choosing just 5 highlights for this particular blog article was never going to be easy, I didn’t have space to talk about the Terracotta Army, Shanghai, the rice fields of Lijiang, Tibet, the Silk Road and the food, O.M.G the food, Yum.
Here’s my high five China. Does yours look different? Let me know below.
The great wall has to be seen to be believed
China’s Top Five Absolute Must See’s
Trek Along The Great Wall
A ‘must see’ list for China with out the Great Wall is like a bacon butty without sauce or a uni party without beer and someone being sick in the sink – unthinkable. It’s not only one of China’s proudest achievements, but it’s also one of the most awe-inspiring man made creations in history. Yep, EVER.
The wall runs for approximately 13,000 miles from it’s beginnings in Shanhaiguan in the eastern part of the country, to Lop Lake in the west and I can honestly say that if you are lucky enough to visit, the realisation of the spectacular human effort will take your breath away. It’s hard to comprehend exactly how much history is resting deep up in the hillsides, but a visit to the Great Wall will undoubtedly stir up feelings of great admiration and awe.
Volunteer with Pandas
Deep in the hills of Chengdu in China’s Sichuan province, live one of the world’s cutest, and most endangered, species.
With big eyes and playful personalities, you feel privileged to be in the presence of these magnificent animals as they chill out and munch bamboo. (Yep that’s pretty much all these lazy bears can muster the energy to do).
China's cutest and most endangered resident
Serious work is being done to preserve their place in the world in a specially designed preservation project right in the heart of their natural habitat, and a volunteering trip such as Project China – Pandas gives you the chance to stay at the project and do your bit to help with the fight. It’s a special opportunity unique to China, that really has the potential to make your entire life – and that is not an exaggeration.
I was lucky enough to pay a visit to the project and spend time with the Pandas and I can honestly say, it was one of the most incredible things I’ve ever done. You can read more about my experiences with Pandas in our Why I Volunteer: Pandas in China blog post.
Soak up the Hong Kong Skyline
The view of the Hong Kong Skyline from Victoria Peak is one of the most iconic images in Asia. Located on the Western side of Hong Kong Island it proudly presents the best views of the city that you could ever wish to see.
The view is accessible by walking up Mount Austin Road, which will take you about 150meters up hill or, if you don’t feel like dragging your weary feet all the way – you can sit on a comfortable tram the entire way and soak up the surroundings as you go.
The impressive Hong Kong skyline, a symbol of Eastern prosperity
Wander the Forbidden City
An ancient Emperor’s palace that was previously hidden away for thousands of years, that is now fully open to an excited and interested public. The name isn’t misleading at all – there really is a mini city within its tall walls.
The palace is now a huge museum, housing 500 years of Chinese history from the Ming Dynasty to the Qing Dynasty. Get lost as you wander around beautiful buildings and absorb a taste of ancient China, right in the heart of the bustling, modern metropolis of Beijing.
The Forbidden City is a glimpse into China's fascinating history
Cruise the Yangtzi River
It’s the longest river in Asia (third longest in the world), passing through eleven provinces and around a huge selection of captivating twists, turns, glaciers, gorges and mountainous river banks.
A cruise along the Yangtzi, will help you to see a different side of China from the water. The most popular part to travel down is the Three Gorges area between Chongqing and Yin Chuan which has everything you’d hope from the Chinese landscape, misty rolling hills, steep mountains lining the edge of the river and views of village settlements.