Since the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing showcased some of its most spectacular attractions, there has been a major increase in travellers wanting to explore this vast and exotic destination. There is a great deal to discover in China, which is the world’s most populated country (over 1.3 billion citizens), and also the third largest in the world territorially.
What makes China attractive as a travel destination for tourists is its unique culture and valuable antiquities. Ruins and relics from Neolithic settlements and the dynastic reigns of the mighty emperors are there to behold, and there are adventures to be had along the legendary ancient trade routes, such as the Silk Road. The Forbidden Palace, Great Wall of China, and the Terracotta Army of X’ian are just some of the incredible attractions to be seen in this ancient Eastern empire.
Organised tours are still the favoured way to explore China, but independent travel is slowly becoming easier. The major cities, like Beijing and Shanghai, are modern metropolises offering fast food and glitzy stores alongside centuries-old historical buildings and traditional eating houses. Archaeological wonders vie with amazing architecture in the interior, while majestic mountains and remote monasteries crown the northern areas. The country would take several years’ worth of holidays to explore properly!
The capital of the People’s Republic of China, Beijing (formerly Peking), is a very modern and exceedingly busy city (well over 20 million people call it home) with high-rise buildings, international hotels and sprawling suburbs. The city is abuzz with cranes on the skyline as construction projects give rise to new skyscrapers and modernisation proceeds apace. However, Beijing also encompasses numerous attractions of cultural and historical interest, some of which, including the Great Wall of China, the former Imperial Palace (known as the Forbidden City), the Temple of Heaven, the Summer Palace, and the remains of Peking Man at Zhoukoudian, are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
China’s largest city situated in the centre of the coastline where the Yangtze River flows through its delta into the East China Sea.
Shanghai is China’s industrial and commercial capital. It is a busy seaport, a science and technology centre, and has a vibrant business community. Visitors don’t generally come to Shanghai for its scenic beauty or history but those who arrive on business can find plenty of off-duty entertainment and relaxation, and the city is drawing increasing numbers of tourists with its neon cityscape, exotic nightlife and booming shopping scene. Just walking the busy streets and soaking up the vibrant atmosphere is worthwhile, and there are some temples and gardens to visit along with a handful of excellent museums.
The challenge of a holiday in Hong Kong is to have enough time to fit in all the aspects of this exciting city of contrasts. There are some things not to be missed during a Hong Kong holiday, and these include the food, the superlative shopping, a cruise to the outlying islands, and spending some quiet moments in the natural setting of a peaceful park. There is nowhere on earth quite like Hong Kong, which is reason enough for anyone to travel here.
Hong Kong offers a dense concentration of stores and shopping malls with a cross-pollinated, cosmopolitan culture that embraces Nepalese and British cuisines with equal enthusiasm. It is the perfect gateway for travellers to Southeast Asia and China, providing a smooth transition from west to east. As one of the key economies of the Pacific Rim, Hong Kong Island showcases a gleaming landscape of skyscrapers and boasts highly developed transport infrastructure that makes commuting around it a dream.