China is impossibly vast, and textured with so much history, that its oriental mysteries are a draw for any serious traveller. The Great Wall of China is one of the wonders of the ancient world and reason enough to book a trip to the country with the flaming red flag. But the many mountain ranges, forests, rivers and deserts make China a truly wholesome travel experience. Here are 16 compelling reasons to start looking up flights to Beijing.
- Changbai Mountain in Jilin
Bordering North Korea, this is a volcanic mountain with a beautiful crater lake at the centre called Lake Tianchi, some waterfalls, springs and a rich biodiversity. The translation of its name ‘perpetually white mountain’ seems appropriate when it’s cloaked by snow in winter.
- Road trips in Dalian, Liaoning
Ride or walk along a road that’s reminiscent of the corniche of the French Riviera at the seaside Binhai Road. Stretching from Binhai West Road to Donghai Beach, this 35km road offers many pleasurable vistas.
- Elephant Trunk Hill, Guilin
Like its name, this hill in Guilin resembles a huge elephant drinking water from the river. The Water Moon Cave between the elephant’s legs and trunk, Puxian Pagoda, Yunfeng Temple, and Sarira Dagoba are some of the impressive sights on the hill.
4. Retrace the Silk Route at Gansu
Unravel the mysteries of the Silk Route like the explorers of yore at Gansu, a town on the banks of the Yellow River. The Mogao Caves are a treasure trove of Buddhist art. Also worth visiting are the majestic Jiayuguan Pass, Labrang Monastery and Bingling Thousand Buddha Caves.
5. Giant pandas in Sichuan
If you love these black-eyed furry creatures, don’t miss the Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries, where you’ll find over 30% of the world’s highly endangered giant pandas. Pandas here aren’t caged; so be prepared to encounter them while you’re driving or walking in the reserve.
6. Great Wall in Beijing
This one needs no introduction but let’s just be reminded that the 21,196 kilometers long wall stretches from east to west China, with many deserts, grasslands, mountains and plateaus along the way. We’d love to visit a site that has been around for over 2000 years!
- The royal heritage of Hebei
Hebei is home to the Mountain Resort of Chengde, which used to be the largest royal summer resort of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). Many beautiful temples lie outside the wall of the resort. In Hebei, one can also visit summery beaches and the scenic Baiyang Lake.
8. Light of the Three Gorges in Hubei
The historical province of Hubei is strewn with intriguing cultural relics and the Three Gorges. Explore its Chu culture through old towers, grottoes, remains of cities, royal mausoleums and temples. The Hubei Provincial Museum houses the world’s heaviest musical instrument.
9. Mount Huangshan in Anhui
Better known as the Yellow Mountains, this is a World Heritage Site with stunning natural beauty. Often cloaked in masses of clouds, the mountains contain strangely shaped pines and rocks and hot springs. The ethereal sunrises and sunsets here are legendary.
- Penglai Pavilion in Shandong
Penglai Pavilion is perched on the peak of Danya Mountain and offers spectacular views of the Beibin Sea. It is one of the four great towers of China. Other impressive structures on the mountain include Tianhou Palace, Longwu Palace, lvzu Palace, Sanqing Palace and Mituo temple.
- Potala Palace, Lhasa
Potala Palace in Lhasa is the highest ancient palace in the world and a glorious tribute to the Tibetan people and their beliefs. There are two parts – the Red Palace with its beautiful golden roof and the White Palace, both of which are equally fascinating.
- Modern splendour in Pudong, Shanghai
Explore China’s dazzling modern avatar at Pudong, a new district in Shanghai. The Oriental Pearl TV Tower is the world’s third tallest tower and has an outdoor viewing platform with a glass floor that makes you feel like you’re stepping out into the sky!
- The beach resorts of Sanya, Hainan
Sanya on Hainan Island is famous for its serene bays and luxurious beach resorts. Wuzhizhou Island and its coral reefs are renowned for scuba diving, surfing and other water sports. A 108m-high Guan Yin bronze statue can be seen on an artificial island at the Nanshan Temple complex.
- Temple of Heaven in Beijing
This imperial sacrificial altar is the largest and most impressive of China’s ancient sacrificial buildings. Even larger than the Forbidden City, the main structures in the temple are the Circular Mound Altar (Huanqiutan), the Imperial Vault of Heaven (Huangqiongyu) and the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest (Qiniandian).
- Terracotta Warriors in Shaanxi
The Terracotta Army or Terracotta Warriors and Horses were built by Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of all China, for his mausoleum. Possibly the most monumental archaeological excavations of the 20th century, the museum contains 7,000 pottery soldiers, horses, chariots and even weapons.
- The islands and gardens of Zhejiang
Zhejiang means ‘a winding river’, referring to the Qiantang River in the olden times. It is considered one of the cradles of Chinese civilization. The West Lake is a truly breath-taking sight, as is Mt. Yandang, the Thousand Islets Lake, Tiantai Mountain and the Orchid Pavilion.