Top 10 things to experience in China

Image of landscape of Guilin with its Li River and Karst mountains

China is an ancient, mysterious and beautiful country.

Underground palaces and forbidden cities invite tourists on a discovery path filled with wondrous ancient artefacts, big neon cities, remote mountain villages and natural attractions. Home to Kung Fu, pandas and a sense of epic scale and ‘greatness’, China is fast becoming one of the world’s hottest travel destinations.

Beijing - Known for its modern architecture and ancient sites such as the Imperial Palace, Forbidden City and Ming and Qing dynasties.

Shanghai - Showcases a beautiful riverside cityscape that blends the modern and the traditional, a major commercial centre famous for its shopping districts.

Xi’an - Proud of its ancient heritage, Xi’an marked the Silk Road’s eastern end, was home to ten dynasties and also hosts the world famous terracotta warriors.

Hong Kong - Culinary capital of China, this city hosts a lively food scene. It is also a major port for international travel.

The longest wall in the world, the Great Wall of China

is more than 2,300 years old. Initially built to protect people and territory from invasion, today it is an awe inspiring ancient winding path heading over rugged countryside and steep mountains. The section in Badaling is the most visited with up to 70,000 tourists per day from May to October, as it is the grandest section of the wall and the closest to Beijing City. Or for a less busy and more scenic view you can head to Mutianyu, which has high forest cover but is a little steeper than Badaling.

The Ming Tombs are the mausoleums of thirteen emperors of the Ming Dynasty. A UNESCO world heritage site, the location was originally chosen due to the principles of feng shui and each mausoleum has its own independent unit and complex structure. Only a few of the tombs are open to the public and if you only have time for one, we recommend Dingling — the underground palace. Twenty-seven metres below the ground, it consists of five rooms connected by giant marble archways and hosts more than 3,000 pieces of cultural relics.
Image of the Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum
One of China’s most celebrated natural wonders, the Shilin Stone Forest is located 85kms from the city of Kunming. Stone peaks rise from the ground in numerous layers creating a scenic paradise of strange stone shapes and stories. Created over 270 million years ago, the area used to be an ocean but as the ocean subsided giant rocks appeared and over time have been eroded to create the shapes they are today.
The UNESCO World Heritage site, the Terracotta Army found 40km east of Xi’an reveals so much about ancient China. Life-size terracotta figures of warriors and horses arranged in battle formations protect the tomb of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China. If you are into archaeology, history or just really amazing statues, you will want to visit this site as it’s considered one of the greatest archaeological sites in the world. Each figure is individually detailed to represent real people ready for battle in the armour that was worn at that time.

Eating in China is an experience all on its own, and if you’re keen to try new foods you will find a whole new level of deliciousness. While we might recognise some of the favourites like dumplings, here’s a few unique foods:

Ya jiao - Is a delicious meal of duck feet.

Xie zi - A scorpion skewer found mostly in street markets that is deep fried fresh for you to eat.

Qiang xia - Only eat this if you like your shrimp drunk and alive!

The Chinese New Year is China’s biggest traditional holiday, a time for families to be together and indulge in celebration and eating. During the Chinese New Year you will see fireworks, dragon dances and red decorations such as lanterns strung up everywhere. During this time, try to limit your travel as public transport can be a nightmare. Some of the best places to be include Beijing’s temple festivals and Hong Kong, where the occasion is marked with a fusion of modern fun and ancient customs.
The Yangtze River is the third largest river in the world, travelling through eleven provinces and cities from east to west including Qinghai, Tibet, Sichuan and Shanghai. A cruise will let you relax and see sights that are impossible from land, from the stunning scenery and steep cliff faces of gorges to remote hilltop villages, temples and jungles. You may also come across the Three Gorges Dam, which is the largest hydro-power station in the world and also showcases a lock system to help ships pass through.
Kung fu is a form of martial arts that has developed over thousands of years. In Canada, we are mostly familiar with a theatrical version of the style through martial arts movies. However, in China it is regarded as a traditional sport and is practised competitively. While it is a fighting style, kung fu is more about peace, having fun and being fit, rather than aggression. Learn kung fu from a real master while visiting China or head to the Chinese Martial Arts Museum and the Shanghai University of Sports, which display all aspects of the history and culture of kung fu.
Pandas are loved by everyone — the symbol of the World Wildlife Fund, a national treasure of China and an endangered species with only over 1,900 left in the wild. You can visit the giant panda at the Chengdu panda breeding and research centre. Here you can watch them eating bamboo and playing with toys, and perhaps see female pandas with their cubs in the nursery room.
DISCLAIMER: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of all information as of the date of publishing, Allianz Global Assistance does not accept liability for any errors or omissions. Allianz Global Assistance strongly recommends seeking the guidance of a professional travel agent/agency for further information on a specific destination. On your next trip, whether to another province or country, ensure you have travel insurance as it may assist you in cases of unforeseen medical emergencies and other types of mishaps that can happen while you travel. Travel insurance does not cover everything, please always refer to the policy document for full terms and conditions, including limitations and exclusions. Travel insurance is underwritten by CUMIS General Insurance Company, a member of The Co-operators Group of Companies, administered by Allianz Global Assistance, which is a registered business name of AZGA Service Canada Inc.
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