China is a the third largest country in the world, roughly the same size as the USA and with the world’s largest population. It’s a country with an ancient history and Chinese civilisation has endured through millenniums of revolutions, golden ages and anarchies. Due to its size the country is very diverse and rich in its number of minorities. The depth and variety of Chinese civilisation, with its abundant heritage, has long fascinated western travellers such as Marco Polo and continues to excite travellers today. The country has a lot to offer, some of which I’m sharing with you here.

Hong Kong
Looking at the "fragrant harbour" from the top
View of the foggy city from Victoria Peak.

Hong Kong is not a country, nor even a city, but a special administrative region, like Macau, which today is part of China. As a result of China’s defeat in the Opium War, Guangzhou, Shanghai and Hong Kong, along with others, fell under British rule. It is a unique destination that has drawn people and cultural influences from places as diverse as Vietnam, the US and the Middle East and proudly proclaims itself to be Asia’s World City. Hong Kong was a British colony for nearly 160 years and as a result, most infrastructure has inherited the design and standards of Britain, with the Chinese tending to live amongst immigrants from other countries.

Travel with me to Hong Kong.

Rooftops

The views in Hong Kong can sometimes be underwhelming, the best views are seen from the tallest buildings. The taller the building the greater the head spin. Access to some roofs in Hong Kong is open.
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Zhangjiajie
Rock mountains as if from old manuscripts of ancient Chinese art

Zhangjiajie was previously called Dayong and was at that time considered to be the place with the most advanced ceramics in China. But despite its success in the technological and cultural sectors, thanks to its mountainous terrain, undiscovered land, underdeveloped river transport and agriculture, it is not well developed compared to other cities. The rock mountains of Zhangjiajie look as if they have been taken from old manuscripts of ancient Chinese art. The abundance of rivers and low level cloud streams often cause the rock peaks to become shrouded in a heavy mist.

Travel with me to Zhangjiajie.

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Kunming
China's melting pot of races, cultures and religions
View over the city.

Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province, is a Chinese city that lies on the old southwestern route into South Asia. It has long been a melting pot of races, cultures and religions. Yunnan shares borders with Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam, which made it a vital trading hub in the glory days of imperial China.

Travel with me to Kunming.

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Yangshuo
Karst peaks, rivers, caves and temples

Yangshuo is a famous stop among independent travellers in Southern China, to try their hand at rock climbing, to explore the local countryside by bike, or to take a bamboo raft down the river. Today Yangshuo is a beautiful big town that has loads to offer, from dormitories to cafes, and over the years has become a destination on the banana pancake trail. This place leaves me with mixed feelings, but should be seen first hand before being judged.

Travel with me to Yangshuo.

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Macau
Last colony of Asia
View from the roof of the Hotel Central. It was built in 1928 on Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro just past the historic Senado Square. This was an important hotel and gathering place for foreign expats, visitors and diplomats during the early and mid 20th century.

For hundreds of years parts of China were constantly under the imperial rule of other countries, nations like France, Spain, Britain, Portugal. Like the British during the Opium War, the Portuguese also came here to enslave the Chinese. Kidnapping Chinese children and selling them to Malaysia, where they were then roasted and eaten. Eventually China gave Portugal the right to settle in Macau, in exchange for them clearing the territory from pirates, which was done under strict Chinese control. From that time Macau was a European colony, one of the first and last in Asia.

Travel with me to Macau.

Jump

Macau has the world's highest bungee jump at Macau Tower, stands at 233m high.
To know

Today China administers Macau under the formula of “one country, two systems”, i.e Macau is officially part of China, but retains its own system of government.
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Cuandixia
An unusual ancient village in the mountains

Cuandixia is a quite unusual ancient mountain village two hours drive from Beijing. Despite the growing industrialisation of China, the village has succeeded in keeping its traditional folk culture as well as its original architecture. With only around 70 traditional courtyards it is renovated nicely and seems rather authentic. Remaining largely unchanged for centuries, the village is still surrounded by green pine trees, verdant cypresses and a mountain canyon.

Travel with me to Cuandixia.

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Fenghuang
Ancient hometown of the mythical phoenix

Thanks to its remote location Fenghuang was isolated from wars and revolutions, and as a result has remained well preserved. Its ancient shape has helped to sustain its unique ethnic languages, arts, folklore and, most importantly, its architecture. The city is named in honour of the mystical phoenix, believed to be comprised of the body of a duck, the tail of a peacock, the legs of a crane, the head of a golden pheasant, the mouth of a parrot and the wings of a swallow, and to live far away in the mountains of Eastern China.

Travel with me to Fenghuang.

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Huangguoshu
Largest waterfall in Asia
Scenes from Huangguoshu waterfall Huangguoshu, Zhenning, Anshun, Guizhou, China

The tourism industry in China has exploded in recent decades, with the number of travellers growing year after year. For the last few years China has spent more than anyone else on tourism. This boom has given rise to thousands of new jobs and increased economic prosperity for people with no education. It has opened the doors to China’s wonderful sites. One of those is a Huangguoshu waterfall.

Travel with me to Huangguoshu Waterfalls.

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Shanghai
Heaven for the rich, hell for the poor.

Not far from the Nanjing Road, the British and their allies opened Shanghai trading ports. Today it is the most developed, hectic, business street in the city. Nanjing Road is also considered to be the busiest street in the world.

Travel with me to Shanghai.

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Guangzhou
Home of "Made in China"
Designed by Zaha Hadid Guangzhou Opera House.

Guangzhou is the third largest city in China, after Beijing and Shanghai. Since its founding it has acted as a springboard city for trade, cultural exchange and many revolutions and reforms. Guangzhou is well developed and when the city name is mentioned, Chinese culture often comes to mind. Being isolated from the more “typical” Chinese influence, has seen a greater contribution from the outside world to its unique lifestyle of liberal ideas, a distinctive cuisine and great wealth.

Travel with me to Guangzhou.

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Gulangyu
Chinese Europe
Old looking Gulangyu and new looking Xiamen.

Gulangyu is a good example why China shouldn’t be generalised is. It is a very big and diverse country and should not be judged as a whole; the architecture, food, culture and people vary from region to region. Chinese history can be divided according to the different dynasty rules. When referring to a time in history, it’s easier to mention the name of the relevant dynasty. In the Qing Dynasty, after the loss in the Opium War, Gulangyu Island was opened for foreign settlement.

Travel with me to Gulangyu.

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Huangshan
Great inspiration among artists and photographers
Getting to the top. Trees seem like small balls of fluff.

In the history of Chinese painting, the Huangshan mountain, a typical jagged granite rock covered with pine trees that create a spectacular landscape, has been a great inspiration among artists and also photographers over the years.

Travel with me to Huangshan.

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