|Country Information & Lifestyle|
Shangri-La - a permanently happy land
The People’s Republic of China borders Vietnam, Laos, Mynamar, India, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan in Central Asia, a small section of Russian Altai and Mongolia in Inner Asia and the Russian Far East and North Korea in North-east Asia.
The landscapes vary significantly across its vast width. Southern China is dominated by hills and low mountains ranges, central-east hosts the deltas of the Yellow and Yangtze Rivers, in the east there are extensive and densely populated alluvial plains, the edges of the Inner Mongolian Plateau in the north, to the west the Himalayas and high plateaus feature among the more arid landscapes of the grasslands dominate of the north such as the Taklamakan and Gobi Desert.
With such a large, diverse country it is only possible to give you a taste of what this exciting country has to offer. Come on an amazing journey of discovery to the Land of Shangri-La and The Last Emperor.
Beijing is ringed with historic sites. The stately tombs of the Ming Emperors set in a valley chosen for its perfect feng shui, are to another age. The Western Hills are a relief from the summer heat and the summer palace, with its scenic lake and winding passages, has been reconstructed to be as it was when the last dowager empress held court there.
The huge expanse of the Forbidden City, with its great marble courtyards richly decorated halls and mazes of passageways are an enduring monument to the longest-lived imperial system on earth.
Stand on the Great Wall north of Beijing as the wind whips in from Mongolia and it is easy to realize ahead are the endless grasslands and mountains of Mongolia from which Genghis Khan and his successors rode.
Zhejian province has more than 3,000 islands along its coast and enjoys distinct seasons due to its subtropical location. Picturesque Hangzhou has many natural beauties in the city including West Lake, the Thousand Islets Lake, Tiantai Mountain, Orchid Pavilions, Grand Canal and three ancient water towns, Xitang, Nanxun and Wuzchen.
Sichuan is the gateway to Tibet and the Hometown of the Giant Pandas. 85% of these lovely creatures are living in the mountain areas and you can see them at the Chengdu Panda breeding and Research Center. The beautiful landscape includes mountains, and plateaus, ravines, basins, rives, lakes, hot springs, waterfalls and limestone caves. Chegdu is the cultural centre and has been famous since the 13th century for its luxurious satins, brocades and lacquer.
Xingjian province is situated far from the sea and encirced by high mountains. It is famous as a ‘hometown of fruit and melons’. North Xinjiang is mountains and grassland and means fine horses and the sounds of singing, South Xinjiang is the Gobi Desert and Takla Makan Desert, and means dances such as Mukamu.
Hainan is known as the Eastern Hawaii and boasts soft beaches and beautiful tropical scenery which makes it famous as a holiday resort. Hainan Island is China’s largest island after Taiwan and is called Coconut Island for its production of coconuts. It is also rich in tropical fruits like bananas, lychee's, papayas and pineapples, as well as seafood.
Zhenyuan is an ancient town sheltered by mountains and is well-reputed as the Oriental Venice. Endowed with many rich, cultural relics including temples, pavilions, palaces, caves and rivers. Take a cruise on the Wuyang River and it will bring surprise after surprise. Grotesque gorges, perilous peaks and crystal-like waters present a wonderful picture as if you were entering wonderland.
The Three Gorges is a 35-km waterway and the most beautiful section of the whole scenic area. Secluded caves, gurgling springs, rugged rocks, dangerous passes and spectacular waterfalls interspersed on the mountains of both banks. Primitive forests, enigmatic valleys with rare animals moving lively through, make the mountains a natural treasury.
Shanxi province is the birthplace of Chinese civilizations with a long history and traditional culture such as the Buddhist wonder of the Yungang Grottoes in Datong City. The well-preserved ancient city of Pingyao with its residences and shops all in the style of Ming and Qing, gradually opened up to the outside world, and more and more people have come to have a look at this old city. Listed as World Cultural Heritage Site by UNESCO, every street or building has numerous stories to tell about the past one-thousand years. In Zhengfu is the prison of the Qing Dynasty and in Chenghuangmiao streets reveal a glimpse of local folk life.
Shandong province is on the lower reaches of the Yellow River and overlooks the Korean Peninsula and the Japanese Archipelago across a vast stretch of sea. Considered one of the birthplaces of Chinese civilization Shandong is blessed with beautiful landscapes. The most famous scenic spots are Mount Taishan, Mt. Laoshan and the seaside of the Jiaodong peninsula. Shandong Province is also considered the birthplace of China's pottery, porcelain and silk.
Ningxia Hui is an autonomous region in northwest China. It has a unique landscape, ancient history and unique local customs and habits making it an interesting tourist area. Ruins of the Great Wall of the Ming Dynasty can be found in east Ningxia. The 1000-year-old city of Yinchuan is a famous cultural city beyond the Great Wall. The old sector of the city to the west is green and peaceful and contains all the places of interest including the 1500-year-old Haibao Pagado, famous Buddhist architecture from the West Xiz Kingdom, and the West Imperial Tombs known as the ‘Pyramids of China’.
Qinghai province is a remote, ancient and mysterious land and will fascinate visitors by the traditional festivities of different minority ethnic groups and their unique cultures and folk traditions. Snow-covered mountains, icy peaks, deserts, vast pastures and sparkling lakes mesmerize the visitor, while flocks of rare birds and animals dot this unique colorful natural landscape.
Summer is when the road to Tibet via Golmud is open. Highlights include a visit to the Ta’er Monastery, the Small Imperial Palace, Qutan Monastery and vast Qinghai Lake. Snow - capped A'Nyemaqen Mountain and the Highland Xishuangbanna Mengda Nature Reserve are also well-known all over the world.
Jiangsu, a fertile ‘land of fish and rice’ since ancient times, is a province with a long history, abundant highlights and relatively developed economy. From as early as several hundred thousand years ago, it has been a place where human beings inhabited. The rich history rewards Jiangsu with a lot of cultural relics like Confucius Temple, the Qinhuai River, Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum, Dr. Sun Yat-sen's Mausoleum, Daming Monastery and Nanshan Temple.
Located along the lower reaches of the Yangtze River, Jiangsu is a place of typical Jiangnan (south of the lower reaches of the Yangtze River) landscapes, represented by classical gardens and water townships. Ancient water townships like Zhouzhuang, Tongli and Luzhi have little bridges over murmuring brooks, rustic cottages along stone-paved streets and tranquil atmosphere offering the visitor a unique and special feeling.
Jiangxi is situated in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River and is a showcase for natural beauty. The pristine misty mountains and fresh water lakes will enchant you. Mt.Lushan is a wonderful summer resort with its lush mountains enveloping clouds and mists, rapid streams and numerous deep pools and waterfalls. Mysterious and enchanting scenery nestle in its secluded valleys and deep ravines. Jiangxi is one of the ancient tea-producing areas in China. Visit the ancient town of Nanchang known for its porcelain where there are many potteries and ancient kiln sites.
People flock to Jilin Province for the Ice Lantern Festival and the winter sports. However, Jilin has much to offer in natural beauty - fertile land, dense forests, a wide variety of birds and animals, and vast grasslands, such as Mountain Changbaishan which is a nature preserve that has tigers, deer, black bears, leopards and sable living its undisturbed forests. On the very top of the mountain is Tianchi (Heavenly Lake) where the view is nothing short of miraculous.
Pu Yi, the last Emperor of the Qing Dynasty, lived in Chang Chun, the capital city of Jilin, in an Imperial Palace of Manchu State from 1931 - 1945. This luxurious palace, which also was the administrative departments of the 'Puppet Manchurian Government’, has hills, gardens, ponds, swimming pools, and various other forms of recreational facilities. The architecture and design of this 12-hectare palace is a worthy site to visit for its beauty and unique historical importance. Photographs of the emperor, his weddings, wives, parents, and English teacher are on display in the museum.
Hunnan province has long been known for its natural beauty. The mixture of mountains and water makes it one of the most beautiful provinces in China. The largest lake in China, Dongting Lake, is often mist-covered in the early morning. The high and steep Mt.Hengshan is frequently snow-capped in the winter contrasting with the subtropical fields that one sees below it. The region along the Yuanjian River is especially well known for its serene beauty.
Hubei province is situated in the middle reaches of the Yangtze River, north of Dongting Lake where many ethnic groups live. Ancient towers, grottoes, city remains, imperial mausoleums, temples and nobilities' native places can be found throughout the province. Hubei also boasts impressive natural scenery. The Three Gorges offers an unmatched painting of water and mountains.
The World Famous Yangtze Three Gorges Dam Project is located in Hubei Province, just outside of Yichang City. It is the largest water conservation project in the world. The national reservation of Shennonjia is a dense wilderness in western Hubei province. It has always been a mysterious place, an enigma in Chinese geography. Since the discovery of traces of wild people there, it has aroused people's curiosity about it all the more.
Henan province is considered the Cradle of Chinese civilization. Songsham Mountain, lies southwest of Zhengzhou and is one of the most famous mountains in China because of the rugged beauty of its peaks and the Bonsai-like appearance of its beautiful old trees. Shaolin Temple, the most famous Buddhist temple in China is located on Shaoshi Mountain. Luoyang City has many historical sites to be viewed as well as the opportunity to purchase replicas of the famed Tang three-glaze horses.
Hebei province is north of the Yellow River and home to more than 50 ethnic groups. The famous mountain resort of Chengde used to be the largest royal summer resort of the Qing Dynasty. Outside the surrounding wall of the resort there are several brilliant and glistening temples, they are the largest temples in all of China. Shanhaiguan Pass is the easternmost end of the Great Wall which winds its way through Hebei province. The province has beautiful natural landscapes, beaches and scenic areas such as Baiyang Lake.
Liaonng Province is the closest gateway to the Korean Peninsula and was the birthplace of warlords and the Cradle of the Qing Dynasty. In Shenyang, Liaoning's capital city, there is a Manchu version of the Forbidden City known as the Shenyang Imperial Palace. Built on the same principles as the Forbidden City in Beijing, although much smaller in scope, it is second only to the Forbidden City, and the most intact imperial building in existence in China.
Shaanix, located in the very heart of China’s territory, is one of the birthplaces of Chinese primitive human beings and national culture. Southern Shaanxi is covered by mountains, valleys and plains and has beautiful natural scenery such as Nangong Mountain National Forest Park and Yinghu Lake. Northern Shaanxi consists mainly of the Loess Plateau and Maowusu Desert and was an important frontier stronghold in ancient China.
Central Shaanix or Guanzhong, is a place of deep culture and rich historical relics, especially the ‘living history museum’, Xian itself. Exhibited in this 'museum' are the life-size Terracotta Warriors and Horses of the Qin Dynasty, China’s largest and best-preserved ancient City Wall; Drum Tower; Bell Tower; Big Wild Goose Pagoda and Qianling Mausoleum, the joint burial mausoleum of China’s first and only Empress, Wu Zetian and her husband Emperor Gao Zong of the Tang Dynasty. Xian is also the eastern terminus of the ancient Silk Road, a road connecting China and the outside world in ancient times.
Located in southwest China, Guizhou Province is a picturesque place with varied landscape which hides an abundance of amazing and unique natural scenery. In Langdeshang Miao Village or Xijiangqianhu Miao admire the stilt-houses and colorful traditional clothes and China’s last gunmen’s tribe, in Basha Mia Village experience their unique lifestyles, Buyi Stone Village to explore how this stone village was made without any other construction materials, to Dong villages to see Dong-style drum towers and wind-rain bridges etc.
Guilin is famous for its beautiful landscape, the picturesque Karst scenery along the Li River down from Guilin to Yangshuo has meant the city has become well known to foreigners. An unforgettable experience is cruising the Li River, the whole trip will take seven to eight hours, but there is so much to see and villages to visit, the time will fly.
Downstream from Yangdi to Xingping, the river passes an endless procession of distinct peaks, bamboo groves and stunning landscape. Water buffalo patrol on the fields, ducks paddle in the waters, peasants reap paddies in front of village houses, fishermen use the cormorants to catch fish and return them to the boat and kids go home singing songs. Xingping is actually an age-old castle complex survived from over 500 years ago. It is rumored that the villagers are descendants of the imperial family in the Song Dynasty as they all have the same surname Zhao.
Yunnan is the most diverse of China’s provinces, and the real China looking up from the Yangtze to Shangri-La. For years its geographical isolation on the border of Vietnam and Burma made it a land apart, a place of 24 ethnic minority groups and a flourishing narcotic trade which still survives. High in the mountains with their snowy peaks and high pastures yaks graze, the climate is so mild that bougainvillea flower in the winter.
In the Jade Snow Mountain range, north of the ancient town of Lijian, it is easy to slip back three-quarters of a century to the time when the book Lost Horizon was written. From the grasslands up the views have no end. An incredible array of animals including the Asian elephant and the protected Yunnan golden monkey are found here. This is where the Dongba religion holds that the gods hatched man from magic eggs. The rivers tumbling down the mountains are the stuff of romance.
Lijiang, a key staging post on the Old Tea and Horse Trail that led up through Tibet and down into India, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Old houses with their curving roofs have been rebuilt and the locals rent them out. It is hard not to launch a paper boat with a candle and a wish in one of the narrow water courses that run beside the streets.
Stop at the village of the Bai people where the women do their washing in a communal pool fed by pure clear water from the mountains. Continue to the town of Dali, once the capital of a kingdom that stretched into Burma, Laos and Thailand. The old city has been restored behind high walls, three massive cream colored pagodas dating from the 8th century stand in an expansive park against a mountain ridge. Up a bustling, narrow street is the home of the Yans, tycoons who ran shops all over China and as far abroad as Boston from here in the first half of the last century. The road swings past graves in long grass to the town of Dali, the other main center in northern.
On the lake down the road fishing cormorant’s perch on a fence with bands round their necks to prevent swallowing the fish. Across the water in the island of Ginshuo women in straw bowler hats and purple tunics sell dried shrimps.
The Inner Mongolia, has very cold winters and can be long with frequent blizzards, usually summer is short and warm. Inner Mongolia has great natural beauty, vast grassland with mushroom-like yurts, bright sky, fresh air, rolling grass and the flocks and herds moving like white clouds on the remote grasslands all contribute to make the scenery a very relaxing one.
The deserts are located in the western part of the province, the most famous being Badain Jarfan Desert, Tengger Desert and Kubuqi Desert. Inner Mongolia was the hometown of Genhis Khan, the great leader of the Mongolians. His mausoleum is 185 km south of Baotou and holds his clothing buried in his memory. Zhaojun Tomb, six miles to the south of Hohot, is one of the most beautiful scenes of ancient times. A legend says that each year, when it turned cold and grass became yellow, only this tomb remained green and so it got the name Green Tomb (Qing Zhong).
The autonomous region of Tibet rewards every visitor with an unforgettable experience of the land, the people and the mysticism! Tibet is the gateway of southwest China and is called “Roof of the World’. Lhasa is the political, economic, cultural and religious center of Tibet with abundant cultural relics. The Potala Palace, the world’s highest palace complex, was built over 1,300 yers ago. Mt Everest, the world’s highest peak, is situated in this region. The Heavenly Lake Namso, the Yamdrok Yumtso Lake and the Lake Manasarova set Tibet apart as an exceptional scenic place.
Tibet is synonymous with devout religious practices, especially in Tibetan Buddhism and Bon. Tibetan clothing are usually thick, warm and loose with wide waist and long sleeves and skirts. Hada, a ceremonial scarf, is highly regarded. They usually present Hada as a mark of esteem when holding celebration parties, welcoming visitors, visiting the elders or seeing someone off.
Tibet is reputed as the 'Sea of Dances and Songs', where people enjoy these pursuits. The Tibetan engages in wrestling, horse racing and archery on Tibetan festivals. You will need to be part of an organized group to visit Tibet.
There is so much more to China it is impossible to do this wonderful country justice, so go visit for yourself, stay awhile, you will not be disappointed.