GMT +8 hours
A land of ancient traditions, captivating landscapes and fascinating cultures.
China is a country of contrasts. Tradition and innovation sit side by side, with peaceful rice fields and monastery villages existing alongside buzzing ultramodern mega-cities. Those with a love of history or food will be in their element and whether you cruise through the karsts of Guilin, visit the giant pandas of Chengdu or shop till you drop in Shanghai, China never disappoints.
Best time to visit
China is a vast land with huge variations in climate. As a guide, the best times to visit are during the months of April and May or September and October. For those that want to miss the crowds at iconic attractions, July and August are ideal, although temperatures are higher and there is more rain.
Conical peaks rise up and reflect in peaceful waters; here you could almost picture yourself as the subject in an intricate traditional Chinese painting. The River Li acts as the backdrop as this moment in time is captures’ waterfalls, bamboo thickets, deep dark caves and farmers tending their terraced rice paddies… a series of images sketched in your mind forever.
Beijing, formerly known as Peking, has served as China’s capital for over 800 years and is the country’s political, economic and cultural heart. The city is home to a wealth of the nation’s most iconic sights such as the snaking Great Wall of China, the vast Tian’anmen Square – a symbol of national pride with a dark past – and the grand Forbidden City, home to numerous Emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties.
Stroll along Sanya Bay, the illuminating coconut trees lighting a corridor along the white sand, and visit the remarkable Terracotta Warriors on a tour of Xi’an – 8000 life-sized soldiers crafted by hand. Cruise past the limestone karsts of Guilin alongside fishermen on bamboo rafts, and glide down the Yangtze River, passing cascading rice terraces and water buffalos. The capital of Shaanxi Province and cradle of Chinese civilisation, Xi’an is foremost recognised as home to one of the most famous wonders of Chinese civilisation, the awe-inspiring Terracotta Warriors which date back to the 3rd Century BC.
During a stay in cosmopolitan Shanghai, wander around a blend of towering skyscrapers, French-style delis, up-scale boutiques and shoe shops galore. In Chengdu, you can take a tour of the Giant Panda Breeding and Research Centre, and later gather with friends at a traditional tea house, working your way through different flavoured brews. Shanghai is the essence of cosmopolitan China, from the elegant ‘Paris of the East’ to futuristic towering skyscrapers. China’s past, present and future feature in one amazing metropolis. The nation’s largest city has a huge influence on the modern culture of China. Despite this, Shanghai has its fair share of historic attractions including the exquisite Yuyuan Garden, the ancient water town of Zhujiajiao and the fascinating Shanghai Museum.
China: a land of mind-defying landscapes and captivating contrasts of old and new.
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On every trip to China I'm struck by ferocious contrasts – from the imperial architecture of Beijing to the lofty skylines of Shanghai; the dramatic mountain tops of Yunnan to the deep gorges of the Yangtze River. And no matter how many times I visit, the spellbinding Great Wall of China never fails to impress.