China conjures images of mystical practices of Confucianism, curving slopes of oriental architecture, jade dragons and majestic dragon walls, vast Imperial complexes, and a culture that spread wide in the Far East. Though China was India’s neighboring country, my first real introduction to China as a kid was through literature. Western literature and movies are prone to depict China as a country of intrigue and conspiracy; Chinese mafia and martial arts have been the subjects of innumerable pop cultural ventures.
The real China is quite different. Chinese culture is the world’s oldest continuous civilization and the country is enchanting for those interested in culture and architecture. The Chinese capital, Beijing alone boasts of 7 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Other historical sites are spread far and wide from Shanghai to Guangzhou. The ancient Silk Route originated in China and led to the prosperity of all the civilizations along the route. China is also where the remains of Peking Man were discovered, leading to advances in the understanding of human evolution.
China is an interesting mix of breathtaking antiquity and modern skylines. The natural landscape of China is breathtaking; the bare mountains and shimmering blue lakes of northern Tibet vie with the lush green rice terraces of southern China while the sandstone peaks of Wulingyuan inspire visitors and filmmakers alike. The frigid sand dune landscape of the Gobi desert is majestic while blissful tropical beaches of Hong Kong are swimmer’s paradise. The skylines of Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong and their dazzling urban lifestyle rival those of New York and London.
Chinese cuisine is delicious and packed with tantalizing dishes including Peking duck, hotpots, dumplings, and noodles. China is for all kinds of travelers: old and young, outdoor enthusiasts and urban explorers, backpackers and families.