50+ Amazingly Unique Destinations in China that Probably Haven’t Heard of

50+ Amazingly Unique Destinations in China that Probably Haven’t Heard of

Here’s a list of over 50 unique destinations in China, from temples to remote villages, that will leave you simply amazed.

There are so many unique experiences in China. The country is so large, and so diverse, it really is like a whole collection of worlds in one. When itinerary planning for a China journey, you can shape any kind of experience that you want, it’s up to you.

For most people, they are happy to stick to the safety of standard tour-book experiences and the well developed, and well known major attractions, such as anything Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Macau or a even Yangzte River boat cruise. The slightly more adventurous will fit in Xi’an and the Terracotta Army, Chengdu Panda Base and so on. All of which are awesome and great places to get started, but, China offers so, so much more. read more

An Introduction to the Chinese Cuisines

An Introduction to the Chinese Cuisines

Possibly the most important thing to experience whilst in China is their diverse food cultures and cuisines. They are quite proud of their culinary abilities, and rightly so, perhaps born from doing a lot with a little, they have mastered the use of natural ingredients, balancing tastes and bringing out amazing flavors.

This brief guide is far from comprehensive, but it will do for an intro from which to explore further should you wish. The more knowledge you have about a cuisine area, the more rewarding your experiences will surely be. There are over 20 cuisines listed here, and I am sure there are more, and each one could is probably worthy of a whole book rather than just a paragraph! read more

Welcome to Nanjing [+ hotel and attraction map]

Welcome to Nanjing [+ hotel and attraction map]

Nanjing is located in Jinagsu province of which it is the capital. It’s a beautiful city, it’s modern and has a progressive feel. It has a long history dating back as far to 472 BC, and has been the home of many of Chinas emporers thus giving the city a rich treasure trove of cultural relics and historic sites. The city has also been central in the formation of modern China.

Nanjing’s rich history traces back to 495BC and has been the country’s capital on more than one occasion. It was the capital of the Ming empire from 1368 to 1421 during which time it was also believed to be one of the largest cities in the world. read more

Shenzhen: Dongmen Pedestrian Street – A Mall of Shopping Malls

Shenzhen: Dongmen Pedestrian Street – A Mall of Shopping Malls

Here is another one of those traditional Chinese shopping districts that I’ve come to admire, they span for block after block, most of them have been operating for centuries, they’re vibrant, teaming with life, and they’re packed with keen sellers waiting to do deals. These traditional market places have soul, and character that the modern shopping complexes just don’t have. And the Dongmen market area of Shenzhen is no different.

On my first visit I was looking for ‘Dongmen Pedestrian Street’, expecting a casual automobile-less street with some shops, but what I found was more like a ‘shopping suburb’ spanning several blocks including countless brand name shops, several multi level malls, several multi level markets, food streets, public spaces, ad-hoc stalls set up in alley ways and in every nook and cranny possible. Such is the expanse of this shopping district it needs three KFC’s! read more

A Day at the Hakka Tulou Buildings of Fujian Province China

A Day at the Hakka Tulou Buildings of Fujian Province China

The south east region of Fujian Province in China is a quite picturesque green mountainous landscape that has long been a home to many of one of Chinas minority groups the Hakkas.  The Hakkas are probably most well known for cuisine, culture but mostly for their very unique homes of which many still standing today date back over 700 years old.

As rumor has it, in the early days of satellite spying, the US suspected these may have been missile silos and reportedly sent spies to investigate. Lucky spies, as they would have stopped in and got to enjoy the delicious local Hakka cuisine! read more

Macau Casinos – Welcome to the new Las Vegas

Macau Casinos – Welcome to the new Las Vegas

While Las Vegas goes down the gurgler apparently Macau is becoming the new gambling mecca of the world, going by the number of veteran US casino developers who are spending big bucks here, it may be true.

Here’s an incomplete list of Macau’s Casinos, there’s plenty more than this, but these are the ones that stood out to me while I was there. You can read more comprehensive guide to casinos and things to do in Macau here. But here’s my take.

The new, modern and recently finished: read more

Welcome to Macau – The Vegas of the Orient

Welcome to Macau – The Vegas of the Orient

Macau is a little bit like Hong Kong in that it is still part of China but has it’s own administration, legal system and economic system, and it is also referred to as a Special Administrative Region of China.

What makes Macau very different from Hong Kong is that for one, it’s much smaller, secondly it’s former Portuguese rule has forged a unique culture and thirdly, most noticeably, is the legalised casinos.

I was heading to Macau from China, so for the most part it’s just like going to another country, meaning that I was officially departing China, and also requiring the normal customs checks and an entry visa for Macau. read more

The Peak Tram – Hong Kong

The Peak Tram – Hong Kong

An icon of Hong Kong that just should be missed, this amazing tram has been operating since 1888, and has apparently has never had a day out of service! I’m glad I got to the tram when it opened, and enjoyed a relaxed ride up the peak. Later on through the day the place becomes over run with tour groups and the tram gets packed!

The classic old tram runs up a steep climb all the way to the top of Victoria Peak . The tram itself doesn’t have a motor, its actually pulled up and down by a cable, with a huge electric motor at the base of the hill doing all the work. read more

Welcome to Shanghai China

Welcome to Shanghai China

My first introduction to Shanghai was similar to that of Beijing, another taxi driver that sees a foreigner as dollar signs. As I walked out of the Shanghai Station I walked straight up to the cab rank and was fortunate to find a couple of drivers who spoke English. I told them the hotel I was staying at and one said no problem, so I started to throw my stuff in his boot. It’s on the meter right? I asked, no meter, 100 RMB he replied.

I knew the hotel is only about 5 minutes from the train station and even in the worst traffic conditions it could not be any more than a 30RMB trip, I asked for the meter again and got the same reply, no meter 100RMB is cheapest. I grabbed my bag back out of the boot and started walking. Lucky for me there was another taxi driving past that I managed to hail. I asked for the meter and he happily obliged. My new taxi got me to the hotel for under 30RMB. read more

The Great Wall (BaDaLing Section) Beijing

The Great Wall (BaDaLing Section) Beijing

As the tour bus left the Ming Tombs the guide started talking about jade (an ornamental stone), and then tea, my eyes rolled into the back of my head….to explain; its quite common for tour services to take gullible foreigners to ‘jade galleries’ and tea houses featuring ‘genuine green tea’ for sale. The guide started with a big long story about how important jade (an ornamental stone found) is in Chinas history, which it probably is, and then how theres ‘good and bad’ jade, blah. blah…and then, so lucky for us, there happens to be an exculsive jade showroom just around the corner! read more

The Summer Palace Beijing

The Summer Palace Beijing

The Summer Palace is an imperial garden built by Emperor Qianlong in 1750 to celebrate his mothers birthday, it was later used as a garden where emperors and empresses would escape the heat of Beijing’s summers.

The palace covers a staggering 290 hectares featuring a massive lake, temples, halls, pavilions, corridors, towers which are decorated with fine stone, bronze sculptures and feature paintings, all amongst a garden of ancient pines and cypress trees.

A major feature of the Summer Palace is the man made Kunming Lake covering over 2 square kilometers and having three islands all connected via beautiful stone bridges. read more

Ya Show Clothing Market (Sanlitun Yashou Clothing Market) Beijing

Ya Show Clothing Market (Sanlitun Yashou Clothing Market) Beijing

Sanlitun Yashou Clothing Market is five floors of clothing and fashion (notice its name can sometimes be translated as Ya Show or Yashou or even Yaxui!). Including mens and womens clothes, suits, womens bags, luggage bags, leather goods, shoes and more. It’s located right next door to Sanlitun Village, a new and ultra modern shopping complex featuring many big brand name stores.

Inside the five storey building is jam packed with independently operated market stalls with staff that wont let you past with you knowing what they have for sale! But note, if you see anything here with a brand name on it at Yashow Clothing Market, check the authenticity. read more

Welcome to Xian of Shaanxi Province China

Welcome to Xian of Shaanxi Province China

Look at any half-serious planned tour of China and the city of Xi’an will be on the list of destinations, and for good reason. It’s a city that has a depth of historical attractions rivaling that of Beijing, and many believe the jewel in Xi’an’s list of attractions is still yet to be revealed.

When I arrived I stepped straight of the airport shuttle bus and more or less straight in the door of the Melody Hotel, when I got up to the room and took a look out the window I realised I was in a special place. Straight ahead out my window was a massive public square, and a massive Drum Tower, looking to the right I could see a large Bell Tower. Not many cities offer that in the first five minutes of arrival! read more

Emei Shan – An intro to Mount Emei, Sichuan China

Emei Shan – An intro to Mount Emei, Sichuan China

Mt. Emei, or Emei Shan (Shan meaning mountain) is located in Leshan City of Sichuan Province. It’s one of China’s Sacred Mountains featuring Buddhist temples and amazing scenery. In 1996 it was given World Heritage status by UNESCO.

Standing at over 3000 meters the mountain features four scenic regions being: Baoguo Temple, Wannian Temple, Qingyin Pavilion and Golden Summit. Golden Summit lies at the mountains peak.

Being my first visit to the mountain I went with a tour group, unfortunately it was a really rushed tour. This is easily a place you could spend some time soaking up the natural wonders and the amazing temples. And a place I hope to visit again and spend more time. read more

Leshan and the Giant Buddha

Leshan and the Giant Buddha

Leshan is a city located about two hours drive from Chengdu in Sichuan Province China. The star attraction of the city is the amazing Giant Buddha that’s been carved out from the rock face siding the river. It’s actually where three rivers meet being the Minjiang, Dadu and Qingyi rivers.

It was listed as a UNESCO world heritage site in 1996 and the Giant Buddha, in sitting position, measures in at 71 meters tall and 28 meters wide.

This was part of the tour that went from Chengdu to Leshan and onto Mt Emei. I felt a little sad that having to play follow the leader, I didn’t spend anytime exploring the city. Something for next time! read more

Shuhe Ancient Town of Lijiang China

Shuhe Ancient Town of Lijiang China

Shuhe Ancient Town (or city) is located in the city of Lijiang and less than 10 minutes by taxi from the ‘Old Town of Lijiang’ which is at the center of the city. It’s a place where you can easily find yourself forgetting what year you are in, as you walk along the original cobblestone streets and admire the old architecture while quite often running into locals still dressed in traditional clothing.

Lijiang Ancient City (Old Town) is very well marketed and well known, so it’s very busy and very touristy. Shuhe Ancient City has a far more authentic feel than the Old Town, being not so commericialised and not so busy. It’s an easy place to relax and stroll around while really taking in the China of old. read more

Welcome to Lijiang of Yunnan Province

Welcome to Lijiang of Yunnan Province

Lijiang, a small city by Chinese standards, is located in south west China and close to the Tibet border. The city is an extremely popular tourist destination due to its well preserved ancient buildings and it’s ancient local culture.

The main attraction in Lijiang is the area they refer to as ‘The Old Town’, or Lijiang Ancient City, and it’s exactly that, an old town still with it’s original narrow cobblestone streets and fascinating traditional chinese architecture. Many streams run through the old city adding to it’s charm with the water originating from the nearby mountains. read more

Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding

Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding

Taking center stage on the city of Chengdu’s attraction list is the ‘Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding’. Its the largest and most successful breeding center being home to many pandas both young and old. Pandas are bred at the large park and along with being a popular tourist attraction, it also functions research and breeding center.

Pandas are bred at the center, raised and many are then re-introduced into the wild. Along with the quite famous Giant Panda there are also Red Pandas and apparently the park also has tigers and monkeys, but I’m not sure where the last two where hiding, I didn’t spot them. read more

Chengdu of Sichuan Province China

Chengdu of Sichuan Province China

Chengdu is the capital of Sichuan Province which is located in western China, bordering with Tibet. It’s location actually makes it a great place to get started from, or base yourself in, if you are planing to visit Tibet, or the southwest region of China including such places as Leshan or Mt. Emei.

Chengdu is also home to the Giant Panda Bear Research Centre, but more about that in a coming post.

The city has a population of about 11 million but strangely it doesn’t feel crowded, actually it almost has a relaxed feel. Apparently Chengdu is rated as one of the country’s most livable cities. read more