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There is an enormous variety of Chinese cuisine to be enjoyed as you travel through the country. Each province has its own style and speciality from delicious Peking Duck to the fiery spices of Sichuan. The culinary adventure awaits!

The writing of Chinese characters is an art form itself and traditionally the quality of your calligraphy would indicate your education and social standing. These ideas still exist today and you are likely to come across such artists during your trip in China.  

The drinking of tea originated in China thousands of years ago only spreading to the West in the 19th century. Not surprisingly, an activity practiced for so long means it has become deeply rooted in the culture and experiencing a ceremony is a must.

In the last few decades there’s been an explosion of artistic expression as China has opened up and put the rigidity of the Mao years behind it. Beijing is probably the best place to come across this contemporary art although other large cities aren’t far behind.

Traditional Art & Architecture in New China

Traditional art forms abound and China has a proud tradition of high quality craftsmanship and artistry. Markets across the country are full of examples with Beijing’s huge Panjiayuan market perhaps the biggest and best place to experience.

Despite rampant development you will see plenty of traditional architecture on your China travels ranging from such masterpieces as the Temple of Heaven to the more humble doorways of traditional houses which often have stories to tell.

Much of the new building in China is lacking in imagination but things are changing and there are some superb new buildings in some of the larger cities that are set to become architectural icons of the 21st Century, particularly in Beijing and Shanghai.

Craftwork in China can be of the highest quality with unmatched detailing and patience required, particularly in the area of silk embroidery. The best quality is prized and priced highly by wealthy Chinese but there is something for everyone.

People don’t always think of ‘Communist’ China as being a particularly religious place but actively used temples and shrines are common and there is a quiet resurgence of traditional religious beliefs spreading across the country.

Shanghai and the Future

China is very much a country hurtling into its own future and hopping on that ride is all part of experiencing China. The best place to do this is Shanghai, a mecca for all that is new and neon and a good night out in this city should not be missed.

At the other end of the scale from the new China glitz is the shadow of Chairman Mao, a figure who still looms large not least in his vast Mausoleum on Tiananmen square overlooked by his equally vast portrait on the Gate of Heavenly Peace.

Chinese Opera, Acrobats, Martial Arts and Dance

Hugely colourful and full of action if a little harsh to Western ears, Chinese opera is undergoing a cultural resurgence in China and catching an evening show is on many people’s itineraries. Beijing and Sichuan are the best places to view a performance.

China has a long tradition of acrobatics and many large cities offer fast paced, colourful and fun shows suitable for all ages. Beijing and Shanghai offer the best standards with nightly performances sure to entertain.

Alongside opera and acrobatics the tradition of martial arts is alive and well in China. Shows to entertain are available but the culture goes much deeper from the informal clubs which operate in the city parks to the birthplace at the Shaolin Temples.

Traditional dance played a part in the courts of the various dynasties down to the village squares and is still practiced to this day featuring elegant routines, plenty of colour and a restrained energy that is captivating.