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Many of China’s mountains are well known for their sunrises but, weather permitting, the most spectacular can be seen at Huangshan in Anhui province. Even if you miss this sunrise the mountain itself is a walkers paradise of incredible vistas.
Held yearly in January this is the world’s largest and most spectacular snow and ice festival and is well worth subjecting your extremities to the -25C temperatures! The city of Harbin itself with its Russian influence is at its best in winter as well.
One of the world’s largest sculptures, the Giant Buddha at Leshan is carved into the side of a cliff overlooking the confluence of three rivers. Aside from the Buddha and the Emeishan scenic area Leshan is part of is also well worth the time with an overnight stop on Emeishan recommended.
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Arguably China’s most famous sight the Great Wall is on almost everyones itinerary. Easily visited from Beijing the best sections of the wall to see are Mutianyu, Simitai or Jingshanling. Touristy Badaling is best avoided unless you are short on time.
Xian, the Sik Road, Tibet & the Karakorum Highway
Located outside of the Tang Dynasty capital of Xian, Eastern end of the Silk Road, the Qin Terra Cotta Army is another of China’s must see wonders and little prepares you for the sheer scale of the pits that contain the warriors.
The former palace of the Tibet religious rulers is one of the world’s most extraordinary buildings set in such an enigmatic city perched up on the Tibetan plateau. The interior is also highly impressive and atmospheric and a must see.
Tucked away along Xinjiang province’s section of the Karakorum Highway this high altitude lake is surrounded by 7,000 meter peaks and some of China’s most remote scenery. The lake is an overnight stop on the route from Kashgar to Tashkurgan.
Dunhuang is one of the main stops along the Northern Silk Route. Coming right up to the edge of the city are enormous sand dunes and hidden away amongst the dunes is a small lake and pagoda defying its parched desert surroundings.
Great Wall, Forbidden City & Temple of Heaven in Beijing
Dominating the centre of Beijing is the vast former palace of many of China’s Emperors. The ‘city’ consists of 980 buildings constructed during the 15th Century and occupied by the successive Emperors until the last one was evicted in 1924.
As much a symbol of China as the Great Wall or the Forbidden City the highly endangered Giant Pandas endear themselves to all who see them. The best place to get up close with them is Chengdu’s Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding.
Often considered the symbol of Beijing the Temple of Heaven is perhaps also China’s most beautiful building perfectly proportioned. The Taoist temple was visited annually by Ming and Qing dynasty Emperors who prayed for a good harvest.
From Everest to Shanghai - Hong Kong to Yangshuo
The world’s highest mountain straddles the border of Tibet and Nepal. Base Camp on the Tibetan side is the most accessible though and can even be reached by jeep. It also has the better views of Everest, especially at sunrise and sunset.
The great sweep of the Bund alongside the Huangpu River is still Shanghai’s most defining view. To complement this past economic glory the Bund offers the best views across the river of the new skyscraper laden district of Pudong.
One of the world’s most iconic skylines can be seen from Kowloon across Hong Kong’s magnificent Victoria Harbour. Dazzlingly lit up at night this is one cityscape that you can never tire of and is symbolic of the dynamism Hong Kong offers.
The area around Guilin and Yangshuo is famous China wide for the stunning river and limestone karst scenery. After a busy trip through China a few days in this area will leave you relaxed and refreshed for your next destination.