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► CHINA’S TOP TEN DESTINATIONS IN PHOTOS

In no particular order here are our candidates for the top ten places to visit in China:

1 - BEIJING - China’s capital is also its number one tourist centre with amazing sights such as the Great Wall, Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, Tiananmen Square and Summer Palace must sees for all visiting the country. Add to that great food and superb markets for the makings of a holiday in itself although there is so much more of China to see!

2 - XIAN - The Tang Dynasty Capital of Xian is best known for the Terra Cotta Warriors - another must see on any introductory trip to China. However, the city holds its own with its impressive Walls, vibrant Muslim Quarter and a range of ancient pagodas and temples.

   
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3 - CHENGDU - The city itself could well be overlooked if it wasn’t for being the base for seeing that icon of China - the Giant Panda. The Breeding base just outside the city limits is probably the best place to see these gentle giants at work, rest and play in the world.

The Yangtze River, Huangshan, Hangzhou and Shanghai are often visited together

4 - YANGTZE RIVER - The classic 3 night 4 day cruise through the Yangtze’s impressive three gorges is on the wish list of many China travellers and enthusiasm has been undimmed by the vast dam project, now complete, that doesn’t seem to have reduced the grandeur of the gorges themselves.

5 - MOUNT HUANGSHAN - China has many sacred mountains but if you have to choose one Huangshan is both accessible and offers a superb scenic experience from its famed sunrise to a day spent walking along the well marked paths amongst the pine clad peaks.

6 - SHANGHAI - Welcome to New China - a neon lit brash crowded sci-fi city that is best enjoyed at night and truly announces China’s arrival as a financial power. This mega city is short on sights but a must for experience and has the advantage of being surrounded by more tranquil water towns such as Suzhou, Hangzhou and Zhouzhuang.

7 - HANGZHOU - Just a 1 hour bullet train ride from downtown Shanghai is the heart of traditional Chinese culture centred around the beautiful West Lake of Hangzhou where temples and gardens extol the timelessness of this ancient culture.

Hong Kong is often visited after Yangshuo

8 - YANGSHUO - This part of China is famed for it’s stunning river and karst mountain scenery and also offers a relaxed pace of life and some of China’s best small hotels offer a wide range of cultural experiences and activities.

9 - HONG KONG - Still considered to have the best shopping, nightlife and city scales of China this former British colony offers up something a bit more rounded and polished than Shanghai and makes for a good finish point for a tour through China.

10 - LHASA - The capital of high altitude Tibet defies comparison to anywhere else in China or perhaps the world. Amazing architecure and friendly, tough and deeply religious people are set against a back drop of harsh yet sublimely beautiful scenery including the literal high point of Mount everest.