uncharted backpacker Lijiang

Top 5 places to see in China

Chinese New Year’s is coming up fast, so why not bring in the year of the monkey and take a trip to stunning China. China is big, you can travel across neon cities, scorching deserts, steamy jungle, and the soaring white capped peaks of the Himalayas all while not leaving its borders. Chinas plethora of sights, cities, landscapes and cultures will you keep you coming for many years to come. So celebrate this Chinese New Year properly in one of these five amazing locations!

1. Beijing

Beijing is more than just the capital city of China, it’s the cultural and historic centre of modern day China. Staying in one of its historic Hutong districts brings you close to traditional Chinese life. The district also houses some of the finest Chinese cuisine I have had. Beijing also has many sights to see within its city limits. Take a walk through the giant red gates of the forbidden city and get lost among the ancient palaces and corridors. There is also many peaceful temples like the temple of heaven that will puzzle you with all its architectural wonders. If you’re looking for a modern scene Beijing has massive shopping malls and markets for you to spend your Yuan. Drive just a few hours north of Beijing and you will be walking along the Great Wall of China through stark mountain scenery.

2. Yangshuo

Close your eyes and picture what you imagine is China. This picture usually has emerald green rice terraces lining lime stone cliffs with a river snaking its way through the valley below. If this is the China you imagine than look no further because Yangshuo is exactly that. Yangshou town nestled amongst all of this, is a traditional Chinese architecture town, walk its red lantern lit streets and find some of the most interesting locals who have lived here for countless generations. You can hop on a boat, bicycle, or simply walk and discover hidden valleys and towns along the Li River. Head north and you will find distinct minority groups living amongst the some of the most impressive rice terraces and remote communities in China.

3. Kashgar

Marco Polo came through here and so should you. Located in the far western most corner of China, Kashgar is closer to the Middle East than Beijing. This distance gives Kashgar are very unique culture quite different from the rest of China. Kashgar has been an important trade centre along the Silk Road for years, its markets selling exotic spices from Pakistan, fur hats from Mongolia, and two hump camels will leave you amazed that you are still in China. Kashgar city brings you back to the Silk Road with its dusty alley ways, mosques singing the call to prayer and mud brick houses. Outside of Kashgar is the Taklamakan desert made famous by Marco Polos travels across it. On Sunday, Kashgar holds one of the largest live stock markets on the Silk Road, People from Tajikistan to Pakistan head here to sell flat bottom sheep, yaks and camels. Kashgar is a wonderful secret yet to be discovered by the masses.

4. Lijiang

Old traditional Lijiang, set in the foothills of the Himalayas, puts you closer than ever to the old China. Its cobble stone streets are lined with small water channels containing large wooden paddle wheels which just add to this towns fascinating atmosphere. If you love shopping, this place boasts a great selection of Chinese handicrafts and local teas. If you come to experience traditional Chinese food then the countless old time restaurants here will keep your taste buds happy with the exotic flavours of Yunnan. Lijiang is also a great place to base yourself in before you take on the adrenaline filled Tiger Leaping Gorge Trail famed for its mountain vistas and hair raising mountain paths.

5. Xian

A complex blend of Chinese and Silk Road culture, Xian is situated at the beginning of the Silk Road and the ancient Chinese Empire. This city is where Chinese Dynasties came and went, the stone walls that line the city and Terra Cotta Army nearby, hint of Xian’s grand and glorious past. Inside the city are a complex mix of people, the Muslim quarters are home to Muslim minorities who have many exotic markets and ancient mosques, while just outside of this are tall intricate Buddhist temples and hutong districts. Walk outside your Hotel and see Jade sellers from the Silk Road and European clothing stores all to the chaotic soundtrack of this incredible city and country.

Stephen Gollan

Uncharted Backpacker is a glimpse at the past eleven years of globetrotting I have done. Now at over ninety countries I share my travel knowledge for you so you too can travel the world and see what wonders it has to offer.

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