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Hong Kong's a great city for an adventurous eater. Stop at a street vendor for fish balls on a stick or stinky tofu. Bakeries offer wife cake, pineapple buns and egg tarts. Or opt for as much dim sum as you can eat. If you're tired of local and regional Chinese specialties, check out upscale offerings from some of the world's top chefs, like Joel Robouchon and Alain Ducasse.
Move over, Haussmann and l'Enfant. Beijing's urban planner beat you by a couple of centuries. His name is Kublai Khan. Here, you'll find a wealth of history, both ancient (the Hall of Preserving Harmony, Summer Palace, Forbidden City) and more recent (Chairman Mao Memorial Hall, Tienanmen Square). For the best market experience, choose the Dirt Market over the touristy Silk Market.
Shanghai is the cool, confident face of modern China, and its energy is infectious. Go to the Bund to watch ships on the river and marvel at the huge variety of architectural styles on display, or watch the crowds go by in People’s Square. Shoppers should make a beeline for the Fabric Market, where you can have a suit or dress tailor-made for you at bargain prices. At night, explore all manner of fashionable restaurants, bars and nightclubs or just stroll through the city enjoying the spectacular neon lights.
Formerly administered by the Portuguese, this high-energy city on the South China Sea is world-famous as a gaming destination and has also begun attracting visitors with an increasing array of shows, entertainment, and nightlife. The city's historic center, with its rich blend of Chinese and European architecture and culture, has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Perched in a high mountain valley, Huanglong or Yellow Dragon National Park offers invigorating adventure options. The ambitious can trek to Lhasa, whitewater raft or embark on multi-day river journeys. Alternatively, a five-mile trot brings you to five terraced, temple pools glowing with stunning hues.
China’s third-largest city is the capital of Guangdong Province and a thriving commercial centre. Its location on the Pearl River and proximity to Hong Kong has made Guangzhou a strategic port for centuries. Glimpse old temples and gleaming steel towers on an architectural tour. Visit one of four Chimelong theme parks for thrills and chills. Once called Canton, Guangzhou is considered the home of traditional (read Cantonese) “Chinese food.” Foodies will find more restaurants per capita here than anywhere else in China.
Today the walls of the Ming dynasty and the Tang palace walls hint at the Xi’an’s glorious past. Stare in awe at the Terracotta Army, 7,000 terracotta statues of Qin Bingmayong Bowuguan warriors and soldiers. Dating from 210 BCE, they were discovered in 1974 and are still being excavated. Don't miss the Shaanxi History Museum or a chance to heat up at former imperial bathing spot, Huaqing Hot Springs.
Lijiang is a beautifully preserved ancient Chinese town, infused with cultural flavour. Strolling along the 800-year-old bridges and waterways of the world-famous Old Town district is like stepping back in time. Don’t miss the views atop Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, and the Dongba cultural centre of Jade Water Village.
Hangzhou is the capital of Zhejiang Province and one of the seven ancient capitals of China. It was described by Italian traveler Marco Polo as the finest and most luxurious city in the world. The West Lake scenic area contains over 60 cultural relic sites and several attractions of natural beauty, and a cruise on the lake is a good option to view several sites. Hangzhou is also a good place to visit a tea plantation.
Suzhou is a major city on the lower Yangtze known for its canals, bridges, pagodas, and beautiful gardens. These gardens were built and owned by wealthy families and emperors hundreds of years ago, and make for a pleasant place to wander during nice weather. Suzhou is also a major centre for silk production and manufacturing, and a tour of a silk factory here provides an interesting and educational glimpse of this Chinese textile industry. Suzhou is designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.