China: The Last Great Adventure

A modern industrial giant with its roots deep in antiquity, China is a vibrant mélange of contrasts, beautiful landscapes and timeless traditions. Sitting pretty in the heart of Asia and boasting the world’s largest population, the country is a traveler’s dream and one of the world’s greatest adventures.

As China continues to modernize at a dizzying pace, opening its treasures to the rest of the world, there has never been a more exciting time to explore its Imperial wonders and dense, buzzing cities and variety of incredible food. While taming China’s sheer size and density of ancient and modern wonders isn’t going to be done in just one visit — and mostly likely not in two or three return trips either — there are some incredible sites that should be on everyone’s “must see” list.

The Great Wall, Beijing
No surprise here, the Great Wall is an essential stop on any trip through China. It is one of China’s most iconic landmarks and defiantly does not disappoint. Built during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), the Great Wall is the most visited site in China. It runs over 373 miles, containing about 827 city wall platforms, 71 passes and countless towers. If you can plan accordingly, watching the sun set behind the mountains while sitting on the edge of the Wall is life-changing.

Forbidden City, Beijing
The Forbidden City was the Chinese imperial palace from the mid-Ming Dynasty to the end of the Qing Dynasty. For almost five centuries, it served as the home of the emperor, along with the ceremonial and political center of Chinese government. It is located in the middle of Beijing, and now houses the Palace Museum.

Terracotta Warriors, Xi’an
Traveling to China and not seeing the Terracotta Army in Xi’an is a lot like going to Egypt and not seeing the pyramids (same can be said for the Great Wall). Here you can spend loads of time touring the mausoleum where Emperor Qin Shi Huang was laid to rest over 2,000 years ago, and see the thousands of life-sized terracotta warriors, archers and infantrymen that were buried with him. Each statue was molded with its own unique features, with no two statues appearing the same. Walkways provide a bird’s-eye view of the entire necropolis where the Terracotta Army was discovered in the 1970s.

The Bund, Shanghai
For more than 100 years, the Bund has been the reigning symbol of Shanghai. Facing the Huangpu River and set against a beautiful array of architecture spanning a myriad of styles, the Bund is packed with beautiful panoramas, shopping and restaurants. In the morning, you will find people practicing morning exercises, and in the evening, throngs of couples stroll about the Bund’s romantic ambience. Nighttime takes on a magical atmosphere, when Shanghai’s colorful lights flicker on, illuminating the city’s buildings and bathing the streets and walkways in a warm glow.

Yangtze River Cruise
A Yangtze cruise is the only way to experience the legendary Yangtze River. The heart of China and the third longest river in the world (after the Nile and Amazon), the 3,915-mile Yangtze plunges from the Tibetan plateau to flow through the exquisitely beautiful and dramatic Three Gorges region on its way to Shanghai and the East China Sea. A river cruise will take you through a variety of beautiful areas in the region, giving you a closer look at the many faces of China. The Yangtze has long supported — and sometimes threatened — the people who live along its banks.

Know Before You Go

China’s climate varies dramatically each season and can even vary from region to region. The most pleasant temperatures are generally in late spring and early fall. Even during the preferred months for travel (May through September), it’s important to pack clothes that can be easily added or removed since temperatures can quickly fluctuate.

Prime Travel Months
China’s high and low tourism seasons are also important to consider as you make your travel plans. Congestion in major cities and at popular attractions can be overwhelming during high seasons, making it a challenge to secure travel arrangements. High Season in China generally coincides with national holidays and school breaks.

Experience China like Royalty
A guided tour is one of the best and most hassle-free ways to explore China. Having travel experts help to organize the logistics (and a bilingual guide on the ground) takes some of the anxiety out of visiting what can be a fairly overwhelming country.

Keep in mind, entry into China requires a visa and a minimum of six months validity on your passport. It’s also important to check on the status of your passport before making travel arrangements. Depending on where you are looking to explore in China, a permit may be required for entry.

Many tour providers include visa fees into their pricing and will handle all necessary paperwork and permits to allow you entry through parts of the country requiring it. For first time visitors, utilizing an experience tour company will take the hassle out of processing entry permits. Best of all, you will have more time to focus on the sights, tastes, and sounds of this beautiful country without having to fuss with booking accommodations and travel logistics.


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