CHINA  |  China Travel Guide
Monday, July 22, 2024



The affable Panda, indigenous to China (c)

China, a country of superlatives, most populous of nations, hidden for so long, is now emerging onto the world travel scene. From frozen north to tropical south, modern east to wild west, this is a huge, diverse land just waiting to be explored. It abounds in magnificent sights – some are natural like the mystical limestone peaks of Guangxi, while others are manmade testaments to the power and glory of China’s past, such as the Forbidden City. Some are a combination of the two such as the Great Wall or the impossibly steep Longji rice-terraces, where man has ruthlessly crowned nature’s achievements.

Speaking of population, in 2 AD China’s population was estimated at nearly 58 million by the world's first large-scale census. In spite of famine, plague, epic natural disasters and mass exodus, the population has grown steadily since then and today stands at over 1.3 billion people, making it the world’ s most populous nation. In spite of a quarter-century of the one-child policy, it looks as if it will maintain pole position until at least the middle of the century, when India may take the lead.

Still predominantly rural, China's massive population, though principally Han Chinese (who make up 93% of China's population today), is actually comprised of some 56 different ethnic groups ranging from Central Asian horsemen such as Kazakhs in the northwest, more akin to Turks than Chinese, to the hill tribe peoples of the southwest. With such diverse people and regions comes an incredible variety of food, making China one of the world’s great culinary centers – from ultra-fresh Cantonese to fiery Szechuan, or Mongolian hotpot to Beijing duck.

From a visitor's perspective, the principal areas of interest in China include the great cities of Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong, the Terracotta Warriors near Xi’an, the Yangzi River’s Three Gorges and the majestic rural scenery around Guilin in Guangxi Province. A few other choice sights close to these cities are the imperial retreat at Chengde near Beijing and the picturesque cities of Suzhou and Hangzhou close to Shanghai, while the freshly painted mountain scenery of Huangshan adds a little rural flavor to this highly developed part of the country. Yangshuo near Guilin makes for a lower-key introduction to this idyllic rural area and is a great place to try your hand at Chinese calligraphy or tai chi, and Longji up in the hills is unmissable for its rice terraces. Proceeding south, Guangzhou and Shenzhen offer many visitors their first taste of mainland China while, nestled on the western side of the Pearl River Delta, Macau is definitely worth the short boat ride from Hong Kong.

In religion, China’s history is steeped in overlapping belief and philosophy. Starting with animist worship, religion developed through Taoism and Confucianism, the latter of which, with its hierarchical code of moral values, was more a philosophy than a religion. Outside influence brought Buddhism to the country and together these three belief systems are the foundation of religion in China – known as The Three Teachings. With the onset of communism, socialism was the new doctrine; religion in all its forms was suppressed and only practiced secretly. In the last 20 years, however, religion has reemerged, albeit in party-approved form and far from free. Indeed, several religious groups are outlawed in China, such as Falun Gong (meaning Wheel of Life, a quasi-Buddhist order) , but they flourish in Hong Kong and Taiwan. The Three Teachings remain the most prominent beliefs in modern China, although some would argue they come second to capitalism, albeit with socialist characteristics!

Politically, the People's Republic of China remains a single-party communist state.


Destinations in China (17)

  • Beijing, China

    Beijing, literally translated, means Northern Capital, a title it has held since the Ming Dynasty and a name that still holds true today. Whether imagining the past or marveling at the future, this city is most definitely still the cultural,...

    Read More
  • Chengde, China

    Chengde, with a population of 200,000, is situated one hundred and forty miles northeast of Beijing in Hebei province. It’s an unassuming town that wouldn’t be worth much attention were it not for the beautiful Qing dynasty...

    Read More
  • Chongqing, China

    Chongqing is a big, bustling and mountainous city of 31 million, located at the confluence of the Yangzi and Jialing rivers. It serves as the industrial powerhouse of inland China and is renowned as one of China’s “Three Furnaces” (the others are...

    Read More
  • Guangzhou, China

    Guangzhou, a city of seven million people that was long known in the West as Canton, provides many visitors with their first glimpse of a mainland Chinese metropolis. Frenetically busy, polluted and steamily hot in summer,...

    Read More
  • Guilin, China

    Guilin, situated amid impressive tower karst scenery and well placed for trips south to Yangshuo and north to Longji, is the traditional base from which to explore the region. Guilin is an easy city to tour, predominantly...

    Read More
  • Hangzhou, China

    Hangzhou, traditionally linked with Suzhou as one of the two paradises below heaven, manages to live up to this claim a great deal more than its northern cousin and is one of China’s most beautiful cities. Nestled attractively around the edge of...

    Read More
  • Hong Kong, China

    Hong Kong, a city with a population of seven million, never fails to impress. You instantly know you’re somewhere special, particularly the first time you lay eyes on the spectacle of the skyscraper-filled island from the Kowloon side. Hong Kong...

    Read More
  • Huangshan, China

    Huangshan range, which towers over the south of Anhui province, is among China’s most beautiful mountains and ought to be on the itinerary of every visitor to China. In fact, in developed eastern China, countryside is a rare...

    Read More
  • Longsheng, China

    Longsheng, which lies a couple of hours north of Guilin, marks the start of the hill tribe region that stretches west across Guizhou to Yunnan, much of it at an elevation of more than 3,000 feet. This is an area inhabited by...

    Read More
  • Macau, China

    Macau, though often mentioned in the same breath as Hong Kong, is an intrinsically different place and worthy of a trip in its own right. Occupying just 10 square miles on the other side of the Pearl River Delta from Hong Kong...

    Read More
  • Shanghai, China

    Shanghai, the "Pearl of the Orient", has endured a boom-bust cycle like no other city in China, and is a must-see for a glimpse into the China of the future. It currently has some 20 million residents. A walk along the Bund on the banks of the...

    Read More
  • Shenzhen, China

    Shenzhen is China's fastest-growing city. It has a population of 5 million and is vying with Guangzhou for economic supremacy in Guangdong’s Pearl River Delta. Brash, edgy, materialistic and modern, Shenzhen initially seems to...

    Read More
  • Suzhou, China

    Suzhou, with a population of one million and hailed as the Venice of the East, is famous for its canals, gardens, silk and beautiful women. As you approach through the industrial suburbs, you might begin to doubt the hype, but...

    Read More
  • The Three Gorges, China

    The Three Gorges have been hailed as one of China’s greatest sights for nearly 2,000 years, and they remain undeniably spectacular. However, the building of the world’s biggest dam at Sandouping has had consequences not only for the people and...

    Read More
  • Xi'an, China

    Xi’an (Western Peace), population three million, has served as China’s capital many times and at its peak it was described as the most prosperous city on the planet. These days, although the city is polluted, it manages to remain...

    Read More
  • Yangshuo, China

    Yangshuo, some 40 miles south of Guilin, sits amid some of the most spectacular karst scenery in the region. Stretching along the west bank of the Li River, Yangshuo is still a small rural town, with a population of 32,000, but...

    Read More
  • Yichang, China

    Yichang is a small city on the north bank of the Yangzi which would see few visitors were it not the terminus for the Three Gorges cruise, and the nearest city to the gigantic dam 22 miles west at Sandouping. Most tourists arrive by boat from...

    Read More
What's New?

New and Updated Travel Guides

  • Cuzco is the ancient capital of the Inca Empire, and the epicenter of the Andean Quechua culture. It has a monumental... Read More

  • Thimphu is the seat of the last of the Himalayan kingdoms. It sits in splendid isolation in a long, high valley in the... Read More

  • Mostar is where Christians converted to Islam, and where moussaka – consisting of sliced eggplants sautéed in... Read More

  • Santiago is Chile's capital of cool. It's mostly a modern metropolis, but with more than 500 years of history and relics... Read More

  • Tampere is a city of rock. In fact, Tampere, Finland, like Manchester, England, evolved from a market town into a major... Read More

Trending Themes:

Guides to Popular Ski Resorts

  • Ischgl is a small mountain village turned hip ski resort, with massive appeal among the party-hearty young crowds. It is... Read More

  • Andorra la Vella is its own little world, and not just because it’s a 290-square-mile independent principality (a fifth the... Read More

  • Bariloche (officially San Carlos de Bariloche) is the place to be seen. It is to Argentina what Aspen is to the... Read More

  • Aspen is America's most famous ski resort. And that's an understatement. For, as a ski complex, Aspen is unsurpassed. Its... Read More

  • Zermatt is a small but glamorous mountain resort town, with a population of approximately 5,700. It is one of Switzerland's... Read More

  • St. Moritz is a glitzy, alpine resort town in the celebrated Engadin Valley of Switzerland, with huge notoriety as the... Read More

  • Lake Tahoe is the premier lake resort of America, and the largest alpine lake in all of North America. It is an absolutely... Read More

  • St. Anton, Sankt Anton am Arlberg in German, is Austria's premier ski-bum resort! It's actually a small village cum... Read More

  • Kitzbühel, a small, Tyrolian resort town in the Kitzbüheler Alps, comes with international renown and huge snob appeal, and... Read More


Copyright © 2010-2013 Indian Chief Travel Guides. Images tagged as (cc) are licensed under the Creative Commons CC-BY-SA license.