Suzhou is located not far away from Shanghai. The city is famous for the myriad of canals, stone bridges, pagodas and their carefully landscaped gardens, which have made the city one of the top tourist attractions in China. The classical gardens of Suzhou have been featured in the UNESCO lists in 1997 and 2000. The “Humble Administrator’s Garden” is Suzhou’s most famous one and a great example of the traditional Chinese garden design. Suzhou is often referred to as the “Venice of the East” or “Venice of China”.
Hangzhou became famous throughout China as it forms the southern end of the famous “Grand Canal”, resulting in the city being one of the wealthiest in the country. The “West Lake”, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is one of the region’s most famous attractions. There are numerous temples, pagodas, gardens and artificial islands around or in the lake. The lake has influenced poets and painters throughout Chinese history and it is printed on the back of the 1-yuan note.
Harbin is located in the northern Chinese province of Heilongjiang. The “small” 3.8 million metropolis is worth a visit, especially in winter, when the world-famous ice festival takes place there. Founded by the Russians, the old city of Harbin still depicts the Russian/Tsarist architecture, which, at one point or another, makes one think of St. Petersburg. The Ice-, Snow- and Ice-Lantern Festivals offer a breath-taking experience from December/January to February/March – with temperatures dropping as low as -30 degrees Celsius. Real winter clothing is essential to enjoy these big, icy festivals.
Xiamen is a city in the Fujian Province, located in the south of China, at the coastal area facing Taiwan. The metropolitan area, is partially on the mainland, however the heart of the city lies on the island with the same name. It is famous for its mild climate and the elite University of Xiamen. A very special pearl is the offshore island of Gulangyu. Several states occupied the island after the Opium War, and foreign concessions were established later on. Even today, most of the buildings present on the island are from the colonial past . Cars are banned and only a few electric vehicles are allowed.
Another “small” city of 7.3 million people, the metropolis is divided into various modern districts and the unique thing about Qingdao is, that it has a German colonial city center. From 1898 to 1919 the city belonged to the German Reich as a colony. Many buildings have been preserved from this era, which provide Qingdao with an extraordinary charm. A brewery, a train station, a Protestant church, the governor residence, the former German prison, some fortifications from the First World War and many private buildings and villas are among the examples. Qingdao is ideal for a long weekend, as most attractions can be reached on foot.
Guilin is in the north-eastern part of the Guangxi Autonomous Province, which itself is located in south-eastern China. The Li River flows next to the city of Guilin, which is known for its beautiful karst landscapes. This region is a trendy tourist destination in China, and the city is the ideal starting point for exploration. The name of the town translates to “the City of the Fragrant Forest” as there are many aromatic flowers throughout Guilin.
Yangshuo is a large community south of Guilin city. This scenic area is easily reached by bus or boat from Guilin. In the 1980s, the city became popular for foreign backpackers, and it was considered a real insider tip. Chinese tourists made up only a small fraction of the visitors. Since 2005, however, it has also become a popular destination for domestic travels.
The city of Chengdu is the capital of the “spicy” province of Sichuan. It is home of the Sichuan pepper and many panda bears. Chengdu lies on the edge of the fertile plains of the “Red Basin”. Thanks to its agricultural wealth, Chengdu is referred to as “the land of milk and honey”. Despite its 14 million inhabitants, Chengdu has a reputation of being quite relaxing with an emphasis on culture and leisure. High availability of green areas in the metropolis and the leisurely pace of people, transformed Chengdu into one of the liveliest mega-cities in China.
Kunming is the provincial capital of Yunnan, which means “the south of the clouds”. The Yunnan Province is located in the southwestern part of China, bordering Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam. Yunnan is known for its ethnic diversity. Of the total of 56 recognized ethnic groups in China, 25 are living in Yunnan. Kunming is located on the almost 2,000-meter-high East Yunnan Plateau. The location provides Kunming with relatively mild temperatures the whole year round, making it “the City of Eternal Spring”.
The city of Zhangjiajie is located in the southern Chinese province of Hunan. Zhangjiajie became famous thanks to the UNESCO World Heritage Site “Wulingyuan”. Wulingyuan is a scenic and historical national park that is home to more than 3,000 sandstone pillars, many of them are higher than 200 meters. With its many gorges, mountains, forests, lakes, rivers and waterfalls, this natural spectacle offers breath-taking views to the visitors. There are over 40 caves in the area. In 2009, the region gained global attention, as it has inspired certain landscape portrayals in the movie “Avatar”.
Chengde is a major city in the Hebei Province, which is located in northern China and surrounds the cities of Beijing and Tianjin. In 1703, Chengde was selected as the location for a new summer palace. This new imperial summer palace was called the “Mountain Villa to Prevent the Heat”. There is also a Buddhist temple complex named Putuo Zongcheng, that has been modeled after the Potala Palace in Tibet.
Shenzhen is located in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong. This city has become the fourth largest and one of the wealthiest metropolises in China during the recent years . Shenzhen is located on the delta of the Pearl River and comparable to Hong Kong, Macao, Guangzhou and other mega-cities with its continuously growing urban landscape. This also makes it one of the largest and fastest developing metropolitan regions in the world. It is often referred as the city of creators and inventors due to the large number of high-tech industries in and around Shenzhen. This emerging and young city has already been given a suitable nickname: “the Silicon Valley of Asia”.
The Special Administrative Region of Macao can be described as the little cousin of Hong Kong, who has been in kind of “a beauty sleep” for a long time. Macao means a game of chance for some, and a piece of Portugal in the middle of Asia for the others. It is located 50 km west of Hong Kong and can be reached by speedboats in an hour. A trip to the area is definitely worth it and the 400 years of Portuguese colonial influence invites you to discover. This unique characteristic, especially the colonial architecture, grants Macao an exceptional charm. It feels like finding Lisbon or Madeira in the middle of Asia!