The province’s friendly and modern capital city, Chéngdū, is where most travellers start their Sìchuān explorations. It makes a great base for trips to the region’s top sights. The area surrounding this emerging metropolis remains dotted with quaint old villages and farmsteads.
Southern Taiwan is a land of timeless rituals and strong folk culture. The yearly calendar is chock-full of some of Taiwan's most unforgettable festivals: when they’re not burning boats to ask for peace, southerners let off fierce fireworks to seek supernatural protection against disease. Tainan, the island’s former capital, is to many Taiwan's most Taiwanese city.
The Hill Country
Picture Sri Lanka and visions of golden beaches probably dance before your eyes. But there’s another side to this island. It’s a side where mists slowly part to reveal emerald carpets of tea plantations and montane forests clinging to serrated ranges bookended by waterfalls.
It's Hángzhōu, the handsome capital city, that lands Zhèjiāng (浙江) on many a traveller's itinerary. Home to picture-perfect landscapes of classical Chinese beauty (and just a short train ride from Shànghǎi), Hángzhōu is the obvious highlight. Yet the province offers so much more.
A zip – and an entire world – away from Shànghǎi, lush and well-irrigated Jiāngsū (江苏) spills over as much charm and history as the waters that flow through its sparkling web of canals. The province, which owed its historical wealth to silk and salt production, boasts the Grand Canal as well as elaborate waterways that thread through this Yangzi River (Cháng Jiāng) region.
The Ancient Cities
Crumbling temples, lost cities and sacred sites are reason enough to head up country to the cultural heartland of Sri Lanka. It was here on the hot central plains that ancient Sinhalese dynasties set up their capitals and supported massive artistic and architectural endeavours. Eventually these kingdoms fell, giving nature a chance to reclaim the land.
Běijīng's breadbasket, Héběi (河北) is a slow-moving panorama of grazing sheep, brown earth and fields of corn and wheat. Cosmopolitan Tiānjīn (天津) may put on a dazzling show, but the true charms of this region are its time-worn, earthy textures and its deep-rooted historical narrative.
Fantastical mountainscapes and well preserved villages make Ānhuī (安徽) the perfect antidote to the brashness of China’s larger cities. The main attraction is unquestionably Huángshān, a jumble of sheer granite cliffs wrapped in cottony clouds that inspired an entire school of ink painting during the 17th and 18th centuries.
You don’t have to be on Sri Lanka’s west coast for long to realise that the coastline has something of a multiple personality. North of the capital is Negombo, a cheerful beach town crowned with church spires that is, thanks to its proximity to the airport, a staple of almost every visitor’s Sri Lankan journey.