East-meets-West fashion capital where temples linger below a sci-fi skyline.
Běijīng & Around
Vast metropolis of ancient alleys, glimmering towers and imperial monuments.
Feisty, rebellious Guǎngdōng is China’s fastest-developing province and also one of the richest. For centuries it was isolated from the rest of China by its mountainous topography, forcing the Cantonese to rely on their own pragmatism and innovation for survival.
Yúnnán has some of the most magical and diverse scenery in all of China. There are endless trekking opportunities in the south’s tropical rainforests, and in the north, snow-capped Tibetan peaks hide dozens of tiny villages and temples rarely visited by tourists.
Interpret literally the five Chinese elements (water, earth, wood, metal, fire) and you may understand the attraction that Sìchuān has had for millennia. Sìchuān means ‘Four Rivers’ and the name pays tribute to that most essential element, water.
In today’s China of dolled-up attractions and hyped-up travel fads, the decidedly northern province of Shāndōng – its name means ‘East of the Mountains’ – manages to maintain an alluring authenticity, despite being one of the nation’s most visited regions. Shāndōng’s glittering CV makes for an impressive roll call.
Xīnjiāng means ‘New Frontier’ and the province’s far-flung geography has placed it in the bull’s eye of competing powers for centuries. Fiercely independent, the people of the region have never really been independent.
For over a millennium Silk Road camel caravans wound their way through the mountain and desert corridor of Gānsù, transferring goods and ideas between China and Central Asia along the world’s first information superhighway. Travellers, pilgrims, artists and merchants entered the Middle Kingdom using a string of oasis towns as stepping stones.
Known to many in the West as ‘Canton’, Guǎngzhōu is the first city most travellers to mainland China visit. Wrapped in a perpetual haze of pink smog and flashing neon lights, the city overwhelms with its energy, colour, and sheer size.
The mysterious karst peaks of Guìlín and Yángshuò may lure most travellers to this province, but more and more, it’s Guǎngxī’s mosaic of nationalities that makes people linger.
Zhèjiāng may be one of China’s smallest provinces but it’s hardly insignificant. For centuries it’s been a prosperous culture centre, home to some of China’s most influential thinkers, politicians and artists. Today Zhèjiāng is a thriving commercial hub, with tourism as its number one draw.
Shaanxi is Chinese history, ancient and modern. Peruse any text on China and the pages for this province are laden with the words ‘centre’, ‘nucleus’ and ‘heart’, not to mention the ubiquitous ‘cradle’.
Well-to-do Jiāngsū is the envy of its neighbours because of its lush, wet landscape and fertile topography. Because of its abundant agriculture, it’s been dubbed the ‘land of fish and rice’ since ancient times. Situated on the east coast bordering the East China Sea, it’s one of China’s most densely populated provinces and also one of the most prosperous.
It will be your fault if if your senses aren't thrilled by Central Sìchuān. Tuck into some of the famously-fiery local nosh in the region's bustling capital Chéngdū, or wander the trails around the holy Taoist mountain of Qīngchéng Shān.