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Shenyang (沈阳, Shěnyáng) is a provincial capital on the rise. Its sleek metro hums beneath wide boulevards and contemporary glass monoliths, while an underrated Imperial Palace and tomb complex – sadly overlooked by all bar the history buffs – lies at either end of its park-lined urban centre.

Liaoning's largest city also has a proudly cosmopolitan dining scene (think Korean and Hui Muslim for starters) and a post-industrial wealth and sensibility befitting the more established cities further south. Easily accessible from Beijing and beyond, visitors to Shenyang may also enjoy the shopping, museums and a stroll around Zhongshan Lu, a picturesque neighbourhood with well-preserved, early-20th-century architecture, another pleasant Dongbei surprise.

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