Lonely Planet Writer

China has created a bucket list of ideal destinations for travellers who love science

For some people, travel is all about switching off and letting the brain take a well-deserved rest.

The 500-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) in Pingtang County, southwest China's Guizhou Province.
The 500-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) in Pingtang County, southwest China’s Guizhou Province. Image by Xinhua/Liu Xu via Getty Images

For those who love the idea of combining learning with their love of visiting new places though, a trip to China may now have to be added to the bucket list. The Asian country is in the process of developing a top ten of attractions for visitors who want to marry their love of science with holidays.

The list put together by the Chinese Academy of Sciences features a range of locations … from the world’s largest radio telescope to the world’s most famous hydroelectric plant. Top of the list is an incredible five-hundred-metre-wide radio telescope, which comes with the beautiful nickname the Eye of Heaven. Located in the province of Guizhou, the aperture spherical telescope – or FAST – will be used in the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence, and more generally in the study of astrophysics. It has also been built with tourists in mind with an observation deck overlooking the giant telescope, a planetarium, and a space simulator.

Also on the list is the enormous Three Gorges Dam, which spans the Yangtze River in Hubei province. It’s been open to visitors for around three years and in 2015, it attracted more than two million people to see exactly how it works. Other sights on the tentative list include the Purple Mountain Observatory near the city of Nanjing and the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre.

The Purple Mountain Observatory was for decades the centre of astronomical observation in China but in recent years, due to increasing light pollution, has turned more towards public education and tourism. Also to be included in the top ten are the Island of Science in Hefei, the Tropical Botanical Garden in Xishuangbanna, Shanghai’s Science and Technology Museum, and the National Time Service Center in Shaanxi.

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