Posted on Jul 24, 2014 by Luke James
Whether you’re looking to get your fill of ancient culture, interested in sampling some of China’s famous culinary creations or simply keen to reconnect with your spiritual side, there are no shortage of incredible holiday destinations across this vast country. We take a look at three of the best holidays for history buffs, food enthusiasts and those looking to find themselves whilst in China.
Rich in history, both ancient and modern, China’s capital city Beijing is a must see destination for anyone visiting or spending any extended period of time in China. It has consistently been ranked as the best tourist destination within China by Forbes, Tripadvisor and a range of other publications, and it’s easy to see why. Few cities on Earth capture the raw energy of this thriving metropolis, which manages to balance centuries of tradition with a distinctly modern outlook.
Beijing is home to some of the most famous monuments of China’s imperial past like the legendary Great Wall of China; the Forbidden City, a spectacularly preserved palace where the emperors of China from the Ming dynasty to the Qing dynasty ruled over the country; Tiananmen Square, the site of the announcement of the People’s Republic of China; and numerous other significant temples such as the Lama Temple, Temple of Heaven or Yunju Temple on the outskirts of Beijing. The traditional way of life in China has been well-preserved in many of the oldest neighbourhoods in the city through the Hutongs, the labyrinthine system of alleys formed by lines of siheyuan, the traditional courtyard residences.
But to think that Beijing is a city that is purely the sum of its historical parts is to not give it enough credit. Beijing thrives as the political and cultural capital of China, a vibrant hub of activity and home to a huge number of international companies and international visitors. It is a city in perpetual progression with a slew of cosmopolitan hotels, galleries, exhibitions, dance, theatre and dining options.
Transport around Beijing could not be easier. There are a range of options from the specially designed tourist trains and buses, taxis, bicycles and the ubiquitous rickshaws which allow a unique glimpse into the inner workings of ancient Beijing.
2. Hong Kong
Upon arrival in the city it’s difficult to not be overwhelmed by the sheer scale of the
feast for the senses that is Hong Kong. Drawing influence from both its Chinese imperial past as well as its time as a British colony, Hong Kong manages to combine all of the best elements of both Eastern and Western culture into a scintillating fusion of colour and movement.
Wonderfully accessible and easy to navigate, perhaps the best aspect of a holiday in Hong Kong is that it literally has everything for every type of tourist. Whether you’re after a luxury stay and some pampering in one of the many world class hotels across the island, are keen for a family vacation at Hong Kong Disneyland or Hong Kong Ocean Park; or are keen to go on a shopping frenzy across the multitude of high class boutiques or negotiate a bargain in any of the back alley markets, anyone can find what they need in Hong Kong.
For food enthusiasts, though, there are few cities on earth that have such a spellbinding array of cuisine options. Whether you’re spending $4 on a bowl of noodles or are lashing out $400 at the 3 Michelin Star Lung King Heen, Hong Kong has something to suit every taste and every budget.
Cantonese cuisine dominates the dining scene in Hong Kong and it’s arguably done better here than any other place on earth. For every notable eatery trading on the back of their international reputation, there are a multitude of street side vendors serving up delicacies at any time of the day. If you’re into adventurous cuisine, there are a wealth of street food options on offer in Hong Kong: stinky tofu, egg tarts, pineapple buns,siu mai, eel claypot rice and curry fish balls.
If you’re looking to improve your own skills in the kitchen, the explosive growth of culinary tourism has meant that there are a wealth of companies offering food tours and cooking classes where locals can pass down some of their tried and tested secrets.
Finally, no foodie’s tour of Hong Kong is complete without a visit to the 160 year old Graham market. With its dizzying maze of narrow alleys and streets full of shop owners selling their variety of fresh produce, fish and meat it’s one of the few open air markets left in Hong Kong. The fishmongers, with their well worn cleavers, slice and dice fresh catches, and unidentifiable slabs of meat hang from hooks whilst piles of smoky tea leaves and fresh vegetables provide a wealth of inspiration for aspiring photographers.
Tibet, with its breathtaking vistas, incredible Buddhist monasteries and lofty position at the roof of the world is almost universally acknowledged as one of the most spectacular destinations for lovers of the great outdoors. Nestled in the mountainous peaks of the Himalayas, this ancient Buddhist Kingdom has always held a mysterious allure to outsiders and is still one of the most revered places on earth for many followers of the Buddhist faith.
The capital city of Lhasa is accessible by plane or via train through a number of major cities in mainland China including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Chongqing, Xining and Lanzhou. It should be noted, however, that tourism in Tibet is strictly controlled by the Chinese government and any travellers looking to visit should be aware of the strict regulations required to enter. A permit (that generally takes around three days to process) is necessary to enter the region and any tourists must be on an organized tour whilst they are in Tibet. For more specific details click the following link. Upon entry into Tibet, there are numerous tour operators eager to show visitors all that their country has to offer.
The first stop for any guests in Nepal should be the amazing Potala Palace. Nestled on the Red Hill it dominates the landscape and is one of the most imposing architectural structures you’re likely to lay your eyes on. From here you can explore the Drepung and Sera Monasteries and the huge monastic universities, or take a tour around the Jokhang Temple, the spiritual centre of Tibet.
There are a range of spectacular mountain treks on offer for those that wish to explore the Himalayas, and many intrepid adventurers elect to take on the North Face of Everest Base Camp. The 14-day trek takes travellers through stark desert valleys to the dramatic peaks of the Himalayas providing unforgettable views to those that brave the arduous climb. Others opt to tackle smaller day trips around the area, perhaps visiting the beautiful Namtso lake, considered to be the highest saltwater lake on earth, or the Pabongka hermitage hike which provides great views of the Lhasa valley and the backside of the Potala Palace. With a wealth of options to explore, you’re sure to remember your time at the top of the world long after you’ve come back down to Earth.
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