Birds-eye view of the Great Wall
China Travel Fast Facts
Getting there: regular international flights from major world cities to Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. Currency: Renminbi (Chinese yuan)
Official language(s): Standard Chinese (Mainland), Cantonese (Hong Kong and Macau), English (Hong Kong), Portuguese (Macau), Uyghur (Xinjiang), Tibetan (Tibet), Mongolian (Inner Mongolia), Zhuang (Guangxi) What to see: Beijing, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Nanjing, Shanghai, Yellow Mountain, Suzhou, Xi'an
Bordering 14 countries in Asia while stretching over 22,000 kilometers long, China is the planet's most populous nation with more than 1 billion people.
Known for centuries for its unwillingness to succumb to outside influences and cultures, China only began to open up to the West in the late 20th century, and today is in full flower as a major economic force and global trading partner.
Most recently, nowhere was this more evident than in China's enthusiastic hosting the 2008 Winter Olympic Games in the capital city.
As Beijing became even more modernized and tourist-friendly before, and after the Olympics, today tourists can take advantage of China's ever-expanding "open door" policy to take in the rest of the country's major attractions.
include a trip to Xi'an, located at China's heartland in the Shaanxi province, with its surrounding spectacular natural beauty, as well as a glimpse of the mind-blowing display of life-size Terra Cotta army found in the mausoleum of China's first emperor, Qin Shi Huang, only first discovered in 1974.
Of course, always colorful and dynamic Hong Kong is on many visitors' must-see lists for its mix of the ancient and metropolitan.
Mount Huangshan, or
Yellow Mountain, in
China's Anhui Province
For more illustrative examples of how 'East meets West' a typical trip to Shanghai usually begins with a walk around the Bund to take in the sights and people-watch along the riverfront esplanade, followed by a shop-'til-you-drop excursion onto Nanjing Road.
Or, delve deeper into the city for a stop at the awe-inspiring Shanghai Museum or the dizzying ride up the a quarter-mile in the sky Oriental Pearl TV Tower for a spectacular view of the city.
For nature lovers, perhaps the most impressive of any of China's 'skyscrapers' is the wildly beautiful Yellow
as Mount Huangshan, (located in the southern part of Anhui Province),
visitors to Yellow Mountain may think they have stepped into an
ancient Chinese painting - filled with ancient pine trees, grotesque
rock formations, and fog-shrouded mountain peaks.
Authentic Cantonese cooking is
found in Guangzhou kitchens.
In the mood for dim sum? Look no further than Guangzhou, on the southern coast near Hong Kong, which is the home of authentic Cantonese cuisine most familiar to Americans and Western Europeans.
Along with the city's many restaurants and tea houses, be sure to include a stroll around the city's many markets (with different streets specializing in flowers, jade, antiques and household goods, to name only a few!) and a romantic night cruise on the Pearl River as part of your itinerary.
DID YOU KNOW? China Travel Fun Facts
A taste of merry ol' England in Shanghai.
• UK travelers to China may get a taste of home at Thames Town in Shanghai where visitors can stroll down High Street and even cross a man-made River Thames.
• Ke-tsiap originated in China as a fish sauce. It later evolved in the West as ketchup.
• Although those in Venice and Amsterdam might be more famous, China's Grand Canal is the oldest and longest canal in the world at 1,115 miles long!
• While Hong Kong and Macau are officially part of China they are mostly self-governed, and even have their own currencies. If youre planning on driving in China they drive on the right hand side of the road. If you go to Hong Kong or Macau they drive on the left!
National Tourist Office - Discover the entire country laid out
in digestible bites, encompassing the diversity of the people,
history and terrain, and including a banquet of information on
what to see and do. Check out the right-hand drop down menu for
access to main attractions, hotels and restaurants in Beijing,
Shanghai and more, plus practical info on visas and tour operators.
Travel Guide - Browse by category including top attractions,
by city or by special interest including lakes and beaches, mountains,
nature & wildlife, temples and monasteries, historic sites