Xi’an (Chang’an) – Located in the North West of China
A City of bright contrasts and one of the of “Must See” cities of China. Take a bike ride or walk along the landmark City wall of Xi’an, built to protect the city it has been guarding for over 700 years and offering excellent views of the surrounding area or visit the famous Bell Tower which contains several large bronze-cast bells from the Tang Dynasty or wonder around the Wild Goose Pagoda, one of the most famous Buddhist pagodas in China and built to store precious Buddhist scriptures.
Home to the famous Terracotta Warriors, with over 7,000 soldiers, horses and chariots in full battle array guarding Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi’s tomb and now an international symbol of China’s history. The starting point for all the caravans following the ‘Great Silk Road’ from China to the West it was one of the largest trading centres with goods from all over the world. Xi’an certainly has a lot to offer.
Guilin – Located in Southern China
Known for its dramatic landscape made up of Karsts (hills), crystal clear waters and caves. At its centre are 2 lakes; Shanhu (Cedar) and Ronghu (Banyan) the remains of a moat that once surrounded the City. A large number of arbors and flowers are planted along the lakes and there are many bridges such as Lize Bridge, Guanyin Bridge, Xiqing Bridge where visitors can enjoy the beautiful scenery and take photos.
Li River is one of the world’s “Top 10 Watery Wonders”, with picturesque scenery, where you can take a leisurely River cruise, (Guilin to Yangshuo), or try the more traditional bamboo rafts (seating 4-6 people). Other activities include hiking and fishing.
One of the oldest canals in the world and of great cultural importance. First built for military purposes by 100,000 soldiers and completed in 214 BC, it connects the Xiang River and the Li River. It has 36 doumens (ancient locks) used to raise and lower water levels for the smooth passage of boats.
Reed Flute Cave
A natural sandstone cave over 180 million years old. It is filled with stalactites, stalagmites and other rock formations and has inscriptions from visitors dating back to 792 AD (Tang Dynasty). Artificially lit with multicoloured lighting. Reed flute cave takes its name from the type of reed growing outside which can be made into Flutes.
The Three Gorges – Places of picturesque natural scenery
Qutang (Qu a family name for Pond) Gorge, Wu (Witch) Gorge and Xiling (West Mountain) Gorge make up the breathtaking scenery of The Three Gorges. A scenic section of the now navigable reaches of the River Yangtse (the World’s third largest river) thanks to the construction of the Three Gorges Dam, which raised water levels making it quieter and more navigable. Best viewed by taking one of the many Cruises that travel between Chongqing and Yichang.
Qutang Gorge, the shortest but the most spectacular of the three and considered to be the gateway of the Yangtze river. Wu Gorge, the Chinese poets’ favourite and thought to be the most charming and graceful and Xiling Gorge the longest, with many historical sites like the Huangling Temple and Sanyou cave, where 3 famous ancient poets are said to have stayed.
Hangzhou – One of the most beautiful cities in China
Capital of China’s Zheijian province and a popular holiday spot. Its west lake, celebrated by poets and artists since the 9th century, encompasses islands (reachable by boat), temples, pavilions, gardens and bridges.
Tianmu Mountain National Nature Reserve, located 82km west of Hangzhou in eastern China. Home to many hundreds of birds and animals, like the protected Clouded Leopard, ancient Japanese cedar and ginkgo trees and rare plants. Well known for its high mountains, deep valleys, waterfalls, temples and stunning scenery. Its famous 2 peaks of West Tianmu and East Tianmu have natural pools at their summits, which are said to resemble 2 eyes watching heaven, which is where the name Tianmu, meaning eyes of heaven, comes from.
Hangzhou Botanical Garden
Located at the foot of Jade Spring Hill covering 568 acres and filled with beautiful and exquisite plants and flowers. The garden is split into 2 sections which include a research centre for the cultivation of plants and study, and a pleasure garden which houses the bamboo garden, plant resources museum and medicinal garden.
Suzhou (A city fathering the essence of traditional Chinese gardens)
Located west of Shanghai, Suzhou known as the Venice of the east and China’s Garden City is renowned for its waterside architecture, canals, bridges and classical gardens which date back to the Ming Dynasty.
Humble Administrator’s Garden (also known as the Garden of the Unsuccessful Politician)
A UNESCO world heritage site and one of the most famous gardens in Suzhou. Covering an area of 13.8 acres and built in 1509 during the Ming Dynasty, it is divided into three areas; eastern, western and central sections. The garden contains numerous pavilions and bridges set among a maze of connected pools.
A UNESCO world heritage site, covering 5.6 acres. A classic example of garden landscaping from the Qing Dynasty featuring striking architecture, artificial hills, rocks and water features. Divided into 4 themed sections; East Garden, West Garden, Central Garden and North Garden, with the central part being the oldest part of the garden.
Master of the Nets Garden (Fisherman’s Garden)
A UNESCO world heritage site and the smallest of the Suzhou residential gardens, but the most impressive due to its use of space which creates an illusion of being much larger than its actual size. Dating back to the Southern Dong Dynasty (1127-1279) and used as a residence for a government official, it is divided into 3 sections; residential, central and inner, with pavilions, terraces, walkways, bridges, paths and water. Particularly beautiful at night when lanterns light up the garden, highlighting the contours of the pavilions, terraces and walkways.