Suggestions on Traveling According to Chinese Zodiac Signs
The Chinese zodiac is said to govern far more in the way people live their lives and they decisions they make than most people realize. Did you know that it is possible for your animal to dictate where it is wise – and where unwise – for you to travel in 2014? Locate your animal below and, if you fail to follow the advice therein well... you cannot say you were not warned if your train breaks down.
For the traveling rat, it may be best to stick with the north and the west of China this year. Though the north is favorable, (you may care to consider Beijing, Tianjin, Shenyang, Dalian or Qingdao, for example), the west holds the destinations you should be most particularly considering. Where to avoid? The south. Not for you the delights of the beaches at Hainan, shopping in Guangdong or other such popular destinations as Fujian, Hunan and Nanning. Consider instead:
At the upstream end of the Yangtze cruise itinerary, Chongqing is China's fourth and newest municipality. Huge and rapidly-developing, Chongqing is a vibrant and ever-changing city, a model of the New China. If you have a few days free there, check out Eling Park for the citizenry undertaking their morning exercise routines, the Three Gorges Museum and Wuling Mountain. Chongqing has become an easy visit for even the most casual tourist in China with a recently-adopted 72-hour visa-free policy for foreign travelers.
Some two hours by bullet train from Chongqing, Chengdu is a popular destination in Sichuan province. It is in the area inhabited by giant pandas in the wild, and has thus come to be seen as their effective 'home town'. Chengdu is a great place to start if you are thinking of seeing and finding out more about these rare and beautiful creatures. Chengdu also serves as a good starting point for those considering a trip to Tibet, with the most frequent flights to Lhasa of any Chinese city. However, be sure to check there are no restrictions on travel to the region before making any plans.
Ranked alongside Beijing, Shanghai and Guilin as one of China's top destinations for the first-time tourist, Xi'an is particularly spectacular for its history and its insights into ancient Chinese culture. Indeed, Chinese history is said to have begun in Xi'an, the seat of ten dynasties. The world-renowned Terracotta Army was found and is located in Xi'an, one of the most incredible finds in the history of world archaeology. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine a trip to China that does not include Xi'an.
Lanzhou is a city steeped in history. An important place for trade along the ancient Silk Road, it finds itself host to many of the Muslim Hui minority whose forebears were converted by traders to Islam. Though fascinating for its history and the people who live there, be warned; Lanzhou is not amongst China's cleanest cities. Its geography, located in a natural bowl, means the air tends to be trapped there, and the pollution from industry and car exhausts tends to make the air a gray hazard for much of the year.
Of course, you do not need to be told that Beijing is the capital of China and, as such, is a must-visit destination for the tourist. Fortunately, Rats may do so without concern for inauspicious stars in 2014. Here are located many of the best-preserved reminders of China's long and eventful imperial history, and many of its most famous constructions. The Great Wall and the Forbidden City – the huge complex that played host to the Emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties – the Summer Palace with its glorious gardens which were the retreat for those Emperors in hot weather and, going down the scale of the rigid imperial class structure, the maze-like hutongs, the winding alleyways that open out into courtyards and small gardens in which the lower orders of the day used to live and, indeed, where many still do. The hutongs are as vibrant with the life of China today as they have ever been.
Not that Beijing has stopped in the past. Hosting the Olympic Games in 2008, it has new wonders to behold, most notably the famous Bird's-Nest Stadium which hosted the wonderful opening and closing ceremonies seen and praised throughout the world. Even without the fireworks, the stadium is a wonderful testament to modern architecture and the creativity of the modern China.
Places to avoid
Most inauspicious for Rats in 2014, they would be advised to steer clear of southern cities and sights. No Hainan for you with its glorious beaches. Sorry. Guangdong is out. Fujian is a no-no. Hunan is dodgy. Nanning, forget it.
As Rats, Oxen will find southern destinations best avoided in 2014. See the list above. Other than that, though, there's nowhere either auspicious nor inauspicious. Travel where you will and take your chances with fate.
Though this means you're best off avoiding the amazing mountain-high pillars of Zhangjiajie, the pleasing sands of Sanya, the busy modernity of Guangzhou and Shenzhen, Xiamen's seaside luxuries and clement weather, there's still plenty to see in Beijing, the powerhouse of the New China in the world that is Shanghai with its own history and vibrant events of the past, the history of Imperial Xi'an and the truly astounding severed peaks that litter the landscape of Guilin.
If you have already seen these, branch out a little. Check out Chengdu and see some giant pandas, or take a Yangtze River Cruise. Visit Yunnan and discover the wide variety of locations the province has to offer or, somewhat off the beaten track of most tourists, the province of Guizhou with its own hilly scenery patched with minority villages and culture.
Sorry, Tiger, but you are a little limited this year. If the stars are anything to go by, you'd be best off sticking with China's north-westerly area. However, worry not. There's plenty there to see, and unless you're planning on staying longer than a year – in which case your inauspicious stars will have moved in any case – you will find enough here alone to keep you amiably occupied and frequently amazed.
Insofar as any province in China may be said to be so, Ningxia province is tiny, which is not to say you wouldn't notice if someone dropped it on your foot. Somehow, for all its diminutive size, Ningxia has managed to pack into itself an amazing variety of sights and wonders given its history, an important stopping point on the Silk Road and home to the Kingdom of the Western Xia, established by the Tanguts between 1038 and 1227 CE. Something of a crossroads area between China, Tibet and Mongolia, you will be surprised and pleased by turns at the minority culture you see here, not hidden away in museums but here as a vibrant part of the province's daily life.
On your visiting list should be the must-see destinations of the Xumishan Grottoes, (comparable to the more-visited but no-more spectacular Yungang Buddhist Grottoes in their ancient carvings from the rock; still more ancient rock and cave paintings at Helan Mountain, known as 'The Nomadic Art Gallery'; the tombs of the Western Xia kings themselves, beehive-like structures that litter a plain and have been called 'the Eastern Pyramids' given their strange structure; the ancient and grand Nanguan Mosque; Qingtongxia, the location of 108 towers and, perhaps, the best place in China to see these structures created in the Lama style; and the the Great Wall itself, in its seemingly endless twisting across the Chinese landscape from the here far-distant eastern coast of China. The successive dynasties with a hand in the Wall's construction here have made it so varied that it has become seen as something of a 'Great Wall Museum' for its architecture.
Pleasant visits – for the bustling vibrancy of the mix of minorities as much as for anything else – may be made to Yinchuan, the capital of Ningxia, and the equally-attractive city of Guyuan.
Located at the higher reaches of the famed Yellow River, Gansu borders on Shaanxi to the east, Qinghai to the south, Xinjiang to the west, and Inner Mongolia and Ningxia to the north. Once again, a pivotal area on the Silk Road and bordering on so many different areas hosting so many different ethnic groups, Gansu is as vibrant today for its inhabitants as it is a place to visit for its fascinating past.
See our analysis of this city in the section above dealing with Rats. You'll find yourself in their company this year if they follow our advice, so you may find yourself with a Rat or two as traveling companions if you don't come across any of your fellow Tigers.
The first pass at the western end of the Ming Dynasty Great Wall, Jiayuguan is an ancient military fortification, almost a castle in itself, which has remained wonderfully preserved through the centuries. It is one of the most renowned and picturesque locations along the entire length of the Great Wall, so well worth a visit while you are in the area. The daily demands of such a large garrison led to a town building up around it, and made it a crucial stopping-place for trade for those travelers along the ancient Silk Road. All this adds to the historical interest of the area for the visitor. Particular sites and sights to look out for are the Jiayu Pass, the Wei-Jin Mural Tomb, the first pier of the Great Wall at its westernmost end, the Great Wall Museum and Montenegro Rock.
Ancient and deeply historical, Dunhuang is a city to visit for a glimpse of old Chinese culture. Once again, the Silk Road had a considerable hand in shaping the city's ancient ways, and Dunhuang served as something of a distribution-point for it, the goods transported here radiating out to China's westernmost regions, central Asia and Europe. It was said, therefore, that Dunhuang in ancient times 'belonged to all the world'. Of particular significance, unmissable for the visitor, are the Dunhuang Frescoes; the Mogao Buddhist Grottoes with their rock carvings, a world-heritage site given their importance; and the Yumen and Yang passes, located near the Great Wall itself.
If you want a tour tailored to all of these, we would strongly recommend you consider our Silk Road Adventure Tours.
Places to avoid
With so much to do above, why would you want to visit the far-west and southwest? It's best, then, to stay away from Chongqing, Chengdu, Xi'an, Guizhou, and Yunnan. Save such delights as Kunming, Dali and Lijiang for some year other than 2014; Tigers are well-advised not to venture there for the moment.
If you're looking for a place to burrow in 2014, the stars should guide you northwesterly, or down towards the south.
The Silk Road
Destinations along the ancient Silk Road of China are fascinating for their culture, and amongst the best destinations for the traveling Rabbit this year. For further information, check out the relevant destinations recommended for Tigers, above. These will be amongst your traveling companions for the year, so play nice. You can also consider destinations in Xinjiang and Shaanxi provinces.
If you're a little anxious about entering the Tigers' den, you could always look at our Silk Road Adventure Tours instead of scrolling up the page.
Located south of the center of Guangdong province, Guangzhou borders upon the famed Pearl River Delta area to its north. Known as the 'Southern Gate Into China', Guangzhou has a long history centered upon its excellent port which has made it a magnet for traders from far afield for centuries. Indeed, as such, it has the longest history in China and is thus unique. Add to this that it found itself on the southernmost reaches of the Silk Road, and you will see that Guangzhou is of considerable cultural, historical and political significance throughout China's long past, so much so that its being deemed 'the trading metropolis with a thousand years of history' may be something of an understatement.
That tradition is carried through to the modern day, seeing Guangzhou an explosion of life as a busy, vibrant city in touch with the wider world, an excellent place to find the New China in all its thrusting excitement. Here you can find much from home difficult to find elsewhere if you are seeking out food, books and other items as well as any souvenirs and local produce from China that you are interested in. If going to Guangzhou, be prepared to spend and spend. Its seductions are such you will not be able to resist.
Shenzhen is so large, so busy, that it is almost impossible to see how it could be that it was so small and insignificant only a few decades ago. It was here that Deng Xiaoping delivered his perhaps most famous speech containing his most famous remark – 'It doesn't matter if it's a black cat or a white cat as long as it catches the mice' – in preparation for the reforms that have brought about the dramatic changes the rising China has seen in its adopting free-market economics.
Deng chose his location well. Situated at the entrance to Hong Kong, an obvious connection point between the South China Sea and thence to the Atlantic and the Pacific, Shenzhen was ripe for development as a central trading hub for the rising economy. The city that stands there today from the small town there previously is testimony to Deng's skill in his choosing. With the largest number of entry- and exit-ports in all China, the visitor can get a taste of the vibrancy of the nation as a whole in this one city perhaps more than anywhere else. The lights here never go out, the climate is (almost) invariably clement, (though you may want to be wary in the typhoon season), and here you can shop and gaze in awe at the high-rise buildings that have taken the place of what, so recently, was farmland. In particular, visit Happy Valley, the Overseas Chinese quarter at Shenzhen's eastern end and, for pure relaxation, the beaches of Dameisha and Xiaomeisha.
Such are the attractions of Xiamen that it has been graced with the name of 'The International Garden City'. The name gives you an idea of what you may find in this pretty coastal resort in southeastern China, bordering upon the Straits of Taiwan, retaining its New Chinese pragmatism in being one of the four earliest of its special economic zones. That pragmatism is secondary for the casual visitor, however, and Xiamen remains one of China's top-ten tourist destination cities.
There's much here to explore with nearby islands, rock formations and caves, mountainous scenery, temples and pavilions from a bygone age, well-tended gardens and pristine forest. Favorite amongst the scenic spots are Gulangyu Island and Wanshi Mountain, the mountain at Sanming city, the historical sites around Quanzhou, the culture and customs of the womenfolk of Hui'an, Anxi's tea culture, the local traditions of the Mazu people, the earthworks of Nanjing county and scenic Wuyi mountain mean you have so much here to be getting one with you may remain beneath auspicious stars even until the year ends and you can move on again.
Places to avoid
Inner Mongolia? Forget it. Beijing and Tianjin? Don't even think about it. These are no place for rabbits this year.
Go west, Dragons. For all to be well, go west and stay west. There's plenty to amuse you in Chengdu and Chongqing, Xi'an and Lanzhou. For further details on these see above. It will be a good year if you only go west.
Places to avoid
Pretty much anywhere not west is to be avoided this year. Shanghai, Nanjing, Suzhou, Wuxi, Ningbo... not for you this year. Likewise the northwest, so don't stray. Forget Ningxia, Gansu, Xinjiang, Shanxi and Inner Mongolia. West they may be, but they have a northern component. Sorry. These especially are to be avoided. Inauspicious stars will not look kindly upon you should you trespass.
Snakes should follow the same instructions as for their bigger Dragon cousins. See above. Hang out with the Dragons in the west this year, and don't start wandering. Be particularly wary of Ningxia, Gansu, Xinjiang, Shaanxi and Inner Mongolia but also, in the north east, Harbin, Changchun, Shenyang, Dalian and Qingdao.
While Dragons and Snakes are confined to the west, Horses are similarly confined at the opposite end of China. Stay east, and don't think of galloping off anywhere else. Graze in easterly pastures and you will be fine. There's plenty of grazing to do.
There can be few names of foreign cities more romantic in the mind of the foreign visitor than Shanghai given its long connection with the outside world through land possession and international trade. The Shanghai of today is certainly a destination to tick off your list so now, Horses, is the time to do so. In its modern form as an up-to-date international metropolis, Shanghai can, at times, seem like another country outside China altogether. Long-standing connections overseas have given the city a uniquely cosmopolitan flavor all its own unmatched within the rest of the nation and rarely matched outside it. It is now the largest and most successful of China's commercial cities, its importance such that it qualifies as amunicipality in its own right, one of four under direct central government control as they seek to preserve its unique status. No surprise that its ancient heritage and modern atmosphere make it one of China's top four tourist destinations. Horses should be sure to trot along to the Bund and the Oriental Pearl Tower, the most famous of Shanghai's landmarks, but there's plenty to see after that. There are too many museums to mention here, colonial architecture including some magnificent churches, theaters, parks, shopping malls, anything and everything for all tastes and interests. Don't miss out on the old towns which have been swallowed up in Shanghai's expansion while retaining their cultural heritage. Zhujiajiao and the old traditional buildings in the Qingpu district are particularly worthy of attention.
The capital of Jiangsu province, Nanjing has a long and troubled history. One of the four major ancient capitals of Imperial China alongside Xi'an, Beijing and Luoyang, it has served both as a cradle for Chinese civilization and as a magnet to those who would disrupt it. Nanjing's is a painful history into which to delve too deeply, but for the lighter, more creative side of what this ancient city has produced we would recommend the visiting Horse check out the Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum, the Confucian Temple, the Yuhuatai Tomb of Emperor Zhuyuanzhang and his Queen, the Folk Art Museum, and top it all off with a relaxing stroll along the pretty Qin Huai river.
The capital of Zhejiang Province, situated on the Yangtze River delta, Hangzhou has its own unique feel given its location on the West Lake, arguably the most famous lake in all China. This lake has gained such worldwide renown in its own right and in its surrounding scenery that many locations are listed by the World Record Association. It is said that 'As there is paradise in Heaven, so there are Suzhou and Hangzhou on earth'. Nor is scenic beauty the only attraction. With a history of some 2,200 years since its foundation, Hangzhou is rich in culture, much of it again to be found around the lake itself. Given that much of your time here should really be spent around the lake area, we would recommend hiring a bicycle and considering renting a boat to cruise the waterways.
Often coupled with Hangzhou given their proximity, as in the quote above, Suzhou has its own atmosphere quite distinct from that of Hangzhou. Listed as a primary city for its historical and cultural background, established in 514 BCE, its 2,500 year history as of this very year, your year, the Year of the Horse, has made it one of China's top ten tourist destinations. That history is largely focused upon the Wu people, giving it a unique color on the map of China for the Wu's singular attitude and approach to life.
The most remarkable and memorable aspect of Suzhou is to be found in its traditional and ancient gardens. These are many, and to be sought out by the traveler for their fantastic variety and points of focus, whether they be built upon a theme of flowers, shrubs or rock formations. There can be nowhere better than Suzhou in which to see this ancient Chinese tradition of landscape art. Don't get too caught up in the gardens, though. Exploration of Suzhou's winding waterways, small bridges and alleyways, and the ancient architecture that is scattered throughout the city is something not to be neglected.
Huangshan is the famed 'Yellow Mountain', an area of some of the most fantastic scenery to be found not only in China, but also anywhere on earth. Be prepared for a lot of hiking here, and your reward will be some of the most spectacular sights you have ever seen. Located in the south of Anhui province, head for the Huangshan district of Huangshan city and you can't miss it. It's pretty big. What makes Huangshan unique is the sheer variety of forms and delights to be found here, all the classic images and experiences of pines clinging to fantastic rock formations, seas of cloud and, for relaxation, there are even hot springs located here, everything anyone could ever want from all mountains all here in one.
Places to avoid
This may be your year, Horse, but don't think you can have your way in everything. Inauspicious stars mean that Beijing, Tianjin, Dalian, Luoyang, Datong and, indeed, anywhere north is best avoided.
The auspicious stars will guide you to the south and to the west. Inauspicious stars will try to lead you elsewhere and astray. Ignore them. The ideal destinations for the wandering Goat in 2014 are to the wonderful peaks of Guilin, the vibrant modernity of Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Chongqing, Chengdu and Xi'an. For these last five, see above.
To be particularly avoided are Beijing, Tianjin, Luoyang, Datong and pretty-well anywhere northerly.
For Monkeys, 2014 is not a difficult year. Wander where you will, see above for a selection of destinations. However, avoid the far east of the Far East. Shanghai, Nanjing, Hangzhou, Suzhou, Ningbo and all other destinations in that area are out.
Roost in the south east and the north. Anywhere else? Best forget it. However, that's not so limiting. Guangzhou, Guilin, Xiamen, Taipei, Hong Kong, Macao, Beijing, Tianjin, Baotou, Hohhot, Datong are just some of the places you can visit. You really don't need to take wing to have a good time in China anywhere else so please, don't try. Especially don't try Ningxia, Gansu, Xinjiang, Shanxi and Inner Mongolia. These are well within the problem area and may end up seeing you on the menu at KFC.
Dogs are limited to sniffing around in the south of China this year, unfortunately. Still, that not only leaves you with a lot to see, but also a lot the other animals cannot, so be content. For you, but not for them, the delights of Hainan, Guangdong, Fujian, Hunan and Guangxi. You, on the other hand, would be well advised to avoid the east and the west. Forget Shanghai, Nanjing, Hangzhou, Suzhou, Wuxi, Ningbo, Chongqing, Chengdu, Xi'an, Lanzhou... well, okay fair enough. You're limited. Please don't blame us, blame the fates. We are but their messenger.
The east for Pigs this year. However, not the south. Indeed, if Pigs want to save their bacon, the inauspicious nature of the south is so severe that even south east is out. Truffles may be sought in Shanghai, Nanjing, Hangzhou, Suzhou, Wuxi and Ningbo, for example, while Guangzhou, Guilin, Nanning, Shanghai, Nanjing, Xiamen, Taipei, Hong Kong, Macao, Hangzhou, Suzhou, Sichuan, Chongqing, Guizhou, Yunnan, Guangxi and Tibet are potential sausage factories. Head east – but not south east – and stay there is the best advice for Pigs.
For a general overview of the Chinese zodiac and animal years, check out our Chinese Zodiac pages, with links to the different animals, compatabilityin love, a folk tale derived from the zodiac and information on how the animals not only divide the years up between them, but also the hours of the day.
Why not let China Highlights show you more?
Presented with such a bewildering array of enticing destinations, how are you to choose? How are you to arrange everything for the holiday you specifically want, tailored to your own time and tastes?
That's where we come in.
Our on-the-ground support staff are always available to show you the sights of the area in which you're traveling with specific reference to those things you personally want to see. China Highlights specializes in taking all the hassle out of arranging your trip and leaves you with nothing to do except have fun with a break tailored to your requirements. Just work out what you want to do and when you want to do it, then leave the rest to us by contacting our expert support staff.
We will even take you to places that are not auspicious and do our best to protect you from the machinations of the stars.