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China has a vast diversity of people, cuisine, scenic sights, and architecture. You could holiday there yearly and always see something new and exciting.
We feel strongly that if you have only been to the biggest cities of Beijing and Shanghai that you have not "done" China — you have only tasted the entrees of this amazing country. Hopefully, after reading this you will be hungry for your main course and ready for all the flavours China has to offer.
Lynne Buddin is a 50-something small business owner and 5-time visitor to China with China Highlights.
Taken from Lynne's first hand experience, and using her husband Andy's photographs, we hope this will inspire you to see more of what China has to offer.
Your first stop must be the China Highlights website. Written by China travel experts, who have travelled to the places, it is regularly updated. In a country that changes so quickly you really don't want out-of-date information. The intros and photos here will tempt your travelling taste buds.
Get everyone around your laptop and watch some China Highlights videos to give you the essence of Chinese culture and several destinations. We also suggest having a map of China in front of you. China is massive, and although the journey is part of the adventure, you don't want to spend most of your holiday time travelling.
For a second visit to China we suggest: the Great Wall... again, Chengdu or Chongqing, The Yangtze River Cruise, Guilin, Zhangjiajie, and Yunnan. Not in that order, and not all at once. With China Highlights, your personal tour advisor will sort possibilities with you. Our job now is just to whet your appetite...
Remember, the Great Wall is GREAT! There're lots of sections to visit.
Lynne loved the 'Yellow Flower City' Wall section (Huanghuacheng). Still 2 hours' drive from Beijing, but much less busy than Badaling, or even Jinshanling, with beautiful scenery, a lake, and walnut orchard.
Don't visit on public holidays, even there, unless you like hoards of people in your photos. Or, do a night walk tour, but dress sensibly, it's colder in Northern China and walking boots are essential for the wilder sections of the Great Wall.
If you didn't visit Chengdu on your first China tour, you should on your second. It has the most pandas of anywhere in the world, including places where you can sit next to them.
Enjoy (or brave) spicy hotpot and other real Szechuan food.
Cultural and scenic attractions abound. From the Buddhist giants of Mount Emei and the largest stone Buddha, to the birthplace of Taoism (Mount Qingcheng), to rainbow lakes, ancient irrigation systems, famous poets, ancient civilization sites, and the largest building in the world (a vast shopping mall), Chengdu has it all!
Chongqing, "the Mountain City" is Mainland China's most densely populated city, with the surrounding mountains concentrating both people and pollution. So why do we suggest spending two days there?
Chongqing has miss vibrant markets, bustling with locals and tourists buying souvenirs, a wondrous variety of local "small eats", playing fun fair sideshow games like archery or win a turtle, their intriguing Museum of Life, and giant pandas!
This steamy megacity specialises in the famous Szechuan hotpot, where you cook food prepared by their chef in a steaming bowl of soup. Unless you like extremely hot food, ask for a "half and half" or ban ban, then you can try both spicy and non-spicy hotpot. The one with Szechuan pepper in makes your lips numb and has a citrusy aftertaste you may like.
The two largest cities in central China, Chengdu and Chongqing, are neighbors, once sharing Sichuan Province — ideal for combining on a second China trip. Chongqing is the most popular Yangtze cruise port...
A Yangtze cruise is a fantastic way to see several fascinating places, including the incredible Three Gorges Dam. Ride up it in a ship!
Cabins vary in size and price, but all are well equipped. Competition's high so drinks prices are kept reasonable.
Sociable round tables mean you meet others and friendships form easily. Westerners are put on the same tables with an English speaking waiter. Facilities and meals onboard are good.
Mahjong/chess/card rooms, piano, dance floor, lectures, a spa with hairdresser and evening shows will keep you well entertained and catered for.
If you haven't been to Guilin yet, you should. Scenery here has inspired many artists and writers.
The most civilised way to see the constantly changing view is by boat, while drinking green tea from China teapots and chatting to fellow travellers. The captain lets you know when to get on deck with your 20 yuan note to compare it to view in the iconic painting.
Guilin must-sees include: Elephant's Trunk Hill, the Reed Flute Cave, and the Longsheng rice terraces.
A top tour destination. Ticking every box, Zhangjiajie has incredible scenery, thrills like the longest and highest glass bridge, boat trips, waterfalls, a strange creature, record breakers, two film locations and more glass walkways. We'll say no more. See for yourself. And soon.
Your National Park ticket is valid for four days, because it's massive, and so's its list of tourist sights. An International airport will be necessary, especially if the government take Lynne's recommendation of Zhangjiajie on the reverse of a new 500 yuan note!
China has 55 minority peoples and half of them live in Yunnan.
The Government supports these groups as it was realized that their ways of life were precarious and progress could mean they disappear entirely. Each minority group has a fascinating way of life. They have different languages, ethnic costumes, dances, music, culture, and customs. Find out the stories behind a "Crying Wedding" and a "Walking Marriage" in Yunnan.
Yunnan also has an amazing array of stunning scenery: Tiger Leaping Gorge, 'The Beautiful Snow Mountains', the Dongchuan Redlands, Yuangyang Rice Terraces, Stone Forest...
With China Highlights you can go anywhere you can imagine in China. We specialize in tailoring tours, even to Tibet, and other remote areas like the Silk Road.
Further afield, as Asia Highlights, we are developing a reputation for our Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar... tours, which are readily combined with a return China trip. Somewhere you may not be familiar with, Myanmar, is well worth a look at before it becomes too "touristy".
Where might Lynne go for China trip 6?...
She says, "I'm off to research Danxia Landforms, or the so called "Rainbow Mountains"... Burma sounds fascinating... Perhaps this time go trekking in the wild to try and spot a brown and white panda... Maybe even Everest Base Camp... Endless possibilities!"