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China's capital Beijing is both an old and a new city – old in its UNESCO World Heritage cultural sites, and as the new Chinese capital. Beijing history dates back 3000 years and as the capital for over 800 years. Buildings reflect Qing, Shun, Ming and earlier Chinese dynasties. Beijing attractions include Great Wall of China, Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven and Summer Palace with Chinese classical gardens.


Sichuan Province's capital, Chengdu is in south-western China, about 2050 km from Beijing. An important educational and industrial centre, it has many Chinese history highlights, such as the UNESCO World Heritage site, the 3rd-century BC Dujiangyan irrigation project, and the bronze masks in the Sanxingdui Museum. Chengdu is also home to the Giant Panda Breeding Research Base where visitors can see and learn about pandas and China’s conservation efforts.


Chongqing, also known as ‘the mountain city’, sprawls over steep slopes 240m above sea level. It is located in the south-eastern part of the Sichuan Basin at the confluence of the Jaling and Yangtze rivers, giving it the appearance of a peninsula. Important historic sights include Mt Jinyun with its nine peaks, and a 1500 year old temple. About 150km northwest of Chongqing is the famous UNESCO World Heritage-listed Dazu rock carvings, dating back more than 1000 years.


At a high elevation in the Yunnan Province, between the Cangshan Mountains and Lake Erhai area, the old city of Dali is home to the Bai people who settled there 3000 years ago. Dali’s countryside, architecture, cool climate and the culture and dress of its people contrast greatly with those of the tropical south. With narrow, cobbled streets and tile-roofed stone buildings, the tiny area is surrounded by walls and entered only by the impressive North or South Gates.


Datong in northern Shanxi province was founded as a garrison town 2200 years ago, but is now a major industrial and coal-mining centre. It is best known for the Yungang Caves, said to contain the oldest, largest and best-preserved sandstone Buddhist carvings in the country. Originally cut into a 1km stretch of mountain between 460-494AD, the caves contain 51,000 statues, from only a few centimetres tall up to 17m high, with some still retaining their original colours.


Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong province (Canton) is China’s largest and most prosperous commercial city in the south, 182 km north-west of Hong Kong at the confluence of the Pearl and Zengbu rivers. Sites of interest include Yuexiu Park, the biggest park in Guangzhou covering 93 hectares, Guangxiao Temple, one of the oldest Buddhist temples in the city and the octagonal Flower Pagoda in the still-active Temple of the Six Banyan Trees, an oddity in that it appears to have only 9 storeys when


The Lijiang River scenic zone, in the northern part of southern China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, covers the entire city of Guilin, Yangshuo County and beyond. It is famous for the Reed Flute Cave and the unique karst formations and peaks that were thrust up from a limestone sea bed 300 million years ago. Guilin has inspired landscape painters for centuries and is now known as a photographer’s paradise. For the Chinese it is ‘the best sight under heaven’.


Hangzhou, about 175 km southwest of Shanghai, is one of China’s seven ancient capitals, with 2100 years of history. The scenic West Lake is the famous setting for many of the city's historical pavilions and temples and beautiful hills and gardens. Hangzhou is the birthplaces of the famous Longjing tea, and is also known for its embroidery, brocades and silk umbrellas. Places of interest include Lingyin Temple, Six Harmonies Pagoda and Three Moon Reflection Island.


The spectacular alpine valley of Jiuzhaigou, 450 km south of Chengdu in Sichuan Province, has more than 110 crystalline lakes, as clear and bright as gemstones. UNESCO World Heritage-listed, the dense forests are home to the Giant Panda, the Golden Monkey, the Lesser Panda, the White-lipped Deer and other rare animals. There are also many Tibetan settlements in the area whose people retain their traditional customs and lifestyle.


The capital of Yunnan Province, Kunming lies 1895m above sea level in southwest China. With its mild, year-round climate, it is known as the ‘Spring City’ or ‘Capital of Flowers’. One of Kunming’s most famous attractions is the Stone Forest (Shilin), 80 hectares of incredibly-shaped, towering limestone peaks formed by erosion over millions of years. Its population of nearly 3.5 million has an ethnic mix of more than 10 nationalities.

At a Glance

One day you’re marvelling over the natural treasures of Jiuzhaigou, the next up close and friendly with the giant pandas of Chengdu. Then there’s the shopping in Shanghai, the strolls through the Summer Palace in Beijing. The contrasting features of China are as far reaching as the number of ancient Terracotta Warriors uncovered in Xian.