The ‘Giant of Asia’, China is a global power known for its unique culture, amazing bucket-list sights and ancient history, alive in its numerous monuments scattered throughout the vast country, from the Terracotta Warriors to the Great Wall of China.
As the most populous country on the planet and home to 1.4 billion people, China holiday packages will put you in amongst the locals and introduce to you their warm hospitality. China is home to plenty of natural wonders, from the deserts of Inner Mongolia to the ‘Lake District’ of Jiangsu, the endangered Giant Pandas of Chengdu and the soul-stirring landscapes of the Yangtze River.
Add mouth-watering cuisine and you’ve got a country that captivates the imaginations of all intrepid travellers! There are no avoiding the big cities, icons of the country, but why should you when they have a charm all of their own, from ancient capitals such as Xi’an and Beijing to the flashy ultra-modern financial hub of Shanghai. Everything you’ve ever wanted to see, buy, experience or feel is a possibility in China. A tour of China is the perfect travel experience due to the sheer diversity of the country; whatever your travel style, there’s something for you.
History of China
As one of the world’s oldest civilisations, China’s history is as long as it is fascinating! Known for its strong dynasties, China’s first dynasty was the Xia, which emerged from the region of the Yellow River Plains in the 21st-century BC.
As different dynasties ruled China across the centuries, each left their own legacy: the Han, with their advanced technology such as compasses, the Zhou, masters of Chinese philosophy and Confuscism, the Tang, the dynasty of the Golden Era who developed the lucrative Silk Road routes, the Ming, famous for their white and blue porcelain crafts and for restoring the Great Wall and finally, the Qing, the longest-ruling and last dynasty, who ruled from 1644 to 1912.
The relics of these dynasties are some of the most spectacular sights to visit on a holiday to China such as the Forbidden City, a former imperial palace of the Ming and Qing dynasties, the ancient capital of Xi’an and the Dunhuang Cave Temples of the Tang dynasty. The Republic replaced the dynasty and civil war and rebellion ensued. The Communist Party of China established the People’s Republic of China, a one-party-state in 1949.
Nature in China
A land of vast and diverse landscapes, highlights of China’s ethereal natural beauty include the winding Li River and its limestone karsts, the Gobi and Taklamakan Deserts in the north of the country, the Tian Shan mountains and the subtropical forests of the south. Its coastline is unimaginably long, stretching for an amazing 14,500 kilometres. A number of national parks protect some of the most precious natural wonders such as the Jiuzhaigou Natural Reserve in Sichuan Province, an unmissable stop on a package tour of China.
This paradise of natural springs, autumn coloured trees and crystal clear lakes guard China’s best-loved icon, the Giant Panda, although catching sight of them in the wild is extremely rare. If seeing Giant Pandas is top of your agenda, a visit to the Panda Base Sanctuary in Chengdu will give you the best chance of spotting one of these loveable bears.
Among the many well-known and hidden natural attractions in China, nature lovers should never miss the opportunity to experience the Three Gorges of the Yangtze River, a series of amazing rock gorges set in the mythical landscape of Asia’s longest river. It’s a popular sight for Yangtze River Cruises.
The limestone karsts and rivers that wind through the regions of Guilin and Hangzhou are equally as atmospheric. If you want to get in touch with your spiritual side, there’s certainly something otherworldly about the mystical mist-covered Yellow Mountains, whilst the hot springs of Tengchong offer some laid back relaxation after a hard days sightseeing. Even amidst the urban sprawls of the country’s biggest cities, nature at its finest is never far away on China tours.
Culture in China
With such a long and complex history, it’s unsurpirsing that China has one of the most intricate, fascinating and sophisticated cultural landscapes in the world. Today, a mix of old world values and westernised lifestyles mix together to create a brilliant atmosphere of new-meets-old, something which captivates all travellers who take a tour of China. Confucianism, arts and sciences are three important pillars of Chinese culture and have been for thousands of years.
Education is highly valued in China and the country has a long history of examinations, with the prestigious Imperial Examinations dating back to the Han dynasty. You could say that there is a culture of merit in China; people work hard to achieve their academic goals. Hierarchy also plays a big role in everyday life both within families and in the workplace. Mandarin is the most widely spoken language, although Cantonese is also frequently used.
Among the cultural traditions, calligraphy, pottery, dance and opera are icons of the country; you cannot take a trip to China without watching the prestigious Peking Opera or taking home a beautiful piece of blue and white pottery as a souvenir. Although many traditional ways of life and arts loss their momentum after the Republic was established, in recent years there has been a resurgence in Chinese tradition and it is widely celebrated.
The Kingdom of Cathay, the Giant of Asia and the Middle Kingdom; there are many names for China. The only way to understand the complexity, beauty and diversity of the country is to travel to China for yourself and see the relics of dynasties sit side-by-side with ultra-modernity.