Thursday, March 3, 2011

China’s top three destinations: Beijing, Xi’an, and Shanghai

While China offers a diversity and variety of destinations like no other, visitors certainly want to incorporate the “Big Three”: The capital Beijing, historic Xi’an, and vibrant Shanghai. Here is a short introduction.

Who would forget the incredible Opening Ceremony of the 2008 Olympic Games, China’s ticket to the world stage. The nation’s capital with almost 18 million inhabitants has been the educational, cultural, political, and scientific center for more than 800 years and offers a wealth of attractions. Stroll on the Great Wall (about 1 hour outside the city); spend some time in the best preserved imperial palace in China, the monumental Forbidden City; enjoy an afternoon at the Summer Palace where the emperors escaped the city life, or pay homage to the Temple of Heaven. Don’t forget to get a taste of Peking duck, visit the Beijing opera, and experience old Beijing in the narrow alley ways of the Hutongs. 

While Beijing may introduce you to several hundreds of years of Chinese history, Xian will beat that by several thousand years. The world renown Terra Cotta Warriors, first discovered in 1974, date back over 2,000 years and are an absolute must-see. Yet the city is also rich in religious sites like the Small and Big Wild Goose Pagoda (Buddhism) or the Great Mosque (Islam). And you may want to take a bicycle ride along the more than 6 mile long ancient city wall. Finally, Xi’an was the starting point of the famous Silk Road.

China’s biggest city, recently host to the 2010 World Expo, rivals New York and other world metropolis in vibrancy and modernity. Take a look at the skyline in Pudong and try to imagine this was swamp land just a few decades ago. The historic Bund and the French Concession district are remnants of Shanghai’s colonial past. And then there are the incredible Yuyuan Gardens as well as the Jade Buddha Temple.


1.       More than 300,000 tourists visit Beijing in January 2011. The winter months are not necessarily the most popular months to visit China yet Beijing proudly recorded an increase in international visitors. US visitors rose by more than 7% year over year to 39,000 for January 2011.

           The National Museum of China reopened on March1 after extensive renovations and expansions. With about 1 million displays as well as more than 200,000 square meters of exhibit space, the museum now ranks as the largest in the world.

3.       45 new airports over the next 5 years. Expecting a continued increase in tourism China prepares itself by building 45 new airports resulting in a total of 220 airports. China remains one of the largest and fastest-growing aviation markets in the world.

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