Travelling in China truly consumes all your senses, from the sights of centuries-old monuments, to the smell of temple incense, to the taste of roast Peking Duck. There are some things you can only see, smell, taste and experience in China, and here’s our pick of some of the best.
See the sights
The world’s oldest continuous civilisation is like several different countries rolled into one. China’s sights and scenes are vibrant, diverse and ever-changing, but historical sites and natural landscapes are its forte. Be awed by the Great Wall, which spans more than 6,000 kilometres across deserts and mountain ranges; the World Heritage-listed Forbidden City, the largest surviving palace complex on earth; and Tiananmen Square, the world’s largest city square. From the tranquil Summer Palace, to the Temple of Heaven, to the extraordinary Terra Cotta Warriors of Xi’an – there are some things that you really must see to believe.
Listen to Peking Opera
You won’t have heard anything like it before. The voices of Peking Opera singers resonate through the auditorium, blending music, singing, reading, dancing, face-painting, incredible acrobatics and martial arts to tell stories based on Chinese history and folklore. One of the three oldest dramatic art forms in the world, it’s an acoustic souvenir and cultural experience that you won’t forget.
Taste the flavours of China
With a long history, numerous styles and exquisite cooking, Chinese cuisine is nothing like what you have most likely experienced back home. From Peking Duck in Beijing, to the spicy dishes of Sichuan, to authentic Cantonese dim sum, every province has its speciality. And there’s nothing like the diversity of China's exhaustive list of dumpling variations to get your mouth watering.
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Smell the temple incense
Take in the smell of incense burning in Chinese temples in the World Heritage-listed town of Lijiang, located at the foot of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. Follow the custom of the locals and wave the smoke over your body, it’s said to purify the body and heal any ailments you might have.
Get that fuzzy feeling
Their adorable black and white faces and clumsy antics have captivated millions around the world, and a visit to China wouldn’t be complete without seeing the cuddly Giant Pandas. Chengdu is the panda capital of the world and you can get up close to them at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding which has been set up to conserve and protect this national treasure. It’s estimated that there are only around 1,500 to 2,000 giant pandas left in the world, and this is the best place to see them.
The sixth sense
In China, the word ‘qi’ translates as ‘life force’ and forms the basis of traditional Chinese medicine. There are many practices designed to enhance the flow of qi, including tai chi, feng shui, acupuncture, and reflexology. Chinese arts, like brush painting and calligraphy also have a meditative quality. On board APT’s Sanctuary Yangzi Explorer cruise ship, you’ll be able to experience these traditional arts, as well how to play the ancient game of Mahjong, or learn to speak a few words of Mandarin. In Shangri-La, you can visit a local monastery for a traditional Tibetan Buddhist blessing, or relax with a reflexology foot massage.
APT’s 13-day Best of China tour from Beijing to Shanghai takes in the highlights of Beijing including the Great Wall; the Terra Cotta Warriors of X’ian; the pandas of Chengdu; and a cruise on the Yangtze River. APT’s 22-day Yunnan and Yangtze tour includes all the above highlights as well as visits to the Stone Forests of Kunming and the old towns of Lijiang and Shangri-La. Get in touch with your Travel Associates advisor and book your China holiday today!