The last 20 years have seen China burgeon from an insular
communist state to a global economic powerhouse.
Opening herself to investment and dialogue with the West has
enabled China to develop new infrastructure and world class
facilities for businesses and tourists alike.
A rich cultural and historical backdrop 4000 years in the making
defines China as one of the most contrasting and fascinating
countries to visit for any intrepid traveller.
The juxtapositions in China are often arresting to new visitors
to the country. The modernity and state of the art grandeur
of Pudong District, Shanghai is in stark contrast to the historical
references of the Bund – within its diversity of architectural
styles (Gothic, Romanesque, Classicism and Renaissance).
The hustle and bustle of thousands of commuters on bike, foot
and car juxtapose against the quiet introspection of the tranquil
monasteries and temples.
For Kiwi travellers looking to take a step outside of their comfort
zone and adopt a sensory and cultural experience that redefines how
you feel about home, China is the perfect antidote.
For first time travellers wanting a taste of Essential China, a
10 day to two week itinerary covering Beijing, Xian and Shanghai
provides an eye popping introduction to this land of ying and
Starting off in the political powerhouse of China, Beijing is a
bustling modernising city steeped in ancient culture. We
would recommend five days in Beijing, giving visitors enough time
to cover the essential highlights of:
The Great Wall – arguably the most famous landmark, the Great
Wall stretches for more than 12,000km from the Gobi Desert to the
east coast. A full day excursion is required to make the most
of this historic icon, including a visit to the final resting place
of the Chinas Ming Emperors – the Ming tombs and Sacred Way.
The Forbidden City – At the heart of Beijing lies another of
Chinas landmarks. The Forbidden City was the imperial palace from
the Ming Dynasty through to the end of the Qing Dynasty – a period
spanning half a millennium. It is now home to the Palace
Museum, where an extensive collection of artwork and artefacts from
the imperial collections of the Ming and Qing dynasties reside.
Tiananmen Square – The sprawling Tiananmen Square is the
stunning public prelude to the Forbidden City and covers an area of
109 acres. The Tiananmen Gates to the North of the Square
separate it from the imperial palace, while at the Southern
end the Zhengyangmen Gates (better known as Qianmen) can be found.
Along the west side of the Square is the Great Hall of the
People, while the National Museum of China can be found to the
The Hutongs – The traditional neighbourhoods of Beijing,
visitors will find the quintessential Chinese homes here,
referenced in Chinese period dramas. Rickshaws, pedi-cabs and
food stalls makes this an enthralling neighbourhood for visitors to
The Summer Palace – The most renowned and well-preserved royal
park in China, these luxurious grounds were home to the members of
the royal family towards the end of the Qing Dynasty.
For archaeological aficionados and novices alike, Xian is a must
see to appreciate the man made wonders that have lain buried for
over 2000 years. The imperial capital off 11 dynasties is
most famed as the home of the Terracotta Warriors – the life-sized
guards of Emperor Qin Si Huangs tomb, which lay unearthed for two
millennia before they were accidentally unearthed by a local farmer
The Tang Dynasty and Dumpling Dinner show is also a tourist
delight, combining the regions local dumpling delicacies with a
Chinese cultural show.
Visitors to Xian usually stay 2 nights before moving onto their
Shanghai is the ultimate city of contrasts. Seen as the epitome
of modern China, Shanghai showcases its global economic dominance
in the form of the ultra modern Pudong district, whilst retaining
its old world gentrification on The Bund and Zhujiajiao Water
Village. We would recommend visitors stay at least 3 nights in
Shanghai to take in the sights and enjoy fantastic retail therapy
along Nanjing Road. Must sees include:
The Bund – for hundreds of years, Shanghais famous river
waterfront was a symbol Shanghai and its architectural diversity
Pudong Park – the new high tech financial hub that has become
the icon of modern China
Nanjing Lu – Shanghais premiere shopping precinct with shopping
malls and specialty stores to satisfy the demands of any
Zhujiajiao Water Town – the quaint, ancient water township on
the outskirts Shanghai.
Yuyuan Gardens – the perfectly manicured imperial gardens that
offers a peaceful haven from the hustle and bustle of Shanghai
French Concession – where you will find the expat community
eating and entertaining. This fashionable district is home to art
galleries, fashionable boutiques and upmarket bars and cafes.
WHEN TO TRAVEL
Autumn (September/October) and Spring (April/May) are the most
comfortable times to travel through China.
SOME TIPS FOR TRAVELLING IN CHINA
We would highly recommend that you organise an accredited guide
prior to travelling to China, or book a reputable tour
operator. The language is a ·substantial barrier, that
cannot be easily overcome with an English – Mandarin
Guides will also give you insights to the history and culture of
the country and maximise your experience of China. Whilst there are
many countries we would happily recommend that you self-drive and
independently travel, China is one of the more challenging
countries to travel this way.
Organise your guides prior to reaching China. Often the
Concierges recommendations at your hotel can lead to disappointing
experiences for tourists who want to maximise their sight-seeing
time, and minimise their time in local art and craft factories.
You will need Visas when travelling through China, so organise
these well in advance.
Take an adventurous appetite. China now caters to Western
appetites, but you will find it tastier, easier and infinitely more
entertaining to attempt local fare.