China

Vast and exotic, this East Asian country encompasses stunning cityscapes, jagged mountain peaks, architectural wonders and a fascinating ancient culture.

China’s cities are among the most impressive and commanding metropolises in the world. Brightly lit Beijing and Shanghai have some of the most recognizable cityscapes. Discover the lesser-known cities of Guilin, recognizable by its limestone karst hills, and Chengdu, which features a conservation center for giant pandas.

Climb the Great Wall of China as part of a daytrip from Beijing. The gentle Badaling section is suitable for families, while the Simatai section provides a more challenging climb. Go in the early morning or late afternoon to escape the crowds.

The imperial palace during the Ming and Qing dynasties, Beijing’s Forbidden City is quite a sight to behold. Spend the day exploring the ancient buildings and courtyards. Hire a guide for a more in-depth introduction to its history. Also in Beijing is the Summer Palace, an imperial garden featuring a number of traditional halls and pavilions. Spend at least half a day wandering the grounds, admiring the huge lake and the wonderful hilltop views.

Shanghai’s riverfront boardwalk, the Bund, is strewn with colonial architecture and high-rise hotels. Head to one of the area’s glamorous rooftop bars for the best views of the eastern side of the river.

In Xian, marvel at the detail of the Terracotta Warriors, a collection of life-size terracotta figures created to guard the tomb of the First Emperor of China. Start your visit in the smallest pit and work your way up toward Pit 1, the largest and most impressive section.

Filled with alpine mountains, blue lakes, waterfalls and coniferous forest, Jiuzhaigou Natural Reserve represents a different side of China. Hike around the park to survey its natural beauty.

Most visitors to China will need to get a visa prior to their arrival. Most international flights arrive and depart at either Beijing International Airport, Shanghai Pudong International Airport or Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport. From the airport, use the reasonably priced trains and buses to get into town.

Immerse yourself in the ancient history and unique customs of this enchanting country.