Closed to foreign visitors until the early 1980s, China holidays are now high on many travellers’ wish lists. With thousands of years of intriguing history behind it and iconic sites that are known throughout the world scattered throughout, it’s really no surprise.A visit to this vast land is not so much a holiday but more an epic adventure of a lifetime.
Beijing is a great place to begin this adventure and if it’s the only place you go to on your holiday to China, you’ll see many wonderful sights. From the architectural masterpiece the Temple of Heaven, move on to Tiananmen Square – the largest public square in the world which is bordered by the Qianmen Gate, the Great Hall of the People and the Gate of Heavenly Peace. This gate is the entrance to the Forbidden City - the imperial palace for 24 emperors during the Ming and Qing dynasties constructed over 14 years from 1407 and forbidden no longer to the inquisitive eyes of millions of visitors annually.
Beijing is also well placed for exploration of one of the greatest wonders of the world, the Great Wall of China, which stretches across deserts, grasslands, mountains and plateaus for about 5,500 miles from east to west. Built as a defence against northern nomadic tribes, its exact length is unknown due to natural and human destruction. The views of the wall and the scenery around it are truly breathtaking and although you may have seen many photographs of this feat of architecture, to see it with your own eyes will still astound you.
A flight will take you from Beijing to the ‘City of Eternal Peace’, or Xian, once China’s capital and its most important city. The recent archeological discovery of the Terracotta Army close by will ensure it remains an all-important port of call to everyone who books a China tour. The mausoleum for the first Qin emperor took 11 years to complete and when he was interred here in 200 BC it was with many sacrificial objects and at least 6,000 life-size terracotta figures of warriors and horses arranged in battle formations, each one sculpted in intricate detail. Farmers digging a well in 1974 unearthed these treasures and the international spotlight fell on what was to become the archeological find of the 20th century.
China holidays will introduce you to far more than just its history, however. You’ll also discover its classical gardens and picturesque willow tree-lined canals, beautiful forest-covered mountains and modern, hi-tech cities such as Shanghai and Hong Kong, which are thriving and influential metropolises. Watch rural life unfold as you journey past the rice fields that feed this nation of more than one billion people, and cruise along the mighty Yangtze River through the spectacular and dramatic Three Gorges.