Beijing has served as the political and cultural centre of China. It is renowned for its opulent palaces, temples, and huge stone walls and gates and there is scarcely a major building of
any age that doesn’t have at least some national historical significance.
Shanghai is the largest city in China with a population of over 20 million people. It was originally a fishing and textiles town and has now become the world’s busiest cargo port. It is very modern and ever-expanding on the silt deposited from the Yangtze River in the Xintiandi area. It is considered the “showpiece” of the world’s fastest growing economy as it gets ready to host the 2010 Expo.
The Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses in Xian are the most significant archeological excavations of the 20th century. The life size terracotta figures of warriors and horses are replicas of what the imperial guard should look like in those glory days (211-206 BC)
The Yangtze River Cruise (3rd largest river in the world) is a “must do” for any tourists because of its spectacular scenery. Chongqing is the starting point and travels to the Qutang Gorge, Wuxia Gorge and Xiling Gorge, collectively known as the Three Gorges. Then on to the very large Three Gorges Dam which is the largest hydroelectric power station in the world which was completed in Oct, 2008. The dam controls flooding, enhances navigation, and provides a vast amount of clean electricity. It is a move towards a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from the standard coal burning thus reducing the high pollution along the river. It is called the controversial dam because it has flooded archaeological and cultural sites and has displaced some 1.24 million people
Places Visited – Beijing, Xian, 10night Yangtze River Cruise on Viking River Cruises “Century Sun” visiting the Three Gorges Dam and the new cities along the banks of the flooded River as well as Shanghai.
Best local tours – The Shanghai Acrobat Show , The Snow Jade Caves in Fengdu, the Pagoda in Shibaozhai and the Buddhist Temple on Mt Jiu Hua.
Best souvenirs – Fans, Kites, Jade, Calligraphy, Pearls, Silk Carpets, Silk clothing and of course chopsticks.
Best Places to shop – Beijing – Silk Market for knock offs and the 4th floor of the Pearl Market as you can be assured of good quality. Silk Carpets at the various factories.
– Three Lesser Gorges, Three Gorges Dam, Great Wall, the Forbidden City, the Terracotta Warriors in Xian and the Hubai and Shanghai Museums
Favourite Hotel – The Westin Hotel in Shanghai
Favourite Chinese Restaurant – Local restaurant in the city of Suzhou which has been nicknamed “Venice of the East” for its intricate canal system. In this city, we visited the Silk Spinning Factory.
Local foods – Peking Duck, hot and sour soup, sweet and sour fish, dim sum and their delicious vegetable dishes.
– When taking taxis, always take a metered one and provide the address of your destination in Chinese as well as English as very few drivers speak English. When walking be very careful crossing
the street as the drivers do not observe the traffic lights. Always drink bottled water and only buy them from a reliable source making sure the lids are sealed. When purchasing items, always bargain start at 25% of what they quote and then you usually end up paying about 45%.
Best Time to Travel – April/May and Sept/Oct.
What to bring – Good walking shoes, rain gear and layered clothing, as temp can change. In March we experienced very cold weather in Beijing but warm weather in Shanghai. Money belts are recommended as there could be pick pockets in crowded areas. If you are going on the cruise, casual clothing for the daytime and casual chic for the evenings.