A colossus of a country: as frustrating as it is fascinating; as confident as it is confusing. There’s so much to see, with dramatic landscapes, fascinating culture, endless diversity and iconic sights – one of the world’s truly great travel experiences.
"For all its majestic sights, it’s China’s people you’ll remember most – not just for their colourful chatter, constant drama and inherent entertainment; but also for their sheer, unstoppable energy."
It’s not just big – it’s immense. The sheer scale of the world’s fourth-largest nation, home to one-fifth of its people, can be overwhelming. Not only that: having been shrouded in the mysteries of communism for so long, for many in the West it’s a great unknown – indeed it’s hard to think of anywhere more ‘foreign’.
And yet so much of it seems familiar already. The Great Wall, Forbidden City, Terracotta Warriors... we can all readily bring images of these extraordinary sights to mind. The reality of China, though, is even more fascinating. It’s a country of incredible contrasts: gleaming modern cities with ancient mountain villages; impressive man-made wonders with astonishing natural beauty; and the spiritual simplicity of Tibet with the unbridled luxury of high-tech hotels.
The cities include three of the world’s greatest – Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong – each a destination in its own right; and architectural playgrounds of fabulous hotels, fine restaurants and more. There are 5000 years of unbroken history here, shaped over the centuries by an endlessly diverse landscape as well as religion, trade, war and politics; but this country is no museum piece relying on its heritage to survive. It’s fast becoming the world’s powerhouse, driven on by incessant development and a population that embraces change.