My journey around China was a hectic but thrilling experience. In a short 3 weeks I managed to visit a several places in this truly fascinating and diverse country. I began with Beijing, a city full of character and history. I saw the incredible Forbidden City—once completely inaccessible to the public—as well as the beautiful Summer Palace and (probably my favorite place in Beijing) the Temple of Heaven. The Temple of Heaven offers you a chance to watch locals going about their everyday life. Men crowd round to watch and play Mahjong, women sew together, groups sing, practice Tai Chi, and take part in water calligraphy. It is truly fascinating.
Of course, whilst in Beijing, I went to visit the vast, impressive and truly incredible Great Wall of China. Walking along the wall absolutely takes your breath away – it is stunning!
I journeyed next to Xi’an, a lovely city where the recently unearthed Terracotta Army stand, a sight not to be missed in China. While in Xi’an, I explored the bustling Muslim Quarters. Though the rain was pouring down, it was bright and full of people, street food, and activity–I loved it!
Chengdu has the most wonderful Panda Research Base and Breeding Center, where you can watch the morning feeding of adult pandas and then be knocked down by the cuteness of the baby pandas!
A little off the beaten track, I next made my way to Yunnan Province, where I explored the Songzanlin Monastery in Shangri-La (home to over 900 monks), walked around the impressive Tiger Leaping Gorge and explored the winding, narrow streets of the Old Town of Lijiang, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
My favorite part of the journey was visiting Yangshuo and Longji. This area of China is absolutely beautiful. Rugged mountains surround the picturesque Li River. There are relaxing bamboo rafts on the Yulong River. And you can visit the absolutely stunning rice terraces in Longsheng known as The Dragon’s Backbone. This area of China is a great place to hike and explore small villages. I stayed in Ping’an Village which was quiet, rural and absolutely idyllic—but did involve a pretty long hike to get there!
I then traveled to a famous tea plantation near Hangzhou, where, supposedly, the best green tea in China comes from, and visited the West Lake, inspiration for many Chinese poems and paintings. Next was Suzhou, known for its beautiful gardens and Zhujiajiao, a pretty little water town known as “The Venice of China”.
Finally, my trip came to an end in Shanghai. A busy, fast paced metropolis with an absolutely stunning skyline and the beautiful Bund to admire it from. I just loved Shanghai! I would jump at the chance to return and get lost in its many neighborhoods, try all the food I didn’t, and go to all the galleries I missed. It is a great city! I was lucky enough to stay on the Bund in a boutique hotel, Les Suites Orient, which I highly recommend. I could take a bubble bath with a view of the Pudong Skyline—a great end to my trip to the Far East!
- Learn more about visiting the Great Wall of China from Beijing
Fiona Caroline is a fine art film photographer based in London, England. She loves to travel, especially throughout the Indian Subcontinent, and is a collector of old film cameras. She also loves to capture weddings, portraits and the city of London through her lens.