In the world’s most populous country, you’ll find some of the world’s largest cities, sunny islands, mountains, vast plains, and a fascinating array of different cultures to explore.

It’s new and old cities
Everyone knows of Shanghai, Beijing and Hong Kong, and each deserves some of your time. But China’s economy is booming and while new cities pop up out of nowhere, established ones change overnight. Today, China has 14 cities of over 5 million people. Contrary to popular belief, they are not all crowded, polluted and jammed with traffic — and many contain world-class attractions which should be seen.

It’s wondrous landscapes
Outside of China’s the cities, raft down the stunning Li River and ride horses on the Tibetan Plateau. Visit the grasslands of Inner Mongolia and the beguiling karst mountains of Guangxi. Marvel at the sheer beauty of Jiuzhaigou National Park in Sichuan and the Potala Palace in Lhasa. China is a massive country about the size of Australia, with so much to do and see. You’ll never run out of places to visit and new experiences to enjoy.

It’s ancient history
Saying that China is old is an understatement — it has 5,000 years of history. Head to Xi’an where the first emperor of China united the warring kingdoms. The Teracotta Warriors were created after his death in 210 BC. The first section of the Great Wall was started in the 7th century BC while much of it  was built in the 14th century by the Ming Dynasty.

It’s pandas
Just about every visitor to China wants to see a panda, and although there are giant pandas in zoos in various places around the country, the best place to see pandas is in Chengdu at the Giant Panda Breeding and Research Centre. If you are keen to get closer to them, take part in a volunteer program at Dujiangyan Panda Valley.

The cuisine
For many Australians, Chinese food is the first Asian cuisine that they tried. However, you don’t understand Chinese food until you go to China, and the expansive country has many different regional cuisines. There’s Peking duck in Beijing, amazing hairy crabs in Shanghai, spicy dishes in Sichuan, delicious lamb in Xinjiang, and dim sum in Hong Kong. Everywhere, you can find a place to sit on a tiny stool, crack open a lukewarm Snow beer, and enjoy a delicious feast of local delicacies.

By Len Rutledge

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