There is an enormous amount to see and do in China (too much to
mention here), whether showcasing thousands of years of culture or
something that was only built last year. Beijing's attractions lie not
merely in trophy sights like the Great Wall, the Forbidden City and
Tiananmen Square, but also in its 'hutongs', the maze of residential
streets just out of the centre that are gradually being swept away in
the name of development. Tianjin, to the east of the capital, is a former treaty
port and hosts one of the country's most intriguing antique markets. A former German concession, Qingdao was Mao Zedong's favourite seaside holiday spot, and Chinese still flock to its beaches –
backed by statuesque and very Germanic mansions – every summer. Shanghai is widely touted as China's 'Next Big Thing', a hotchpotch of new energetic capitalism and construction, with an exotic
and varied nightlife. Slightly inland, Hangzhou caught Marco Polo's eye when he passed through in the 13th century ('one of the most splendid cities in the world') and, despite the
onslaught of tourism, its lakes and temples are still utterly picturesque.
on the border with Hong Kong, has gone from 99 percent paddy fields to
99 percent concrete in the space of 20 years, a Special Economic Zone
that could be a metaphor for the new China.
Inland, history buffs will find something unique around every corner,
especially in Xian at the Army of Terracotta Warriors. In Guilin, there are panoramic
vistas. The stunning
mountain beauty of Yunnan, Sichuan and Tibet will inspire endless
photographs and the need for further exploration.
China has something