Known and unknown China – what is worth visiting?

A trip to China is definitely a challenge. Because of lower frequency of journeys to this destination (high travelling costs and long distance), you should be careful not to miss any chance to visit the most important architectural and cultural heritage sites of this country. It is good to be well prepared for visiting China.

What makes China so unique?

China is one of the oldest centres of world’s civilisation. It has rich and unique traditions: historical, philosophical, scientific, literary, theatrical and musical. They were created and preserved thanks to isolation of the country that resulted from, on the one hand, natural borders difficult to be crossed and on the other hand, series of fortifications known as The Great Wall of China. The process of acquainting Europeans with Chinese culture started after Italian traveller Marco Polo had made his journeys and discoveries. In China the ancestor worship has a special meaning, the major religions are buddhism and taoism. The whole country has one time zone.

Interesting facts

The tradition of tea drinking comes from China (tea was discovered in 2737 BC). Other Chinese inventions include gun powder, a compass, paper and printing, as well as a toilet paper (at the beginning only the emperor could afford it). The oldest lunar calendar in the world dated to 2600 BC belongs to the Chinese. In the 2nd century the Chinese had already known that blood circulates throughout the whole human body and a heart pumps it around (in Europe it was discovered only in the 17th century). The most popular game is ping pong (table tennis), and the most popular hobby is stamp collecting. Fortune cookies were invented only in 1920. The symbol of strength and courage is the giant panda, white is the colour of mourning, red is the symbol of luck. The Earth’s highest mountain peak, Mount Everest (8848 m), is located in the Himalayas in China. The unique Chinese cuisine is well known all around the world (ketchup was invented in China). Chinese soldiers learn the drill with needles placed in their uniforms’ collars to hold their heads perfectly straight! Chinese police often uses geese instead of dogs, because these birds are known to have a very good eyesight and a high level of aggression.   

A bit of history…

The earliest remains of human activity on the territory of China come from the Zhoukoudian caves and the region of Lantan city. Apart from bones of homo erectus, stone tools and animal bones were found there (dated to circa 35 thousand years ago, i.e. the Neolithic Age). The beginning of plant (rice and panicgrass) and animal (pigs, hens, dogs) breeding is dated to circa 10 thousand years BC. The remains of human settlements, e.g. bowls of Corded Ware culture, that were found in the upper reaches of the Li river are dated back to period of 8200-7800 BC. The oldest surviving notes on China concern The Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors (2850-2205 BC), a group of mythological rulers of ancient China, and the Xia Dynasty (2205-1766 BC). Confucius regarded this period as the Golden Age of Chinese civilisation.

Top tourist attractions

We highly recommend to visit Beijing with its museums: The Beijing Ancient Observatory, The National Museum of China, The National Art Museum of China, the Chinese Military Museum and The Chinese Aviation Museum (located 30 km north of Beijing city). You cannot miss The Forbidden City, a palace complex from the Ming and the Qing dynasty in central Beijing. The collection of artwork evacuated from the Forbidden City was placed in the museum and art gallery in Taipei in Taiwan. Close to north-western border of the Forbidden City, on the lake Qianhai, the old Prince Kung’s Mansion is located. It is the largest prince residence of the Qing dynasty in Beijing and is considered to be the best preserved historic building in Beijing. The Beijing Art Museum housed in the Buddhist Temple of Longevity has preserved a vast collection of precious items dated to various periods of Chinese history, for example jadeite sculptures of the Shang and the Zhou dynasties, coins, manuscripts of the Ming and the Qing dynasties, porcelain, lacquerware, antique textiles and examples of Chinese and Japanese contemporary art. It is worth to see the Summer Palace in Beijing – a vast ensemble of lakes, gardens and palaces that used to be the imperial summer residence for the Qing dynasty. Do not forget to visit the Temple of Heaven – imperial complex of religious buildings of the Ming and the Qing dynasties. 45 km south-east of Beijing city there is a cave system, where remains of Peking Man were found, as well as stone tools, animal bones and fossils of prehistoric creatures that are from 500 thousand to 230 thousand years old. The visitors can see several caves and grottoes nearby.

Unusual places

On the territory of today’s Shaanxi Province in Xi’an city there is the Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor (210 BC) with the Terracotta Army – a collection of terracotta life-sized figures depicting the armies of the first Emperor of China. Every sculpture has unique individual features. The figures carry a lot of authentic weapons made of chrome plated bronze, for example swords, tips of spears and arrow heads. The sculptures stand in battle array formation. Apart from warriors (infantry soldiers, archers, crossbowmen, generals) there are also figures of army doctors and civilians: officials, musicians, dancers, acrobats, and animal figures (carthorses, cavalry horses, storks, cranes and ducks). The figures include military carriages and chariots.

In Dazu District of Chongqing city, one of China’s four direct-controlled municipalities, there are series of Chinese religious rock sculptures and carvings dated back to period between 9th and 13th centuries, i.e. the period of the Tang and the Song dynasties.

Interesting places

The Grand Canal, known as the Beijing–Hangzhou Grand Canal is the longest artificial canal that had been built in China for transportation since 5th century BC. Its total length is about 1800 km, the width is 20-350 metres, it links 5 bigger rivers and has 24 locks.

Jinsha in Sichuan Province is an archaeological site with the museum that houses remains of the city existing during the period of 1200-500 BC. The museum has rich collection containing items made of gold, bronze, nephrite and ivory (about 5 thousand objects).

Not far from Leshan city in Sichuan Province there is a historic monument called Leshan Giant Buddha, which is the largest stone-carved buddha in the world. It is a 71-metre tall statue that started to be built in 713.

Qufu city in Shandong Province in eastern China is a hometown of Confucius, who is traditionally believed to have been born there. There is the Temple of Confucius, the Cemetery (sometimes called the Forest) of Confucius and the Kong Family Mansion.

During a three or five day standard trip you will not be able to visit all interesting places that China offers to visitors. Only Beijing and its historic monuments need approximately a monthly stay. We recommend to choose the best options for you after familiarizing with offers from some travel agencies.


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