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Popular Destinations

West Lake

 

Hangzhou's West Lake Scenic Area, in the southwest of the city, covers 60 square kilometers (23 square miles), of which West Lake itself occupies 5.6 square kilometers (2.2 square miles).

It was originally the center of the city, but now the Qiantang River is becoming the central feature as the south bank is developed in similar fashion to Shanghai’s Pudong District. West Lake is a place of tranquility where urbanity becomes a silhouette on the northeast horizon and mountains near and far surround it on the other three sides. The occasional pagoda and Chinese-style arched bridge add atmosphere to the tree-lined walkways, verdant islands and hills.

Shanghai, China

Lingyin Temple

 

 
Lingyin Temple is one of the most significant and beautiful Buddhist monasteries in China. "Ling-yin" means "Soul's Retreat" in Chinese, therefore, the temple's name is commonly literally translated as Temple of the Soul's Retreat. The temple features a large number of grottos and religious rock carvings, the most famous of which is the Feilai Feng (literally "the peak that flew hither").
 
The entrance to the Lingyin monastery is lined with hundreds of rock grottos that contain detailed religious rock carvings of the big-bellied "Laughing Buddha." One of the most famous carvings is the Feilai Feng, meaning "the peak that flew hither," or "flying peak." The term "peak" denotes the incongruous look of the weathered limestone in relation to the surrounding hills.
 
On the ceiling of the main grotto, which is dedicated to the bodhisattva Guanyin, is a crack in the rock that stretches up to its surface. If one stands in a single position, a tiny sliver of sunlight can bee seen. This phenomenon is described as seeing "one thread of heaven".
 
The Temple contains an important collection of Buddhist literature together with many other treasures. As a consequence, it is a great storehouse of information for those who wish to study aspects of Chinese Buddhism in detail. The palaces, pavilions, and halls together with their many figures of Buddhist deities represent a splendid and unique collection of architectural and artistic cultural relics. The various buildings and pagodas date from the Southern Song, Ming, and Tang Dynasties. Among the ancient writings are scriptures written on pattra leaves, the Diamond Sutra copied by Dong Qichang in the Ming Dynasty, and a wood cut edition published during the Qing Dynasty. 
 
Shanghai, China

Master Of Nets Garden

 

Also called Fisherman's Garden, the 0.6-hectare garden is an elegant structure of a typical official's residence in the Qing Dynasty. (1636-1911).

The present garden was founded on the former site of a Song Dynasty official's mansion. Its owner, an early Qing-dynasty official Song Zongyuan, gave its present name based on the earlier one, "Fisherman's Retreat".

Garden of Master of the Nets consists of a residential quarter and the garden proper. Inside the refined residential quarter, the halls are linked closely by a corridor. The garden, petite but substantial, is focused on a pond and decorated with plants, rocks, pavilions, and stone bridges.

The garden is especially fancied by overseas visitors and is praised as the most ornate and intact private gardens in Suzhou. Some tourists even offer a huge amount of money to buy it.

Shanghai, China

Humble Administrator's Garden

  The Humble Administrator’s Garden was built in the early years of Zhengde in the Ming Dynasty (in the early sixteenth century), with a history of over 500 years. It is one of the representative works of classical gardens south of the Yangtze River. The Humble Administrator’s Garden was listed as National Key Cultural Relics Protection Unit by the State Council in 1961, known as “Four Famous Gardens” in China together with the Beijing Summer Palace, Chengde Mountain Resort and Suzhou Lingering Garden. In 1991, it was regarded as National Special Tourist Attraction by the State Planning Commission, the Tourism Bureau and Ministry of Construction. In 1997, it was approved and included in the “World Heritage List” by the UNESCO. In 2007, it was approved as one of the first AAAAA-class Tourist Attractions by the National Tourism Administration.
    The Humble Administrator’s Garden is located in the northeastern corner of the ancient city Suzhou (No. 178, Northeast Street). It is the largest classical garden in Suzhou, covering an area of 78mu (about 5.2 hectares). The whole garden is water-centered, with green hills, delicate pavilions and lush flowers and trees, full of poetic and pictorial splendor and rich features of the south of the lower reaches of the Yangze River. The garden is divided into three parts, eastern, central and west, and each has its own unique character. The East Garden is spaciousness; the Central Garden is the essence of the whole park; and the West Garden has exquisite buildings. The southern part of the garden is the residential area, reflecting the typical residential pattern of the south of the Yangtze River. To the south of the garden is Suzhou Garden Museum, which is the only garden theme museum all over the country.

Shanghai, China

Xian City Wall

Xian City Wall is not only a well preserved ancient Chinese monument but was once also a complex and well-organized system of defense for the city.   

The City Wall was built by order of Zhu Yuanzhang, the forefather of Ming Dynasty. He was admonished by a hermit named Zhu Sheng to  “build high walls, store abundant provisions, and take time in proclaiming yourself emperor.” Zhu Yuangzhang accepted his proposal and gave orders to the local governments to build the city walls when the whole country was unified.     

The current City Wall is an extension of the old Tang Dynasty structure. It is 12 meters high, 12 to 14 meters in width across the top, 15 to 18 meters at the bottom and 13.7 kilometers in a total length.   

Due to the primitive weapons of ancient time, passage through the gate was only way to forcefully enter the city. The feudal rulers of every period hence put great emphasis on its reinforcement. In Xian, the east, west, south and north gates consist of three gate towers. The “Zhalou” tower is used to lift and lower a suspension bridge and stands away from the wall. The “Jianlou” tower is located in between the two others. There are square windows for defending archers in front and on both sides. The inner “Zhenglou” defense tower doubles as the main entrance to the city. There are in total 11 horse passages located around the city leading to the top of the wall. These have gradually ascending steps that make it easy for chargers to ascend and descend. 
   
Ramparts were built every 120 meters along the length of the wall. The distance between every two ramparts is just within the archers range from either side. The ramparts extends out from the main wall at the same height. There are 98 ramparts in total and each has a sentry building to accommodate troops. 

A wide and deep moat runs around the city. It measures 20 meters in width and 7 in depth with a defense wall 2 meters high on the inner bank. Over the moat at the south Gate, there is a huge suspension bridge that limits access to the city in all but this point.   

The City Walls were first built of earth. The base layer was made of soil, quicklime, and glutinous rice extract. This made the wall extremely firm. Later, the wall was reinforced with brickwork. On the top of the wall, there is a brick trough every 40 to 60 meters. These were used for drainage and have played a very important role in the long–term environmental protection of the walls. 

In 1997, then US President Clinton chose Xian as the first stop of his historic trip to China. He sang high praises after visiting the ancient city wall and the gates. The ancient Xi’an City Wall is a timeless display of the ability and wisdom of the people of ancient China. It provides visitors with an invaluable insight into Chinese history, military developments and architecture.  

Xi'an, China

The Lama Temple Beijing

 

Lama Temple Beijing (Yonghegong), or Palace of Peace and Harmony Lama Temple or Yonghegong Lamasery, a renowned lama temple of the Yellow Hat Sect of Lamaism, is situated in the northeast part of Beijing city.
 

Lama Temple features five large halls and five courtyards with beautifully decorative archways, upturned eaves and carved details. It houses a treasury of Buddhist art, including sculptured images of gods, demons and Buddhas, as well as Tibetan-style murals. 
 

After Yongzheng's death in 1735, his coffin was placed in the temple. Emperor Qianlong, his successor, upgraded Yonghegong to an imperial palace with its turquoise tiles replaced by yellow tiles (yellow was the imperial color in the Qing Dynasty). During the 9th year of Emperor Qian Long's reign (1744), it was converted into a lamasery and became a residence for large numbers of monks from Mongolia and Tibet.This is a kind of friendly policy that the Qing dynasty deal with the relation with Mongolia and Tibet. That is the reason why the Great Wall was not massive constructed during the Qing dynasty. 

 

Beijing, China

Temple Of Heaven

 The Temple of Heaven is located in southern Beijing.It was first constructed in 1420, the 18th year of the reign of Ming emperor Yongle,and was extended and renovated during the reigns of Ming emperor Jiajing and Qing emperor Qianlong.It was the place where the emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties would worship the god of heaven and pray for good harvest. Covering an area of 273 hectares,it is the largest architectural complex in the world for rituals to pay homage to heaven. 
    In 1918,The Temple of Heaven was turn into a park,it attracted masses of visitors from home and abroad by the grand scales,unique buildings and profound connotation of historic culture of offering sacrifices to Heaven.After New China was founded in 1949,the central government invested large amounts of capital in the protection and maintenance of the historical and cultural sites inside the temple.In 1998, the Temple of Heaven was inscribed on the World Heritage List by the UNESCO. With profound cultural connotations and imposing architectural styles,the Temple of Heaven is considered a reflection of the ancient civilization of the Orient. 
    The spacious Temple of Heaven is well-afforested.When going into the Temple,a feeling of solemnity, respectfulness,holiness and quietness will well up in the mind. When looking at the beautiful sacrificial altars,one will feel the his soul is purified and his thoughts sublimed. 
    The five architecture groups in the Temple are given respective features,while the magnificent Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests is the major symbol.The temple is divided by two enclosed walls into inner altar and outer altar. To better symbolize heaven and earth, the northern part of the temple is circular while the southern part is square, which reflect the ancient Chinese belief that Heaven is round and Earth is square. 
    Located in the northern part of the temple is the Altar of Prayer for Good Harvests, where the emperors sacrificed animals and burned incense sticks to pray for good weather for the crops; while in the southern part is the Circular Mound Altar where emperors held ceremonies for worshipping the Heaven. Two principle clusters of worshipping buildings are connected by the Red Stairway Bridge. Additionally, in the temple are the Hall of Abstinence where emperors held fasts before the ceremony and the Divine Music Hall, an imperial organization in charge of performing during the ceremonies.The Temple of Heaven is a cultural museum of offering sacrifices to Heaven,which merges architecture,aesthetics,acoustics,astronomy,calendar,music and dancing into an integral whole.It is an important window through which we can learn the history of China.

Beijing, China

Summer Place

 

The Summer Palace, in the Haidian District, northwest of central Beijing, is said to be the best preserved imperial garden in the world, and the largest of its kind still in existence in modern China.  It’s hardly surprising that, during the hot Beijing summers, the Imperial Family preferred the beautiful gardens and airy pavilions of the Summer Palace to the walled-in Forbidden City.  Dowager Empress Cixi took up permanent residence here for a time, giving rise to some wonderful tales of extravagance and excess.

 

Summer is the best time to visit Summer Palace. The lake is frozen and the cruise is not available during winter.

Although only a short drive (15 km) from central Beijing, it seems like another world. The Chinese call it Yihe Yuan (Garden of Restful Peace), and the landscaped gardens, temples and pavilions were designed to achieve harmony with nature, to soothe and please the eye.  The park spreads across the low hills, including Longevity Hill, around Kunming Lake, and was is divided into three main zones (administration, living, and relaxation).  The  wonderful buildings and courtyards wander beside the lake, along the waterways and climb the low slopes of the hillside.  The arched bridges, pretty promenades, decorated ‘corridors’ and breezeways all lead visitors through ever-changing views and scenery. Here the marvelous marble boat, there an old theatre, over there an island reached by small wooden boat, and in the distance the hills, with a temple on the hillside, framed by dark trees.  It was listed on the World Heritage List by the UNESCO in 1998.

Beijing, China

Yangshuo Old Town

 

Yangshuo, 65 kilometers to the southeast of Guilin , is an internationally acclaimed tourist destination, characterized by crystal clear rivers, limestone crags, lush vegetation, traditional Chinese architecture and customs, which have been immortalized in Chinese classical landscape paintings and poetry.

The beautiful natural scenery so admired by painters and poets has made Yangshuo famous throughout China and internationally. Word of Yangshuo's charm has spread like wildfire among travelers worldwide, greatly boosting its popularity and made it a paradise for backpackers.

The yang in Yangshuo is the well known yang in Taoist yin-yang philosophy: the positive, male and bright element. Yang can also mean the sun. Theshuo in Yangshuo means a new moon. Whether by sunlight or moonlight Yangshuo has a holiday atmosphere and a fun flavor. Day and night (up to about 2am) West Street (now imagined by some to have the meaning Westerners’ Street) is busy with tourists buying souvenirs, eating a mix of Chinese and Western foods and finding entertainment.

Yangshuo County has a good portion of the world’s most impressive karst landscape. Multi-shaped pinnacles, caves, pristine rivers, and mesas are clustered over the 1,400 square kilometer area. The karst along the famous Li River is given an extra dimension of beauty by the water. In this splendid setting are numerous Zhuang villages, where the paddy fields are farmed and local traditional customs are carried on. Yangshuo coexists as a tourist mecca and a developing country farming community's county town.

In and around Yangshuo, visitors can find the Li River , which is reputed to be the most beautiful river in the world, West Street, a street filled with a combination of traditional Chinese culture and potent Western flavor, Moon Hill, Big Banyan Tree and many other attractions, including Impression Liu Sanjie advertised below.

Guilin, China

Li River Cruise

The Li River cruise from Guilin to Yangshuo is the centerpiece of any trip to northeastern Guangxi Province. Gorgeous Karst peaks give you surprises at each bend of the limpid river under the blue sky. Water buffalo patrol the fields, peasants reap rice paddies, school kids and fisherman float by on bamboo rafts. With its breathtaking scenery and taste of a life far removed from the concrete metropolis, the scenery along the river become one of China's top tourist destinations.

The trip starts from the dock south of Liberation Bridge in Guilin downtown area. Otherwise some agencies will transport tourists to take a one-hour bus ride to the Bamboo River Dock (Zhujiang Dock) or the Millstone Hill Dock to start the cruise from its essential part. The river trip is over 83 kilometers (52 miles) long and is estimated to take four to five hours. The eye-feasting landscape and country scenery will never disappoint you.

Guilin, China