Attraction of the week

For many, the Bund (Wàitān, 外滩) is the face of Shanghai. Even as the city transforms itself, growing upwards and outwards at a tremendous rate, the Bund's Art Deco and Neoclassical facades appear...


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Baota Hill (Baota shan), southeast of the river junction, takes its name from the Bao Pagoda (Bao ta) on its summit. This nine-story pagoda, built in the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD), is 44m (144ft) in height. Climb to the top story and you will get a bird's eye view of the entire town.  This hill, and the pagoda on top of it have become the symbol of the city (and even of Red China). The highlight here, besides the lovely views, is a large Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 AD) Iron Bell. It saw heavy use during the 1930s and 40s when it..

The sound produced here has been compared to stampeding horses and roaring dragons. When you visit Hukou Waterfall, the second largest waterfall in China, you'll have a chance to make a grandiose comparison of your own.  In the spring, the snow and ice begin to melt. As summer approaches, run-off swells the river to its full 100 meter (330ft) breadth, with spectacular results for photographers and tourists alike. The river suddenly narrows to one fifth that width, concentrating the energy of the torrent just before the fall. As the..

Cut into the red-orange stone by a stream running at the foot of Hong Shan (Hóng Shān, 红山), the Red Stone Gorge (Hóngshí Xiá, 红石峡) is dotted by Buddhist grottoes. The oldest of these date back to the Song Dynasty. More recently, a number of inscriptions have been carved into the walls of the canyon, including some by famous Chinese artists. About 2 km (1.2 mi) away, Zhenbei Tower is one of the largest towers of the Ming Dynasty Great Wall.

Located to the east of the Xi'an city center, the Banpo Museum (Bànpō Bówùguǎn, 半坡博物馆), which first opened its doors in 1958, resides on a former excavation site. Dating back roughly 6,000 years to the Neolithic Yangshao culture, Banpo is now home to an exhibition hall featuring production tools including axes, chisels, sickles as well as stone and pottery knives. There is also a second hall that focuses daily Banpo life, featuring the huts, kilns and tombs of the residents.

Before the Terracotta Warriors were unearthed and stole the limelight, Xi'an's number one landmark was the Big Wild Goose Pagoda (Dàyàn Tǎ, 大雁塔) located in the Temple of Great Maternal Grace (Dàcí'ēn Sì, 大慈恩寺). This square pyramid structure was first built in 652 A.D. by Tang Emperor Gaozong. The original five stories were added to and renovated over the centuries, leaving us with the current seven story building standing at a height of 64 m (210 ft). Built from brick and wood in classic Ming-style architecture, Big Wild Goose Pagoda was..

These pleasant hot springs situated at the foot of Lishan (Mount Li) have been in use for around 2,500 years; the mineral-rich waters bubbling up from the earth have soothed emperors dating back to the notorious Qin Shihuang, and during the Tang Dynasty they became a primary imperial summer residence. Today, many imperial-era buildings and pools remain, accompanied by a small museum and marble boat (both of which date from the latter half of the 20th century). Today, you can take a dip in the waters once reserved for members of the..

Without a doubt one of China's most famous and popular tourist sites, the Terracotta Warriors (Bīngmǎ Yǒng, 兵马俑) rank among the world's top archaeological finds and were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This incredible collection of well over 6,000 figures was accidentally unearthed by a group of peasants trying to dig a well in 1974. Instead of water, they found a 2,000-year-old statue of a warrior made to protect the Tomb of the Emperor Qin Shi Huang, the founder of the Qin Dynasty and the first man to rule over a unified China...

The capital of thirteen dynasties over an 1,100-year period, Xi'an and Shaanxi Province are often referred to as the birthplace of the ancient Chinese civilization. In order to further the legend of the city's iconic status, the Shaanxi History Museum (Shǎnxī Lìshǐbówùguǎn, 陕西历史博物馆) showcases the highlights of these ancient civilizations, reproducing a grand complex of buildings in the Tang architectural style. Located in the suburbs south of Xi'an, northwest of the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, the Shaanxi History Museum opened its doors to the..

Unlike many of China's modernized cities, Xi'an has managed to retain a major piece of its ancient past with the city wall. Forming an enormous rectangle around the old imperial heart of the city, the Xi'an City Wall (Xī'ān Chéngqiáng, 西安城墙) was built during the Ming Dynasty and replaced the older, larger Tang Dynasty wall. Though the wall is mostly original, several sections have been restored or even rebuilt to facilitate modern traffic. The most complete city wall in China still in existence, the Xi'an..

The Bell Tower (Zhōnglóu, 钟楼) rises from the heart of downtown Xi'an where the city's four main roads—each named for a cardinal direction—converge. Originaly built in 1582 and restored in 1739, the tower was used to announce the time of day for Xi'an residents and serve as a watchtower. The previous Bell Tower, dating back to the Tang Dynasty, stood two blocks to the west. Today, one enormous bell dominates the top level of the four-story tower, accompanied by several smaller bells and chimes, most of which are replicas of the originals. A..

Located at the foot of the Li Shan (Mount Li) lies the tomb of China's first Emperor—Qin Shi Huang—whom the Terracotta Warriors were built to protect in the afterlife. Derived in part from the history of Qin written by the Han historian Sima Qian, legend has it that the tomb was originally decorated with vast amounts of gold, silver and pearls, and that ornate maps of the empire were carved into the floors complete with rivers of flowing mercury. The history is clouded by the apparent fact that all the artisans who..

A popular spot for its cool breezes and panoramic views of the area's ruggedly beautiful countryside, Li Shan (Lí Shān, 骊山) was once favored by Tang Dynasty emperors as a summer resort. Today, it's a great place to enjoy a day hike. You'll find hot springs and ancient pavilions off many trails and a splendid view from the top (1,256 m—4,121 ft— above sea level). It's a good idea to bring along a bit of food and water, as dining options on the mountain are largely limited to a few snack stands at the top. If..

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