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Congratulations are due to two of China's own. Thats right, Hangzhou and Pingyao have both made it to the New York Times' list of the top 41 destinations of 2011.
From the Times:
33. Hangzhou, ChinaAn hour from Shanghai, a historic jewel goes five-star.
Although Hangzhou is only now coming into the global spotlight, its gorgeous pagodas, historic temples and lush gardens have been inspiring Chinese poets and painters for centuries. Recently, the feverish growth of Shanghai has sparked the rediscovery of Hangzhou as a peaceful retreat and a cultural masterpiece. And with it, a new generation of luxury hotels has arrived: Shangri-la overlooking West Lake; the Banyan Tree set within China’s first wetland reserve; the Aman, close to some of the area’s most spectacular ancient Buddhist temples up in the hills; and most recently, the Four Seasons with a destination spa and two swimming pools set up along the lagoons. Next up is an Angsana, the Banyan Tree’s design-chic sister hotel. And with the debut of a high-speed train from Shanghai, it’s now — unbelievably — less than a one-hour journey from central Shanghai. Once there, rent a bike and step into sights like Lingyin Temple, one of the world’s most important Buddhist temples.
— ONDINE COHANE37. Pingyao, ChinaMing architecture is intact as contemporary culture takes root.
While other towns in China have modernized, Pingyao, in China’s coal-rich Shanxi Province, has clung to its old ways, barring cars within its 33-foot-tall Ming dynasty walls and preserving the traditional architecture of incense shops, courtyard houses and 19th-century bank buildings. Named a Unesco World Heritage site in 1997, Pingyao has become a major destination for Chinese and foreigners alike.
But the city is becoming known for more than its history. Its yearly photography festival, which takes place in late summer, has attracted enthusiasts and professionals from across the globe for a decade. Another sign that Pingyao is being embraced by the fashionable set: in 2009, the city’s first boutique hotel, the 19-room Jing’s Residence, a Relais & Chateaux member, opened in a restored courtyard house built more 200 years ago by a Qing dynasty silk merchant.
— DAN LEVINIf you need extra inspiration for a travel filled 2011, check out the slide show.