The Middle Kingdom is said to have 5,000 years of culture and these are just the places to learn about the rich history of China, whether you're interested in religion, politics, warfare or peoples.
Once known as the "wild wall" for the extent to which nature had reclaimed it, the Great Wall at Huanghua (Huánghuā Chángchéng, 黄花长城) was partly renovated in 2005. However, it's still a long way from becoming anything like the super-touristy Badaling and, as such, Huanghua makes a great alternative Great Wall hike for those willing to do a bit of climbing. Like other sections of the Great Wall near Beijing, Huanghua snakes along mountain ridges, rising and falling with the peaks. On the site's..
Of the many famous China's classical poets, Du Fu (712-70 AD) is up there with Tang Dynasty master Li Bai as the best known and one of the most well loved. After travels around eastern China and his home province of Henan, Du Fu arrived in the conflict-torn Tang capital of Chang'an (today's Xi'an) where he worked to establish himself as a civil servant at the behest of the Tang emperor. But the emperor was much too busy clashing with the forces of rebellious general An Lushan. And so Du Fu's official career never was. The An Lushan..
Replicas of Qing Dynasty mansions line Jinli Old Street (Jǐnlǐ Gǔjiē, 锦里古街) selling local souvenirs as well as tea, books, musical instruments and caricatures. While several large restaurants can be found here, the real charm lies in the small snack alley between Wuhou Temple and Jinli. Here the overpowering odor of stinky tofu is softened by sweet caramel, spicy beef, rice cakes, noodles and sesame buns—made to order amidst the din of hawkers and touts shouting their products. Locals fill the street nightly—especially on..
The Jinsha archaeological site is one of the most important finds of the last 30 years and yielded extraordinary jade, gold and ivory figurines closely linked with the Sanxingdui site. The Jinsha Museum (Jīnshā Bówùgun, 金沙博物馆) houses artifacts pulled from pits on the west side of Chengdu. As seen in the many ceremonial artifacts found on site, most notably the Golden Phoenix which is now on display in the museum, the society traded with other cultures as far away as Southeast Asia and had a very sophisticated religion. The..
Chengdu's oldest and largest temple is the Wenshu Monastery (Wénshū Yuàn, 文殊院). The temple that stands today is a Qing Dynasty (1644-1911 AD) reconstruction of a Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD) temple from centuries earlier. Dedicated to the incarnation of Wenshu, you'll see his image associated with a lion throughout the grounds—these are representations of his symbolic animal. The soaring, red-walled halls are beautiful examples of classic architecture with their inverted eaves and sky-high ceilings. The space buzzes with..
Perched up on high in the Cang Shan mountain range, Zhonghe Temple (Zhōnghé Sì, 中和寺) is a modest temple with a panoramic view of Er Hai lake and the lowlands around it. A common stop for those hiking up Cang Shan, Zhonghe Temple is a good place to stop and get your bearings, plus there's a restaurant nearby to fuel up. It's also possible to stay the night in the temple. Yunnan guide | Dali guide | Dali attractions | Dali flights Dali hotels | Dali tours & activities | Dali on the China Travel Blog
The large, serene River View Pavilion Park (Wàngjiānglóu Gōngyuán, 望江楼公园) overlooks the Jin River. Dedicated to Xue Tao, a famous female Tang Dynasty poet known to have an affinity for bamboo, the park features some 150 varieties of the plant. The elaborately decorated pavilion that gives the park its name is the focal point, however. The 39 m (128 ft), four-story structure dates back to 1889, and is sometimes referred to as the Chongli Pavilion (Chónglì Gé, 崇丽阁) by the locals. The park is dotted..
The oldest Taoist temple in Chengdu, Qingyang Temple (Qīngyáng Gōng, 青羊宫) is also one of the most famous in the country. One of the first Taoist temples allowed to reopen by the government in 1983, Qingyang Temple was originally built during the Zhou Dynasty (1040-221BC). It was later expanded after the Taoists gave the Tang Emperor refuge during the Huangchao Rebellion. It consists of six courtyards which open out onto each other, culminating in a sculpture of two goats. These represent one of the earthly..
The sight of the Buddhist Longhua Temple (Lónghúa Sì, 龙华寺) pagoda rising into the sky against the backdrop of Shanghai's 21st century high-rise skyline can be both jarring and sublime. As the city's largest remaining pagoda, the 40 m (130 ft) tower stands as a monument to China's traditional culture, which so often seems lost in the thicket of Shanghai's metastasizing glass-and-steel high-rise developments and freeway flyovers. At the same time, the pagoda and the busy temple grounds surrounding it illustrate a deep and vibrant continuity..
The Yu Gardens (Yù Yuán, 豫园) are a classical oasis—albeit a generally crowded one—in Shanghai's relentlessly modernizing cityscape. The gardens, completed in 1577 by the aristocratic Ming Dynasty Pan family, retain their original grace and elegance even in the face of throngs of tourists and the commercial hubbub of Yuyuan Market just on the other side of the garden walls. Situated in the midst of the Old City near the Temple of the City God, the gardens make an excellent and restful stop in a walking tour of..
The main shrine to Sichuan's ancient Shu Kingdom and the heroes that made it legendary during the Three Kingdoms period, Wuhou Temple (Wǔhóu Cí, 武侯祠) was first built to house Shu Emperor Liu Bei's remains in 221. During the Ming Dynasty, Liu Bei's subjects' remains were also housed here, most notably those of Zhuge Liang (Zhūgě Liàng, 诸葛亮). Zhuge Liang (181–234 AD) lived during the Three Kingdoms period, when China's Han Dynasty was torn between competing kingdoms, and a fictionalized version of the strategist..
Only a 70 km (44 mi) drive from Beijing, Badaling (Bādálǐng, 八达岭) is the most visited section of the Great Wall. Constructed during the Ming Dynasty, Badaling underwent extensive reconstruction during the 1950s and 1980s and now features amenities that invading barbarians would certainly kill for, from cable car rides to snack stands, caged bears, souvenir shops and restaurants, not to mention air-conditioned tour buses traveling down the expressway which links this length of wall to the capital. With all the extras and the site's..