I have done a deep dive into the nation’s rich culture to bring you ten reasons why you would want to visit China. This blog will give you direction on must-see sites, tips for navigating the country, and details you will want to hear from a local before you travel. I sat down with Cherry Xing, a member of our Asia-Pacific Team, who originates from China and visits there often. Cherry shared her exciting stories about her experiences, culture, and “can’t miss” attractions that she hopes everyone will have the chance to check out.

China holds many mysterious and magnificent pieces of history within its borders. There lays an army of soldiers, horses, and chariots that has stood sealed in history for over 2200 years. Water from the same springs that the Emperors of China’s great dynasties drew from rests in natural springs. Tasty recipes that are thousands of years old are just waiting to be tasted! Many more of these thrilling adventures await in the mysterious and time-honored nation of China.

First Stop . . . SICHUAN

Have you ever heard of Sichuan Province? Sichuan is not the typical tourist destination, but rather a sensational city with amazing hidden gems. Residing in Sichuan is a large stretch of the Yangtze River, which is the longest river in all of Asia. For our art enthusiasts, the Sichuanese opera is an experience in itself, as it embraces much more than just exceptionally impressive voices. While you sit on the edge of your seat throughout the performance, you’ll witness fire breathing and illusionary costume changes.

While you’re in Sichuan don’t miss the PANDAS . . .

If you are an animal lover, Sichuan, specifically, is known for being the home of the Giant Pandas! The National Parks and reserves that reside within the region are full of pandas and help protect these adorable giant bears.  While exploring Sichuan, you may encounter a wild panda. As exhilarating as encountering a wild panda is, many people would prefer a more controlled and safer environment with the gentle giants. There are many reserves in China that allow you to have firsthand experience with a panda. Some locations will allow you to hold a “baby” while it gnaws on a honey-covered stick of bamboo. I use the word baby ironically because even a panda, who is only a year old, can weigh around 90 pounds. Cherry referred to this as her favorite activity that she has ever done in China and the most invigorating.

Taste the Springs of Jinan

Jinan is internationally famous for the springs that play a prominent role in the culture of the city. Jinan is not considered a tourist city but a very ancient, significant, and traditional location. It is customary to take water from the spring and make tea with it. This is an age-old tradition that has been practiced since the dynastic period of China’s history. Not only did the local people draw from these springs, but when emperors would visit, they too would use the clear, freshwater to make tea. Jinan is a truly tranquil town that allows you to admire some of China’s traditions and appreciate its natural surroundings.

Explore the Summer Palace (Beijing)

The Summer Palace in Beijing was an imperial garden during the Qing dynasty. The garden takes up almost three-square kilometers in total, the majority of which is water. Throughout the land, there are many ornate palaces and landscaped gardens. As Beijing is one of the most famous cities in the world, these admirable gardens are a must-see while visiting.

Stare Down the Terracotta Warriors

Located in Xi’an, China, remains an army of Terracotta Warrior statues. No two figures are the same as each statue is unique on its own with varying facial expressions. The army consists of not only life-sized statues of men but also life-sized statues of horses and chariots. The figures were created over forty years and took over 700,000 laborers to construct. You can wander through and view the magnificence on your own, or hire a guide, which is recommended for those interested in learning more about the intriguing history.

Savor on some Traditional Chinese Food

If you’re anything like me, then you would be expecting your visit to China to be full of fried rice and Kung Pow Chicken. You’d be rather shocked to see that entrees such as Sweet and Sour Chicken are not authentic nor traditional Chinese food. Cherry commented that her favorite food is a popular dish called “The Hot Pot,” which is a soup broth with an assortment of East Asian foods. Her favorite traditional food was “stir-fried tomato and eggs.”

When to Plan Your Trip

Cherry explained that her favorite times of year to visit were spring and autumn because of the weather. Summers and winters tend to have more intense temperatures and aren’t as radiant as the first two mentioned.

Don’t Forget to Catch a Game…

If you are a sports fan, checking out a Chinese Basketball Association game would be a great activity. The top sport to watch in China is basketball. This sport has grown so popular in recent decades that it is now widely considered a part of Chinese culture. Players like Yao Ming have originated from China, and currently, there are a few former NBA players playing in China, like Lance Stephenson. The most common recreational sport to play is ping pong. Working the paddles and sweating from a fast-paced game of table tennis is a surprisingly fun, exciting, and dare I say, a thrilling way to pass some time.

For Wall-E and the Tech Nerds

When I think of China, my thoughts circulate on tradition, culture, and The Great Wall. I was shocked to learn from Cherry that China is immensely technologically savvy. Cash is still used, but only on rare occasions or by tourists. Just about the entire local population uses the platform “Wechat.” Wechat is a messaging app that has come to be used as a wallet as well. It’s almost a combination of WhatsApp and Venmo. Cherry emphasized that this platform is so integrated that even homeless people procure for Wechat payments instead of cash. The technological integration and dependence that China has employed is a direction that the United States is trending towards. I know anyone who is passionate about technology and innovation would love to observe this technological revolution firsthand!

Cherry’s Final Wishes for You

I asked Cherry for advice on travelers expecting to travel to China soon, and here is what she left with me:

  • Do a tour whenever you can; it will help you truly understand the culture and history of this beautiful nation, as there is so much that simply isn’t known.
  • Split the trip in two: You will need at least one to two weeks in the north and an additional one to two weeks in the South.
  • While in the smaller cities, a translator will most definitely be necessary.

China is a land of rich culture, ancient traditions, superb sports, and enchanting landscapes. I hope that you have the opportunity to visit and not only see the main attractions like The Great Wall, but also the majestic hidden gems that I have uncovered through this interview.

Safe Travels,

Zach Contursi