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June 06, 2014 3 min read

Traveling to China

When thinking about planning a trip to China, many people have no idea where to start routing their map. China is a very large country, and there are so many amazing experiences to be had. With 55 ethnic groups, 8 culinary traditions, and 4000 years of recorded history, the opportunities in China will forever broaden your cultural horizons. Here are our suggestions for sights to see and tastes to sample.


Xi'anXi’an is one of the oldest cities in China with more than 3,100 years of history. The first emperor of China ordered the construction of the famous Terracotta Army, the largest pottery figurine group ever found in China. There are over 8,000 soldiers, and each one has unique facial features. While in Xi’an be sure to rent a bike and get some great views while riding around the city on top of the 4 mile long city wall. Hungry after that long bike ride? Xi’an is famous for it’s noodles. Cold rice noodles are the most popular among locals with red spicy pepper and green bean sprout teasing your taste buds.


No visit to China would be complete without seeing the giant pandas. Chengdu is the world’s home of the panda, and Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding currently has 70 of the cutest Asian bears you’ve ever seen. The best time to see giant pandas is during their meal time, before their 9 o’clock breakfast. Sichuan Cuisine is one of four famous cuisines in China.  Chengdu, as the capital of Sichuan Province, is the best place to taste local authentic Sichuan Cuisine. The predominant ingredient in food here is chili. Dan Dan Noodles are a classic dish containing preserved vegetable, chili oils, minced pork and scallions. The most famous of all noodles is Chen Baobao’s Dan Dan Noodles, which were originally sold by a vendor named Chen Baobao in 1841.


The first city that comes to mind when people think of China is Beijing, formerly known as Peking in the English-speaking world. With nearly 20 million people, it is the 3rd largest metropolitan area in the country. Of course The Great Wall is a must-see pin to put on your travel map. For a unique experience with this famous border, take a tour further away from the city and walk on unrestored parts of the wall that are hundreds of years old. Another spot to see is The Forbidden City – it was the Chinese imperial palace for almost 500 years, and required more than a million workers to construct. While taking in the sights of the city make sure to eat some Peking duck. The thin, crispy roasted duck meat is served with scallion, cucumber, sweet bean sauce, and pancakes rolled around the fillings. 


ShanghaiThe biggest city in the world is worth a pin on your travel map. Shanghai is the largest city by population in the world, and by default the most populous city in China at 24 million residents. Shanghai held the status of the cultural and economic center of East Asia for the first half of the twentieth century. It is popularly seen as the birthplace of everything considered modern in China. Shanghai has incredible architecture and neighborhoods to explore. The Bund is a waterfront area that runs along the western bank of the Huangpu River, and hosts an eclectic mixture of beautiful 20th century buildings. You can also buy beautiful things here – many of the world’s famous fashion brands have stores in this area, and the form fitting cheongsam dress was invented here.cheongsam dress Sightseeing and shopping gave you an appetite? Take a break at a street food vendor and grab some shaokao. Shaokao are small skewers of spicy barbecued meat and vegetables. The Xinjiang lamb is phenomenal.

Hungry For More?

China is an extremely diverse place. These four cities are a mere drop in the bucket, but they do represent four very different cultural experiences and points in history. Don’t be afraid to explore, talk to the friendly Chinese people, and try new experiences on your trip. China is a place you will never forget. 

Brenda Phelps
Brenda Phelps

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