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The Top Ten Tourist Destinations in China

These cities are the most famous and the most visited destinations in China. Brief introductions
on Beijing, Shanghai, Xian, Hanzhou, Guilin, Nanjing, Sanya, Suzhou, Chengdu e Ningbo

1) Beijing, from Forbidden City to Heaven Temple, the main attractions in China

Beijing as destination is so known and so unavoidable during a travel in China that we will be intentionally short in the description. Beijing is one of the six ancient cities of China, the others is Xian, Luoyang, Kaifeng, Nanjing and Hangzhou. Beijing has been ceaselessly the capital of China from 1279 to 1911, then it returned to be the capital from 1949 (meantime the capital of China had become Nanjing). Beijing literally means 'Capital of the north', while Nanjing means 'Capital of the south'. In the past Beijing it has been also called Zhongdu, Dadu, Cambuluc, Beiping. Beijing is enough alone to justify a travel in China: in fact it is rich of attractions of extraordinary interest. If the time available for the trip is short, then it should stay only in Beijing. Between the things to see we cite only the more important: the Forbidden City (the imperial dwelling until to 1911), Tiananmen public square, Temple of Heaven, Summer Palace, the Great Wall, Ming Tomb, Hutong, Beihai Park, Beijing Capital Museum, Yashow Market.

2) Shanghai, huge economic development and mega-projects for tourism

Located at the eastern China (at the mouth of the Yangtze River), Shanghai is the most populous city in China (population of more than 23 million). In the 19th century for its favourable location became an international port and (by the 1842, Treaty of Nanking) became one of the cities opened to foreign trade. From 1920/1930 Shanghai became also a multinational hub of finance and business. In the last 30 years Shanghai has become again an important city for business and for tourists from all over the world. The city is back in the spotlight when it hosted Expo 2010. For Shanghai this was a great success so that scored the highest number of visitors ever reached in previous editions Expo. Some of the things to see in Shanghai are as follows: Yuyuan Gardens, Shanghai Museum, Jade Buddha Temple, Jing'an Temple and Longhua Temple, Shanghai Happy Valley, Jinjiang Amusement Park. Recently Shanghai has announced to the world the approval of a mega-plan (13 great projects at a cost of 420 billion yuan) to become one of the tourism capitals in the world. Among 13 projects there is also the construction of Shanghai Disneyland, whose work has already begun and to be completed by 2015.

3) Xian, capital of China for 13 dynasties, holds the incredible Terracotta Army

Xi'an (formerly known as Changan) has been capital of China for 13 dynasties and more than a thousand years. Xian has one of the most extraordinary marvels of all time: the Terra-cotta Army, an entire army of terracotta life size built to guard the tomb of first emperor of China: Qing Shi Huangdi. The statues are of various heights, from 1.83 to 1.95 meters and are different from each other, each of them seems to be the portrait of a specific person. Among them we recognize the generals, soldiers, chariots, horses, Officials, acrobats, strongmen and musicians. In the three pits containing the Terracotta Army there are over 8.000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses and 150 cavalry horses. The incredible army dates back to 210 BC, was discovered in 1974. Other attractions in Xian: Banpo Museum, Huaqing Hotspring, City Wall, Big Goose Pagoda, Shaanxi Provincial Museum, Xian Great Mosque, Forest of Stone Steles Museum.

4) Hangzhou, with its West Lake, from thousands of years is the most charming city in China

Hangzhou (population of 1.7 million) is the capital of Zhejiang province. It is located on the Hangzhou Bay at 180 kilometres southwest of Shanghai. Hangzhou is acknowledged as one of the six ancient capitals of China, together with Beijing, Xian, Luoyang, Kaifeng, Nanjing. Hangzhou has been one of the most famous and flourishing cities of China for much of the last 1,000 years. Hangzhou is also nowadays one of the best known and most visited cities in China. The West Lake is its most well-known attraction. Always appreciated for its beautiful natural scenery, Hangzhou and its West Lake have been immortalized by innumerable poets and artists. The attractions most visited in Hangzhou are Solitary Hill, the Mausoleum of General Yue Fei, the Six Harmonies Pagoda and the Ling Yin Temple.

5) Guilin, two rivers, four lakes, countless roundish hills, splendid sceneries famous in the world

Guilin is located in Guangxi Province. Guilin is a beautiful city with wonderful sceneries famous in all the world. The town center is surrounded by two rivers and four lakes and adorned by its characteristic roundish hills. The tourism is the main industry in the city, so its population has developed a special kindness for tourists and the city is much cleaner than other Chinese cities. Among the things not to miss a boat trip on the Li River, against the backdrop of beautiful hills (so beautiful that they have printed on banknotes from 20 Yuan). Charming landscapes also in Longsheng, with its Longji famous rice terraces. This area of China is also inhabited by many ethnic minorities (as Zhuang, Miao, Yao, Hui, Dong), which add color and charm to the natural beauty of the landscape. Other attractions are the Elephant Trunk Hill, the Seven Star Park, the Reed Flute Cave, Fubo Hill, Solitary Beauty Hill, Fengyu Cave in Lipu County.

6) Nanjing, several times was the capital of China, holds many historical heritage

Nanjing (urban population of about 5 million) is located in the lower Yangtze River and has always been one of China's most important cities. Its name means 'Southern Capital', in fact Nanjing was Capital of China in several historical periods and it has recognized as one of four most ancient capitals (together with Beijing, Luoyang and Xian). It has many historical sites including Ming tombs that are on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Some Ancient Attractions: Beiji Ge, City Wall of Nanjing, Temple of Confucius, Drum Tower, Chaotian Palace, Ming Dynasty Palace Site, Stone City, The Porcelain Pagoda, Xu Garden, Zhan Yuan Garden. Other Attractions: Dahua Theatre, Jiangsu Art Gallery (Former National Art Gallery), Nanjing Massacr Memorial Hall, Nanjing Museum Complex, Presidential Palace, Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum (and surroundings).

7) Sanya, tropical landscapes and beautiful beaches

Located in the south of Hainan province, Sanya is the second city on the island (after Haikou, the capital). Its population reached 700,000 inhabitants in 2010. In the last years Sanya become a very popular destination, for Chinese and international tourism. Its beautiful beaches and tropical landscapes have a strong appeal to all lovers of the sea. Thanks to their privileged position, the first to discover the charm of Sanya were the people of Hong Kong, which started a few years ago to spend here their holidays and their weekends. Then his reputation as a wonderful island with its tropical climate began to attract many Chinese, many Russians, and many English-speaking tourists (in fact many signs are written in English and in Russian). The increasing development of tourism has brought in Sanya many hotels of international tread and many new tourism-related activities. The first international hotel has been opened and managed (in Yalong Bay, from 1999) by the Swiss hotelier Solari. Now there are many beautiful hotels that dot the bays near Sanya. The first to become popular were Dadong Hai and Yalong Bay, recently are having increasing success Haitan Bay and Xiangshui Bay (thanks also to a beautiful and unpolluted environment). An important attraction in Sanya is the Guanyin Statue, a Buddha statue of 108 metres, one of the tallest statues in the world. Altre attrazioni sono Luobi Cave (an ancient cave at 15 kilometres north of Sanya), Luhuitou Park, Wuzhizhou Island, West Island, Daxiao Dongtian (Fairy Caves), Nanshan Temple.

8) Suzhou, famous for its multitude of canals and beautiful historical gardens

Suzhou (often called Venice of the East) is a famous garden city with a population of 6,332,900 people. It is the major city located in the south east of Jiangsu Province (where the capital is Nanjing). Suzhou is built in 514 bc, thus has over 2,500 years of history. After so long the layout of Suzhou is preserved essentially intact, still today the streets and the rivers run side by side like thousands of years ago. Moreover also today, as during the Song Dynasty (960-1278), Suzhou is an important center for silk production. The city has always been famous for its stone bridges, the graceful pagodas, and above all the rich and well-kept gardens, designed and built by experts of the ancient imperial dynasties. Let us recall some of the most famous gardens in Suzhou: Zhuozheng Yuan and Liu Yuan are amid the four most well-known ancient gardens in China. Other famous gardens in Suzhou are Canglang Pavilion, Shizi Lin, Wangshi Yuan and Huanxiu Mountain Villa. Other attractions are Hanshan Temple and Xuanmiao Temple. In the Suzhou area there are also three famous water towns: Zhouzhuang, Tongli and Luzhi. Zhouzhuang is located in Kunshan, at 30 kilometers to the southeast of Suzhou City. In this village over 60 percent of buildings were built during the Ming and Qing Dynasties.

9) Chengdu, capital of Sichuan, is the land of panda's natural habitat

Chengdu is the capital of Sichuan province, covers an area of 12.3 thousand sq km and has a population of over 11 million. It is located in the central area of the fertile Chengdu Plain which (besides being the habitat for giant pandas) has a high agricultural production and is called 'the land of fertility and abundance' (also thanks to a rich irrigation system). The local industries in Chengdu, especially in certain sectors such as food, medicine, machinery and information technology, are facilitated by the presence of large companies of international scale. Also the tourism is well developed. Major attractions: Thatched Cottage of Du Fu , Wuhou Memorial Temple, Wenshu Monastery, Jiuzhaigou Scenic Area, Huang Long Valley. The area that is the panda's natural habitat is home to the 'Chengdu Panda Breeding and Research Center', the only center in the world specializing in the giant panda breeding and research base.

10) Ningbo, the second port of China, strong commercial vocation and important historical artifacts

Ningbo is located at northeast of Zhejiang Province and lies south of the Hangzhou Bay. It covers an area of 9,370 sq km and has a population of 2,3 million. Its coastline is long 1,560 km (782 km of mainland coastline and 778 km of island coastline). Ningbo is an important seaport city and has a port second only to Shanghai. The city started an intense foreign trading in the 7th century. Today is a major exporter of electrical products, food, textiles and industrial tools. The Ningbo's best tourist attraction is the Tianyi Pavilion Museum. It was built in 1516 and is known to be the oldest library building in China. The structure hold collection to the 11th century and there are included handwritten copies of the Confucian classics. Other attractions: Tianfeng Pagoda, Ashoka Temple, Tiantong Temple, Tian Yi Square, Yushan Islands, Dongqian Lake, Xuedou Temple, Hemudu Relics, Jiulong Lake, Zhaobao Mountain, Mount Phoenix Theme Park.

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