By Prabhu Silvam
Nov 16, 2016
China is not just a dynamic world power and economic force to be reckoned with; it is also a polyglot nation that boasts an impressive diversity of cultures and landscapes.
From the cosmopolitan glamour of Shanghai to the mythical allure of the Yangtze River, China continues to be every traveller’s muse.
But for the edgy and non-conformist, for those who choose the path less travelled, there’s hidden China with lesser-known getaways that rarely make it to glossy travel magazines or travel itineraries.
Here are five such destinations in China that would captivate even the most seasoned globetrotter.
Cerulean blue skies and sun-drenched beaches welcome visitors 365 days a year in Sanya, an ideal getaway in which to unwind from the grind of city living.
Sink your feet into the silky white sands and be hypnotised by the beauty of the South China Sea as you gaze into its azure blue depths with a cocktail in hand. As the southernmost city of Hainan Island, Sanya is famous for its tropical climate and picturesque beaches.
While here, head over to nearby islands like Wuzhizhou, Sanya Bay, Dahonghai and Asian Dragon Bay for a wide range of water sports like snorkelling, jet skiing or reef diving.
Be transported back in time when you visit the city of Xi’an.
While the main attraction here is its famous army of warrior sculptures, there’s more to this city than the Terracotta Army.
As the capital city of Shaanxi Province, Xi’an is has one of the largest military fortifications in the world, with its ancient city walls dating back to a remarkable 825 A.D.
Xi’an is also home to one of the largest Muslim communities in China. With its origins as a strategic outpost of the Silk Road, the city is a melting pot of Middle Eastern and Chinese influences. This is best exemplified by the Muslim Quarters—a vibrantly rich Muslim settlement famous for its exquisite architecture and sumptuous street food.
Considered the birthplace of traditional Chinese opera, Wenzhou is regarded as China’s arts epicentre, and rightly so.
Owing to its unique geography (the coastal port city is surrounded by mountains), Wenzhou has developed a rich artistic culture that is very distinct from the rest of China.
Art lovers will lap up the plethora of folk art forms here, such as Southern Chinese opera, Shuochang storytelling, papermaking, Ou embroidery, wooden movable type printing, rice flour moulding, boxwood carving and puppetry.
Located near China’s East Coast, the seaport and industrial hub of Qingdao is a nightlife and cultural institution in its own right.
It’s easy to recognise the city’s German colonial past with its distinct European architectural motifs that are a mainstay throughout the city’s landscape.
A must-see here is Shinan District, where you’ll find well-preserved enclaves of traditional buildings that are untouched by the ravages of time.
Qingdao is also well known for its Tsingtao beer. Get a glimpse into local beer culture at the annual Qingdao International Beer Festival, one of the city’s most loved festivals with beer tastings, delicious food, performances and carnival games.
As an exemplar of China’s vast and diverse landscape, Hangzhou in Zhejiang Province is perfect for anyone who is seeking to indulge in Mother Nature’s finest.
From the pristine Thousand Islets Lake to the colossal Six Harmonies Pagoda and the spellbindingly serene Qiantang River, Hangzhou’s natural and historical beauty attracts locals and tourists alike.
But Hangzhou’s crème de la crème has to be the UNESCO World Heritage Site, West Lake. Also known as Xi Hu, this gorgeous landscape is filled with gardens, pagodas and artificial islands, and has inspired many poets and artists throughout Chinese history.
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