China’s ancient towns and villages are packed with swinging red lanterns that cast a pink view over the cobbled streets as night falls. Take boat trips through tiny canals watching daily life unfold on the banks, take classic cooking classes meet minority tribes and hop between traditional houses, staying in authentic wooden hotels with shady courtyards. Brimming with old world romance, you’ll feel lost in another time.
China has far more than its fair share of natural beauty, from karst mountains, to emerald lakes and bamboo forests draped in seas of cloud. Cross sweeping grassy plains, stare into snow-tipped mountains set against bright blue skies and amble between the largest rice paddies on the entire planet. Then, of course, there’s the Great Wall, snaking through the hilltops surrounding Beijing. The scenery is often dramatic, usually surreal but always romantic.
China’s cities blend the future with the past and the East with the West. Discover the scandalous history of opium-steeped Shanghai, watch Hong Kong spread out before you from Victoria Peak, wander through the hutong alleys of Beiijing and see grannies in pyjamas doing Tai Chi in the city parks. At night, lights and lanterns pop up all over the cities, adding a splash of cosmopolitan glitz to the whole skyline.
Beaches may not spring to mind when you imagine China, but there’s a couple of tiny tropical islands marooned off the hectic mainland. Putuoshan is a Buddhist island with a deep spiritual vibe, full of hilltop temples and circled by white sandy beaches. Hainan Island is a buzzing beach resort that makes for a great barefoot break, with sizzling seafood stalls and soft white sands. Kick off your flip-flops, order a cocktail and give way to the sunshine.