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Featured image: Zheng Wang
It may come as a surprise that 24% of Brits list China as their top travel destination. Last year, China was host to almost 142 million visitors. Several of its cities have made ‘must-visit’ lists and with a rich history – one of the oldest in the world – it continues to draw tourists from around the world.
And while many people visit obvious landmarks like the historic Great Wall of China and the record-breaking skyscrapers of Shanghai, there’s a hidden China that many visitors miss. Not only does this let you see the authentic China in all its glory, but it means you can get away from the more crowded hotspots for a more intimate relationship with the country.
Amy Fabris-Shi, a travel expert working with Air China, says: “It’s clear that these famous landmarks are one of the main reasons why China attracts millions of visitors each year. However, for those who might want a slightly more unique experience, there are equally a number of attractions to consider that you might not have heard of. It’s important to research options ahead of your trip to ensure you have your dream holiday tailored to you.”
What follows is a list of five of the best hidden treasures of China, researched by Amy and Air China. Add these to your bucket list.
List by Amy Fabris-Shi in conjunction with Air China
China: 5 hidden treasures for your bucket list
1. The Venice of China
Take a two-hour drive from Shanghai to Zhouzhuang, and enjoy a day in one of the oldest water towns in China, rivalling Venice’s ancient canals.
The town is made up of a series of canals that were used over 900 years ago by some of the wealthiest businessmen of the Yuan Dynasty to transport precious silks, ceramics and arts. The town’s architecture is largely untouched, enchanting visitors with its romantic labyrinth of narrow streets and stone bridges.
2. The Insta-Green
Once home to over 2,000 fishermen, 40 miles outside of Shanghai and being one of 400 islands, Houtouwan is a must ‘collect’ photo.
Illustrating how nature and manmade structures can come together to create something unmissable magic, it’s a striking image to capture for your social media channels.
3. The Zhangye Danxia Landform
What would you get if you mixed rainbow and rock? These layered sandstone mountains in China look like they are made of pressed crayons.
Located near the China-Mongolia Border, these hills have vivid red, orange, and yellow stripes, creating an incredible Technicolor harmony across the mountains with rocks allegedly shaped like animals and mythical creatures.
4. Haohan Qiao — “Brave Men’s Bridge”
At nearly 1,000 feet long, this astonishing glass suspension bridge is one of the longest in the world.
The bridge connects two peaks in the rocky terrain of the national park in Hunan Province. This region is believed to have inspired the film Avatar.
Visitors stare directly onto the 590-foot drop through thick panels (transparent glass), which are 25 times stronger than regular glass.
5. Wudaoying Hutong
Go off beat in Beijing and live like a local with this quirky and quaint alleyway, adjacent to the renowned magnificent Lama Temple in the old quarter.
Home to trendy boutiques, music venues, restaurants and Chinese cafés, this hutong offers traditional Chinese heritage as well as providing a quiet haven in the bustling streets of Beijing.
Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei Region 144-hour visa-free transit policy
Putting the needs of connecting flight passengers first, Air China will improve its products and services to enhance the quality of its operations further and provide passengers with maximum convenience when they enter Beijing.
From December 28, 2017, six points of arrival in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei Region, including the Beijing Capital International Airport, Tianjin Binhai International Airport and Shijiazhuang International Airport has permitted foreign persons from 53 countries including to enjoy visa-free transit when they hold valid international travel documents, and a passenger ticket for connecting travel to a third country (region) with confirmed seats and a departure time within 144 hours.
For more details please visit Beijing Government’s official website: ebeijing.gov.cn.
About Air China
As the largest air carrier between China and the UK, Air China currently operates up to three flights per day from London (Heathrow) to Beijing and up to three flights a week from London Gatwick to Chengdu. To find out more, visit airchina.co.uk.