4 times to do in China

Lisanne, vegetarian and travel enthusiast was in China a land of extremes. Its deep-rooted culture is still being honored, but at the same time the country is becoming increasingly modern at lightning speed. So one day you are in the countryside where oxen are still plowing the fields and the next you are traveling on the fastest train in the world. But great contrasts are certainly also seen in the same place. Shanghai has a hyper-modern skyline with skyscrapers and hip neon-lit advertisements, but wander into a backstreet and you’ll see ancient temples, local markets and (unfortunately, too …) a lot of poverty. China, it is a country you cannot compare with any other. What should you absolutely not miss?

Written by Lisanne Sas

#1 Walking on the Great Wall of China

Standing on the endless wall is one of the highlights of a trip through China for many travelers. And yes, that’s cool, too. But you don’t want to be on a wall with hundreds of other tourists right? About a 3-hour drive from Beijing is Jingshanling, and from here you can walk 10 kilometers to Simitai. Some parts have not been restored and it is climbing and descending. Sometimes quite spicy. But this is really the wall feeling, the wall stretches in front of you like a long dragon and you don’t see many other travelers here.

#2 Sailing among the Karst Mountains

China’s big cities can be a bit hectic. A nice place to relax is in the middle of the karst mountains. Most likely to travel via Guillin, but we also prefer to leave this metropolis as soon as possible and travel on to Yangshuo. Formerly a secret place known only to backpackers, it is now more discovered. Yangshuo is surrounded by peaked mountains and we find it an oasis of peace here. The center of Yangshuo, meanwhile, is (touristically) crowded with bars, restaurants and stores. So we tip to sleep outside the center, in the countryside. Then you really have peace of mind! During your stay, be sure to go boating (preferably on a bamboo raft) on the nearby river, you’ll see the mountains at their best!

china-3#3 Hiking along the highest rice terraces in the world

Didn’t get enough of nature (see tip #2), but want something different now? About a 3-hour drive from Yangshuo are the highest rice fields in the world. Driving from Yangshuo, the drive changes from fields and karst mountains to mountains and rice paddies. Ping’an is in the middle of this area and the last part you have to walk (and climb), as it is only accessible on foot. Locals here live in wooden stilt houses and women here look beautiful with jewelry and long hair wrapped around their heads. You’re not the only tourist here (anymore), but most tourists visit Ping’an as a day trip and are gone by the afternoon – so if you stay overnight you’ll experience the place a little more authentically. And during the day just take a long walk along the terraces, they are breathtaking and you will avoid the crowds during the day.

#4 Metropolis in China: Shanghai

Skyscrapers, an immense skyline, flashing neon billboards … Shanghai is ultramodern. Are you hesitating between Hong Kong or Shanghai? Shanghai is more Chinese and you really only visit it when traveling through China. In Hong Kong, you might still come as a stopover to Oceania or other Asian destinations, for example. Walk along the Bund and behold the classical and colonial buildings on one side, and the skycrapers of Pudong on the other. Take the Bund Tourist tunnel to Pudong and visit the Oriental Pearl Tower for great views of the city. Everything in Shanghai is modern and the city is growing rapidly. Seems … , because if you take a back street you will also see shabby houses, traditional temples and local markets. Shanghai is old, new, west and east in one place.

Want to read more about China? Read what it’s like to travel around this great country as a vegetarian >>china-4

The above tips were written by Lisanne Sas when she was working for China online (part of Rickshaw Travel).