China is such a vast and diverse country that you would think 7 days is just not enough to do it justice. This is a fair assumption, BUT don’t underestimate how much of the China experience you can get if you really plan out your trip. To help you get started, we’ve identified a few great cities and provinces where you can truly spend a week getting to know the real China that even the most seasoned travelers might miss. At the end of 7 days, you can leave knowing that, while you may not have had all the experiences, you definitely soaked up all the essences that make the country what it is today.
China’s capital city is a microcosm of the country, and can’t be ignored if you’ve just got 1 week to take it all in. While the urban cityscape, traffic, and speed of life can be a bit daunting at first, take time to navigate through its maze-like hutongs (narrow streets and alleys) to duck into friendly restaurants and bars and dig into savory and sweet treats at the city’s many street food markets.
You’ll find examples of classic Chinese architecture at every corner, see great art showcasing the city’s talented creative pool, visit wonderful museums full of ancient artifacts, and find an exciting culinary scene that has taken gourmet fusion to a whole other level.
Today’s Shanghai beams with all the all the confidence of an economically booming China, but never for once forgets its colorful history. So, that’s what you can gain from your week in this great city — a true understanding of how China has so successfully blended the old with the new.
Shanghai’s towering skyscrapers in the busy Lujiazui financial district sit across the Huangpu River from the elegant old European-style buildings in the Bund neighborhood, and while its street food vendors serve up some amazing Shengjianbao (pan-fried pork buns) you’ll also find some amazing East-meets-West creations from Michelin-star chefs. Whether it’s high-end shopping for fashion and electronics or haggling at busy markets, you’ll gain a true appreciation of the wonderful story, both ancient and modern, of one of the world’s greatest cities.
Xi’an was once the center of power of imperial China and marked the eastern end of the legendary Silk Road. It is also famous as being the resting place of the army of terracotta warriors, who were buried along with China’s first emperor, Qin Shi Huang.
While you’re in town, you can visit the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda that dates back to the 7th century, bike around the walled fortifications of the city, and have a look at its ancient mosque.
Historic monuments? Check. Natural beauty? Check. Pandas? Check. Sichuan is a region that is known as home to some of the most populous groups of cuddly panda bears, but there’s so much more to the province.
Anyone who has tasted the cuisine of the province is also likely to tell you that it is full of spicy heat and flavor. You can also see the world’s largest stone Buddha; enjoy a performance of Sichuanese opera, with its colorful masks, costumes, and fire-breathing antics; and spend time getting lost in nature at places like Jiuzhaigou Park and the Lugu Lake and hot springs.
Have you been to China lately? Tell us about any great cities you visited!