A country holding the title of the world’s oldest continuous civilisation probably conjures an image of dilapidated cities and ancient architecture. And while there are collapsing sections of the Great Wall and overgrown forests hidden away in mountains, it is also a country of the new and modern. Cities that weren’t standing just five years ago grow bigger every day—along with it a diversity of contradictory dialects, backgrounds and religions. Welcome to China, a place that will leave your head spinning in just the right way; a place that should be at the top of your bucket list.
The Great Wall of China
It goes without saying that this Unesco World Heritage site—also one of the New 7 Wonders of the World—is the number one reason to come to China. Praised as an awe-inspiring feat of ancient defensive architecture, its winding path over the rugged country and steep mountains will leave you breathless as you take in the view. The Wall was built in different areas by different dynasties, but they all had a common goal—to protect their land and the Silk Road Trade. Today, Badaling section is the most visited section of the Wall, but another lesser known section is the Simatai Great Wall, the most dangerous and majestic.
If you’re looking to step out of your comfort zone, Westerners will find the sights and styles of China mesmerizing. Architecture is a large part of the Chinese culture with buildings having a long history which can be traced back to the Shang Dynasty (16th century BC - 771 BC). Ancient Chinese architecture is mainly timberwork and can be spotted throughout the entirety of The Forbidden City, which was once the home of the Emperor.
No one loves to eat as much as the Chinese and with a country as big as it is, it’s no wonder there is a wide range of cultural variations to many of your favourite dishes. The favourite local recommendation? Peking duck, Lánzhōu noodles and a Chinese hamburger (Roujiamo) that consists of Chinese pork and Mo. If you want to try something more adventurous, the Muslim Street Food Market in Xi'an is bustling with crickets, scorpions and other creepy crawlies.
If you want to meet the friendliest people on earth, China is the place to be. When travelling and facing a language barrier, some locals may shy away, but not in China. The locals are happy to get you going in the right direction and will always greet you with a smile. Some important phrases to know:
Xièxiè- Thank You
Duōshǎo- How Much