Unique Tourist Destinations in China
Unique Tourist Destinations in China - Forbidden City
China is a country whose past dates back to the 3rd century BCE. As such, it is a place that has a long established sense of culture and history. Travel destinations such as the Forbidden City in Beijing and the Temple and Cemetery of Confucius in Qufu are prefect representations of traditional Chinese culture.
However, since the last decade of the 20th century China has undergone tremendous changes to its infrastructure and ethnic composition. The country’s widespread changes in architectural styles and neighborhoods are ideally represented by the quickly disappearing hutong alleyways found in Beijing. In regard to China’s growing ethnic diversity, one is highly recommended to visit Guangzhou’s Little Africa. This is a community comprised of over 20,000 African traders.
Traditional Tourist Destinations that are Unique to China
The world famous Forbidden City, located directly in the center of Beijing dates back to 1420. It served as the emperor’s imperial palace during much of the Ming Dynasty (r. 1368-1644) and the entire duration of the Qing Dynasty (r. 1644-1912). This massive complex comprising of 980 structures occupying 7,800,000 square feet was built on the location that was at the time believed by the Chinese to be the center of all existence, Central Beijing.
China’s largest and capital city, Beijing is easily accessible for Western foreigners as it plays host to the massive Capital International Airport. Individual guests visiting the Forbidden City
will pay a mandatory fee of $115; this covers the cost of tour and the bus ride from any nearby hotel.
Fortunately, those travelling in groups of two to five persons are only charged $75 per individual. Moreover, groups of six to nine people only pay $45 per person. The tour guides in the Forbidden City are highly knowledgeable about the area; their English speaking abilities are superb.
This tour begins at the world renowned Tiananmen Square, making its way through the Outer and Inner Courts while visiting the pristine Imperial Palace. Touring the Forbidden City takes approximately 3.5 hours. In keeping with the theme of traditionally unique destinations in China, one should look at the historical city of Qufu. Qufu is a small ancient town which in 551 BCE became the birthplace of perhaps the greatest philosopher and sage throughout the illustriously long history of the country, Confucius. Qufu, located within Shandong Province is found in the southwestern region of China.
The city’s main attraction is a complex encompassing the Temple, Mansion, and Cemetery of Confucius. The original structure was constructed in 478 BCE, one year after Confucius’ death. It served as a house of worship as well as a place to offer sacrifice to Confucius. Over a 2000 year stretch of nearly constant expansion the original temple has become the massive complex that is currently standing. The complex consists of 460 rooms while occupying a space of 172,222 square feet. It is one of the three largest ancient structures throughout China. Though the complex began its construction following the death of Confucius, it is widely believed that the complex’s location accurately represent the location where Confucius preached and taught his pupils.
It should be noted that due to Qufu’s small nature, it lacks an airport. Therefore, the best way to reach the city from Beijing (or any other major Chinese city) is to board a plane flying to the airport in Jinan, which is a two hour bus ride from Qufu. The entry fee into the complex is roughly $13.50 per person; this includes a guided tour. Conversely, those that would enjoy seeing firsthand the changes associated with modern China should consider visiting Guangzhou’s Little Africa.
Modern Tourist Destinations that are Unique to China
Guangdong is a large economically booming sub-provincial city found in the extreme southeastern portion of China. In the center of the city’s historic district is a neighborhood composed almost entirely of African traders originating from countries such as Nigeria, Senegal, and Ghana.
Starting in 1990, these traders began residing in the city; most of the immigrants claim to have a high level of economic freedom. This is evidenced by the multitude of locally owned shops, grocers, restaurants, and other establishments offering goods and services hailing from their native homelands. These native African locals are generally quite friendly and are willing to speak with tourists about their lives in Little Africa. A flight to Guangdong from Beijing lasts about 2.5 hours. From the airport, Little Africa is but a short 20 minute bus ride away. In a country like China, where change is constant, it is often interesting to witness the change happen live in person.
Beijing’s hutongs are small alleyways that date back to the first decades of the 19th century. These narrow passage ways consisting of residences, stores, bars, and restaurants are rapidly succumbing to the rapid rise of modernization.
Fortunately, it seems that for at least momentarily the more economically successful hutongs are safe from the far-flung spread of architectural modernization as they have converted themselves into tourist hotbeds. In spite of modernization, the hutongs still occupy a significant portion of Beijing. At their inception, many hutongs were used as opium dens, gambling halls, and other establishments profiting from nefarious services. Therefore, they were often laid out in confusing, mazelike patterns that were ideal for hiding from any law enforcement.
China is a country replete with fascinating tourist destinations addressing many interests. It is a land who holds its past dear and with high reverence while at the same time they have began opening themselves up more to the world which has resulted in a myriad of economic and social changes. Tourists visiting China are greeted with historical sites as well as new and changing areas representing the country’s current direction toward modernization that do not even require a traditional admission fee to access.