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My Favorite Places in China Posted by on May 25, 2021 in Culture, Environment, Food, Music, Travel & Geography

For the past 15 months, travel has basically been on hold due to the pandemic. As people start to get vaccinated and countries announce their plans to open up, we can finally look forward to future travel again. I’ve had some of my best travel experiences ever in China, so today I’d like to share my favorite places in China (我在中国最喜欢的地方 wǒ zài zhōng guó zuì xǐ huān de dì fāng).

北京
Běi jīng

Of course, I’m going to start with the place where I spent the most time. Beijing is the capital of China (北京是中国的首都 běi jīng shì zhōng guó de shǒu dū). It’s got a long history and is home to some of the most important landmarks in the country: Tianamen Square (天安门广场 tiān’ān mén guǎng chǎng), the Forbidden City (紫禁城 zǐ jìn chéng), the Great Wall (长城 cháng chéng), the Summer Palace (颐和园 yí hé yuán), and so many more.

Inside the Forbidden City. Photo taken and used with permission from Sasha Savinov.

Beyond the sights, there’s a vibrant culture to explore here. Beijing opera (京剧 jīng jù), Chaoyang acrobats (朝阳杂技演员 chāo yáng zá jì yǎn yuán), and 798 art district (七九八艺术区 qī jiǔ bā yì shù qū) are just some of the highlights. The city is home to several museums and a great music scene as well. There’s never a dull moment in Beijing!

Elaborate outdoor exhibit on display in 798. Photo taken and used with permission from Sasha Savinov.

Of course, we can’t forget about the food. The quintessential dish is Beijing roast duck (北京烤鸭 běi jīng kǎo yā), and other must-eats include fried sauce noodles (炸酱面 zhá jiàng miàn) and “donkey burgers” (驴肉火烧 lǘ ròu huǒ shāo). In one of my favorite videos I ever made for the Transparent Chinese YouTube channel, you’ll get to see what the last one looks like:

昆明
Kūn míng

After nearly five years of living in Beijing, I moved down south to the capital of Yunnan province (云南省 yún nán shěng). It’s a “small city” of around 6 million people that you’ve probably never heard of. Known as the Spring City (春城 chūn chéng) for its temperate climate, it’s a very pleasant place to visit.

Downtown Kunming Photo taken and used with permission from Sasha Savinov.

One of the most interesting things about Kunming is that it’s home to many different ethnic minorities (少数民族 shǎo shù mín zú). Just head to the city’s scenic Green Lake Park (翠湖公园 cuì hú gōng yuán) and you’ll get a glimpse into their unique culture. It’s especially lively on weekends, when people come out in their colorful traditional clothing to play music and dance. It’s a very festive scene!

Colorful people at Green Lake.

There’s a lot of mouth-watering Yunnan cuisine in Kunming, but the most famous dish is far and away crossing the bridge rice noodles (过桥米线 guò qiáo mǐ xiàn). It’s a fun dish to eat, as you get to add your own garnishes and spices to make the perfect bowl. To get a great sampling of other Yunnan dishes, my personal recommendation is Heavenly Mana (吗哪 ma nǎ). You can see the restaurant and lots more of Kunming in this video:

阳朔
Yáng shuò

Another place I love and have gone back to several times is the small town of Yangshuo. It’s located in the Zhuang autonomous region of Guangxi (广西壮族自治区 guǎng xī zhuàng zú zì zhì qū) in southern China. The area is famous for its beautiful scenery along the Li River (漓江 lí jiāng) with epic karst mountains (喀斯特山脉 kā sī tè shān mài). It’s so famous, in fact, that it’s on the back of the 20 yuan note.

The famed scenery on the back of the 20 yuan.
Photo taken and used with permission from Sasha Savinov.

There’s lots to do here, especially if you love the great outdoors. Yangshuo is a popular spot for rock climbing (攀岩 pān yán), with several routes of varying difficulties. You can also rent a bike and head out to explore the countryside. It’s some of the most stunning scenery I’ve ever seen in China.

Unreal landscapes in Yangshuo. Photo taken and used with permission from Sasha Savinov.

After a big day of adventures, you can head back to town and dig into the town’s specialty – beer fish (啤酒鱼 pí jiǔ yú). Grab yourself a few cold ones as well! In the evening, you can watch the amazing performance known as Impression Liu Sanjie (印象刘三姐 yìn xiàng liú sān jiě). The stage is seriously in the river and there are hundreds of performers. See for yourself in this short video I edited:

 

Those are probably my favorite places in China. Some other notable mentions go to the Tulou (土楼 tǔ lóu) villages in Fujian province, Jiuzhaigou (九寨沟 jiǔ zhài gōu)) national park in Sichuan, and the Longmen Buddhist Grottoes (龙门石窟 lóng mén shí kū) in Henan. There are just so many incredible places to visit in China. I can’t wait until I can get back to China and explore more of this fascinating country. How about you? Leave a comment below in Chinese to answer this question…

What are your favorite places in China?
你在中国最喜欢的地方是什么?
nǐ zài zhōng guó zuì xǐ huān de dì fāng shì shén me?

 

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About the Author: sasha

Sasha is an English teacher, writer, photographer, and videographer from the great state of Michigan. Upon graduating from Michigan State University, he moved to China and spent 5+ years living, working, studying, and traveling there. He also studied Indonesian Language & Culture in Bali for a year. He and his wife run the travel blog Grateful Gypsies, and they're currently trying the digital nomad lifestyle across Latin America.


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