China is a study in contrasts. From the hip urban jungles of Hong Kong in the east to the lonely outposts along the Himalayas rising from the western border, China has something for everyone. From the Gobi desert to the fertile banks of the Yangtze River, from the snowy climates in the north to the tropical wonderlands found on the islands in the south, the country of China has much to offer. In fact, one can make the argument that it is almost too much to take in—at least in one trip. Tourism in China is flourishing at an extreme pace—after years spent in political and cultural isolation, the past twenty five years have seen an explosion in tourism and the related industries. No longer hidden behind a shroud of secrecy and limited freedoms, travel to China has never been more popular.
No matter where you decide to vacation in China, there will be both great challenges and rewards. The country itself seems in a constant state of fluctuation, the careful balance between the old ways and the modern world, all mixed beneath the hand of communism, which attempts to subjugate both. Stoic temples built centuries ago stand within walking distance of the hottest new clubs, cluttered city skylines suddenly drop off and are enveloped by unspoiled wilderness. Starbucks coffee shops peacefully coexist nearby imperial palaces preserved from the times of the great Chinese dynasties, both providing curious insight into tourism in China, as it tries to appeal to a variety of different kinds of travelers. A vacation in China can lead you across mountains, deserts, untouched plains and ancient ruins, while careening into cities that are sprawling monuments to the ultra-modern world.
Travel to China can take on so many different forms. Many tourists tend to congregate in the more developed urban settings of Beijing and Shanghai, while nature lovers take to the west, seeking out secluded spots in Tibet and the central regions. The southern provinces are facing the most cultural upheaval—tourism in China is still gaining steam in these parts, primarily the regions of Guangxi and Yunnan. Those that prefer a quieter vacation in China can continue westward to Tibet, the most scenic, well-loved and controversial province in China. Though often forgotten in many China travels, the northeastern province of Xinjiang is a cultural crossroads, where the influences of Russia and the Islamic countries to the south combine with the Chinese way of life to create one of the most unique regions in the country.
So whether you are looking to sidle along the Great Wall of China, explore the white sands of Hainan, investigate the ancient halls of the Forbidden City, take a river tour along the banks of the Yangtze or bike across the tiny pockets of villages found in the spaces in between, a vacation in China is a collection of wild sights and constant change, a country that invites you to reinvent yourself as the nation does the same.