Sunday, February 14, 2010

My take on a top 10 list of places to see in China

National Geographic recently posted a top 10 list of places to see in China on their website. Woo hoo! I've been to the first eight. Here's their list and my take on them:

1. Forbidden City: I find this former imperial palace cold and austere, but every time I go I find something different that I hadn't noticed before. And I really love this this picture of the entrance I got on our last trip to Beijing.

2. Tiananmen Square: Across the street from the Forbidden City. It is huge! I like to get off at the Qianmen subway stop at the south end, then walk north to the Forbidden City.

3. Temple of Heaven: This is probably my least favorite place in Beijing. The temple is pretty, but for me, once is enough. I don't take people in my private group tours there either, and no one has complained so far.

4. The Great Wall: The Great Wall is . . . well, uh . . . great! I've probably been a couple of dozen times to eight sites in all. I usually go to Badaling because it's the easiest to get to from Beijing, and it also has the Great Wall Museum, which is pretty cool.

5. Xi'an: I've been to Xi'an twice. I like visiting the Muslim quarter, which is very colorful, and the city wall. My first time in Xi'an, I came across giant concrete statues of a Silk Road caravan. Very neat. Depending on your perspective, Xi'an was either the start or end of the Silk Road in China.

6. Army of the Terra Cotta Warriors: This is another place that's not on my favorites to visit. I've been there twice (once when I was a tour director and it was on the itinerary, so I had no choice). Once was enough. One the way home from my first trip, I detoured to Banpo Neolithic village, and found it more interesting. I shook my head at their version of cave man's dancing. I rather doubt these ancient people wore sequined costumes and danced to disco music while laser lights bounced all around them.

7. Shanghai: I've been to Shanghai several times. The Shanghai Museum is stupendous. We spent 10 days there two years ago, and pretty much only went to see friends. We spent as much time touring sites around Shanghai as we did in Shanghai.

8. Hong Kong Island: I spent almost a week in Hong Kong a few years ago. It is an amazing city, and someday I'll go back. I especially enjoyed a short cruise on a junk through Aberdeen Harbor and a day trip via ferry to Cheung Chau Island.

9. Stone Forest: I've not been there yet. One of these days. . .

10. Lijiang: This is another place I went to visit. Our Shanghai friends went there last year, and got some stupendous photos. I was so envious!

If you're planning a trip to China, especially Beijing, please check out my website. Feel free to email me if you have any questions. And don't forget to check out my books on travel in Beijing; they're available as downloadable ebooks or in print.

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