April 12, 2016 | By Linda Smith
I Just got back from another great adventure – a 12 day trip to China where I was the guest of the Chinese Government. They had a ceremony at the Great Wall for 1,000 Americans to promote tourism in China for 2016. We started our trip in Beijing, then went to the Great Wall at Jinshanting, a 2 hour drive from Beijing – not the usual place visitors come when they visit the wall.
We then flew to Xian, which has several great sites for tourists to visit. In addition to the famous Terracotta Warriors, the city of Xian has a wall. It’s the most complete city wall to have survived in China, as well as being one of the largest ancient military defensive systems in the world. The wall has many gates, but the South Gate is the most magnificent. We stayed at the Grand Park Xian Hotel right across the street from the South Gate – where the city put on an amazing event for our group, welcoming us to the city.
The Muslim Quarter was a fun market area with lots of shops selling food and trinkets. There is the Great Mosque in the middle of it all. The Big Wild Goose Pagoda is also a must to visit. All cities in China are huge with millions of people – but Xian had a charm to it that I really liked.
We then flew to Chongqing to board our boat for a Yangtze River cruise where we visited the Fengdu Ghost City, the Shibaozhai Pagoda and the 3 Gorges. You have to be a good walker to do one of these cruises. Lots of steps, and getting on the boats can be interesting, with stairs and uneven walkways being the standard. China isn’t very “handicapped accessible” like the United States.
After finishing the cruise we were off on another flight to Shanghai, a city that reminded me a lot of Hong Kong. The buildings at night are all lit up until 10:00 pm. So, if you go to The Bund, which is a waterfront area in the city, you can see the modern skyscrapers on the other side of the water. It was a beautiful view at night, although when I was there it was very misty.
You need to go to the top of the Oriental Pearl Tower – a TV tower that is one of the tallest structures in China – as the upper observation platform has an outside area with a 1.5 inch glass floor so you look straight down and see the city. Pretty amazing and scary. We stayed at the Central Hotel which is a block away from the Nanjing Road, a walking street with lots of shopping. The Yu Garden was beautiful in the old part of the city with lots of fun shops. The Jade Buddha Temple is worth a visit also. Don’t miss seeing an acrobatic show. It’s a lot like an understated Cirque du Soleil show.
I had to take a taxi from our hotel in downtown Shanghai to the airport. It took an hour and the cost was $25.00 – amazing! China is a huge country – it seemed like we were always on a 90 minute flight to get to a new city. When you travel domestically in China they do not charge for your first checked piece of luggage, but they only allow 44 lbs per bag – if your bag weighs more, they will charge you. If you are traveling first class, they will allow you to have two free checked bags with the total weight of 88 pounds.
China is a great destination to travel to. I recommend you spend at least two weeks there because it’s a long flight and a big country!