China Travel Guide

China's hosting of the 2008 Olympics showed off to the world a nation on the rise, where ancient riches are complemented by modern marvels of architecture and engineering. The energy of the place is palpable as the world's largest population emerges from the shadows of recent history and rushes headlong into a future as a (perhaps the) major global player - and a must-see travel destination.

China's multi-millennial history has been a tumultuous one. One of the world's earliest civilisations, it was ruled for thousands of years by imperial dynasties until the overthrowing of the Qing dynasty in 1911. The civil war in 1945 defined the China of today, ending with the defeated Nationalists fleeing to Taiwan, while Mao's victorious Communists founded the People's Republic of China. The Cultural Revolution in the 1960s effectively closed the country. However, China has made up for lost time since the 1990s: it now boasts the world's fastest growing major economy and its main cities are emerging as cosmopolitan global centres.

China is a land of natural and cultural superlatives too, encompassing 37 UNESCO World Heritage sites, including the Great Wall and Forbidden City in Beijing, Xi'an's Terracotta Army, traditional Suzhou gardens and the misty peaks of Huangshan. Chinese food ranks among the world's great cuisines, while its distinctive art forms, including acrobatics, martial arts and Chinese opera, add more flavour to the mix.

From Beijing's medley of ancient and futuristic monuments to cosmopolitan Shanghai's skyscrapers and art-deco heritage; and from the heights of the spectacular Tibet (Xizang) Autonomous Region to the karst peaks and rivers of Guizhou, China's experiences are many and varied. Investment spurred on by hosting world events like the Beijing Olympics in 2008, the 2010 Shanghai World Expo and 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou means urban and tourist infrastructure is constantly evolving. And while flexibility and patience are still required to travel around China, in return, the Middle Kingdom rewards visitors with memories to treasure for a lifetime.