Kempinski Blog Article
China is a mesmerising blend of history and beauty, yet it is a country not widely explored by international visitors. Many travellers will visit the country’s two major cities, the bustling, traditional Beijing and its modern, cosmopolitan sister Shanghai, but miss out on the rest of what the nation has to offer.
For China has an incredible array of natural beauty and ancient treasures which can only truly be appreciated by leaving the main urban centres behind. To experience the real China, you need to take the time to explore beyond the popular tourist destinations. Here we detail our recommended route, taking in the many different sides of this fascinating Asian country.
No trip to China would be complete without visiting its unforgettable capital. From the beautiful grounds of the Summer Palace, to the colourful labyrinth of the Forbidden City, Beijing can rival most places in the world for culture, with over three millennia of history for visitors to explore.
The luxury five-star Kempinski Hotel Beijing Lufthansa Center provides the perfect base, with its central location making it ideal for day trips to the area’s top sights. The Great Wall of China is only 65 km from the city centre and private tours are available to take you to the quieter and more dramatic sections.
For a glimpse at China’s modern, present-day image, it is worth visiting the 2008 Olympic park - the Bird’s Nest stadium is an architectural delight.
The hotel has easy links to the city’s international airport, where a short flight can take you to our next stop of Hangzhou.
Paradise on earth
There is an old Chinese proverb that goes: “As for paradise, above there is heaven, below there are Suzhou and Hangzhou”. If this glowing endorsement isn’t enough to persuade you to visit Hangzhou, then the UNESCO world heritage listed West Lake certainly will.
Considered one of the most beautiful sights in China, the lake is surrounded by pagodas, hills and carefully crafted gardens. Take a stroll along the waterfront or head out onto the lake on a boat trip, cruising by the poetically-named islands – “Moon over the Peaceful Lake in Autumn” and “Three Pools Mirroring the Moon”.
Suzhou, the other paradise-like town, is made up of intricate canal systems, which gracefully cut through the town’s green centre. These waterways reach out to the picturesque Jinji Lake, overlooked by Kempinski Hotel Suzhou. The town provides a slightly quieter alternative to Hangzhou, while matching its heavenly cousin for both beauty and charm.
From Hangzhou or Suzhou, head back to city life by taking the bullet train to Shanghai.
Living the high life
If Beijing represents China’s traditional past, then Shanghai is its future. Staying at Grand Kempinski Hotel Shanghai, in the heart of the city’s financial district, your eyes will be drawn to the skies, taking in the eclectic mix of skyscrapers. Head to the 30th floor for the Red Passion bar, where you can take in the cityscape from the comfort of the cozy bar.
After sunset, head to The Bund, the internationally-famous waterfront area, for breathtaking views of Shanghai’s towering skyline. Walk through the French Concession, and experience this stylish, chic neighbourhood in the city, with leafy avenues and trendy restaurants that will delight visitors.
The next stop sees a return to China’s natural beauty, with a flight to Guilin followed by a bus to the stunning town of Yangshuo.
The serenity of Yangshuo is about as far away as you can get from the hustle and bustle of the major cities. The picturesque Li River winds slowly through vast karst mountain peaks and bamboo raft trips run regularly along the calm waters.
For the more adventurous explorers, the natural arch of Moon Hill is just a short cycle away and incredible views will reward those who make it to the top.