For thousands of years China has kept to itself, and foreigners
still find it difficult to penetrate the inner depths of this
fascinating and enigmatic nation. Since the 2008 Summer Olympics in
Beijing showcased some of its most spectacular attractions however,
there has been a major increase in travellers wanting to explore
the exotic destination. There is a great deal to discover in this,
the world's most populated country, the third largest in the world
territorially with more than 1.3 billion citizens.
What makes China attractive as a travel destination for Western
tourists is its fascinating culture and valuable antiquities. Ruins
and relics from Neolithic settlements and the dynastic reigns of
the mighty emperors are there to behold, along with adventures
along the legendary ancient trade routes, such as the Silk Road.
The Forbidden Palace, Great Wall of China, and Terracotta Army of
X'ian are just some of the incredible attractions to be seen in
this ancient Eastern empire.
The People's Republic of China has been under communist
government since 1949, but is currently undergoing social and
economic development. Emphasis is being placed on tourist
facilities and infrastructure. Though the country's inconsistent
human rights record makes it a somewhat controversial choice, China
is opening the doors to its wealth of historical and cultural
treasures and visitors are flooding in to be amazed and awed.
Organised tours are still the favoured way to explore China, but
independent travel is slowly becoming easier. The major cities,
like Beijing and Shanghai, are modern metropolises offering fast
food and glitzy stores alongside centuries-old historical buildings
and traditional eating houses. Archaeological wonders vie with
amazing architecture in the interior, while majestic mountains and
remote monasteries crown the northern areas.