China9Yunnan ProvinceTucked away in the southwest corner of thecountry and bordering Tibet, Burma, Vietnam and Laos, Yunnan province has an extraordinarydiversity of both culture and landscapes. Being atthe crossroads of so many different countries hasled to it becoming a real melting pot of differenttribes and minorities. With Beijing and the Hanheartland so far away, many people have proudlyheld onto their own language, traditions andcustoms. Timeless villages that haven't changedfor centuries and stunning mountain scenery such as the famous Tiger Leaping Gorge are justsome of the reasons to come to this fascinatingand still undeveloped part of China.Hong KongHong Kong enthrals with its breathtaking skylineand intriguing cultural fusion of east and west. As one of Asia's busiest hubs, it is extremely well connected to and influenced by, not only China, but the rest of the world as well.Classic ChinaAs you might expect, there are some definite'must-sees' for anyone who hasn't been to Chinabefore contained in this region. The exciting cityof Beijing, once home to emperors and theirmany wives (and concubines) acts as a culture-steeped introduction to the country and an idealbase to see the mighty Great Wall. Once thecapital, Xian is now a major visitor destinationthanks to the extraordinary Terracotta Army,which was first unearthed by a farmer in the1970s. Shanghai combines glittering modernarchitecture with colonial-era buildings, and givesan idea of just how fast China is changing. To the south, the Guilin region provides some ofChina's most spectacular scenery - craggylimestone karst pinnacles looming above themeandering Li River. In this part of China life runsat a slightly slower pace, so a few days in this areamakes a nice contrast to the bustling cities ofBeijing, Xian and Shanghai. Splitting the country intwo, the Yangtze River is arguably the source ofChina's greatness. Its wide and fertile floodplainallowed the development of settled, productiveagriculture which in turn led to the flowering ofChinese civilisation. A four day cruise can be agreat way to break a China trip, allowing time torelax and absorb what you've seen so far.Western China and the Silk RouteTo the west of Beijing, the Gobi desert gives way to the mountains and passes of Central Asia.This part of China is predominantly Muslim, andthe faces look a little different from those in therest of the country. From here, merchants andtraders journeyed along the fabled 3000-year oldSilk Route, crossing continents. Many people visitwestern China in conjunction with Central Asia,so we have included this part of China in the SilkRoute section of our brochure on page 52.Tibet and TaiwanMost people don't see Tibet and Taiwan as beingpart of China, though the Chinese governmentwould argue otherwise. We have separatesections on these very different places, but it'sworth noting that the thawing of relationsbetween China and Taiwan means that there arenow regular scheduled flights between the capitalTaipei and many mainland Chinese cities. Thisoffers the possibility of combining Taiwan as partof a longer trip to China. Tibet can also becombined with other places in China and arrivingon the Beijing to Lhasa railway makes for aspectacular entrance to Tibet. For moreinformation see the Taiwan and Tibet pages.
borders have expanded and contracted, butconstant throughout have been the traditionalChinese heartlands of Beijing and Xian; thescenic splendour of the Yangtze gorges andGuilin; and the modern marvels of Shanghaiand Hong Kong. These are the lands wherethe great philosophers - Confucius, Laozi and Zhuangzi - expounded their theories on life and governance, shaping society not only in China but across the entireSoutheast Asian region. Many of our Classic China trips take in these celebrateddestinations, featuring the world-renownedsights of the Great Wall, the TerracottaArmy and the Forbidden City, with optionsto see the giant pandas, take a cruise on themighty Yangtze river or relax amongst thelimestone karst scenery of the Guilin region.Over the course of its 5,000 year history China has developed one of theworld's richest and most sophisticatedcultures, creating fabulous monuments togreat Emperors, breathtaking manifestationsof religious devotion and arts and crafts ofall description that remain to this day thepinnacle of man's creative achievements. As empires have waxed and waned China's10Classic China