Northern China China

Geographically and historically, the northeastern area of China has been the home of the Chinese civilization and culture throughout millennia. Here you will find Beijing as well as other historic capital cities, multiple large metropolitan areas, small villages, national parks, and the frequently visited Great Wall. If you can only choose one general area to visit in China due to a limited time frame for your trip, then Beijing and the surrounding northeastern area is not a bad choice at all.
Large metropolitan areas tend to attract many visitors in China as they harbor modern comforts as well as a plethora of sights such as temples, tombs, buildings with historical architecture, and cultural entertainment such as concerts and plays.

Beijing is of course not to be missed. Along with the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, and the Olympic village area, visitors tend to also fall in love with the maze of hutong alleyways that provide the backbone for this massive and dynamic capital.

The Great Wall of China, stretching from the sea to the far west, is also most frequently visited in this region in a variety of locations. The areas north of Beijing are the most accessible, if not also the most crowded.

Xi'an is another of China's most visited destinations. This city is home to the famous Terracotta Army of the first Qin Emperor, as well as an old walled city full of vibrant markets, amazing food, and diverse cultures.

Other highlights include Harbin with its ice festival, the port city of Dalian, Tianjin near Beijing, the Benxi Caverns, Qingdao, the deserts of Inner Mongolia, and the old city of Pingyao.
High speed rail connects major cities throughout China, with many connections in between. Major cities such as Beijing often act as a hub for train routes, so don't be surprised if you need to switch trains. The relatively new network of "bullet trains" is somewhat inexpensive compared to its counterpart in other nations. The trains are sleek, modern, and comfortable, and travel at speeds in excess of 300 kph. Other, slower trains are also available and connect to smaller cities and towns. Overnight trains are available, too, and recommended for the longer distances.

Flights in China are also fairly cheap, as the airline industry is partly subsidized by the government. Don't be surprised to find yourself on a mostly empty flight, having paid not a lot for your ticket. If you're headed across the country, this is the way to go, as trains can take days.

An extensive bus system takes locals and visitors between cities. Every major city has multiple bus stations, and every small town has at least one. Most bus stations have a special ticket desk for foreign, non-Mandarin speaking tourists, although the opening hours can vary greatly. Queuing can also be a problem in China, although this cultural phenomenon has improved in recent years after the Beijing Olympics.


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