29 January 2016
Our Far East Travel Consultant Sophie recently travelled to China where she fell in love with the mystery and diversity of this enchanting country…
China to me felt like one giant chocolate box with so many new, unique and amazing things to try. I wanted to dive right in there, as many adults would, and take a bite of everything and then figure out what was good and what wasn’t quite to my taste just for the experience. However, for kids it doesn’t quite work like that with one bad bite sending everyone into a tailspin and the chocolate box being discarded messily on the floor.
There are so many interesting places to explore in this giant country and as a family, the experience can be utterly magical. I completely fell in love with China for its stunning countryside, buzzing cities, fantastic food and the fact around every corner there is something new and exciting. For families I would definitely suggest instead of trying to fit it all in, be selective. Here is just a tiny taste of the many highlights on my trip and some ideas for Beijing, Xian and Guilin with experiences that can be tailored beautifully for families.
In Beijing, being home to some of the most incredible and iconic cultural sites, it is tempting squeeze everything in, ticking all the boxes as you go. However, travelling around the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square can be tiring, especially for little legs, with its vast size and the difficulty at times for the little ones to completely comprehend. So instead maybe consider simply visiting the Temple of Heaven and Imperial Summer giving both the opportunity to view the magnificent royal architecture and see local ‘Beijingers’ throwing some killer shapes on the dance floor, lightening quick moves on the badminton court and laughing and singing together in a beautiful show of camaraderie.
There is of course the Great Wall of China and ancient Hutongs which are both fascinating areas of the city to visit but for teenagers looking for a more urban, modern and contemporary area of the city make sure to visit the 798 District with its quirky galleries, trendy cafes and boutiques which give a taste of life in modern day Beijing.
Xian is another incredible highlight mainly due to the Terracotta Army, which is simply spectacular with each and every face of each and every warrior being delightfully and individually crafted. For children though this can be overwhelming due to the size of the museum and number of people it attracts on a daily basis. So instead of spending too much time wandering around the huge exhibition hall and having a mutiny on your hands take advantage of the special service we can provide of unique access to the warriors on a lower platform giving uninterrupted views to the sculptures. When I visited I didn’t think that this was going to make a huge difference being just slightly closer to the impressive army however having it feel like I wasn’t sharing the experience with anyone else, was incredible.
For those in the family that need a little more adventure and excitement to get on board with the history and culture, we can arrange some fantastic experiences at one of the best martial arts studios in the country, in the heart of Xian. Instead of just staring at the army, get the kids involved with private lessons from the masters in the home of Kung Fu where they can learn to be little warriors themselves.
Lastly a jam-packed trip can easily turn into a culture vulture’s dream and a child’s nightmare. That’s why Guilin and the surrounding areas of Yangshuo and Longsheng are such fantastic additions to a family trip to China. Both Guilin and Yangshuo are spectacularly exotic and so different from the vast cityscapes. Hauntingly beautiful limestone karts surround the city of Guilin, carrying up the Li River and to Yangshuo giving a mysterious and magical atmosphere. Here I spent my days floating along the river on bamboo rafts, every curve more beautiful than the last followed by evenings being treated to mesmerising love stories played out in the natural stage on the river’s edge. Light on the culture and heavy on the drama, this is an ideal stop to change the pace.
Then for those that want to delve a little deeper into the countryside make the three-hour journey to Longsheng to see the impressive rice terraces of the Dragon’s Backbone. Here, terrace upon terrace descend down the mountainside creating enchanting scenic backdrops. The area is especially famous for the walks that you can do through the countryside and the Yao people whose women will only cut their hair once in their life when they turn 18 and never throw away any of their hair. I loved this area as it gives such a wonderful insight into how vast and truly diverse China still is today.
China is fascinating treasure trove of history and culture; filled to the brim with unique landscapes and incredible scenery. It truly is somewhere that you cannot help but be amazed with what you will learn around each corner and I am just so happy that I was luckily enough to start my education.
To learn more about China visit our website here or call one of our Travel Consultants today on 0203 603 3555 for more information