Beijing is a city rich in history. It has been the home of emperors since the 13th century and is the capital of China today. The cultural opportunities in Beijing are nearly endless! Beyond the Great Wall and the Forbidden City (rites of passage for anyone!), the city offers almost endless historical, architectural, artistic, and other cultural opportunities. Global orchestras regularly tour through town, and it boasts some of the grandest museums in the whole country.
Hot Pot and spicy food! The zoo has some great pandas and is easy to get into and not expensive. There are many great malls in the city, and the nights are always lit up with spectacular lights displays off of all of the skyscrapers. The nearby Dao temple is a great hike as well as Yikeshu as they both give great views of the city proper and the two rivers. Another great way to see the area around us is to hike up into the jungle surrounding campus.
Oh my gosh! SO much! Chongqing is a tremendous Western-friendly place with so much history and culture and new malls to check out. We have history and can still see the caves where people retreated to escape the bombs. You can still walk into some of them! We have great hiking trails as long as you don’t mind stairs or the heat and humidity. We have great food like hot pot and since we live near a campus, there’s a great variety of food like Northeastern Chinese food, Western food, McDonalds, pizza, Muslim noodles, Korean, Guandong food, etc. We’re far from downtown (about an hour and a half subway ride), but there’s a lot of fun stuff to do downtown if you have the energy to go there. You can go shopping just about anywhere (of course), bowling, movie theaters, fellowships, IKEA, plant stores, river walks, riverboat cruises, a wax museum… There’s a lot!
Harbin is known for a distinct Russian influence. Before they came in with the Trans-Siberian railway, Harbin was just a cluster of small fishing villages along the SongHua river (the name “Harbin” means “place of drying nets” in the local language). After the Russians came, they built up the city’s infrastructure and left their mark in the architecture of many buildings that still stand today. Harbin became known as the “Paris of the Orient” and the “City of Music” as the Russians wove aspects of their culture and economy into the city’s history.
The city is also known internationally for its distinct “Ice and Snow” culture. In the winter, there is the international Ice and Snow World, where visitors can see huge statues made out of ice and snow, go sledding, or walk through huge buildings of lit-up ice. There are also many ice or snow sculptures throughout various districts in the city.
Fun spots to visit include many of the old Russian Orthodox churches, including the famous St. Sofia church that has been turned into a museum. The famous cobblestone walking street, ZhongYang DaJie, boasts many stores and tourist shops. There are also many pretty parks along the SongHua river, including Sun Island. If you’re really brave, you can check out the Siberian Tiger Park and watch the tigers being fed live chickens or goats!
Hengyang is called “goose city” because it’s where the geese supposedly fly for the winter. It’s also near “Heng Shan” which is one of the five holy Buddhist mountains in China.
Hunan is the birthplace of Chairman Mao and he worked in Changsha (the capital) at the beginning of his career serving the people. There are several other famous military and political leaders from the province as well.
Changsha is known as being a “pleasure city.” It’s famous for its nightlife, eating, foot washing (think foot massage), and shopping! It’s also where the Hunan TV station is located, one of the most popular TV stations in the country! Changsha is also considered a red city because of its importance to recent Chinese history. Hunan is the birthplace of Chairman Mao, and he worked in Changsha at the beginning of his career serving the people. There are several other famous military and political leaders from the province as well.
Siping is also the hometown of two empresses of the Qing Dynasty, Empress Dowager Cixi and Empress Dowager Longyu. It was also the site of several major battles during the Chinese Civil War between the Chinese Communist and Nationalist forces from 1945 to 1949. (wikipedia.com)
We often take visitors to the “botanical gardens”. If you’re lucky, the ferris wheel will be open. There’s also a beautiful pagoda at the top of a hill that overlooks the city.
Yinchuan is the capital city of a region set aside by the national government for the Hui Muslim minority group. The region boasts five specialties: roast mutton, goji berries, licorice, coal, and Helan stones. Fun spots include the nearby Helan Mountains; outdoor Western Film Studio; Sand Lake; and Shapotou, a tourist site in the Tengger Desert.