From the Great Wall to the Bund in China and from Victoria Peak to
the Space Museum in Hong Kong, these destinations offer visitors a
peek at the ancient and colonial past and a view toward the future.
Five thousand years of continuous civilization have endowed
China with a wealth of historical, artistic and cultural riches.
The following is a sampling of major attractions.
The Great Wall. China's most photographed sight stretches for
approximately 3,750 miles. Construction of individual sections of
the wall began in the fifth century B.C., and were linked in the
third century B.C. during the reign of Emperor Qinshihuangdi, the
king whose tomb at Xian has become a famous tourist site. There are
several viewing points in the Beijing area, including Mutianyu,
which is now accessible by cable car.
The Forbidden City. Also known as the Imperial Palace, this
250-acre complex was the home to 24 royal families, from the Ming
to the Qing dynasties, from 1402 to 1911. It is now a museum
containing priceless national treasures, including art works,
jewelry and furniture.
The Summer Palace. A favorite retreat for generations of China's
royal families, the original palace was built in the 12th century,
destroyed in 1860 and rebuilt in 1888 under the notorious Empress
Dowager Ci Xi. Still a place of matchless beauty, the compound's
highlights include the empress' magnificent marble barge and the
Painted Gallery, a wooden arcade lavishly painted with scenes of
Ming Tombs. The avenue known as the "Sacred Way" is flanked by
stone statues of humans and animals, both mythical and real, who
guard the tombs of 13 Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) emperors.
Temple of Heaven. Constructed in 1420, the temple, surmounted by
an intricately carved tile roof, was often
frequented by the emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties who
came here to pray for a good harvest.
Tianamen Square. The largest public square in the world is
anchored by such
famous landmarks as the Great Hall of the People, where the
National People's Congress and diplomatic functions are held, and
the main entrance to the Forbidden City.
Shanghai Arts & Crafts Institute. The first museum of its
kind in China, the institute contains an expansive collection of
traditional Chinese arts and crafts, including lacquer inlay, silk
embroidery and ivory carvings.
Shanghai Museum. One of China's most prestigious museums houses
more than 110,000 historical and cultural artifacts, including
ancient bronzeware, books and paintings, some dating back to the
3rd century B.C.
Yu-Yuan Garden. Built in the 16th century, this charming spot in
the old part of Shanghai has pavilions, statues, tiny bridges and
an old teahouse.
Jade Buddha Temple. The temple was constructed to house two
magnificent jade Buddhas, which were brought to China from Myanmar
by a monk. Each of the Buddhas is carved from a single piece of
The Bund. This famous waterfront park has served as an informal
spot to socialize since China's colonial days. The Bund is
especially favored by young Chinese interested in practicing their
English with visiting American tourists.
Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall. Built in 1931 with donations from
overseas, the hall honors the man often referred to as "the father
of modern China." The edifice includes
a theater where cultural
presentations are often held.
Temple of the Six Banyan Trees. Constructed in 537 A.D., the
temple derives its name from the six trees that once graced the
temple grounds. Highlights include a 180-foot-high pagoda affording
beautiful views of the city and environs.
Guang Xiao Si Temple. One of the city's oldest temples also
served as the residence of the descendants of one of China's royal
families, before it became a Buddhist temple.
Qingping Market. The city's largest farmer's market features
approximately 2,000 stalls where visitors can shop and bargain for
a variety of wares.
Temple of the Chen Family Ancestors. Admired for its glorious
Guangdong-style architecture, this late-19th century temple
encompasses six courtyards occupying approximately 30,000 square
Museum of the Terracotta Warriors. This archaeological site,
discovered by chance in 1974, contains thousands of statues
representing the soldiers of Emperor Qinshihuangdi, guarding their
leader's third century B.C. tomb.
Banpo Museum. The museum encompasses a beautifully restored
6,000-year-old neolithic village, with various buildings and burial
mounds, that offers groundbreaking insights into the everyday life
of China's ancient peoples.
The Great Mosque. Xian, home to approximately 60,000 Muslims,
boasts China's largest mosque, which was built in 742 A.D.
Bell Tower. This graceful tower, which dates from the 14th
century and is adorned with glazed tiles, offers fine views of all
four of Xian's ancient city gates.
Shaanxi Provincial Museum. As the capital of Shaanxi Province,
Xian boasts a museum containing more than 2,000 ancient artifacts
that illustrate the development of Chinese civilization. Items
include centuries-old stone tablets and selected writings of
Huaqing Hot Springs. About an hour's drive from Xian, this
resort in the Lishan Mountains served as a vacation retreat for
China's royalty as far back as 2,800 years ago.
Dayan Pagoda. Also known as the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, the
structure was built in the 7th century to house precious Buddhist
scriptures brought back to China from India by a famous monk of the
period. Visitors who scale the pagoda's seven stories will be
rewarded with a view of the city and surroundings.
Reed Flute Cave. Amazing stalactite and stalagmite formations,
cleverly illuminated to produce a dramatic effect, can be seen in
these winding caves that were discovered 1,000 years ago. The
highlight is the Crystal Palace Grotto, which is large enough to
accommodate 1,000 people.
Li River. Boat tours on the Li River offer vistas of mountains,
lush greenery, bamboo groves and fishermen in flat-bottomed boats,
wending their way to nearby market towns.
Folded Brocade Hill. Guilin's highest peak offers views from
various observation points with such picturesque names as Seeing
Around the Hill, Bright Moon Mountain and Crane Peak.
Visitors will want to take in the sights of Suzhou, famous for
its gardens; the lakeside city of Wuxi; Hangzhou, whose beauty was
immortalized by Marco Polo; Nanjing, one of China's ancient
capitals; the Yangtze River, with its scenic Three Gorges; the Silk
Road, which connected Xian with Europe and the Middle East; the
Dunhuang Grottoes, China's oldest Buddhist caverns; the Xinjiang
Uighur Autonomous Region in the far northwest; snow-capped Mount
Emei, in southwestern China; Kunming, the "City of Eternal Spring,"
and Tibet, the "Roof of the World."
A wealth of attractions contained within a compact area of 404
square miles makes Hong Kong a sightseer's dream destination.
Visitors can easily divide up the city into several areas and
explore the major sights on foot. Following are recommended
Hong Kong Island
Victoria Peak. The "Peak," as locals refer to it, reached by the
Peak Tram, offers views of one of the world's most breathtaking
cities. Attractions here include the seven-story Peak Tower,
completed in spring 1997, and the three-story Peak Galleria, both
with an assortment of shops and restaurants.
Hollywood Road. A marvelous spot for antique and collectibles
enthusiasts, the shops here offer fine porcelain, wall scrolls,
embroidered fans, antiques and curios. Prices vary from sky-high to
Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens. Located near the
former Governor's residence, the gardens date to 1864 and are a
popular gathering place for tai chi practitioners.
Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre. Located on the
Wanchai waterfront, the center, which was expanded to approximately
twice its previous size last year, was the site of the ceremony
marking the July 1997 handover of Hong Kong to Chinese rule.
Happy Valley Racecourse. Situated between Wanchai and the
Causeway Bay district is the recently renovated racecourse, which
can seat 54,000 fans and is featured in the Hong Kong Tourist
Association's Come Horseracing Tour, offered during the racing
season (September to June). The Hong Kong Racing Museum, located at
the track, offers presentations on the history of racing in its
eight galleries and theater.
Tin Hau Temple. This venerable temple to the patron goddess of
those who earn their livelihood from the sea stands on a granite
platform, close to Victoria Park, a recreational enclave in
Causeway Bay with swimming pools, jogging paths and tennis
Aberdeen. This colorful fishing village in the southern part of
Hong Kong Island is filled with fishing trawlers and junks.
Visitors can rent a sampan, or take a tour of the area that
includes a meal aboard a "floating restaurant."
Ocean Park & Water World. The largest playland in Southeast
Asia features crowd-pleasing dolphin and whale shows;
demonstrations by high divers; a Dinosaur Discovery Trail,
featuring 17 model dinosaurs; the Middle Kingdom Museum, depicting
5,000 years of Chinese heritage; the Atoll Reef, the world's
largest reef aquarium; a Shark Aquarium with an underwater viewing
tank; the Wave Cove, filled with penguins and seals; butterfly and
bird exhibits; Kids' World, with activities for youngsters, and
Water World, with water slides and pools, open from April to
Repulse Bay. Hong Kong's recently expanded sunbathing retreat
offers a sandy beach, as well as shops, accommodations, restaurants
and other facilities for sun-worshippers.
Stanley Market. At the southern tip of Hong Kong Island is the
fishing village of Stanley and the Stanley Market, a favorite
destination of shoppers, thanks to its multitude of factory outlets
and bargain-priced emporia selling clothing and other items.
Hong Kong Space Museum. A striking domed building overlooking
the waterfront, the museum features a planetarium with two
alternating shows -- a Sky Show and an Omnimax documentary, as well
as the Hall of Space Science and the Hall of Astronomy.
Hong Kong Science Museum. The museum contains about 500
exhibits, most of which are of the hands-on
variety that afford visitors an interactive experience with
computer technology, robotics, virtual reality and the wonders of
Hong Kong Cultural Centre. This state-of-the-art cultural
complex features acclaimed performance spaces where prestigious
international arts events are held. (The venues are also available
for meetings, social events and exhibitions.)
Hong Kong Museum of Art. The museum's seven galleries contain
outstanding collections of ancient artifacts as well as fine
examples of contemporary art.
Nathan Road. Dubbed the "Golden Mile," because of its variety of
hotels, restaurants and after-dark spots, Nathan Road is best known
as a shopper's mecca.
Shatin Racecourse. During racing season, horse races are held
alternately at the 85,000-seat Shatin course and the Hong Kong
Jockey Club's Happy Valley course. Like the Happy Valley course,
featured in the HKTA's "Come Horseracing Tour."
The Hong Kong Golf Club. One of Asia's oldest golf courses --
and one of several courses in Hong Kong -- the club is open to
visitors on weekdays, and is least crowded during the morning
hours. The club is one of several golf courses included in the
HKTA's Sports and Recreation Tour.
Although double the size of Hong Kong Island, Lantau's
population totals only 25,000 people. Its chief attraction is the
Po Lin Monastery, where visitors can enjoy vegetarian meals and
simple accommodations. The monastery's outdoor 202-ton Giant
Buddha, the world's largest, can be seen by sea and air from miles
The adjacent Chek Lap Kok Island is the site of the new Hong
Kong airport, which opened in July, and is connected to downtown
highways and bridges. n