Shanghai is a feast for the senses, from some of the world’s tallest skyscrapers (the Shanghai Tower is China’s tallest skyscraper, while the Oriental Pearl TV Tower is the city’s most iconic landmark) to diverse dining and shopping scenes, cultural experiences from hip hop to acrobatics, and architectural treasures. See the Art Deco masterpieces, Buddhist temples and contemporary museums and theatres in all their diverse glory along the historic Bund waterfront: originally a thoroughfare for transporting barges, this mile-long promenade beside the Huangpu River is the hub of the city. See the locals practice tai chi early in the morning, while it is also beautiful in the evening. Enjoy a scenic cruise, and take a ferry across to Pudong for an alternative view of both sides of the river.
Beyond Shanghai, visit the city of Hangzhou, home to the ethereal West Lake, known as ‘Heaven on Earth’, whose islands, temples, pagodas and arched bridges have long been an inspiration for writers and artists. Head into the countryside to Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, whose distinctive mountains, caves and waterfalls inspired the backdrops to the film Avatar.
Meanwhile, in the Yellow Mountains of Huangshan (said to be the home of the Yellow Emperor, the mystical ancestor of the Chinese), see the sunrise and sunset from the peaks, visit temples and bathe in hot springs. Head west to the city of Suzhou, which is known as the ‘Venice of the Orient’ and is a showcase of canals and bridges, with classical gardens and rocktop pagodas.