Way back when, before this blog was even a glimmer of a thought, I went to China.
It was just a weeklong trip to Beijing and Shanghai, and I went with my college marching band. (And yes, pretty much the only reason I stuck with band in college was because of the international performance tours!)
My week in China was a whirlwind of temples and crowded streets and marching band renditions of traditional Chinese music. It was Chinese nightclubs and smoggy skies and a mind-boggling amount of traffic. It was the surreal feeling of playing Kelly Clarkson songs on the Great Wall of China.
I actually got to cross quite a bit off my Chinese bucket list on that trip – like climbing the Great Wall, visiting the Forbidden City in Beijing, and strolling along the Bund in Shanghai. But my brief visit to China made me realize how much of the country I DIDN'T see.
China is, after all, the fourth-largest country in the world – there's SO MUCH to see within its borders. And I barely scratched the surface.
So, here are the OTHER items on my China bucket list that I hope to cross off one day: the cities I haven't visited and the amazing scenery I haven't seen.
(And read to the bottom to learn how you can win a free trip to China!)
To see the Terracotta Army
Xi'an is famous in China for a few reasons. First of all, it's one of the ancient capitals of China and one of the oldest cities in the country. It was also the starting point of the Silk Road, the ancient trade route that stretched from Asia to Europe. Xi'an therefore has a lot of historic sites (and you know how much I love history). The city is also home to the famous Terracotta Army, which was built for Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China, in the 200s BC. The “army” was buried with the emperor (to protect him in the afterlife) and wasn't discovered until the 1970s. I would love to see the army for myself!
To see the giant pandas
No China bucket list would be complete without a visit to Chengdu, hometown of the Giant Pandas. I would love to see the pandas here, and maybe even volunteer with them.
To see the scenery
I've seen photos of Guilin and its limestone karsts and more than once exclaimed that it didn't look like a real place. I would love to take a relaxing boat ride up the Li River, and to visit nearby Longsheng to see its world-famous rice terraces.
To see the painted mountains
China, or Mars? That's what I always ask when I see photos of the Zhangye Danxia Landform Geological Park in Gansu, China. Here the country's “rainbow mountains” draw tons of tourists – and for good reason. The geological phenomenon is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and literally looks like something from another planet!
To see the Avatar mountains
Since we're talking about landscapes that look like they've been plucked off other planets, let's talk about the giant quartz sand pillars of Wulingyuan in Zhangjiajie, a city in the Hunan Province in southern China. This area has been said to have inspired the floating mountains on the planet Pandora in James Cameron's “Avatar.”
To see the water towns
Suzhou, a city on China's eastern coast, is often referred to as “the Venice of China” because of its abundance of canals. Like painted mountains and limestone cliffs, canals aren't something that most people expect to find in China – which is why I would love to visit myself. (That, and the fact that I LOVE Venice!) The city is also known for its beautiful gardens, a couple of which are UNESCO-recognized.
WIN a trip to China!
Has this post stoked your wanderlust for China? Well, good news! Visit Suzhou is giving away a free trip!
If you, too, would like to visit “the Venice of China,” you can enter this contest, which runs for the next month. Nine lucky winners will get to travel (with one guest each) to Suzhou for a 6-day adventure that will include UNESCO World Heritage Sites, museums, gardens, temples, and of course those famous canals in the nearby water towns.
The#TravelSuzhou prize includes airfare, hotel, most meals, and transportation within Suzhou.
No purchase necessary to enter. Campaign is only open to legal residents of the continental United States, the District of Columbia, and Canada (excluding Quebec).
What else would you add to this China bucket list?
Note: This sweepstakes promotion is a project with Visit Suzhou to help promote the contest, but all writing is my own and I have no say in the contest outcome.