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A startlingly huge complex of ornate courtyards and elaborate buildings, Beijing’s Forbidden City is an astounding monument to China’s dynastic heritage. Called The Forbidden City because it was off limits to anyone but its noble residents for over five hundred years, it was the secret palace complex of China’s two most famous dynasties, the Ming and the Qing. Nothing will prepare you for a walk through the city - one sumptuously adorned courtyard or hall is replaced by another, equally dazzling and yet more magnificent. Symbolic reds, yellows and golds pervade the ornate décor, demonstrating the authority, supremacy and richness of the emperors.

Discovered in 1974 by local farmers, and now standing proudly on display in vast underground pits, The Terracotta Army are said to guard the tomb of China’s first emperor and are truly a spectacle to behold. Buried in three giant pits, over 10,000 warriors, horses, chariots, each with individual facial characteristics, hairstyles and dress stand majestically protecting the emperor’s tomb. This is also a live excavation site, and it’s fascinating to know that new areas are being identified for excavation, which could yield yet more treasures. The sheer size and detail of the site is breathtaking. You’ll also find an informative museum and research centre on the site, and at the gift shop you can even pick up a replica warrior to take home with you.

Kids and grown-ups alike will love a visit to Chengdu, China’s charming panda town. The Giant Panda has taken on a kind of celebrity status as the symbol of conservation and endangered species throughout the world, and a visit to the Panda Breeding Centre is a perfect component of any China holiday. These cute creatures are bred and protected in the sanctuary, and there is also an excellent museum where you can find out more about the panda’s habits, diet and the important efforts for their conservation. To see the pandas at their sociable best, try to visit early in the morning. And if you plan your visit during autumn, you may even see a newborn cub or two in the nursery!

With luxury hotels, shimmering skyscrapers and a pulsating nightlife, Shanghai is a beacon to China’s future, and the perfect place to end your 5 star holiday. The ‘city by the sea’ has a glittering financial district, world-class shopping facilities and plenty of nightlife to keep the party going till the early hours of the morning. A great option is the Huangpu River night cruise, where you get to see the city in all its illuminated glory from the best possible vantage point. Have your camera at the ready and you’ll get some incredible photos of Shanghai’s intriguing blend of eastern and western architecture. After your cruise, head to the nightlife district on Hengshan Road, for cocktails, music, and nightlife to rival all other great cities in the world.

Whether you start your visit in the historic capital of Beijing, with its ancient sites, glorious temples, and tranquil gardens, or Shanghai, with its shimmering skyscrapers, futuristic architecture and vibrant nightlife, prepare for a full-on assault on your senses during your holiday to China. A must-stay city is definitely Chengdu, famous for its Panda Breeding Centre, but also home to captivating temples, charming teahouses and a thriving foodie scene. In addition, don’t miss a visit to Xi’an for its iconic terracotta warrior statues. Xi’an’s importance as the famed end of the Silk Road makes it an intriguing city to explore, so make sure you leave enough time in your visit to take a stroll to the old city walls, the Muslim Quarter. Also leave time for a visit to the atmospheric Dong Da Jie, said to be the oldest restaurant in the city.

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