China is the most populous state in the world with nearly 1.4 billion people. The CPC or the Communist Party of China governs the country. There is no opposition party of note. China is now the worlds' fastest growing economy and the worlds' largest exporter of goods.
Lying on the east coast between Beijing and Hong Kong is Shanghai. Shanghai is definitely closer to Hong Kong in terms of its progressive ways. It's very much a modern fast moving city, with a young, fun loving and highly ambitious population.
There are many modern buildings, restaurants and clubs to enjoy but also if you look close enough, plenty of old Shanghai still exists, such as old temples and buddhist monastaries.
Things to see and do
Visit the cloud nine restaurant and bar on top of the Jin Mao tower in Pudong.
Ya Yuan Garden – the garden of peace and comfort, take a break from the hectic pace of the surrounding city.
Nanjing Road is lit up by neon lights at night looking like Hong Kong or Las Vegas. Great place for shopping during the day.
The Shanghai museum is incredibly impressive, with collections dating back to the 18th century BC.
The Shanghai acrobatic troupe performs nightly at the Shanghai Centre Theatre, well worth a look.
Take a walk along the Bund, the waterfront. Best to come early morning or at night.
In Beijing you will some of Chinas' best hotels and restaurants, there is plenty of wealth to be seen and in that respect Beijing does not accurately reflect the rest of the country, which is much poorer. Although Beijing is much more modern than the rest of the country, there is still plenty of historically significant treasures to be found.
One of the most famous or infamous pieces of land in the world thanks to a tragedy, that occured there in 1989 when pro-democracy demonstrators were killed here by government soldiers. It was created under Mao's reign and is a good place to relax and while away a few hours. Catch the flag raising ceremony at sunrise or sunset performed by PLA guards. Also check out Heavenly Peace Gate, Great Hall of the people, the Chinese Revolution History Museum, and the Mao Zedong Mausoleum.
The Forbidden City
The Forbidden City or the 'Palace Museum' as the authorities like it to be called, was once off limits to commoners like us. Two dynasties of emperors lived here, the Ming dynasty and the Qing dynasty. It was from here that the emperors governed all of China. Although the original Forbidden City was completed in 1420, most of the buildings that you an now see are post 18th century. It burnt down on more than one occasion.
The Great Wall
The most famous symbol of China, rumoured to be the only man made structure visible from space,(not true) is a must see when visiting Beijing. There are many tours and buses leaving Beijing for the great wall and you will be surprised at just how crowded it can get. These are the most popular sites to visit.Badaling - Has the majority of visitors, and is the closest. 70km north-west of Beijing. Roughly Y25.Mutianyu - Very crowded also. Y90.Simatai - Less crowded, not restored. It's getting more crowded, but it's probably still the best place to see the wall. It's 110km from Beijing and you might have to get a bus there on your own as there might not be any tours going there. A bus leaves Dongzhiman bus station at around 6.10am. It takes 2 - 3 hours and costs around Y22. The bus only goes once a day so make sure of the return time, which is usually around 3pm.
Hong Kong was handed back to the Chinese in 1997, yet is still very much a western like city, a picture of capitalism. Hong Kong is divided into four areas, Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, the New Territories, and the outlying island.
Kowloon is the main tourist area, full of restaurants, bars, hotels, nightclubs and shops. Nathan Road is the main street in Kowloon. Check out the Space Museum, near the star ferry terminal, the Museum of History on Haiphong Road. Or just go enjoy the nightlife.
Hong Kong Island
Get the star ferry from Kowloon. Visit Victoria Park (HK$25), go up in the afternoon or evening and stay til dark. The incredible views get even more spectacular when it gets dark. The skyscapers light up. Make sure to check out Ocean Park. It has the worlds' largest aquarium among other things. The cable car ride from one side of the park to the other over the mountains is almost as much fun as some of the scary rides there. HK$170 will get you a bus and entrance fee to the park.
A good idea when you are in China is to find the place where you want to go on the internet and print out the Chinese language version for taxi drivers, or ask at reception for them to write it down in chinese.