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Archive for china

Stairway to Heaven

By Linda Tancs

You’ll be knocking at heaven’s door at China’s Tianmen Mountain, called one of the most beautiful mountains in the world. Located near Zhangjiajie, it boasts a water-eroded hole (cave) between two peaks, the highest hole of its kind in the world. After an investment of 999 steps and 30 minutes (your stairway to heaven), you’ll find yourself at the cave, where unforgettable photos await. If the hike is too arduous, then visit the new glass skywalk stretching around the mountain’s vertical cliffs, overlooking Tongtian Avenue (Avenue to the Sky), a mountain road with 99 turns. For a different perspective, take the cable car ride from a nearby rail station to the top of the mountain. April to October offers the best weather for a stunning visit.

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The World in 118 Acres

By Linda Tancs

At Window of the World in Shenzhen, China, some of the most famous tourist attractions in the world share 118 acres. The theme park’s careful reproductions include miniatures of the Eiffel Tower, the Tower of London, the Sphinx and pyramids, Sydney’s Opera House and even Niagara Falls. You’ll need the better part of a day to see it all; slow walkers should take advantage of the free buggies at the entrance. A favorite of locals and tourists alike, it’s a great way to see the world without spending down the frequent flyer miles.

Three Kingdoms

By Linda Tancs

Jingzhou, China’s ancient city, is the heart of ancient Chu, the center of a power struggle between the states of Shu and Wu during the Three Kingdoms period. Now a bustling city of over six million people on the banks of the Yangtze River, the area boasts a treasure trove of relics from one of China’s bloodiest eras, including ruins of five Chu cities and hundreds of ancient tombs (18 Chu kings among them). During the first week of May, the Jingzhou International Dragon Boat Festival celebrates the famous poet Qu Yuan. His statue stands in nearby Ying, the Chu capital.

At the Edge of the Clouds

By Linda Tancs

“At the edge of the clouds” is an appropriate translation for China’s Yuanduan skywalk, the world’s longest glass walkway. The horseshoe-shaped glass bridge in Chongqing extends nearly 88 feet from a cliff edge standing 2,350 feet above the valley floor. It edges out the Grand Canyon Skywalk in length but is likely its equal when it comes to chills and thrills. Don’t look down.

China’s Grand Canal

By Linda Tancs

Officially known as the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal, the route of China’s ancient thoroughfare (dating as far back as 495 B.C.) runs from Beijing in the north to Hangzhou in the south and is the longest man-made waterway in the world. Although much of the Grand Canal is no longer in use, various sections running through Suzhou can still be toured. In fact, canals are such a prominent part of this ancient city in eastern China that it’s been dubbed “Venice of the East.” More than 50 miles of scenery dot the waterway, including hundreds of old-world river dwellings, 10 ancient city gates, dozens of stone bridges and two of Suzhou’s crown jewels, Hanshan Temple and West Garden Temple.

Backpackers’ Paradise

By Linda Tancs

China’s Old City of Dali is the capital of the former kingdom of Dali and a gateway to the Silk Road in southwestern China. Its city gate is an iconic symbol of the ancient city as is Wuhua Tower. The Bai ethnic minority folk houses are another favorite. Aptly named Foreigners Street is where Bai crafts (and their makers) are in ample supply. Widely known as a backpackers’ paradise, foreigners spend weeks, if not months, in the ancient town to study Bai culture.

New Glass in China

By Linda Tancs

Twenty-five times stronger than other forms of glass, the glass-bottomed suspension bridge at Shiniuzhai National Geological Park in southeastern China’s Hunan province is aptly named Brave Man’s Bridge (Haohan Qiao). It stands, after all, 590 feet above a valley, a vertigo-inducing attraction in a land enamored with skywalks these days. But, as the saying goes, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. The skywalk to end all skywalks is afoot (no pun intended) in Zhangjiajie National Park. Spanning a gap between two cliffs at a height of 984 feet and a length of 1,410, it will be the world’s highest and longest glass-bottomed bridge.

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