Beijing is the capital of China, and home to 22 million people. This massive city has a storied history, demonstrated by a fascinating combination of historical and modern architecture. Beijing also boasts many cultural sites and delights, including the Forbidden City. Among the most developed cities in China, Beijing has much to offer in the way of Western amenities while still maintaining its old-world charm. As one of the busiest hubs in Asia, Beijing is easily accessed by plane, train, or car, and also offers an extensive subway system.
Beijing, also known as Peking, is located in Northern China, and is the ideal starting point when exploring the rest of China. It is the educational and cultural centre of China, and is famous for its art treasures and learning institutions. Renowned for its temples, opulent palaces and historical buildings, Beijing is a fascinating and vibrant city. In addition, Beijing proudly hosted the 2008 Olympic Games, which was both a historical and cultural milestone for China.
Countless natural and historical sites are a must-see in Beijing, including The Great Wall of China, the Ming Tombs, the Summer Palace, and Hutong tours (rickshaws). Dining in Beijing is truly a gastronomical experience – be sure to try Peking Duck and the Imperial Court Food. For nightlife lovers, Beijing offers a wide array of entertainment, from opera and acrobatics to international concerts and pubs. For teachers living in Beijing, there sure is never a dull moment! Beijing Official Website
Located approximately two hours’ drive away from Beijing, but a mere 30 minutes by train, Tianjin is a smaller city on the Hai He River. With a population of 12 million, Tianjin is smaller than Beijing, but the city is expanding. With several museums and cultural attractions in the city, Tianjin draws thousands of tourists each year. The city, like Beijing, features four distinct seasons and an excellent transportation system.
In Chinese, Tianjin means “the place where the emperor crossed the river”. This eloquent and majestic image aptly suits the city. Tianjin is located in Northern China along the coast of the Bohai Gulf. The northern part of the city is hilly and features the beautiful Jiushanding Peak. Tianjin features beautiful architecture, including a surprisingly large number of western style cathedrals, churches, and beautiful brick buildings. Thousands of stylish villas dot the city, thanks to the historical influence of European residents. The combination of traditional Chinese buildings and western style architecture has enhanced the beauty of the city.
Popular sightseeing spots include the Tianjin Eye (Ferris wheel), Tianjin Italian Town and Ancient Culture Street. The city is famous for its seafood, due to its proximity to the sea. The city is also well known for its stand up comedy, and locals are known for being both humorous and easygoing. Tianjin Official Website
Nanjing, known as the “Southern capital”, was one of the first cities established in China. The city is home to four major industrial zones, and as such, is developing steadily. Because Nanjing is an ancient city and a major tourist destination, the city offers a number of different festivals throughout the year, including a Kite Festival, and the International Plum Blossom Festival.
Formerly known as Nanking, Nanjing is one of China’s most delightful cities. Approximately 5 million people live in the city which lies in Eastern China. It has a humid subtropical climate, and is surrounded by the the powerful Yangtze River and stunning mountains. Several natural lakes are found within the city, and are a welcome respite after a busy day at work. The city has lush hills, like Purple Mountain, which are covered with oak trees and evergreens. The area also boasts several natural hot springs for rest and relaxation.
Besides natural beauty, Nanjing has many cultural heritage and sites. Confucius Temple, Nanjing Museum and Dr. Sun Yat-Sen’s Mausoleum are very popular attractions. For the shopper, Nanjing boasts fashionable shopping malls and markets that rival those of Beijing and Shanghai. Nanjing is the perfect mix of natural beauty and cosmopolitan amenities. Nanjing Official Website
Suzhou, sometimes called the Venice of China due to its canals and waterways, is a city of 6 million people located approximately 90 minutes west of Shanghai. Described as a naturally beautiful place, Suzhou is known for its silk industry. As part of the Yangtze River Delta region, Suzhou experiences a humid climate, with hot summers and damp winters.
Located in Eastern China, the city is renowned for its pagodas, intricate gardens, and old stone bridges. Pan Gate, a popular attraction, is part of the ancient city wall built in 514 BC that originally protected the city of Suzhou. A large number of Ming and Qing Dynasty preserved buildings are found within the city. 42% of the city is covered by water, and the waterways are dotted with traditional wooden boats carrying good and passengers. Beautiful, lush gardens are also very common in this mild climate. Locals refer to the city as “paradise on earth”, and this city is a peaceful and quiet alternative to bigger cities. Suzhou Official Website
Shanghai is an enormous city comprised of nearly 20 million people. Located on the mouth of the Yangtze River, Shanghai is known globally as a cultural, financial, and commercial hub. It boasts one of the fastest-growing public transportation systems in the world, and offers unparalleled shopping in its urban centre. The Shanghai skyline is a popular sight, showing off incredible architecture, including the Oriental Pearl Tower. Shanghai welcomes tourists from all over the world, and recently hosted the 2010 World Expo.
Shanghai has a rich blend of religious heritage structures due to its cosmopolitan history. Beautiful churches, temples and shrines are scattered throughout the city. In addition, The Bund, which is located on the bank of the Huangpu River, hosts stunning early 20th century architecture. Styles range from neoclassical to art deco, and will delight any architecture fan. Skyscrapers abound, but the city has retained traditional features, such as the Yuyuan Garden and Shikumen lanes. Shanghai also offers many green spaces, where locals can escape the urban jungle. Currently, The Shanghai Disneyland Resort Project is under construction, and is slated to open in 2013.
The city is a renowned fashion capital, and local designers creatively fuse western and traditional designs. Shanghai is home to several professional football teams, as well as several other professional sport teams. Like any major city, museums and galleries are numerous, and Shanghai residents are avid cinema and theatre goers. Lastly, Shanghai boasts some of the finest cuisine in China, and offers both delectable local and international restaurants. Shanghai Official Website
Literally meaning “Serene Waves”, Ningbo is a beautiful city on the water. Although it is a small city by China’s standards, with a population of only 2 million, it remains an important port city. As well, Ningbo is accessible from Shanghai by a cross-sea bridge. It is home to many ancient temples, as well as the Tianyi Chamber, thought to be one of the oldest surviving library buildings in the world.
Ningbo is one of China’s oldest cities, with history dating back to 4800 BC. It was originally known as a trade city on the ancient Silk Road about 2000 years ago. Located on the mid-point of the Chinese coastline, today it has a port second only in importance to Shanghai. The city’s best tourist attraction is definitely Tianyi Pavilion Museum, which is the oldest surviving library building in China. It was built in 1516, and houses precious Confucian classics and rare local histories.
The city centre is bustling, and the demand for traditional handicrafts is booming. Screens and hand-plaited bamboo vases are popular local goods. The city also has strong Buddhist connections, and boasts many gorgeous temples. For example, the ancient Asoka Temple houses the Buddhist relics of Sakyamuni, the founder of Buddhism. The weather is temperate year round, and Ningbo offers hot spring resorts for winter weekend getaways. Ningbo Official Website
Hangzhou is well-known for its natural beauty, and is often cited as one of the top 10 most scenic cities in all of China. With many ancient relics, including temples and pagodas, Hangzhou attracts tourists and students of history alike. Located on the Hangzhou Bay, Hangzhou has been one of the most prosperous cities in China throughout history.
Hangzhou is located in the Yangtze River Delta, and has a population of 6.5 million people. Beautiful West Lake enhances the natural scenery of the city, and most of Hangzhou’s famous historic and scenic places are found surrounding the lake. Weather-wise, the area is neither too hot in winter nor too cold in winter, which makes it very comfortable year round.
One important aspect of Hangzhou culture is tea, notably green tea. In addition, the local cuisine is touted as the best of China, and make sure to try Pork Wrapped with Lotus Leaves and Steamed Rice Flower. The dishes are noted for their elaborate preparation and exquisite taste. Teahouses and pubs are popular destinations for dinner, and overlooking West Lake with a cool drink in summer is the epitome of relaxation.
For shopping, both locals and tourists visit Qing He Fang Street, which is a historic area showcasing luxurious silks, teas, parasols and fans. The city also has an international airport and numerous domestic routes. The new Shanghai-Hangzhou high speed train takes only 45 minutes between the cities, and the new Metro will open in 2011. Hangzhou is truly a natural paradise with the conveniences of a modern city. Hangzhou Official Website
Chengdu is an ancient city in Southwest China, with a population of over 11 million people. The city enjoys a mild, humid climate. In contrast to the mild weather, Chengdu is famous for its incredibly spicy food. In Chengdu, flavourful cuisine is ubiquitous – the city features an astounding number of restaurants and bars.
Home to some of the largest companies in China, Chengdu’s economy is booming. With an extensive rapid transit network and its own international airport, Chengdu is easily accessible from other major cities in China. Though Chengdu’s downtown core is expansive and devoted mostly to business and commerce, shops, amenities, and nightlife are still easily found within the city limits.
The city continues to grow, but is still well known as an enjoyable place to call home. In addition to ranking high for liveability, the people in Chengdu are known to be extremely laidback and friendly, and the city is also a popular destination for university students, offering some of the most prestigious programs in the continent. Chengdu Official Website
As the most populated city in central China, Wuhan is home to over 9 million people. Wuhan is a major hub for transportation, making it easily accessible from other cities, and a gateway to other large cities throughout the country. Wuhan has a less temperate climate than other surrounding cities; its hot and humid summer means that most tourists frequent Wuhan in the spring and fall.
Wuhan offers plenty of attractions, such as historic temples and gorgeous botanical gardens, but also offers some particularly quirky delights for visitors. Teachers in Wuhan will get to enjoy the city’s infamous breakfast foods, including the treats available in “breakfast alley”. Teachers in Wuhan will also delight in visiting Jiqing Street, an area of the city known for coming alive at night with buskers and amazing street side dining options.
The most popular attraction is the Yellow Crane Tower, considered one of the great towers of China. Sightseers will see almost the entire city of Wuhan from the top of the tower on a clear day, and can spend time exploring the various sights of the park surrounding the foot of the Tower.
With plenty to see and do, Wuhan is definitely a city for teachers eager to explore their surroundings and learn more about the traditional way of life in China. Wuhan Official Website
As the largest city in southern China, Guangzhou’s greater metropolitan area is the second biggest urban setting in the world. This scenic city is located on the Pearl River, less than two hours away from Hong Kong by public transportation. With an impressive transit network, Guangzhou is a large city that is very accessible.
Though Guangzhou is an important trade city, it is also known for handmade sculptures, carvings, pottery, and embroidery. Artisans are a large part of Guangzhou’s cultural identity. The city’s lingual identity is evenly split, with half of the population speaking Cantonese, and half speaking Mandarin.
The city experiences a mild, humid climate that makes exploring the city’s numerous parks and historical gardens easy and enjoyable. Located next to Baiyun Mountain, and close to the South China Sea, Guangzhou is a scenic and sprawling city with plenty to see, do, and experience. Guangzhou Official Website