When you get to the ultramodern cities of Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen, you wouldn’t think China is home to the oldest continuous civilization in the world. However, dig a little deeper and you’ll see traces of the past everywhere! Not only that, but it’s also a foodie’s paradise – with everything from hotpot to dim sum waiting to tantalize your taste buds. Each region has its own unique cuisine, as it does with scenery too. From mountains, to open plains, to peaceful lakes, China has it all.
With China’s high-speed rail system, it’s easier than ever to see more of this incredible country. So, let’s take a look at some ways you can spend your weekend in China. Hopefully, it’ll give you some ideas on how to put your Mandarin into practice in real-life situations!
Visit the historical sites of Beijing
For those saying in Beijing, you don’t even need to leave the city to see some of the most stupendous sights in China. The first stop has to be the Forbidden City. This former imperial palace was the home of the Chinese emperors for more than 500 years. This architectural masterpiece is larger than the Vatican City in Rome and the Kremlin in Moscow and more than 100 cats call it home. Other notable sites include the Tiananmen Gate, Tiantan Park, the Old Summer Palace, and the Hutongs.
Go walking on the Great Wall
An easy day trip from Beijing, no trip to China is complete without having seen a section of the Great Wall. Thought to have begun long before the age of Christianity, it runs along the country’s historic borders – at the time offering protection from the invasion of nomadic groups. Badaling is one of the closest sections of the wall to Beijing but it can be very crowded. Take in the scenery without the throngs of tourists from somewhere like Mutianyu.
Admire the terracotta warriors of Xi’An
Though more than 1,200 km would normally be too much for a weekend trip, that’s not the case here. You can get to Xi’An from Beijing in 5 – 6 hours with the bullet train – making the city a potential weekend destination. Especially considering it’s home to one of the most important archaeological discoveries in China. The Terracotta Army is said to have been built to protect China’s first emperor on his way into the afterlife.
There’s also a sleeper train from Shanghai to Xi’An, and while it takes longer, you can save on accommodation and see the city’s sights over the weekend!
Head to the beach for water sports
Most people wouldn’t have China down as a surfing destination, but you might be surprised! The best place for surfing in China is Hainan, but a more realistic option for those in Shanghai is Zhujiajian which is six hours by bus. The waters can be quite calm, so while you’re there you could try SUP surfing – a mixture of paddle boarding and surfing. Since surfing isn’t mega-popular here, you might find it hard to rent a board, so check out these paddle boards for sale!
Go to a water town
If you want to see traditional Chinese architecture and take a step back in time, then a trip to one of the water towns near Shanghai is in order. The triangle between Shanghai, Suzhou, and Hangzhou is known as the Venice of the East – packed with little towns where locals still get around by boat. The most famous are Zhujiajiao, Zhouzhuang, and Tongli, but if you want to find somewhere a little more off the beaten track, try Nanxun.
Visit ancient temples
Once you get out of the hustle and bustle of the cities, it’s much easier to find remnants of China’s ancient past. Within an hour of Shanghai on the fast train, you can head to Hangzhou. Here, you can see one of the oldest temples in China – Lingyin, which was founded in the 4th century AD.
Take a cruise on Guilin’s Li River
If you’re staying in Shenzhen, then Guilin is just three hours away by fast train. One of the quintessential images of China, it’s limestone karst cliffs and cormorant fishermen are on many China travelers’ bucket lists. The best way to see the picturesque landscapes of this area without actually being one of the fishermen is by a river cruise. This one is a real escape into the countryside!
Ascend Guangzhou’s Canton Tower
Another easy trip from Shenzhen is the town of Guangzhou. While there are loads to do in the city if there’s one thing you can miss it’s a trip up the Canton Tower. Standing at almost 600 meters high, it’s the most recognizable symbol of the city. If you’re afraid of heights and don’t fancy heading all the way up to the observation deck, you can always enjoy the colours of the tower from ground level.
Final thoughts on how to spend a weekend in China
These are just a few ideas on how to spend your time in China. Once you arrive on a That’s Mandarin course, be sure to find out from your tutors and locals what they like to do on their weekends in China. It might just improve your language skills! What’s for sure is that whatever you do on your weekends in China, you’ll make memories that will last a lifetime!