As the Chinese government has begun to relax its hard-line approach to communism and built strong trade links with Western countries, so the country has become a more popular tourist destination, with travellers feeling more confident about their freedom to move and explore the vast country.
However, most tourists favour popular destinations like Beijing, Shanghai, and X’ian. But if you have the heart of an adventurer, you’ll want to venture beyond the known. By contacting organizations like the Yunnan Travel Agency, you can plan trips well into China’s interior.
But what if you really want to go off the beaten track? Then start with the northern city of Taiyuan, as it is an undiscovered gem.
Taiyuan may be an industrial centre, home to some of the biggest manufacturing plants in China, Asia, but that has brought with it plenty of luxury hotels, such as the Kempinski Hotel Taiyuan, to cater for visiting western businessmen. There are plenty of attractions too, so here’s our quick rundown of some of the best:
Xiling Ski Resort
In the mountains around Taiyuan, you’ll find one of China’s most famous ski resorts, Xiling. If you’re a skiing or snowboarding enthusiast, and want something different to the usual resorts in Europe, then this could be just the thing.
Twin Pagoda Temple
The temple gets its name from the striking pair of 13-storey octagonal pagodas, which have stood in that spot for over 400 years, having been built in the Ming Dynasty. Visitors can climb these towers for a wonderful panoramic view of the city, while the rest of the building is home to numerous works of art.
Tianlong Mountain is an excellent place for a hike, yet is very near the city of Taiyuan itself. Enjoy the tranquility of the forests and the rippling streams and explore the Buddhist caves – there are also guided hikes available from the city.
Yuci Ancient City
For a glimpse of the ancient world in the heart of Taiyuan, visit Yuci Ancient City. See the ancient city walls, the court rooms, temples, streets and houses that provide modern Taiyuan with a link to its cultural past. It’s also a great place to see and learn about some of the ancient folklores and customs of the region.
Mengshan Mountain Buddha
The 63-metre stone Buddha at Mengshan, with a beautiful stone staircase leading up to it, is a stunning sight. The view from the top isn’t bad either, and the summit includes restaurants, cafes and stalls featuring local trinkets and crafts.