Ancient yet contemporary, fast yet quintessentially slow-paced, China is a land of fascinating opposites. There’s no chance of seeing it all in one trip, but this vast country’s most popular regions are well connected, meaning a well-planned holiday can cover a lot of must-see bases. The revered history woven into the intricate monuments of Beijing alone is enough to leave you in awe. That’s before clapping eyes on the spectacular ornamental gardens, the Forbidden Palace, the Summer Palace and the astounding Great Wall of China – just a 3.5-hour drive from the capital. Western and eastern cultures blend deliciously in Shanghai, with its mesmerising cityscapes, European-style shopping districts and winding ‘lòngtáng’ alleyways where aromas of steamed shellfish and braised pork fill the air. Elsewhere, a more laid-back Chengdu offers the chance to visit holy temples and meet China’s famous giant panda bears. You’ll find plenty to do in either of these great cities. Complete your experience by escaping to a rural setting that feels a world away. Pass through forgotten villages, shady forests and soaring mountain ridges overlooking the breathtaking Tiger Leaping Gorge, or cruise down the mighty Yangtze River. Finding accommodation in China’s most popular cities is easy, with luxury hotels, budget-friendly hostels and homely guest houses found in all corners. Options are more limited in the remote areas.
The 12 best places to stay in China: Top hotels, B&Bs, inns, and vacation rentals — Based on real reviews from real guests