Sunday, February 8, 2009

Top three romantic destinations in China

The Valentine’s Day is coming, what’s your plan? Maybe a travel with loved ones? There are many romantic destinations in China, here we recommend the top three romantic ones. They are Zhuhai in Guangdong Province, Hangzhou in Zhejiang Province and Lijiang in Yunnan Province.

Zhuhai in Guangdong Province

During a recent competition among cities, Zhuhai was named by Chinese media as “China’s Most Romantic City.” Romance is nature’s gift to Zhuhai. Situated south of the Tropic of Cancer, with a sheltered location in South China with glorious sunshine, Zhuhai is a luxurious garden paradise where colorful flowers bloom all year.

The name Zhuhai means “pearl sea” and the city sits at the mouth of the Pearl River where the river and ocean meet. With a territory of more than 7,660 square kilometers, about 80 percent of which being ocean, Zhuhai has 146 islets, many with secluded beaches and unspoiled scenery.

The best-known romantic location in Zhuhai is Lover’s Road, which winds its way several kilometers along the coast between the mountains and the water at Xianglu Bay. It has broad pavement and gardens, quiet seating and picnic areas and wonderful views displaying the natural beauty of Zhuhai, It truly captures the romantic atmosphere of this young city. Here you will find couples young and old, strolling together enjoying happy moments.

After dining at one of Zhuhai’s popular restaurants or luxury hotels, couples can relax in stylish bars and cafes or dance the night away at one of Zhuhai’s top night spots. Wherever you go, you are sure to develop a love affair with this charming and energetic city, a feeling that is uniquely Zhuhai.

There are many seaside cities in China, but few are quite like Zhuhai. Walking through Zhuhai, you might wonder if this a city of gardens or a city in a garden. You can stroll through green parks and shady paths past colorful flowerbeds, or choose to take in the fresh air along well laid out boulevards by the water’s edge.

Zhuhai’s interesting past adds greatly to the atmosphere and appeal for visitors. People started populating the area more than 5,000 years ago. Near the Yamen River are ancient ruins from the Southern Song Dynasty dating back more than 1,700 years. Nearby Cuiheng Village, to the north in Zhongshan, is the birthplace of Dr. Sun Yat-sen, the leader of China’s democratic revolution in the early 20th century and sometimes known as the “Father of China.” Many other monuments, parks, museums and locations chart the history of the great events and changes of China’s great civilization, ancient and modern.

Hangzhou in Zhejiang Province

It is a famous tourist city. Although not big, it has a concentration of more than 40 scenic spots, which would take at least a week to visit. The 6-square-kilometer West Lake is the pride of this provincial capital city and most sites of interest are around it. Unlike the man-made lakes of other cities, West Lake is natural and its sights are delightful, no matter what the season. Scholars and poets have left a legacy of rhapsodic poetry and prose after visiting the lake, and some settled, or stayed on to live the life of a hermit.

Along with the beautiful scenery and places of interest, West Lake has many romantic tales. Classical stories include that of the love between a young man named Xu Xian and the “white snake,” an immortal whose earthly form was that of a beautiful woman, but who also took on the shape of a white snake if she drank wine. Their love was not tolerated by society and the white snake was eventually imprisoned under Leifeng Tower and Xu Xian’s family fragmented.

Modern Hangzhou inhabitants are very romantic and West Lake is now the place where young people go courting. At nightfall couples can be seen along the lakeshore, as on the Shanghai Bund.

The romantic nature of Hangzhou inhabitants has nurtured the quality of local artists. Hangzhou has produced numerous scholars and men of letters and the city is permeated with an artistic atmosphere.

Lijiang in Yunnan Province

It has a demure charm that is revealed in myriad forms: Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, the grey-tiled town of cobbled streets and thousand year-old bridges, the charm of the Naxi people and their customs and much more. Such qualities prompted UNESCO to include it on the World Heritage List and also inspired the best-selling novel, “Lost Horizons.”

Lijiang is the perfect place for couples and honeymooners as it oozes romance.

Young couples should visit Yufeng Buddhist monastery, famous for a 500-year-old camellia said to produce 10,000 blossoms every year. The camellia is actually two plants grafted together that supposedly represent a pair of lovers who were forbidden to marry and committed suicide rather than live apart. Today, Chinese couples believe that being photographed in front of the camellia will ensure that they will be together in the next life.

Hiking outside the city is one of the great highlights of any visit to this region. Some treks last only one hour and some take up to six hours or more but Lijiang’s trekking routes feature some of the most striking landscapes found in the world including the trek near Tiger Leaping Gorge and along the banks of the Jinsha River.

The highlight of any visit to Lijiang is spending time in the old quarter, Dayan Town. This is no exception for couples. This 800-year-old World Heritage site features ancient timber and earth houses with tiled roofs set on delightful canals. No cars are allowed in the narrow, winding streets, which are paved with large stones.

The idea is to get lost in Dayan’s quaint streets if you really want to discover the place. The old town attracts local artists and artisans and there is plenty of high quality jewelry, clothing, pottery, paintings and carving on sale. It’s quite pleasant sitting at an outdoor restaurant beside the canal eating a Naxi delicacy such as goat’s cheese sprinkled with sugar.

At night the old town takes on a different character. A popular activity for couples is to light a candlelit float and let it gently head downriver. Candles floating past on paper lotus flowers make dining alfresco beside the canals an enchanting experience.

The enchantment continues with a concert by the Naxi orchestra which plays classical Taoist music on traditional instruments. The average age of the musicians is 80.

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