“Aaarrrggghhhh,” I screamed when I felt something crawling on my head. “What is it?”
“It’s a giant grasshopper,” said Alison. “Wait a minute, hold still. I want to get a picture.”
“Get it off! Now!” I bellowed
“No, leave it. It’s good luck,” she insisted.
China is full of surprises, from superstitions to fascinating food choices to the iconic sites.
So when my friend Alison and I talked about planning an epic trip, one country stood out over all others: China. If you ask a group of people where their #1 bucket list vacation would be, a significant portion would say China. And so it was with us.
After careful research, we concluded that the best way to see everything we wanted in China in one two-week trip would be with the Imperial Jewels of China tour through Viking River Cruises. We had several reasons for choosing Viking, not the least of which was their skill in navigating their guests through the challenging ordeal of the four internal airports necessary to see much of the country, as well as including a cruise through the stunningly renowned Three Gorges.
And the trip itself was everything I’d imagined and more. Take a look at some of our amazing experiences…
1. The Great Wall
The most epic of epics – the imposing Great Wall. We started our hike at the Badaling entry in Beijing, the highest point of the Guanagou Gorge. We chose to take the more difficult path knowing there would be fewer people. It was a challenge; some parts were very steep with uneven stone steps, but we made it to our goal – a very high ancient lookout tower for a birds-eye view of the serpentine structure. In case you ever wondered why the wall was constructed in such a winding manner, it’s because Chinese mythology claims that demons can only travel in a straight line!
2. The Forbidden City
After briefly getting lost in the crushing crowds of Tiananmen square, we found ourselves at the entrance to the Forbidden City, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city is the world’s largest palace complex, with 980 buildings, complete with a wall and moat for protection. The Forbidden City hosted the imperial palace during the Ming and Qing Dynasties. We spent a lovely morning admiring the strolling through the alleys and admiring the preserved buildings and treasures inside.
3. Riding a Rickshaw Through the Hutongs
What better way to see old Beijing than to scramble into a rickshaw and scurry around the captivating corridors? The hutongs are the ancient neighborhoods of China of days-gone-by. The houses, alleys and gardens look much the same as they centuries ago.
4. Terra Cotta Warriors
Crammed into the viewing area with some 10,000 other tourists (it’s true, China is crowded), we gazed in amazement at the famous Terracotta Warriors, considered to be one of the most significant archeological excavations of the 20th century. Discovered in 1974, the UNESCO excavation site is a mausoleum of 8,000 life-sized ancient sculptures.
Click here to read the rest of the 20 Reasons to See China with Viking River Cruises in Girls Getaway magazine.
Need help getting entering China? Here’s info on how to get a Chinese visa for American citizens.