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MountLushan, located by thePoyangLake, 36 kilometers south ofJiujiang City,Jiangxi.

Province, covers an area of 350 square kilometers. The HanyangPeak, the highest, rises 1,474 meters above sea level. At Lushan, towering peaks and dangerously steep cliffs on all sides surround a relatively gentle center. The landscape here is spectacular with some 100 peaks being veiled in mist for some 191 days annually on average. It is particular cool in summer and is therefore a world-renowned summer resort.
  
Mount Lushan has plenty of scenic attractions, including the Wulaofeng (Five Elderly Men Peaks), Xianrendong (Immortal‘s Cavern) and the White Deer Cave Academy, which, situated on the Houping Hill south of the Five Elderly Men Peaks, was one of the earliest institutes of higher learning in China. It was first built by Li Bo, an official of Tang Dynasty (618-907) at the beginning of the seventh century and was extended during the Song Dynasty (960-1279). It was one of the four largest academies in China, and teachers such as Zhu Xi and Lu Xiangshan, philosophers of the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279), had many students here.
  
In 1996, Mount Lushan was placed on the world cultural heritage list.

Zhangjiajie is a rising tourist city famous for its unique natural scenery and abundant tourism resources. A  Hollywood photographer came to Zhangjiajie in 2008 and took pictures that inspired artists who designed the settings of Avatar. It is located in the northwest ofHunanprovince, about 400 kilometers away fromChangsha, capital ofHunan, covering a total area of 9,563 square kilometers, of which 76% are mountainous area. Out of its total population of 1.62 million, almost 72% belong to ethnic minority groups, including Tujia, Bai and Miao nationalities.

Zhangjiajie is a prefecture-level city consisting of Yongding and Wulingyuan Districts, Cili and Sangzhi Counties. Wulingyuan District, also called Wulingyuan Scenic and Historic Interest Area, is endowed with striking natural beauty. This site is dominated by more than 3,000 narrow sandstone pillars and peaks, many over200mhigh. Between the peaks lie ravines and gorges with streams, pools and waterfalls, 40 caves, and two large natural bridges. It is also home to a number of endangered plant and animal species. Therefore, it was listed into the World Natural Heritage Catalogue by the UNESCO in 1992. What’s more, Zhangjiajie was awarded the title of “WorldGeologicalPark” in 2004.

 Quartz Sandstone Peak Forest and Karst Caves constitute the outstanding landscape features of Zhangjiajie, which are rare in the world. Here you’ll find yourself with hundreds of grotesque peaks, beautiful waters, towering trees, deep valleys, marvelous caves and exuberant forest that have formed a complete primitive ecological environment. In fact, Zhangjiajie, honored as “the most fantastic mountain under heaven” and ” a living Chinese landscape painting”, is a perfect combination of the beauty of Guilin, the grotesqueness ofMount Huang, the peril of Mount Hua and the magnificence of Mount Tai. It is also widely acclaimed as “an enlarged potted landscaping”, “a miniature fairyland” and “a maze of nature”, attracting a growing number of tourists from home and abroad.

 There are over 300 marvelous scenic spots in Zhangjiajie, such asTianzi Mountain, Yangjiajie andBaofeng Lake. As the core of  Zhangjiajie attractions, Wulingyuan Scenic and Historic Interest Area is composed of Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, two major Nature Reserves -TianziMountainandSuoxiValleyand the new Yangjiajie Scenic Area, stretching over a total area of 397 square kilometers. Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, set up in 1982, is the first authorized national forest park inChina, featured by its unique hills, queer ridges and peaks, tranquil valleys, clear streams, abundant fauna and flora and hospitable climate. There are six main scenic spots and over 90 smaller ones in the park,which will bring you a lot of excitement and fun.

 Near the downtown area of Zhangjiajie stands grand Tianmen Mountain called “the Soul of Wuling”, and there is a beautiful Maoyan River that enjoys the reputation of “one-hundred-li long gallery” , a Jiutian Cave named “the number-one cave in Asia” and other charming scenic spots in Wulingyuan. All these natural wonders are worth exploring. In addition, you can take great delight in touring thePuguangBuddhistTemple, Hongjiaguan- Former Residence of Marshal Helong,TujiaFolkCustomPark, the Old House and other historical and cultural sites in Zhangjiajie.

After more than twenty years of development, tourism industry has become the leading industry in Zhangjiajie, which has stimulated the development of other industries related to tourism. In the meantime, ecotourism has been developed greatly here. When you come to Zhangjiajie, you can fully appreciate its magnificent natural scenery and experience appealing folk custom as well as other thrilling tourist activities, and you will be deeply impressed by the hospitality of local people. We are sure that your visit to Zhangjiajie is really exciting, joyful and unforgettable.

 The geological formation of Zhangjiajie belongs to the New Cathaysian tectonic system. About three billion and eight thousand years ago, this place was a large patch of ocean. After a series of geological changes including Wuling-xuefeng, Indo-china, Yanshan, Himalayan and Neotectonic movements, the bottom of ocean rose out of the surface, and the quartzite sandstone pillars and peaks took shape after the gradual cutting, eroding and crumbling of Nature for millions of years.

 The entire area is covered with towering cliffs of sandstone of quartz and dense unspoiled forests that conceal fantastic caves full of stalactites and stalagmites. The quartzite sandstone hills in Wulingyuan are unique in their large number and fairly pure composition (being 75-95% of quartz). With the changes of seasons and the weather, they constantly present different views to spectators. The highest peak in this area is Tuerwangyue Feng or Rabbit Watching theMoonPeakandMt.Tianziis particularly recommended for its good view.

 Zhangjiajie belongs to the sub-tropical humid monsoon climate. Splendid mountains and thick trees help form a favorable climate: warm in winter and cool in summer. The annual average temperature is16℃and the annual average sunshine hours and the amount of rainfall are 1440 hours and1400 mmrespectively. The average frost-free period over the past years is about 216 to 269 days a year. The charm of the scenery varies with the alternation of seasons, so it attracts visitors all year round.

Besides its pleasant climate, the primitive ecological environment also offers visitors a rare chance to breathe healthy air which is believed to be rich in negative oxygen. It is also believed that hypertension patient may have their blood pressure lowered if they stay in theforest parkfor a period of time. This is due to the fact that dust particles in the park are 88% lower and the air 10% mistier than outside.

 In ancient times, Zhangjiajie was regarded as remote and inaccessible. The earliest human activities can be traced to 100, 000 years ago and the legendary god of Agriculture was said to live a reclusive life here. Local story also indicates that Zhang liang, a lord in the Han Dynasty (206 BC-220 AD), lived here in seclusion and was buried below Qingyan (now Zhangjiajie) Mountain.

Zhangjiajie was formerly named Dayong city, founded in 1988. As Zhangjiajie National Forest Park is increasingly becoming known to world, Dayong city was renamed as Zhangjiajie city under the permission of the State Council in 1994. Now, Zhangjiajie has basically developed a large-scale, high-rank tourist resort where strange mountains, green lakes, deep caves, serene valleys and historical culture and special folk customs are well blended into a beautiful painting.

Zhangjiajie is home to major three ethnic groups—Tujia, Bai and Miao people, which together make up approximately 70% of the local population. Up to now, these people still remain much of their traditional culture, including the language, festivals, clothing, and architectural styles as well. The long history of many minorities and their folk customs such as marriage custom, singing and dancing together with modern culture all contribute to the charm of Zhangjiajie. One thing is certain: All of these will give you a lasting memory.

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Hangzhou, capital ofZhejiangProvince, is one ofChina’s most famous and most prosperous cities. It is a place that has cleverly combined its natural advantages with modern industry, in order to establish itself at the forefront of the leisure economy; it’s also a place where the people appreciate peace and happiness and have managed to incorporate them into their everyday lives.

Stop1 Wetland wonders: sightseeing around Xixi

TheXixiNationalWetlandPark, the first national wetland park inChina, is located in the western outskirts ofHangzhou. It provides fine examples of urban wetland, as well as agricultural and cultural wetland environments.

The attraction of Xixi lies in its aquatic environment. Water is in the very soul of Xixi. About 70 percent of the park is covered by ponds, lakes, rivers, and swamps. The park is crisscrossed with six central watercourses, among which are scattered several ponds, lakes and  swamps. The branching streams and the series of ponds form a unique landscape amid the wetland.          

The local government in Xixi attaches considerable importance to sustainable ecological development, and has now established three ecological protection and restoration areas. There is also an exhibition hall showcasing scientific knowledge about the wetlands and a dedicated viewing platform. The area’s pleasant climate not only attracts a large number of visitors, but also a variety of birds, seeing it billed as something of a paradise for our feathered friend.

Xixi also has a rich human legacy. Many classical scholars saw it as a veritableEdenand praised it in their writings. Its Dragon Boat contest dotes back thousands of years and still takes place here annually. During this festival, you can take the chance to enjoy the scenery of hazy willows, as well as the mist and smoke from kitchen chimneys in the nearbyHazyFisherVillage. You can also take the opportunity to learn more about how the local residents make silk and earn a living as fisherfolk.

In Xixi, you can enjoy different landscapes during different seasons. You can have an outing in spring and enjoy the fresh air or harvest water chestnuts on the boats in summer, view the reeds during a radiant autumn sunset or admire the plum blossoms amid the chilly winds of winter.

If you are fond of birds, you should make sure you visit Xixi. The network of swamps and streams is the ideal dwelling place for a number of species, especially ducks. Standing and watching the relaxed and natural rhythms of their lifestyle, is enough to ease the stress of even the most hardworking executive. There is a also a three-storey pavilion that makes the ideal haven for relaxed observation.

West Lake Longjing Tea ranks among the top ten national blends, but Xixi Tea has also enjoyed a high reputation since the ancient times. Feng Mengzhen, a high-ranking official of the late Ming Dynasty, wrote a poem proclaiming his preference for the tea of Xixi over and above that of the rival Longjing tea.

XixiNationalWetlandPark
Address: No. 148 Tianmushan Road (tiān mù shān lù 天目山路), Hangzhou City, Zhejiang Province
Admission fee: RMB 80
Opening hours: 7:30 a.m. – 5:30 pm.
Transportation:
Bus: No. 310, K506, K193, Y13

Syop2 The West Lake - a divinely picturesque spot

When thinking of tourism inHangzhou, what is the first thing that springs to mind?WestLake? Almost certainly, yes. As the old Chinese saying states: “There is heaven in the sky,SuzhouandHangzhouon the earth”.Hangzhou’s reputation as a heaven on earth is largely down to theWestLake. Its picturesque landscape and rich cultural heritage, spanning countless centuries, make it an unmissable spot for visitors.

Legend of theWestLake

There are many myths and legends surrounding theWestLake. According to one story, many years ago a jade dragon and a golden phoenix plucked a piece of white jade from the night sky and worked on polishing it together for many years. The jade became gloriously radiant and trees turned evergreen and flowers bloomed wherever its rays were cast.

Soon, the story of the wonderful jewel reached the West Goddess, who governed the West Heaven and she dispatched her army to steal the precious stone away.

The Jade Dragon and the Golden Phoenix struggled to take it back, only to be denied by the goddess. Ultimate, they fought fiercely for the jewel and the West Goddess was vanquished, leaving the jewel to tumble back to the earth.

The jade was transformed into a pearl-like lake, known today as theWestLake. Its fall was followed by that of the Jade Dragon and the Golden Phoenix, who became theJadeDragonMountainand thePhoenixMountain. The two are now said to guard the shores of theWestLakeforever.

In the eyes of poets

During the time of the Song Dynasty (960-1279AD), Su Dongpo, a renowned poet and one of the governors ofHangzhou, penned a poem in praise of theWestLake, celebrating its abiding charm that survives the change of the seasons in a year and the different hours of the day. He compared it to Xizi, a Chinese legendary beauty named Xishi and subsequently bestowed upon it a new name – theXiziLake.

As one of China’s most renowned beauty spots, the West Lake is much loved by many Chinese and foreign celebrities. Chairman Mao is said to have come to visit theWestLakemore than 40 times. Once he spent seven months inHangzhou, which he considered his second home.

Not only did Chairman Mao praise theWestLake, but also Richard Nixon, the former president of theUS, found much to love about it. He came toHangzhoutwice and highly said that althoughBeijingis the capital ofChina,Hangzhouis its heart.

TheWest Laketoday

The many stunning attractions along the banks of the West Lake, as well as the museums in the nearby city are now free of charge, giving everyone unfettered access to the lake and its environs.

In 2007,Hangzhoucity launched the third session of its Ten Sites of theWestLakeinitiative. The prospective sites included 145 scenic areas that had been restored as part of a comprehensive protection project in 2002. Ultimately, the ten chosen sites included a Lingyin and a Buddhist monastery and their surrounding hills and gardens, the Yue Wang temple, a tomb and a memorial hall for Yue Fei, as well as another eight scenic spots.

The final choice proved that theWest Lakeis not only famous for its picturesque landscape but also for its long association with classical poets over thousands of years.

Stop3 Qiantangjiang River: Zhejiang’s tidal triumph

As one of the most important tourism destinations inZhejiangprovince, theQiantangjiangRiverattracts a huge number of visitors from both at home and abroad every year.

The source of theQiantangjiangRiverlies in theLotusPeakin Kaihua, a county in westernZhejiangprovince. Along its course, the river passes through 14 counties and cities before finally flowing into theHangzhouBay.

The river and the bay are known as the home of one of the world’s largest tidal bores, which is said to be up to9 m(30 ft) high and be capable of traveling at up to40 kmper hour. The tide rushing into the river from the bay causes a typical bore of between 5 to15 ft(1.5-4.6 m) high.

The tributaries of theQiantangjiangRiverhave a long development history, as well as many famous mountains, beautiful lakes, beguiling rivers, wonderful caves and ancient relics, all of which contribute to making it a golden tourist

Stop4 The Grand Canal, ancient aquatic highway

Over recent years theHangzhoumunicipal government has sought to promote its comprehensive protection plan for theBeijing-HangzhouCanal, while applying for world cultural heritage status for theGrand Canal.

Currently, the classical waterway retains its crucial inland shipping role, whilst also playing host to a number of significant cultural sites along its banks.

Whenever you come to theGrand Canal, it is said, it is always the perfect time for sightseeing. On summer nights, you can enjoy the breeze on the river and whilst autumn evenings provide the perfect opportunity to fully appreciate the moonlight and the shadowy temples by night.

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With impressive landscapes, pristine waters and colour-changing lakes,JiuzhaigouNational ParkinSichuanProvinceis one ofChina’s most popular natural destinations. But there’s a lesser known alternative, just off the beaten track.

In a neighbouring valley, adventurous travellers can get a close glimpse of some spectacular natural scenes, combined with enigmatic Tibetan culture. Let’s head down to the northern edge ofChina’sSichuanProvinceto take a closer look.

Jiuzhaigou, or “NineVillageValley”, isChina’s pioneering and most visited National Park.

Nestled between snow-capped mountains on the eastern slopes of the Tibetan Plateau, its far-flung location is proving no deterrent.

The highlight is the color-changing lakes of emeralds, turquoise and vivid blues, caused by the special geological conditions.

It’s these picturesque natural landscapes that are tempting tourists to the region.

Max Chiu & Elaine Hon, HK tourists, said, “We’ve been to lots of places. This is very colourful, and the lakes are beautiful. So that’s one reason why we decided to choose Jiuzhaigou for taking our wedding pictures.”

With tickets at nearly 50 US dollars, including the fee to be able to board the park buses, visiting is far from cheap.

Despite the cost, around two million tourists visit the park every year. Domestic tourists usually arrive in tour groups with tight schedules.

But in order to get closer to nature and enjoy a slice of real local Tibetan culture, one must go further into the mountains.

The hidden and unspoiled Zharu valley opens its doors for those willing to pay a small premium. Tours range from a one day walk and a visit to a small local museum, to a two or three day trek around the sacred Zhayizhaga mountain — a four and a half thousand meter colossus, and a destination for Buddhist pilgrims.

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