China’s East coast (Hangzhou, Shanghai, Suzhou, Nanjing, and Wuxi).
If you are in Asia middle of January to first week of February, make sure to keep your eye out for great tour package to China during Chinese New Year. Chinese New Year is a week long holiday for the Chinese and many of them charter flights to Asia countries such as Korea, Malaysia, Thailand and Philippines with empty planes returning so they organize really cheap tours to fill up the seats. I took a tour from the Philippines from January 24 – January 30th to Shanghai, Suzhou, Nanjing, Wuxi, Jiaxing and Hangzhou with food (3 meals), transportation, admissions, accommodation, air ticket and taxes all for USD$450.
Hangzhou is a very popular tourist destination. Located at the heart of this city is the famous west lake which is a delight to wonder around. It is surrounded by restaurants and museums. You can rent a bicycle for 1.5 hours for free if you show them your foreign passport. In addition to the West Lake, Hangzhou has been producing tea for over 600 years. There is a small tea museum which our tour took as to with a little exhibit on how they roasted tea. The beauty of the place is seeing mountains all surround by tea tree and the secluded farming community.
Shanghai is China’s financial capital filled with modern and massive mass transit system, this is an amazingly vibrant city. If you are there for a day, you could go to the top of the world financial center and get a 360 degrees view of Shanghai. This is better viewed during the day. The TV tower is another place you could check out an opium wax museum. Wonder around the Bund Street right by the Huangpu River. You will see 1930’s buildings with European architecture. Connecting to the Bund is East Nanjing road which is a busy shopping street. If you have a little time, Xintiandi is another shopping place with a mall.
According to Marco Polo, Suzhou is the Venice of the orient. Although the city is currently surrounded by modern buildings, Suzhou does have a lot of the old city around. In fact, a restriction has been made on the height limit of modern building not to exceed the height of a certain Pagoda. Pingjiang Road is the old city and you can see the canals and old houses. Suzhou Museum is a famous museum designed by IM Pei since this is his hometown.
They say the women in this city are the most beautiful in China because that’s where the Emperor’s concubines lived. According the tour guide, his theory is that this is the fashion capital since the city has been producing silk for over 5000 years. All their sheets and pillowcases are made from silk resulting in better skin. Back in the days, women also were able to have a little education in Suzhou.
Nanjing was Chinas capital during the Ming dynasty and briefly in the early 20th century. There are plenty of remaining city walls and gates to see as you drive around. Holocaust Memorial is a museum build over a mass grave during the Japanese occupation in 1937. There are pictures displaying what occurred mostly taken by Japanese soldiers. The Bridge of Changjiang, crossing the Yangzi River, is another interesting sight. It was designed and built entirely by the Chinese after the Russians marched out and took the designs with them in 1960.
Wuxi is a city next to Lake Tai. Aside from the lakes, this city offers a wide variety of fresh water sea food. Wuxi translated to English means No Tin. It used to be a tin producer so in the past the city was named yoxi. When they ran out, it was renamed to WuXi. People with the last name of Wu probably are descendants from people in this city.
Hope this was helpful and happy traveling.