China is the world's fourth biggest country by area and many of its delights are spread far and wide over this vast space. Because of its huge population, its cities are like no other on Earth, and the countryside filled with bamboo, rice paddies and the occasional panda are a sight to behold.
For those travelling to more than just China, it's good to know that Beijing Capital International Airport is the busiest in Asia, making trips in and out of China easy to organise.
Where to go in China
China's capital has a beautiful blend of ancient and modern. Its history stretches back more than 3000 years, with structures from the Ming and Qing dynasties, as well as the Forbidden City, showing off its vibrant past. A recent building spree gives Beijing a cutting edge feel, and structures such as the Bird's Nest Stadium, built for the 2008 Olympics, help highlight this.
Almost 2000km southwest of Beijing is Chengdu, an area best known for its pandas and panda conservation projects. As well as the much-loved critter, Chengdu is a cultural centre famous for its fire-breathing acts and Sichuan Opera (a face changing opera show).
To the west of Shanghai is a much more tranquil experience in Suzhou. Take your time to explore the city's numerous gardens – in particular the Humble Administrator's Garden and the Lingering Garden – and walk along the extensive canal network.
Where to go after China
Busan is just a short flight from Beijing or Shanghai, and the small South Korean coastal city will seem like a sleepy village in comparison. It's best to visit in the warmer months when you can fully appreciate the beach at Haeundae, but thermal waters will help you warm up no matter what time you go.
The capital of Mongolia is just a two-hour flight from Beijing, but the more relaxed pace of life makes it seem a world away. The city has a mix of temples, monasteries and palaces to admire, as well as plenty of statues of Genghis Khan. Outside the city, you can visit national parks with wild turtles, horses and marmosets or head up the mountains for some first-rate ski slopes.
One of South Africa's biggest cities, Johannesburg has gone through many changes in its time. Its past hasn't always been happy, which you can learn about in the Apartheid Museum, but things are certainly on the up. Other attractions in the city include the SAB World of Beer and the Cradle of Mankind. Kruger Park is a four-hour drive or one-hour domestic flight away.
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Please note: all information is correct as of November, 2016.
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