During the last 15 years, I tried to maximize the time spent for traveling in China, including shorter trips during my time as a student in Chinese Studies at Nanjing University. Let me summarize my experience: traveling in China can be fantastic but it can be horrible as well. In retrospect, there were many unforgettable highlights but I encountered at least as many disappointments during my numerous journeys in China. From looking at all the pictures I took at places all over China, I realized that there are a lot of journeys for which I have no pictures at all. For other journeys, hundreds of pictures are stored on my hard drive. Especially the older pictures taken before 2009 are pictures I seldomly look at. Is it because my skills in taking pictures improved over time or are it because I have visited the wrong locations in China when I was younger?
It is a mixture of both. My camera equipment improved significantly over time butI also learned how to find the more interesting places in China. In fact, I am very bored with the main tourist highlights in China. Yes, you have to go to the Great Wall and the Forbidden City if you visit China the first time and it is fantastic but it is not unique in the sense that many people visited those places. The same is true for the skyline in Shanghai. I love walking along the Bund in Shanghai and it is always fascinating for the time being. However, there are so many more interesting places to visit in China, which are less frequented by tourists and more unique compared to the top tourist hotspots described in most travel guides.
The following pictures are the pictures I find interesting. I promise that there won’t be any photos from the Forbidden City, the Great Wall or other places you all have seen a dozen of times before.
The South-West of China
Personally, I still think that Sichuan is the best place to visit in China for several reasons. Firstly, it is famous for its delicious and spicy food but you must not necessarily go all the way to Sichuan if you want to enjoy Sichuan cuisine. Fantastic restaurants offering spicy Sichuan food can be found everywhere in China. Secondly, the more remote areas offer a huge variety of things to explore and Sichuan has a lot of those remote places. Surrounded by many mountains, Chengdu is the ideal base point for trips into the Tibetian world. There is no need to go all the way to Lhasa in order to explore the Tibetian culture. A bus from Chengdu to Kang Ding takes you to the beginning of the Tibetian world and from there it is possible to ride the Sichuan-Tibet highway all the way to Kathmandu but I have to admit that I never went that far as there are too many things to explore between the border of Tibet and Sichuan. Moreover, only very few Chinese tourists go to this area as most people prefer taking the train to Lhasa. The highway is a muddy trail and not comparable to modern highways you can find elsewhere in China, which makes it difficult to travel in this region. However, I don’t know if this situation changed since I have been there the last time, which was around 2012.
Sichuan – Gansu 2012
Kang Ding 2011
Sichuan (Le Shan) 2011
The South of China
Another interesting trip took us to the South of China. We started our journey in Xiamen, from where we took a plane to Guilin. I was very impressed about the nice villages surrounding Guilin and the kindliness of the people we met on our trip. From Guilin we took a plane to Guangzhou and from Guangzhou we were going to Hong Kong by train.
Xiamen – Guangzhou 2014