Considered one of the world's most important historic gardens - hence their designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site - the Classical Gardens of Suzhou should rank highly on your China itinerary.In the historic city of Suzhou in Jiangsu province, these magnificent gardens were established in the 11th century at a time when the city was experiencing unprecedented growth and were among some 270 or more gardens planted here.Although some were severely damaged due to the passing of time, many of the statues unearthed have been painstakingly re-assembled and stand as testament to the importance bestowed upon the emperor and the afterlife.The site - part of the Emperor Qin Shi Huang's Mausoleum Site Park - is one of China's most important tourist destinations and offers the unforgettable experience of standing in front of this assembly of soldiers and horses as if inspecting a centuries-old parade.Covering some 720,000 square meters and protected by a 10-meter-high wall with watchtowers and a wide moat, this massive complex consists of areas set aside for ceremonial and administrative purposes, as well as a private residence used by the emperor.While it can take many hours to see everything, highlights include the five white marble Golden River Bridges; the Hall of Supreme Harmony, a 35-meter-tall building housing the imperial throne; and the exquisite emperor's banquet hall (the Hall of Preserving Harmony), to name but a few.Its vast catchment area with its 700 tributaries cover about one-fifth of the total area of the country and encompass a quarter of the country's agricultural land.
"Nobody can be a true hero unless he has been on the Great Wall" goes the popular saying, one that clearly demonstrates the importance that the Chinese place upon this unique ancient monument.
Highlights include the magnificent Hall of Well-being and Longevity (Renshou Dian) with its throne, and the beautiful Great Theatre, a private three-story structure built in 1891 to satisfy the imperial family's love of opera.
Other highlights include the Hall of Happiness and Longevity (Le Shou Tang Hall) with its lovely gardens and courtyards, as well as many miles of picturesque pathways and walking trails.
In places a mix of raging torrents and dangerous shallows, here the river winds its way through the gorges and their rugged cliffs and high mountain peaks in a stretch of scenery as dramatic as the Grand Canyon.
Numerous sightseeing options are available, from luxurious riverboats focusing on the region's many historical attractions and places of scenic beauty to challenging adventure tours along the most dramatic sections of the river.