Relief from the madding crowds
Updated: 2013-04-06 08:07
By Xu Junqian (China Daily)
Yancheng is one of the oldest and most well-preserved ancient towns in China. Provided to China Daily
Three destinations that are off the beaten track but still worth a visit. Xu Junqian shows the way.
Holidays in China are synonymous with crowds and traffic jams, even the Tomb Sweeping Day, which is when Chinese people traditionally visit the graves of their ancestors to pay their respects. So to help you enjoy a crowd-free vacation, China Daily has selected three destinations around Shanghai that are off the beaten track but still well worth a visit.
Changzhou - 179 km from Shanghai
One of the earliest cities in China to be opened-up, Changzhou in Jiangsu province is considered by most Chinese people to be an industrial town rather than a tourist destination. But with beautiful natural scenery nearby, historical relics and huge modern theme parks, the city offers many delights for those willing to look beyond the industrial skyline.
Just 40 minutes by car from the city center lies the Nanshan Bamboo Forest, a huge, pristine, natural museum housing a variety of bamboos. You can either take the cable car to the peak of the mountain, which commands an overall view of the sea of bamboo, or take a relaxed stroll through this natural generator of oxygen.
If you are interested in history, Yancheng is worth a visit. The small town might be one of the few places in China that has escaped war, and more importantly, the wrecker's ball, and it is still one of the oldest and most well-preserved ancient towns in China. A boat trip along river can't fail to please, while the marshes and wetlands are home to some unique and endangered species. Just a few steps away from the old town is the vast expanse of the newly built amusement park dedicated to what life would have been like back in Confucius' day. With an investment of about one billion yuan ($159 million), the park is a rather surreal combination of a Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BC) theme with state-of-art amusement facilities.
If you like the local delicacies, such as fresh spring bamboo or hand pressed tofu, the chef at the Shang Palace restaurant in the newly opened Shangri-La Hotel in Changzhou is not only adept at cooking all kinds of authentic local dishes, as he is a master of some of the traditional kitchen skills that are fast disappearing, he is also very bold when it comes to creating new dishes with bizarre ingredients like insects.
The hotel is also introducing a special spring package to celebrate the local cherry blossom which ends on April 6. The less-than-1,000-yuan package includes a night in the hotel's standard room, breakfast buffet for two and two free tickets to the theme park.