China Cultural Travel

Cultural travel to China is a unique experience as the nation is home to a vast array of cultures, histories, and traditions. As such, it stands as one of the world’s visits destinations, boasting everything from cosmopolitan cities and quaint, rural towns, to breathtaking natural wonders. Though there are many ways to explore China’s rich cultural heritage, this article focuses on three: visiting ancient imperial sites, attending traditional festivals, and exploring the country’s cultural cuisines.

Visit Ancient Imperial Sites

A visit to China wouldn’t be complete without a tour of the numerous ancient imperial sites found throughout the country. From Beijing’s iconic Forbidden City to the burial site of the First Emperor, Qin Shi Huang, there’s a seemingly endless list of imperial sites that can be explored. Every site boasts architectural marvels, and a journey through each reveals a history, traditions, and a culture that’s distinct from any other.

Visiting these imperial sites can also prove to be an educational experience, as many are home to existing museums and galleries. Here, travelers can learn more about the site’s history as well as the lives of the people who resided in them. It’s a wonderful opportunity to gain insight into China’s past and learn about its stories and customs.

Attend Traditional Festivals

Another way to learn more about Chinese culture is to attend a traditional festival. These happenings are some of the most important cultural sensibilities in the nation, and span from the well-known Chinese New Year, to obscure local celebrations celebrated only within the confines of a specific city or town. Many of them feature special performances and activities, unique to each specific festival. Attending such events not only provides insight into Chinese culture, but gives travelers an experience unlike any other.

Festival-goers can also take part in the festival’s traditional activities, such as lion or dragon dances, martial arts performances, lantern shows or traditional art. To add to that, these events typically house vendors; here, travelers can buy unique souvenirs crafted by local artisans.

Exploring Cultural Cuisine

In China, food is not just a source of sustenance; it is an integral part of the nation’s culture. Eating out and ordering regional delicacies reveals aspects of the culture not otherwise accessible through other activities. From Shanghai’s Xiao Long Bao soup dumplings and Hangzhou’s Beggar’s chicken, to Chengdu’s spicy dishes, there’s a delightful culinary story rooted in the culture of each region.

Given the diversity of Chinese cuisine and its connection to the nation’s customs, a gastronomical tour of China is the perfect way to experience the culture. Many travel operators offer an array of food-related tours, each of which are tailored to the preferences of both picky eaters and adventurous taste-testers.

Joining Cultural Tours

Though it’s possible to plan a cultural-tour to China on one’s own, there are various travel operators that offer custom bites of experiences and activities. Furthermore, many of these operators offer bilingual guides and tours that focus on specific topics such as Chinese architecture, martial arts, and history. Joining these tours often proves to be more reliable than attempting to craft one’s own journey.

These guided tours also provide special access to events and activities that may not be accessible to independent travelers. Plus, by enrolling for such, one also enjoys the benefit of expert advice and teachings of the native culture.

Demonstrations of Chinese Culture

Nothing is quite like witnessing a traditional demonstration of Chinese culture. From Chinese Opera performances and acrobatic shows to shadow puppet productions, the nation is filled with an assortment of age-old performances that speak to its historical roots. Moreover, many of these shows are often extremely interactive, allowing those who attend to become involved in the performances and interact with the players themselves.

Ensuring a breathtaking and engaging experience, a performance of Chinese culture is a must for anyone interested in truly immersing themselves in the nation’s culture. Many of these events can be found advertised online, organized in throughout the various cities and towns.

Staying in Local Accommodations

Spending time in the home of a local can be far more educational than a stay in a hotel. Utilizing services such as Airbnb, travelers can quickly and easily find the perfect place to stay throughout their travels. With a local home-stay, travelers can enjoy a much more intimate view of the nation’s culture than what can be found while taking part in any other cultural activity.

Beyond that, travelers can also gain insight into the daily life of locals as well as their stories and customs. Furthermore, a stay in local accommodations can be a great way of having experiences that are custom-tailored to the traveller’s preferences.

Discovering Chinese History

Accompanying a tour of China’s imperial sites, travelers can also explore the nation’s fascinating history by visiting various archeological sites. In present-day China, archaeologists have uncovered various artefacts and ruins, many of which have become major tourist attractions. Such discoveries provide further insight into the nation’s story, with some sites dating back thousands of years.

Many of these physical reminders of Chinese history are interactive, dynamic sites, filled with informative displays and educational talks by leading archaeology experts.. Meanwhile, free-time can be spent exploring the area and gleaning further knowledge on one’s own.

Engage with Chinese Art

Finally, engaging with various forms of Chinese art, such as calligraphy and painting, can prove to be an incredibly educational experience. The nation’s art is unique and often feature aspects of the culture that are distinct from any other. By attempting to understand the art and its cultural relevance, travelers can gain a different perspective on the nation, as well as become closer with the nation’s stories and cultural histories.

Interestingly enough, various galleries and libraries throughout China allow visitors to take part and even practice in some art forms. Such opportunities not only provide an intimate experience, but also further insight on Chinese culture and the way locals think and behave.

Exploring Chinese Theatre

China’s theatre scene has been around for centuries, and remains just as important in modern culture today. In the country, there are various types of performance theatre, ranging from Beijing opera to Peking Circus. These performances showcase traditional Chinese culture, such as music, dance, as well as costumes and storytelling.

Visiting these performances is as educational as it is entertaining. During the show, viewers can gain insight into Chinese customs while enjoying the captivating performances.

Learning Martial Arts

Though it’s often associated with violence, martial arts originated in China as a way of promoting physical and spiritual well-being. Knowing this, a class or lesson in martial arts can prove to be an amazing way of experiencing the culture. Generally lasting a few hours, it’s a great way for travelers to experience the culture, as the instructors usually incorporate aspects of Chinese history and customs into each lesson.

In a martial arts class, travelers can gain both physical and spiritual knowledge, as the instructors focus on the traditional philosophy behind the art. Farmers, motions, as well as breathing technique are also typically included in the class, further proving its potential for being a culturally-enriching experience.

Artisanal Crafts

Visiting local markets in China can be an incredibly rewarding experience. Often filled with souvenirs and local artifacts, these places, such as Beijing’s Silk Market, are a great place to witness Chinese life and purchase unique items.

During the trip to a market, evidence of the nation’s culture can be found everywhere – from the locals bargaining for produce, to the vendors selling traditional items. Additionally, goods such as furniture, clothing, pottery, and arts are typically found in such locations. Prices are usually quite affordable, and the design and art hearkens back to the nation’s traditional culture.

Bernice Sorrells

Bernice A. Sorrells is a freelance journalist and travel writer from the United States. She has written extensively about China, covering topics such as culture, history, politics, and economics. Bernice has traveled extensively throughout China, visiting many of its provinces and cities.

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