Places of China
The People’s Republic of China has administrative control over 22 provinces. China also has five subdivisions officially termed autonomous regions, each with a designated minority group; four municipalities; and two Special Administrative Regions (SARs), which enjoy a degree of political autonomy. These 22 provinces, five autonomous regions, and four municipalities can be collectively referred to as “mainland China”, a term which usually excludes the SARs of Hong Kong and Macau. None of these divisions are recognized by the ROC government, which claims the entirety of the PRC’s territory.
Anhui is an eastern Chinese province known for its Huangshan mountains. The region’s low-hanging clouds, distinctive granite rocks and twisted pine trees have been subjects of numerous classical paintings and poems. Trails and cable cars provide access to some Huangshan peaks (1,864m Lian Hua Feng is the highest). The gateway Tunxi district and surrounding villages preserve examples of the Huizhou regional architectural style.
Fujian is a southeastern Chinese province known for its mountains and coastal cities. In Xiamen, a port town and former foreign concession, the island of Gulangyu has pedestrianized streets and 19th-century colonial villas. Fuzhou, the provincial capital, is a transportation hub for destinations such as Quanzhou. Once visited by Marco Polo, Quanzhou offers temples, an old-town district and Maritime Museum.
Henan, a province in Central China’s Yellow River Valley, is widely recognized as the place where Chinese civilization originated. There are 4 ancient capitals within its borders. Luoyang, capital during multiple dynasties, is home to Baima Si (White Horse Temple), among China’s first Buddhist temples, founded in the 1st century. Nearby, the Longmen Grottoes have Buddhist rock carvings dating to the 5th century.
Hubei is a landlocked province in Central China. Its varied terrain encompasses mountains, lakes and wilderness areas. Wuhan, its capital, is the site of picturesque East Lake, the 5-tiered Yellow Crane Tower and vast Hubei Provincial Museum. The province is also known for the Three Gorges, a popular destination of Yangtze River cruises and home to the massive Three Gorges Dam.
Hunan Province is a province of the People’s Republic of China. It is located in South Central China, south of the middle course of the Yangtze River, and south of Lake Dongting (hence the name Hunan, which means “south of the lake”).Hunan is sometimes called and officially abbreviated as “湘” for short, after the Xiang River which runs through the province.
Everyone travelling between the ancient business town of Hongjiang and the infamous Fenghuang must change in Huaihua. Besides the regular bus, there is a fleet of illegal taxis waiting near the river to drive you north. Before going to the most crowded and popular ancient town of China, I had set my mind to stop in Jingling (荆坪) on the way to Huaihua. Explaining to the driver where was that ancient village and negotiating the fare was burlesque and the driver finally gave me that ‘why that crazy foreigner wants to go this forsaken village I never heard of’.
Hunan province is know for its ancient towns. Among all of them, Fenghuang, the Phoenix town, is definitely the most popular one. And it is also one of the most popular tourist spots in China. With its beautiful architecture rippling along the river, and many beautiful bridges across it, it deserves it. It is very popular place to go after visiting Zhangjiajie mountains since it is so close. There are many direct tourist buses going directly from Zhangjiajie city to Fenghuang, or you can take a train to Jishou city and than take just half an hour long tourist bus-line which goes every 10 minutes to Fenghuang.
Liaoning is a northeastern Chinese province bordering North Korea and the Yellow Sea. Shenyang, the sprawling capital, is home to the Shenyang Palace Museum (aka Mukden Palace), the original home of the Manchu Qing dynasty emperors. On the Liaodong Peninsula, Dalian is a modern port city known for its beaches, pockets of Russian-style architecture, ski slopes and theme parks.
Shandong, an eastern Chinese province on the Yellow Sea, is known for its Taoist and Confucian heritage. As the ancient state of Qi, it was the last kingdom conquered by Qin Shi Huang, who proclaimed himself China’s first emperor in 219 B.C.E. in a ceremony on Taishan. One of China’s most sacred peaks, Taishan is home to shrines, stone tablets and pilgrimage trails.
Enormous Shanghai, on China’s central coast, is the country’s biggest city and a global financial hub. Its heart is the Bund, a famed waterfront promenade lined with colonial-era buildings. Across the Huangpu River rises Pudong’s futuristic skyline, including 632m Shanghai Tower and the Oriental Pearl TV Tower, with distinctive pink spheres. Sprawling Yuyuan Garden has traditional pavilions, towers and ponds.
Shanxi is a plateau province of North China. Its ancient sites include Pingyao, a preserved old town dating from the Ming and Qing dynasties, with circa-1370 wall. On the outskirts are sprawling old merchants’ mansions including the Qiao Family Courtyard. Taiyan, the modern provincial capital, is known for temples and the Shanxi Museum, with expansive collections of regional artifacts going back to prehistory.
Sichuan is a southwestern Chinese province that contains a stretch of Asia’s largest river, the Yangtze. The region is renowned for its cuisine, which includes spicy hot pots. It’s also the home of giant pandas, which visitors can observe at Bifengxia Panda Base and other reserves. Chengdu, the capital, is a center for traditional Sichuanese opera, which include fire-breathing and sleight-of-hand mask changes.
Yunnan is a province in southwestern China with a varied landscape encompassing snow-capped mountains, rice terraces, lakes and deep gorges. The region is known for its large number of ethnic minorities. Modern Kunming, known as the “Spring City,” has many museums and temples, including colorful Yuantong Temple. To the southeast, Shilin Stone Forest contains limestone karst peaks formed 270 million years ago.