World ? Asia ? China

China: The Best Adventures

Yongding (Fujian): The magnificent multistory circular fortresses of the Hakka minority, known as "earth buildings" and home to hundreds (usually all with the same family name), are the largest and most striking examples of surviving domestic architecture in China.

Yushu (Qinghai): Khampa areas within the Tibet "Autonomous Regions" are closed to the individual traveler, but here these fiercely proud Tibetan warriors trade in a traditional market town beneath a stern gray-and-red monastery.

Yanbian (Jilin): A lush, achingly pretty hilly region perched on China's border with North Korea, parts of which have only recently been opened to tourism, Yanbian is home to the largest population of ethnic Koreans outside the peninsula itself. Independent-minded travelers have the opportunity to explore one of the few truly bicultural societies in China.

Tengchong (Yunnan): This charming overlooked town on the ancient southern Silk Route is poised to become an important tourist destination in the coming years as tourist authorities gear up to promote travel along the ancient trade route. For now, Tengchong is still a laid-back, friendly town with a surprisingly large number of attractions that include hot springs, volcanoes, waterfalls, temples, and some absolutely delightful traditional Chinese villages just outside it.

Pingyao (Shanxi): Chinese tourists have discovered Pingyao, but the numbers of Western tourists are still relatively few at what is one of the best-preserved Ming and Qing towns in China. An intact Ming city wall surrounds clusters of elegant high-walled courtyard residences, some of which are also guesthouses.

Quanzhou (Fujian): An overnight ferry from Hong Kong, a few days in Xiamen, and a short bus trip to Quanzhou combine to make the perfect less-traveled start to a China trip. The laid-back town has plenty of interest to see, at a human scale and pace.

Ningbo (Zhejiang): With a new tourist office and lots of colorful brochures, the authorities here are determined to make Ningbo more than a container port. Here is an opportunity to discover new beaches, forests, temples, and mountain ranges that many Chinese have never even heard of.

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