Chinese culture is known as “divinely inspired,” and boasting over 3,500 years of written history, its rich and elaborate past offers a myriad of learning opportunities. Since the Yellow Emperor, China has given the world countless literary classics, historical documents, and shaped modern society with inventions such as paper, gunpowder, the compass, silk, tea, and porcelain. China offers vibrant, dualistic learning experiences for students of all subjects. Here are our top three destinations for teachers planning a school trip to China.
Few places on earth can match the extraordinary historical panorama on display in Beijing. There are six UNESCO World Heritage Sites in this city alone (just one less than the whole of Egypt). At its heart is Tiananmen Square, built in 1415 during the Ming dynasty, which acts as a door to the magnificent Forbidden City, the world's largest imperial palace.
Beijing is brimming with Buddhist temples and imperial architecture. Historical art and literature are also found in abundance here, courtesy of the Ming dynasty who patronised many Chinese cultural movements during their reign. Home to the 2008 Olympic stadium and plenty of outlandish skyscrapers, like the Leeza Soho, Beijing is fast becoming one of the most exciting cities for modern art and design in the world.
With so much on offer, you could easily spend weeks immersed in Beijing. However, some must-dos for school groups on a tighter timeframe include a rickshaw tour through the enchanting hutong, a tai chi experience at The Temple of Heaven, and visits to both the Forbidden City and Summer Temple. Both an imperial gem and a modern wonder, Beijing is the perfect destination to complement any school trip.
Pronounced 'see-an', Xi'an was once the terminus of the Silk Road and home to many emperors, courtesans, poets, monks, merchants and warriors. The glory days of Xi'an may have ended in the early 10th century, but a considerable amount of Xi'an's Ming-era ancient city has survived, and vendors of all descriptions still crowd the narrow lanes.
A visit to Xi'an is not complete without a visit to the Army of Terracotta Warriors. One of the most famous archaeological finds in the world, this historical site was unearthed in the 1970s and is home to a collection of thousands of life-size warriors constructed in 246–221 BC to accompany the tomb of China’s First Emperor as an afterlife guard.
Another memorable experience to enjoy while in Xi'an is a visit to the famous Muslim quarter. Initially the starting point of the ancient Silk Road in 130 BC, the Muslim quarter got its name from the many merchants and overseas students from Arabic countries and Persia who relocated to Xi'an during the Han Dynasty (206 BC - 9 AD). Still a bustling hub, the Muslim quarter is a fascinating area where you can find exotic food, interesting people, and great souvenir stalls. You can taste many authentic Islamic snacks, like beef or mutton Rou Jia Mo (Chinese hamburger), north-western style noodles and Yangrou Paomo (mutton stew).
Yangshuo lies to the southeast of Guilin and in the northeast of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. Renowned for its mountainous landscapes, Yangshuo is regarded as one of the most beautiful regions in China.
The unique geography and over 1,400 years of history mean Yangshuo offers it all; geographical beauty, deep tradition and beautiful cultures. Yangshuo's streets offer a simple and primitive atmosphere in-keeping with the ancient town. Ethnic groups’ unique folk customs represented by their various festivals and exotic flavours make this town more colourful. The best way to enjoy the splendours of Yangshuo is on a Li River cruise. Scenes that inspired generations of Chinese painters are the standard here: wallowing water buffalo and farmers tending their crops against a backdrop of limestone peaks. With its breath-taking scenery and taste of a life far removed from the concrete metropolis.
Yangshuo also offers visitors the opportunity to learn how to cook traditional Chinese cuisine. With a long history, unique features, numerous styles and exquisite cooking, Chinese cuisine is one crucial constituent part of Chinese culture. Chinese traditional dishes are famous for colour, aroma, taste, meaning and appearance. Cooking classes in Yangshuo will give you the chance to learn how to make delicious Chinese dishes such as chow mien, pecking duck, wontons, and sweet and sour pork.