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Favourite Cities in China

April 1, 2011

I’ve seen a few polls recently, both expat and local Chinese, concerning the best cities to live in China.

Having spent nearly six years in China now, I decided to put together a top 10 list of the favourite cities I’ve visited. A couple of places I’ve only spent a day in or less I haven’t included in the list. Anything less than a day provides nothing more than a very superficial idea of the area/town or city.

1. Xiamen

Clean, nice beach, reasonable traffic, blue skies, and great year round weather, beautiful coastal roads and the magnificent Gulangyu island. Unless you’re really into big city life, the likes of Shanghai and Beijing just can’t compare to the better weather and superior general living environment offered by a coastal city such as Xiamen (have also heard good things about other coastal cities such as Dalian, Qingdao and Zhuhai, although in my opinion Xiamen would take some beating) 

WIKI: Xiamen and the surrounding countryside are famous for being an ancestral home to overseas Chinese. It became one of China’s earliest Special Economic Zones in the 1980s.[3] Xiamen covers an area of 1 565 km² with a total population of 2.5 million. It has been ranked as China’s second ‘most suitable city for living’. (the first was

2. Hong Kong

File:Hong Kong Skyline Restitch - Dec 2007.jpg

 Incredible city life mixed with spectacular views and beaches. Although the density of popualtion and price of accomodation and transport are drawbacks, Hong Kong is still the most vibrant city in my opinion.

3. Hangzhou

Clean, beautiful, relaxed, developed, and of course . .  . Xi hu 西湖

WIKI: A core city of the Yangtze River Delta, its position on the Hangzhou Bay 180 kilometres (110 mi) southwest of Shanghai gives it economic power, and moreover, it has also been one of the most renowned and prosperous cities of China for much of the last 1,000 years, due in part to its beautiful natural scenery; the city’s West Lake is its most well-known attraction.

4. Huangshan/Tunxi

File:Huangshan Yingkesong.jpg

A slightly more rural, old China choice here. Beautiful areas around the famous mountains and the old town of Tunxi.

5. Dali

It’s the old town I’m talking about here. Peaceful, narrow streets. Spectacular scenery in the north of Yunnan province.

WIKI:  Dali and Yunnan’s capital Kunming are only a 40-minute flight apart. Dali’s newly finished administrative district that houses the newly opened Dali International Convention Center is in Longshan District. The Dali government’s urban planning keeps its old and new districts separate, so those coming here for the first time often feel they have entered a time tunnel. The “new city” is known as Xiaguan and is south of the old city. The old city was built during Ming Dynasty emperor Hongwu’s reign (1368–1398). Owing to the distance between them, the old city is still peaceful and quiet.

6. Guangzhou

Two words: Zao Cha 早茶

7. Xi’an

File:China xian glockenturm 01.jpg

Spectacular ancient walled city, especially at night. And of course the Bingmayong 兵马俑 

8. Yangzhou

WIKI:  Historically one of the wealthiest of China’s cities, known at various periods for its great merchant families, poets, painters, and scholars, it has attracted the attention of many historians in the West, and in English-language scholarship is the most intensively researched city in Chinese history after Beijing and Shanghai

9. Shanghai

File:Skyline of Shanghai Taken from the Bund during Expo visit.jpg

10. Beijing


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