This 5th century temple around 60km southeast of Datong will take your breath away before you even get up close to it. High up in the mountains, hugging a narrow shelf in the cliff face, it seems impossible that the Hanging Temple of Hengshan manages to keep its balance. Climb up to the temple to gaze out at the views from its balconies and walk the winding bridges that link the northern and the southern part together. The temple combines three religions – Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism – and gilded statues from them all can be admired inside the halls.
Named after its turquoise crescent moon-shaped river, the Blue Moon Valley in Lijiang with its terraced waterfall, surrounding wildflower meadows and Himalayan backdrop is a beautiful place for a hike.
The river is fed from melted snow and ice from the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, meaning the water is freezing cold year-round. One local tradition is that when two young people fall in love, the man must stand barefoot in the river to show his commitment.
Another local name for the river is Milk River, due to the white colour of the water as it falls over the terraces that make up the waterfall. This rushing water with the mountains behind and the brilliant blue river below it is a sight you won’t be forgetting in a hurry.
Once one of the most important cities on the Maritime Silk Road, glittering Guǎngzhōu today offers a more laid-back city experience than busy Beijing and Shanghai. Start by exploring the harbour which was once used for exporting spices and other goods out of the country. Nowadays, the harbour offers views of skyscrapers melting into the water’s surface.
Further inland, wander the cobbled streets to find hidden temples and mosques. At Enning Lu, the city’s old town, you can walk through hundreds of years of history. Pastel coloured houses built in the 1920s and 30s line this wide and beautiful street. Look out for the Cantonese Opera Art Museum for a fascinating insight into the important part opera has played in China’s history. The past home of kung fu icon Bruce Lee can also be seen on this street.