Lonely Planet, largest travel guide book publisher in the world, recently released its list of 10 best places to visit in Asia in 2017. China’s Gansu Province tops the list, while Xi’an city ranks No.7 in the list.
Gansu: Silk Road tour with rich history in Buddhist art
Gansu is a land of snow-capped mountains, big skies and Silk Road history, with surreal terrain ranging from the arid peaks of Xiahe to the Instagrammable rainbow desert of Danxia National Geopark. Besides this visual feast, local cuisine – especially Lanzhou-style hand-pulled noodles – has earned a cult foodie following.
The province is blissfully well-connected thanks to high-speed rail services and upgraded highways, and a new metro will ease traffic in provincial capital Lanzhou when it opens this year. But sights like the giant Buddha at Bingling Monastery still retain an otherworldly atmosphere. Gansu’s crown jewel and world-class Buddhist art site, the Mogao Grottoes, received a huge upgrade in 2015, but – just like the entire region – remains underrated and relatively crowd-free.
Xi’an: Terracotta Warriors – a must-see attraction
Where else in China can you cycle Ming city walls – on a full circuit? Once Tang China’s grandest city, not to mention the eastern starting point of the Silk Road, Xi’an’s diverse heritage is supreme: there’s the bustling Muslim Quarter, the myth-wreathed peaks of Hua Shan, imperial tombs dotting the surrounding plains and China’s best collection of Tang dynasty pagodas. And then there’s the biggie: the Army of Terracotta Warriors, celebrating 30 years as a Unesco World Heritage Site in 2017.
Xi’an is vast, but a relaxed tempo reigns and recent openings have boosted an already superb accommodation market; throw in a crop of new bars and cafes plus the 72-hour visa-free policy and there’s never been a better time to visit.
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