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Top 5 hot destinations in China for 2010

updated: 2010-01-13

As the new year gets underway and the Spring Festival approaches, many travelers are considering where to spend their time off in the months to come. As airlines continue to cut prices and travel bureaus issue promotional activities in an attempt to lure pleasure-seeking holiday-makers, the Global Times has waded through the vast array of options to arrive at the Top 5 Hot Destinations in China for 2010.

Hainan Island: tropical paradise

Sun, sea and sand, Hainan is a haven for those wanting to escape the hectic pace of city life and relax in one of the many highly-appointed resorts that the island has to offer. For the budget conscious there are also plenty of affordable accommodation options within a stone's throw away of beautiful white, sandy beaches.

Shanghai: World Expo fever

With 2010 officially confirmed as the "China Expo Tourist Year," Shanghai is already on the destination map for both international and domestic tourists alike. Organizer's estimate that more than 70 million visitors from over 200 countries will attend the expo from May 1 – October 31. Known as a modern metropolis, Shanghai is always buzzing with energy and a sense of endless possibilities.

Shopping on West Nanjing Road, drinking coffee in Xintiandi, discovering the garden house of the 1930's on Hengshan Road and enjoying the festival atmosphere in Cheng Huang Miao are must dos in Shanghai and offer a great combination of Eastern and Western culture – most importantly, don't miss the underwater tunnel and impressive views from the Oriental Pearl TV Tower and the Bund.

Shandong: 120,000 free tickets

Located at the lower reaches of the Yellow River and extending out to sea with the Shandong Peninsula, Shandong Province has a rich cultural heritage.

The Temple and Cemetery of Confucius, Confucius Family Mansion in Qufu and Mount Tai, the sacred mountain in Tai'an all add to the area's history and charm. Due to its coastal position and mild climate, Qingdao, Yantai and Weihai enjoy the fame of being the most livable cites in China.

In order to attract people to the province, Shandong Tourism Bureau has issued 120,000 free tickets to famous scenic spots. Travelers can get the tickets from most major hotels, shopping malls and restaurants in the area.

The promotion began on January 1 and will run until February 28 with a series of colorful activities such as wine tasting, traditional galas, wushu performances and the traditional rite of fengshan (offerings to heaven) at Mount Tai.

Yangtze Delta Trail: sites a plenty

The recently launched Yangtze River Delta Expo Trail Tour is a great way to take in the sites of the area. Ninety-six sites, all located within a 200-kilometer circle and including beautiful Wuzhen water villages, cultural heritage locations, fishing villages and secluded mountains, are part of the official trail, with local travel companies offering a range of ways and options to access them.

Aside from offering a comprehensive overview of the area, sites on the trail also promise good facilities for tourists including food options, high-quality services and approved amenities.

Zhangye in Gansu Province

After the success of the film A Simple Noodle Story by Zhang Yimou, the film's location, Zhangye in Gansu Province, has recently seen an influx of tourists to its many danxia landforms, large red cliffs.

Located in the middle section of the Hexi Corridor, Zhangye not only boasts natural beauty but was also an important section of the Silk Road. The district holds strong historical significance due to its geographical location and fertile lands. Throughout China's dynasties it has been the political, economic, cultural and diplomatic center of the northwest.

Many famous figures such as envoys Zhang Qian and Ban Chao and Buddhist monks Fa Xian from the Eastern Jin Dynasty (371-420) and Xuan Zang from the Tang Dynasty (618-907), traveled through the city. Italian explorer Marco Polo lived in Zhangye for one year.

Spectacular spots around the city include grottos and prairies, forests and the snow-covered Qilian Mountain. The area also boasts fascinating Yugur folklore with many traditional and cultural activities to be explored.

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