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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Top Ten Reasons to Visit China Now

by Bryan Herb, Zoom Vacations

Most people would consider China to be a vast and extraordinary country encompassing thousands of miles, with a unique history spanning thousands of years. Yet China has recently emerged as one of the stars of the world’s stage, and it’s easy to see why. Architecture buffs can’t ignore China’s developing cities. Epicureans are swiftly taking notice of the gastronomic creations of Master Chef Zhao Renliang from Shanghai or Master Chef Zheng Xinmin from Xian.

As if this wasn’t enough to create excitement over China, just think about the number of things you may have purchased for your home recently that say Made in China. In many ways, China is all around us. Of course there is no better way to enjoy and appreciate this exciting country than to see it firsthand, and no better time than now. China, after all, is so very now. The following are ten reasons to visit China that you just can’t ignore.

1. The 2008 Olympics in Beijing set the bar for future Olympic celebrations in architectural scale and technological advancements. Many world-renown architects contributed their best design efforts to the Olympic buildings.

2. The Great Wall of China was recently listed as one of the New 7 Wonders of the World. It stretches over 4,000 miles, and while the latest construction occurred after 1368 during the Ming Dynasty, construction of the Great Wall began over 2,000 years ago. It was built to link existing fortifications into a united defense system and better keep invading Mongol tribes out of China. Without question, thousands of people must have given their lives to build the wall, which is the largest man-made monument ever to have been built. It is even visible from space.

3. Shanghai is the biggest and the most important economic center of China. Swiftly becoming a culinary capital, visitors also delight in the city’s Innovative architecture and fascinating history.

4. The Terracotta Warriors were buried with the first emperor of the Qin dynasty in 210 BCE. They were forgotten for over two thousand years until 1974 when a local farmer discovered them as he was digging a well. Imagine his surprise as he beheld thousands of life-size figures with individually unique faces, hair and uniforms appropriate to their rank.

5. Few places in the world can you see such splendor as exists in Beijing’s Forbidden City, called Gu Gong in Chinese. It was the imperial palace during the Ming and Qing dynasties and is now known as the Palace Museum, the largest palace complex in the world. Listed by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage Site in 1987, the Palace Museum is one of the most popular tourist attractions world-wide. UNESCO also lists it as the largest collection of preserved ancient wooden structures in the world. In addition to seeing traditional architecture up close, there is also a stunning collection of treasures from the imperial family and its court.

6. The culinary scene in China is as exciting as any other place in the world, as master chefs blend age-old techniques and recipes with modern flavors, and even science. Styles vary from city to city. Shanghai, Beijing, Xian all have their own delicious cuisine, and every new city brings with it a gastronomic exploration.

7. Some of the best 5 star hotels in the world are in China. The hotels Zoom Vacations will be calling our homes away from home, the Regent in Beijing and the Le Meridien Shanghai are rated top 20 in all of Asia where the competition is fierce among hotels for the top billing. In addition, service in China is truly an art form.

8. Shopping in China is thrilling for bargain shoppers as well as name brand fashionistas. Just about anything you buy in your home country you can purchase or have made in China at a fraction of the cost. Imagine having a fine custom made suit for less than $200.

9. China’s cities have a lot to offer leisure travelers. Conde Nast Traveler recently named Shanghai and Beijing as two of the world’s Top TEN Cities to Visit.

10. Since China is the world’s fastest growing economy, everything is booming. Walking through its streets by day or night, the excitement is palpable.

As if 10 reasons weren't enough reasons to beckon gay travelers to hop on a plane, China's emerging gay scene is picking up speed, especially in cities like Beijing and Shanghai. You'll find gay-owned business and restaurants, campy gay bars, chic gay lounges, and even rocking gay clubs with a mix of patrons thumping to the latest music. You'll soon see that gay China is not the dishes you inherited from your grandmother.

Zoom Vacations, a global gay vacation company, offers incredible gay group and independent trips to China, Rio for New Years and Carnaval, South Africa, India, Australia for the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, Peru, Argentina, Madrid for Gay Pride, and several luxury mega-yacht cruises. You can find more information on their website at www.zoomvacations.com or call 773 772 ZOOM (9666).

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