World ? Asia ? China

China: Introduction

With every new edition of this book, identifying the "best of China" becomes a more and more difficult task. As this once isolated giant awakens, forces are being unleashed that impact tourism. Devastating pollution, widespread corruption, and the sheer volume of tourists have transformed many of China's best-known sights into filthy, overpriced circuses. To find the very best that China has to offer, it is sadly becoming more important to know what to avoid, rather than what to see.

Perhaps the best advice that we can give is to focus on nature. After suffering through the devastating Cultural Revolution, what little remains of the country's much-vaunted 5,000 years of culture is being lost in the rush to get rich -- even small cities have become heavily polluted sweatshops. Fortunately, China still has some of the most spectacular natural scenery on the planet. Many places within the People's Republic have only recently been opened to visitors, so we have only had a few decades to unlock some of this enormous realm's secrets. While we certainly do not claim to have uncovered everything, we have been truly inspired by this huge treasure house, and have included here what we have discovered so far.

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