China

Things to do in China

The home of countless different cultures and a history that stretches back 5,000 years, coming up with an itinerary to cover such a country as complex as China can be daunting. Fortunately some of the highlights that every visitor to China will want to see provide a place to start.

Forbidden City. The Chinese imperial palace from the 15th century until the abdication of the last emperor in 1912, Beijing's Forbidden City includes 980 different buildings and is the largest collection of ancient wooden structures in the world.
The Great Wall. The earliest portions of the Great Wall along China's northern border date from the seventh-century BC. Counting all of its various branches, the Wall is estimated to stretch more than 13,000 miles in one of the world's most astounding built wonders.
Terracotta Army at Xi'an. Over 8,000 terracotta warriors and 130 chariots drawn by 520 horses were produced in the third century BC to accompany the then emperor into the afterlife upon his death. This fascinating army was buried and undiscovered until 1974, when a local farmer stumbled across them.

This low-lit bar features dark wood furnishings and live music.

The sleek 1,345-square-foot store, with its white oak floors and cloud-like molded walls, was developed by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma under the direction of designer Jiang Qiong Er.

Cathay Pacific’s 1,980-square-foot lounge has minimalist interiors by renowned British designer John Pawson; passengers can reserve one of eight private bathroom suites, which have black-and-white veined marble walls.

In Hong Kong's fast-gentrifying Sheung Wan neighborhood, 1960's fashion is the inspiration at this men's-wear shop, where New York City transplants Ellis Kreuger and Alex Daye use high-tech Japanese fabrics for their bright knit sweaters and piped pajamas.

Hidden away along a bland, utilitarian suburban block, this über-hip space is a major haunt for Beijing fashionistas.

Visit this 15th-century temple in Kunming.

If there were a single high-end fashion design boutique missing from this opulent mall, you’d have to file an instant complaint to the international fashion police.

The mall is reported to be the biggest in the world: aside from dozens of boutiques and a handful of department stores, the complex has rocket-ship, roller-coaster, and space-needle rides as well as a gargantuan Teletubbies World, where young kids frolic.

Past the bookstore and the Arrival-level Starbucks, look for the English signs labeled “Lost & Found” and “Left Luggage,” where you can leave extra baggage up to three months if you’re touring China and will depart for home from Beijing ($4.50 per piece per day).

Housed inside the Peninsula Hong Kong hotel, this 14-room spa provides European, Asian, and ayurvedic treatments in a calming space designed by Henry Leung. Candles illuminate antique dark-wood floors, as well as natural elements like large stones, bamboo, and a waterfall.

If school was really like the atmosphere at this bar/café/studio, the world would be a vastly different place. Pokit Poon of Hong Kong-based Pokit Consulting Ltd. says his goal is to help regain the youthful excitement and energy people feel when they finish school and enter the workplace.

Stop here for Chinese books, periodicals, and a limited selection of overpriced English language texts, from President Barack Obama’s The Audacity of Hope ($19) to Candace Bushnell’s Sex and the City ($20) to Time and Newsweek ($6.50).

Close by, on the edge of the verdant, waterway-filled Xixi National Wetland Park, the National Wetland Museum will open an Arata Isozaki-designed viewing platform later this year.

Capable of holding a million people, the 100-acre Tiananmen is the world’s largest public square.