Trace the footsteps of Silk Road history on Xuzhou-Lanzhou high-speed railway
Stretching a total of 1,434 kilometres, the railroad line spans five provinces from east to northwest China that are known for historic sites, including Jiangsu, Anhui, Henan, Shaanxi and Gansu.
The whole line was officially put into service on 9th July 2017, when the section from Baoji in Shaanxi Province to Lanzhou in Gansu Province started operation. Today it takes around seven hours to complete the whole journey that used to take a few days.
I chose three must-see stops where you can get off the train and explore the ancient charm of China. It'll give you some clues about your next destination during the upcoming holiday.
About one and a half hours from the Xuzhou East Railway Station, the bullet train takes you to the city of Kaifeng, located at the plain area of Henan Province. With a history of 2,700 years, it is noted for well-preserved cultural relics and historic sites.
Qingming Riverside Landscape Garden
Qingming Riverside Landscape Garden is one of the top attractions in Kaifeng that will take you back to the Song Dynasty (960-1279).
One of the best-known paintings in China - "Qingming Shanghe Tu," or "Along the River During the Qingming Festival," drawn by the painter Zhang Zeduan in the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127), vividly depicts local people's daily life and the natural landscape of the city.
You can have a glimpse of some of the ancient human activities during that period. In addition, there is a food street inside the park where you can have a go at different kinds of local snacks in the city.
After another hour on the train, we arrive at Luoyang in western Henan Province. Known as the cradle of Chinese civilization, it is said that it once served as the capital city of 13 ancient dynasties starting from the Xia Dynasty (2070-1600 BC).
Visitors are mostly drawn to the Longmen Grottoes and Shaolin Temple.
Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Longmen Grottoes represent the high point of Chinese stone carving and will blow your mind. It is home to more than 2,300 caves and niches that were delicately carved into the limestone cliffs of over one kilometre long.
There are around 110,000 Buddhist stone statues and more than 2,800 inscriptions carved on the stones, as well as plenty of historical materials regarding religion, art, calligraphy, architecture and more.
Xi'an, the capital city of Shaanxi Province, it was once the imperial capital of 13 ancient dynasties, Xi'an is the best witness of China's long history and time-honoured cultures.
The city invites visitors from all over the world to dive into the richness and distinctiveness of its cultural heritage. Check out the city's top destinations - Terracotta Army, Giant Wild Goose Pagoda, Ancient City Wall and more.
The diverse heritage in Xi'an is supreme, particularly with the highlight of Terracotta warriors and horses, a collection of more than 7,000 life-sized terracotta sculptures serving as a protection for the tomb of Qin Shi Huang (the first emperor who unified the country). Historical records reveal that it took over 700,000 people's some 30 years to complete.
Soldier figures are varied in facial expressions, clothing, hairstyles and gestures; so are their horses, chariots and weapons. These masterpieces have provided abundant detailed evidence for the study of the history of military, culture, art, and economics of the Qin Dynasty (221-206 B.C.).
Considered as one of the greatest discoveries of the 20th century, these delicately crafted and painted models have delighted millions of visitors both at home and abroad.
The natives always say the journey to Xi'an is not complete without visiting the Ancient City Wall, which has been stretched round to guard the inner city since the 13th century. Even nowadays, the massive, ancient City Wall is still strong and solid. It is the best-preserved city wall in China, and also one of the oldest intact military fortifications in the world.
Xi'an City Wall stretches almost 14 kilometres (8.7 miles) in length. The best way to see the entire wall might be cycling. Rental bikes are available around. If you are at a leisurely pace, biking the entirety takes approximately 1.5 to 2 hours. Keep your eyes open for the spectacular gates, ramparts, and a deep moat surrounding the wall.
Every March to May and September to November is the best time to travel to Xi'an. If you're interested in a lingering longer, read this post: How to perfect your 72-hour visa-free stay in Xi'an.
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