China has never been a nation that has needed to make a concerted effort to attract foreign visitors. Its wealth of traditions, historic sites and wildlife make it the perfect destination for any adventurous traveler and its popularity as a holiday hotspot is far from waning. In August, its foreign visitor influx is set to increase yet further with the start of the 2008 Olympic Games. Beijing will host the mammoth event which is expected to entice tens of thousands of people to visit China. April 30th will mark the start of the 100-day countdown and numerous celebrations will be taking place throughout the city and indeed country to commemorate the event.
But while the Beijing Olympics are hugely important to the country and its people, China has plenty more on offer to travelers who are looking for the trip of a lifetime. Many of those who are booking trips over August are likely to spend a substantial amount of time traveling around the country as well as enjoying the Games themselves.
In a country so large and abundant in spectacular sites it is often difficult for intrepid travelers to know where to start. Those who are planning a trip, however, are likely to ensure that they at least experience some of the most important sites the country have on offer. Unmissable attractions include the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, the Silk Road and of course, the ever-mysterious Terracotta Army. Another place worth making time for is the impressive Yangtze River – with numerous firms offering relaxing and exciting cruises along it. Here, travelers can discover the wonder of the river’s Three Gorges including the massive Three Gorges Dam Project.
Other sites to experience on the river include the ancient Shennong Stream with its meandering watercourses, primitive environment and crystal clear waters. Yangtze River also plays host to an abundant array of wildlife, with the beautiful baiji dolphin and the finless porpoise both dependent on the waterway for survival. Researchers believe that relatives of the baiji dolphin first made their home in the river over 70 million years ago but today the species is in danger of dying out. The Chinese government has acted to conserve the creature, giving it the highest level of protection possible. But the dolphin is not the only old resident in this river of wonders. Even more ancient is the giant Chinese river sturgeon which breeds at Changshu, on the Yangtze River. Dating back an estimated 140 million years, it is one of the rarest creatures in China