Easier than ever to explore
Today, the People's Republic is officially open for business, and its cultural treasures are easier to reach than ever. In Shanghai, stroll down the old riverfront and see how colonial architecture contrasts with the garish lights of Pudong. If ancient history is more your thing, go to Beijing, where you can walk the squares of the Forbidden City, visit the Temple of Heaven, and take a day trip to the Great Wall. Xi’an is a lively city, but most people go only for its stunning hall of terracotta warriors -- no two are alike. China’s excellent rail service makes travel between cities convenient and cheap, but those in a hurry will find flying to be surprisingly hassle-free. Flights between major cities and Lhasa are available, but the cheapest routes (of which there are many) pass through Chengdu. Once you’re in the Tibetan capital, visit Potala, which is the Dalai Lama’s traditional home, then arrange a trip to Everest or book passage along the Friendship Highway to Kathmandu.