5 Places to Experience Time Travel in China

Although the Chinese government banned time travel on television, the radio, and in movies in 2011, China is still the perfect destination for those who want to travel back into the past. In fact, there is a tunnel in the Guizhou Province that sends people back in time. The tunnel has been proven to set people’s cellphones back, and this phenomenon has been documented by one journalist.

However, this article is not focusing on strange phenomena that have happened to people travelling through mystical tunnels in China. Rather we will focus on the kind of exciting time travel that any visitor can find while spending time in the Middle Kingdom. What follows is a rundown of the five best sites for people who want to renew their link with the past by visiting sites in China where time has stood still for hundreds, and in some cases thousands, of years.

1. Tibet

With the many spectacular historical attractions in China, it was hard to narrow the list to only five. Even more challenging is the task of picking number one. But the truth is Tibet is the top choice because it should be the first choice for anyone who would like to keep alive the connection with the past. The life in Tibet is rapidly changing, and there is no time like the present to soak up this unique and beautiful culture.

One of the highlights of a trip to Tibet, which is an opportunity to step back into a bygone era, is the Potala Palace. The palace was home to every Dalai Lama until the 14th Dalai Lama had to flee the palace in 1959. The Palace sits majestically atop a mountain and is filled with enchanting relics. It has been transformed into a museum and is now protected as a World Heritage Site.

2. Chongqing and the Dazu Rock Carvings

On the Yangtze River, there is a city that has deep connections to China’s variegated past, Chongqing. Although this megacity seems to be constantly under construction, there is still a bit of old China if you know where to look. One of the best places for those who want to step into the past is Ci Qi Kou, known as the “Porcelain Village” (which is the approximate English translation of Ci Qi Kou). This enchanting little area was known in both the Ming and Qing Dynasties (spanning from 1368-1911) for production high-quality porcelain. Much of the village’s charm and authenticity has been spared, although it has become a bit of a destination for tourists visiting Chongqing. The visit to Ci Qi Kou is worth it for the tea bars alone. However, it is also a great place to mix with local artists some of whom are practising their craft right in the streets.

The Dazu Rock Carvings are just a short jaunt outside of the city and a must for anyone visiting Chongqing. These carvings have rightfully been given the coveted UNESCO World Heritage Site distinction for their beauty and importance. The creation of these amazing carvings spanned from the ninth century to the thirteenth century and they are a testament to the harmony between Taoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism. You’ll want to take a full day to explore these mystical carvings and to allow yourself to be whisked away to a distant past that is still preserved in these ancient rocks.

3. The Terracotta Army in Xi’an

Many people have heard of the Terracotta Army of Xi’an but did you know that this marvel was not discovered until 1974? Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Terracotta Army was buried with the first Emperor of China sometime in the late third century BCE. There are over 8,000 terracotta soldiers along with hundreds of chariots and horses who were to protect the emperor in the afterlife.  The immaculate preservation of the site and the statues within, make it an ideal place to wander back into the past of imperial splendour.

4. Kashgar Bazaar

Located in Xinjiang, the Kashgar Bazaar is a fascinating place with roots in the Silk Road. Many travellers rave about Xinjiang for the food, culture, and a dozen other reasons. What makes Xinjiang so special is that it is a melding of cultures. Wine guru Jancis Robinson was quite taken with this region on a trip to China reflecting, “What makes Xinjiang province so unusual is that it is in mosque and kebab country.” She captures the fact that there is something refreshingly different about Xinjiang and the Kashgar Bazaar may be the best way for visitors to experience the region’s rich past.

The smells of delicious food rise from the markets, and there are friendly faces eager to discuss the many exotic products available. Spending time in the market is a great way to meet new people and get to know the very old traditions that make this part of China unique. Although there are some modern products, in many ways the place has not changed much since the Silk Road flourished. To visit the Kashgar Bazaar is to reunite with old traditions that live on.

5. The Gardens of Suzhou

This series of gardens located in the Suzhou region of the Jiangsu province are renowned for their splendour and beauty. Although the first gardens were developed in the eleventh century, the development of the gardens spans almost one thousand years. Although some argue that the roots of the gardens go even deeper, as early as the fourth century.

Each dynasty put its twist on these gardens. The construction was mostly carried out by scholars who sought to create something that resembled nature but was distinctly different. Moreover, the gardening techniques are markedly Chinese. Visiting is an excellent opportunity to see how aesthetic preferences have changed through the centuries and to immerse yourself in a world that is Chinese and rich with history.

master_of_the_nets_garden_in_suzhou

Source: Wikimedia

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Loren Mayshark
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Loren Mayshark

Loren Mayshark is an American published author and travel writer who has traveled extensively in S.E. Asia and studied Chinese art, religion, philosophy, and history while earning a BA in World History from Manhattanville College.

He has written for The Permaculture Research Institute and Uisio among other prominent outlets.

He is the author of Death: An Exploration (2016). For more visit his official website: www.lorenmayshark.com
Loren Mayshark
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