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Exploring China’s Modern Cities

Modernity is quickly catching up in China, and this imperially raised country is growing into a modern place of commerce, technology, and travel.

Seeing some of its grand cities, you would not think you were traveling to a place that has such a deep and rich history.

However, all of these extremely modern cities have a past and story, and every one of them has struggled to keep their traditional history a part of their modern identity.

Exploring both the modern and the not-so-modern sides of these gorgeous cities is a way to really take in every part of what they have to offer. Here are some of China’s greatest cities and the two sides of each of their stories.


This incredible city has been the seat of the ruling throne for 700 years and hosts some of the greatest remains of the imperial past of this country.

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The legendary Great Wall, the intricately constructed palace of the Forbidden City, or the Temple of Heaven are all fantastic landmarks to see.

Head to Tiananmen Square in the Dongcheng District to see the world’s largest public square and visit different museums that chronicle the history of the Chinese people and their revolution.

Nest building

But although this city is full of incredible history, it is certainly not just a city of the past. It is a booming modern metropolis that boasts interesting modern architecture and fantastic nightlife.

The modern and the ancient are weaved together in this city, with things such as the crimson palace standing directly by the side of the ultra-modern Olympic Village. Visit the China Science and Technology Museum to see some incredible advances of the modern world.

Elegantly blending the modern with the ancient, Beijing is a great place to see both sides of Chinese culture.

Hong Kong

This vibrant metropolis is really unlike any other place on earth. It is a melting pot of cultures, drawing some British culture from its colonial past and sharing that with the traditional Chinese culture.

It is known for its fantastic shopping, offering a vast range of products that are reasonably priced and tax-free. Hitting the sale seasons means you can get even better prices.

Shopping areas such as Causeway Bay on Hong Kong Island feature a wide range of high-end shopping centers, boutique shops, and street markets.

If you’ve got deep pockets and are looking to really treat yourself, head to one of the great shopping malls of Hong Kong, such as Landmark.

This exclusive designer mall is a fantastic place to spend the day, and the quality of its stores is only matched by the quality of its restaurants, some of which are Michelin-starred.

Hong Kong Skyline

Of course, if you’re looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of this never-stopping city, try heading out to Lantau Island.

Here you can see the 34 meter (100 foot) bronze statue of Buddha sitting perched high above. Walking up to see the Buddha up close also affords a great view of Lantau Peak and the South China Sea.


As the largest city in China, this city has an atmosphere that is filled with energy and activity.

Taking a stroll at night gives incredible views of the Huangpu River, letting you watch the twinkling lights of the city’s skyline dance in the darkness.

shanghai skyline

Visiting the Bund, Shanghai’s waterfront gives you a view of attractive modern buildings that have been cleverly blended in with older, more intricate architecture of the late 1800’s.

It is a sophisticated neighborhood with an interesting nightlife. One of the best bars here is the House of Roosevelt, whose best tables give you an incredible view of the river.

Of course, if you’re looking for nightlife, then Yongfu Lu is one of the best bar streets.

Here you will find some great places that know how to run a good party for a reasonable price, and you won’t feel out of place as these bars are frequented by locals and foreigners alike.


But Shanghai has not forgotten its history either. Visit the Yu Gardens and see this classic piece of Chinese history left over from the period of the dynasties.

Modern China has been built through the sweat and tears of its ancestors, and keeping the typical Chinese traditions is a held to practice, even in these very modern cities.

Enjoy the sites of these beautiful places and know that wherever you walk, you are seeing bits of the ancient past and expansive future of this country.

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Cez Krol

Travel blogger at eTramping
Cez lives in China like a local for the past 4 years. Apart from speaking the language, he loves to discover more about this unique country of extreme contrasts. He shares his China experiences here at Sublime China and on his blog eTramping, so go and check out what's out there for you in China.
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