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China Travel Guide

Explore Fujian, Guangdong and Hainan Island

Explore Guangdong Provinces of Fujian , Guangdong and Hainan Island occupy 1,200 km of China's intricate southern seaboard. Though occasionally taking centre stage in the country's history, the provinces share a sense of being usually isolated from mainstream events by the mountain ranges which surround Fujian and Guangdong, physically cutting off the rest of the nation.

Forced to look seawards, the coastal regions have a long history of contact with the outside world, constantly importing - or being forced to endure - foreign influences and styles. This is where Islam entered China and porcelain left it; and where today you will find China's most modern Westernized cities. On the other hand, the interior mountains enclose some of the country's wildest remote corners, with parts of the Stone Age.

The region receives little attention from visitors, possibly because their specific attractions are thinly spread and somewhat out of the way. Many tourists pass through Guangdong in transit between the mainland and Hong Kong and Macau, but only because they have to, and few look beyond the overpowering capital, Guangzhou (known in the West as Canton).

The other two regional capitals - Fuzhou in Fujian, and Hainan's Haikou - share Guangzhou's modern style, all three also hide temples and antique architecture that have somehow escaped developers, while other cities and towns have managed to preserve their old intact like the Fujian port of Xiamen and Chaozhou in eastern Guangdong.

Local tradition of being "different" from the rest of the country pervades the whole region, though, aside from people being more assertive and open, this feeling is seldom expressed in any tangible way. Language is one difference you might notice, which is particular of this area. There are also some specific ethnic groups like the Hakka.

Most of this zone contains diverse Special Economic Zones, specifically created in the mid-1980s as a focus for important investment and industrialization. Beyond their boundaries there are some nice wild corners where you can settle back and enjoy the panorama.

Explore Hainan Over in western Guangdong, the city of Zhaoqing sits beside some pleasurable lakes and hills, while the Wuyi Shan range in northeastern Fujian contains the most picturesque mountain forests in the region. Way down south, the country's best beaches have encouraged the tourist industry to publicize Hainan as "China's Hawaii".

Anyone wanting to explore will find profuse local and long-distance transport from ferries to trains, though accommodation can be expensive and suffers additional seasonal price hikes in Guangzhou. Climate is nicest in spring and autumn. In summer there are storms and a lot of humidity, thunder and downpours on the coast. In winter the weather is very cold.

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