There are a couple of places which I have either visited and fell in love with or which I would like to visit. The following, with a short explanation of why I like these places, are places which I'd like to visit (again) in China:
1) Hong Kong
Of course, what's not to like about HK? It's China's most well-recognised and international city with a unique and interesting history as well as have been the representative Chinese city since 1949. I fell in love with Chinese culture, especially contemporary Chinese culture, from my growing up years in the 90s watching Hong Kong TV series and movies. Hong Kong taught me what being modern as well as Chinese means and it'll always have a special place in my heart. (Not to mention Hong Kong retro 1950/60s cheongsams,Hey you didn't think I could just forget to mention the cheongsam rite? )
Beijing also somehow has a special place in my heart and imagination and I don't know why..it just draws me and is especially attractive to me despite not having visited since 1996 and not remembering that much about that trip given my young age then. I just know I will like this city if I were to return now, given its historical place in Chinese history, the countless important Chinese cultural venues/destinations there such as the Great Wall and Forbidden City, Summer Palace,etc as well as it being known as the cultural capital of China with contemporary Chinese modern art as well as ancient Chinese antiques at the antique markets of Beijing all congregated there...and lets not forget to mention the wonderful hutongs and delicious Peking Duck...
Shanghai with its modern history and retro chic of the 30/40s would surely attract anyone..I can walk down the lanes of Huaihai Lu just imagining that I was back in the heydays of the 1940s..hahaha..i loved the old French Concession area when i was last there in 2004 for a Winter Chinese Law School...
This small city south of Shanghai captures my imagination given how close it is to Shanghai so giving it a smaller city-feel as well as how HK Star Stephen Chow Sing-Chee has Ningbo roots and made his 'CJ7' movie in Ningbo precisely for this very reason. I also love tangyuan, and Ningbo tangyuan is arguably the most famous in China.:-)
Hangzhou is probably THE most beautiful Chinese city I have been to with its splendid gorgeous West Lake area which simply captures your breath away.. And i'm not kiddin either:) I didn't expect much when visiting Hangzhou during my Winter Law School excursion trip to Hangzhou bck in 2004 but it was simply amazingly breathtaking..it was just like the China you saw in the movies set in the 30s/40s..the Chinese-style sampan boats as well as newer restaurant floating boats flowing along the West Lake and you can hop on and off the numerous 'islands' floating in Westlake and visit the chinese gardens,etc. The Hangzhou people also seemed more sophisticated and the entire atmosphere of Hangzhou was just less gritty and industrial than other Chinese cities of comparable size..the streets are well-paved and quite clean,etc..I'd DEFINITELY RECOMMEND Hangzhou...
Suzhou which is very famous and popular with tourist for being the epitome of classic Chinese scenery and water painting, being known as the Venice of China, with its meandering waterlanes and bridges all around the city, has alot of older Chinese architecture intact. It would prob be well-suited for making movies set in the past, as unlike numerous Chinese cities under redevelopment, Suzhou has retained (at least back in 2004) alot of its 30s chinese houses,etc...i was expecting to like Suzhou more than Hangzhou but I found that Hangzhou captured my breath away whilst Suzhou was kinda alright, maybe i had too high expectations for Suzhou..but it definitely has a small 1930s chinese feel to it for a large city of its size...
7) Northeast China/Dongbei (Former Manchuria)
I've been wanting to visit the Northeast in recent yrs as being a modern Chinese history buff, especially of the 1930s and 1940s in China as well as during the Japanese Occupation period in China, the Northeast has always represented that era for me. I've always been filled in my imagination of the cold Siberian winds blowing across the faces of Chinese women in cheongsams with large scarfs wrapped around their hair travelling on the Chinese trains across the Manchurian plains, and this has always been my image of China during my younger days when China seemed a distant land away...this is as the Northeast people are 'Northerners' unlike people I came into contact with bck in Malaysia whom were all Southerners like from Hokkien province, Guangdong province, HK, Taiwan, Macau,etc...people from the north seemed like mainland Chinese people, so different from us..I hope to be able to visit soon...during winter and indulge in my fantasy looking out of the (now super fast chinese trains) windows imagining what it would have been like in the 40s in Dongbei...
8) Yunnan Province
If I want to visit the very northend of China, I also want to visit the very southend of China, or the place poetically named by the Chinese as 'South of the Clouds'; Yunnan Province. This province has the most minorities in the whole of China and is also the most popular tourist destination in China apparently for its unique interesting minority culture as well as warm weather all year thru. (Hainan Island is also another extremely popular tourist destination in China in recent yrs) My family has visited Yunnan already, going to Lijiang, Dali, and Kunming. I'd like to visit Lijiang and Shangri-La...
9) Fujian Province
This is the province which most influences my upbringing and my contact with Chinese culture given that Penang, where I grew up, is a Hokkien immigrant area with the Malaysian-Chinese living there mostly coming from Fujian province ancestrally. Taiwan, my other country, is also Hokkien-dominated in its people and culture. Thus, this is my 'real' ancestral province and I'd like to see what the people and culture there are like..I've been fascinated are they similar to Penang and Taiwanese people given that the roots are the same?? Or do they look different and speak Hokkien differently from us? I've heard from two people I know whom have visited Fujian on vacation recently, and both have highly recommended it. (Sidenote: As a sign of how much China and its tourism has developed in recent yrs, I was taken abck that two ppl i know had visited Fujian Province recently as i always thought it wasn't a popular tourist destination for foreigners at all so i was surprised.)
10) Hunan Province
If Fujian province is my 'real' ancestral province, then Hunan province is my 'official' ancestral province. This is as Chinese people follow their father's ancestry in determining their 'ancestral province' and so given that my paternal grandfather (whom is still alive and living in Taipei) came from Hunan, and my dad thus is of Hunan ancestry, then ,I'm also officially of Hunan ancestry.
However, in reality, I know nothing about Hunan, besides that Chairman Mao comes from Hunan, and also eating the Hunan Cured Smoked Meat which my grandfather's (now my uncle's) business makes and which are occasionally brought back to Malaysia for us..in reality, Malaysia and Taiwan, both of which are arguably Hokkien societies, have shaped me completely...but then, I'd still like to visit my 'official ancestral' province...
I would like to visit Chongqing due to Chongqing being the wartime capital of China during WW2. Haha..me and my 'Japanese-Invasion-during-WW2' obsession...
I would also like to visit Nanjing because of historical reasons, it being the site of the infamous 1937 'Rape of Nanking' massacre whereby the invading Japanese troops raped,pillaged and massacred 300,000 Chinese people in the span of roughly 6 weeks.
13) Xinjiang Province
I'd like to visit Xinjiang as its the most different province of China I think, with almost half of the population being central Asians...it'd be very interesting...its also like the wild west of China and i'd like to have a look at it...
I've heard that Qingdao and the coastal areas along Shandong province are amongst the most beautiful and I'd like to see that for myself..I saw a movie by Karrina Lam before many yrs ago and the scenery shot in Qingdao of the wide blue sea was magnificent..its also the home of many former German mansions as well as China's famous Qingdao beer..so that's another reason to visit it.:-)
Dear Readers, Where'd You Like to Visit, in China or elsewhere in Asia, if given the opportunity?