The breathtaking Reed Flute Cave, located 5 kilometers (3 miles) from the city of Guilin in Guangxi, China, is named for the reeds that grow outside the entrance which can be made into flutes. The natural limestone cave is lit with multicolored lights, creating an otherworldly landscape of beauty. The cave itself is over 180 million years old, and has seen visitors for over 1200 years, which is known due to the existence of over 70 ink inscriptions inside the cave, dating back to 792 AD in the Tang Dynasty. Visitors can take an hour long walk through the cave on a U-shaped path to observe the impressive stalagmites, stalactites, and limestone columns that have formed. Also, there is a lovely park outside the cave, with gardens, pagodas, ponds, and peaceful pathways.
The Great Wall of China runs from Shanhaiguan in the east, to Lop Nur in the west, spanning 8,851.8 km (5,500.3 miles) of Northern China. It was arguably the longest running work in progress in history. Construction of the Great Wall began in the 5th century BCE, with rebuilding and maintenance efforts continuing into the 16th century CE. Today, the Great Wall of China is a must see destination for visitors to China. Many of it’s popular sections are well maintained. In some areas, tourists can climb the wall and then opt for a zip-line ride back down. The Great Wall of China is, of course, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Hong Kong is located on China’s Southeastern coast, on the Pacific ocean. With over 7 million residents, it is one of the most densely populated. Hong Kong is known for its beautiful skyline, towering buildings, and picturesque harbor. Though it is part of the country of China, it has its own political system. The city is a bustling financial center, and it’s currency, the Hong Kong Dollar, is the most traded in the world. Hong Kong is the world’s most vertical city, and so a great attraction is the amazing architecture of its skyscrapers. Hong Kong also has a highly developed transportation system, making travel while visiting a painless experience.
The Taklamakan Desert (or Takla Makan Desert) is the 15th largest sandy desert in the world, covering 320,000 square kilometers (123,550 square miles). It is located in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China. The desert is seen mainly by those crossing it on the road between the towns of Hotan and Luntai. The famous Silk Road edges around the Taklamakan Desert so travelers of the past could avoid crossing its dangerously dry center. Mummies dating over 4,000 years old have been found in the region, along with other interesting artifacts. The Taklamakan Desert isn’t on the tourist map at all, but that doesn’t make it any less beautiful.
I recently visited the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and that inspired me to share these pictures of the 10 tallest buildings in the world with you. Here they are in ascending order by height, according to the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH):
10. Jin Mao Tower, Shanghai, China
This 88-story skyscraper stands at a height of 421m (1,380ft). Completed in 1998, the Jin Mao Tower in Shanghai, China contains offices and the Shanghai Grand Hyatt hotel.
9. Trump International Hotel and Tower, Chicago, United States of America (USA)
The Trump Tower, named for Donald Trump, is located on the Chicago River in Chicago, Illinois, USA. It stands 423m (1,389ft) and has 92 stories. The tower houses retail space, a parking garage, a hotel, and condominiums. It was completed in 2009.
8. Guangzhou West Tower, Guangzhou, China
The Guangzhou West Tower in Guangzhou, China, is a 440.2m (1,444ft) tall skyscraper that is home to a conference center, a hotel, and offices. It was completed in 2009 and has 103 floors. The tower’s twin, the Guangzhou East Tower, will be completed in 2016.
7. Willis Tower, Chicago, Illinois, United States of America (USA)
Formerly called the Sears Tower, the Willis Tower in Chicago, Illinois, USA, stands 442m (1,451ft) tall and has 108 floors. It was completed in 1973 and was the tallest building in the world at that time. It is currently the tallest building in the United States.
6. Nanjing Greenland Financial Center, Nanjing, China
Also known as the Greenland Square Zifeng Tower, the Nanjing Greenland Financial Center in Nanjing, China, is 450m (1,480ft) tall. It was completed in 2009 and currently houses office space, retail space, a restaurant, and an observation deck. It has 89 stories.
5. Petronas Twin Towers, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia is home to the Petronas Twin Towers, which held the record for the world’s tallest buildings from their completion in 1998 until 2004. They are still the tallest twin buildings in the world. Tower 1 is headquarters to the oil and gas company Petronas, and Tower 2 houses the offices of various other corporations. The towers are 451.9m (1,482.6ft) tall and have 88 stories each. You can see more pictures and read about my visit here: Petronas Twin Towers Skybridge Visit.
4. International Commerce Centre, Kowloon, Hong Kong
The International Commerce Centre in Kowloon, Hong Kong, comes in at 484m (1,588ft) tall. It was completed in 2010. Its 118 stories are home to a Ritz-Carlton hotel, a shopping mall, and various corporate offices. There is a viewing deck on the 100th floor.
3. Shanghai World Financial Center, Shanghai, China
At 487.4m (1,599.1ft) tall, the Shanghai World Financial Center in Shanghai, China, is the third tallest building in the world. It is home to the highest hotel in the world, the Park Hyatt Shanghai. It also has the highest observation deck in the world. The building’s 101 floors also house offices, hotels, conference rooms, and shopping malls. It was completed in 2008 and it stands next to the Jin Mao Tower. I think it looks like a giant bottle opener.
2. Taipei 101, Taipei, Taiwan
The spectacular Taipei 101 spire in Taipei, Taiwan was the tallest building in the world from its completion in 2004 until 2010. Also known as the Taipei Financial Center, the Taipei 101 is 509.2m (1,670.6ft) tall and has 101 floors. There are numerous corporate offices and restaurants in the building.
1. Burj Khalifa, Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE)
The massive Burj Khalifa in Dubai, UAE, is by far the tallest man-made structure ever built. It stands an awe-inspiring 828m (2,717ft) above ground and has 160 floors. It became the world’s tallest building when it opened on January 4th, 2010. It took six years to construct and it is home to hotels, residences, restaurants, and offices.
On the bank of the Yangtze River and the shores of Lake Taihu in China you will find the city of Suzhou, known for its many gardens, stone bridges, and pagodas. Once called “The Eastern Venice” by Marco Polo, Suzhou is historically and currently a center for the silk trade. Suzhou is located West of Shanghai in the province of Jiangsu. Visitors to the city can enjoy a view of the many stone bridges while taking a boat trip on the canals. Some of Suzhou’s gardens are so magnificent they have been declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites. With a population of just over 6 million, Suzhou has every kind of accommodation a traveler might want.
On the border of China and North Korea, in a caldera at the top of Baekdu Mountain, you will find Heaven Lake. The caldera was created when the volcanic mountain erupted in 969 CE. Visitors to the lake can enjoy stunning walks, hiking, and horse rides along the mountain paths. Canvas yurts are the most common accommodation for tourists, but there are also more upmarket hotels. The semi-nomadic Kazakh people inhabit the area seasonally. Staying in traditional Kazakh yurts and using their guided horseback tours help them earn the income that they live on for the rest of the year. It can get quite cold in the area, so warm clothes are suggested.
China’s Hua Shan is one of the Five Sacred Daoist Mountains located in the country. Hua Shan has five main peaks, with the 2160m (7086ft) tall South Peak being the highest. Hua Shan, literally Splendid Mountain, has been home to Daoist temples as far back as the second century BCE. Today, it is popular with monks and tourists alike, though tourists have only been visiting the mountain for a few decades. Traditionally, a journey up Hua Shan’s dangerous steep and narrow pathways was reserved only for the most determined monks. But in the 1990s cable cars, pictured above, and handrails were installed to allow easier access for tourists. Hua Shan is located roughly 100km East of the city of Xi’an in China’s Shaanxi Province.