China is a massive, wonderfully diverse country where the possibilities for travel seem truly limitless. From the frosty Northern provinces to its tropical southern beaches to its chilly mountain terrain, China boasts a dazzling array of landscapes – each one home to different cultures and traditions. In fact, this enormous country officially recognizes 54 ethnic minorities, so when you travel across China, it’s more than just the landscape that changes. Here, we take a look at a few of the vastly different scenes contained within this expansive land.
The Colors of a Chinese Wedding
A Ming dynasty-style wedding dress in traditional red, with embroidered embellishments and an elaborate fengguan, or phoenix crown. Modern Chinese brides often opt for white Western style dresses for their ceremony, then change into a red dress for the tea ceremony or later on at the reception party.
Hill Tribe Traditions
The mountains along China’s southern borders are home to a wide array of different ethnicities, many of which share a love of colorful costumes. A great place to meet the tribes who live along the Myanmar, Vietnam and Laos borders is to visit a Sunday market in Yuanyang County in the southern province of Yunnan.
Anywhere in the world, markets are perhaps one of the best places to interact with locals. In China, expect a lot of spirited bargaining – worth the effort for fresh fruit and vegetables, often a lot cheaper than you’d find them back home.
The Art of Calligraphy
A man paints on banners in traditional red and gold-leaf paint. The ancient art of calligraphy is still popular in China, though it’s seen as more of a specialized skill nowadays – an activity of the older generation. Traditionally, two-line poetic couplets are bought at Lunar New Year, painted by calligrapher stalls such as this. Hung at the front door or displayed inside the house, they wish for peace, prosperity and good luck.
The institution of the Tea house
There’s no avoiding tea while in China – it’s the go-to drink of an entire nation. Tea houses, like this one in Chengdu, are informal gatherings where locals go to relax, play games, watch TV, chat and, of course, sip their favorite brew. Tea houses play an integral part in Chinese society as a forum for not only relaxation but trade and the settling of minor disputes. Enjoy the tea, stay for the people-watching – you might even make some new friends.