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iReport: Favorite China destinations picked by travelers
iReporters play tour guide to show you the best bits of the Middle Kingdom
iReporters are great tour guides.
In our recent iReport assignment, we asked readers to name their favorite China destinations and iReporters came back with a list that rivals fancy guidebooks -- tempting both conventional tourists and adventurous souls.
These iReporters have traveled all around China, and here are the memories that stood out the most.
1. The Forbidden City, Beijing
This rare shot of Beijing with an incredible blue sky was submitted by 34-year-old iReporter Jennifer Garcia-Alonso.
The Abu Dhabi-based New Yorker visited China on a business trip in 2009.
She went to the Forbidden City and took this picture on a very hot day in order to “capture the astounding crowds in one of Beijing's most important tourist sights.”
“I love that the Forbidden City is truly at the center of Bejing's history,” says Garcia-Alonso, because all of Beijing was supposed to have been planned to center around the emperor's throne in the Forbidden City."
The iReporter also recommends that visitors should “spend as much time scoping the quiet back alleyways and living quarters as the magnificent throne rooms.”
More on CNNGo: Insider Guide: What to do in Beijing
2. Gulangyu, Xiamen, Fujian Province
iReporter Ryan Gaulke is a foreign student living in Beijing. The Wisconsin-native took a weekend-trip to Xiamen, a seaside city in Fujian Province, in March 2012.
The 21-year-old traveler thinks the city of 2 million has “beautiful weather synonymous with the tropics, rolling waves against sandy beaches, and refreshing mixed drinks with neon-colored twisted straws.”
Gaulke also visited Gulangyu, a motor vehicle-free island just off the coast.
He liked wandering around Gulangyu’s European-style architecture, sampling fresh seafood and taking in a spectacular view of the Xiamen cityscape from the island.
More on CNNGo: Gulangyu: China's loveliest island
3. Donghuamen night market, Beijing
Boston-born Jora Frantzis regards the Donghuamen night market in Beijing her most memorable experience in China.
Donghuamen is a 200-meter-long food street in central Beijing with rows of stalls selling everything from traditional snacks like steamed buns to challenging choices like bugs-on-a-stick.
“I tried foods [at Donghuamen] that I never thought I would, including tarantulas, scorpions, pigeon and centipede,” says the 25-year-old accountant who visited China for the first time last April.
“Locals and tourists alike kind of stood around me in awe of the daring bite I was about to take.”
4. Beihai Park, Beijing
The other highlight on Jora Frantzis’s trip is the Beihai Park in Beijing, one of the best-preserved imperial gardens in China with a history dating back to the Liao Dynasty (907-1125).
The main feature of the park is the 36-meter-high, 450-year-old White Pagoda.
“Once you arrive at the top [of the hill], there is a very scenic panoramic view of [central] Beijing,” says Frantzis.
More on CNNGo: 40 beautiful places to visit in China
5. Jiankou Great Wall, Beijing
iReporter Joanne Khoo also chose Beijing as her favorite travel destination in China.
Having lived in Beijing for the past two years, the 26-year-old Malaysian shares her experience climbing a lesser-known section of the “wild Great Wall” in November 2011.
Unlike the touristy sections at Badaling and Mutianyu, Jiankou Great Wall (箭扣长城), according to Khoo, has not been restored and has been left in its natural state.
The wild section is located around 100 kilometers north of downtown Beijing. Khoo hired a cab and then hiked along the wall for about six hours.
“The hike could be shorter or longer, depending on how much of the great wall you would like to climb,” says Khoo. “The scenery was breathtaking.”
More on CNNGo: New parts of Great Wall of China to open to tourists
6. Yellow Crane Tower, Wuhan, Hubei Province
Sobhana Venkatesan submitted a collection of photos she took during her trip to the Yellow Crane Tower in Wuhan in 2009.
The five-story structure is one of the most famous pagodas in China. One of the many legends goes that the tower was built to commemorate an immortal who flew over the area on a yellow crane.
“The poetry, literary accounts and folk legends -- like the river Yangtze -- have endured through the centuries,” says Venkatesan, who hails from Canada.
“The heritage and historical monuments in the complex have been well preserved for posterity.”
The current tower was rebuilt on the original location in 1981. The complex includes a five-meter statue of two yellow cranes made of bronze.
Interested in submitting your own stories, photos and videos? Visit our iReport page.