China is an incredible country and many volunteers spend their weekends and time before and after the program to experience some of the great things this country has to offer. We’ve listed below some of the most popular sites and cities that past IVHQ volunteers have experienced while on the IVHQ China program.
In and Around Xi’an
The IVHQ China program is based in the ancient Chinese city of Xi’an. Xi’an has a history of over 3,100 years and is one of the four Great Ancient Capital Cities (along with Rome, Athens and Cairo). Needless to say, there is no shortage of historic sites and things to see and do here.
One of the world’s most famous archaeological sites, the army of Terracotta Warriors is a must see for any volunteer during their time in Xi’an. Discovered in 1974, this life-size army has stood silent guard over the tomb of the First Emperor of China for more than 2,000 years. It is estimated that there are over 7,500 warriors throughout the three pits and excavation work is still being performed today due to the vast size of the site.
Xi’an City Wall
The ancient City Wall of Xi’an is an experience in itself and a visit here takes the greater part of a day. Within the walls, volunteers can visit the Bell Tower, Drum Tower, Great Mosque and Muslim Quarter (to try your hand at a bit of bartering), which are all within close proximity of each other. You can also hire bikes and ride around the entire 13.7km of the City Wall, giving you an impressive view of the city and surrounding areas, not to mention a good workout!
Dumpling Banquet and Tang Dynasty Show
They say if you go to China without experiencing a meal of dumplings, you haven’t been to China! So enjoying a dumpling banquet before the Tang Dynasty show is the ideal way to get your dumpling fix and learn more about the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD). Volunteers arrive at the show approximately 90 minutes before it is due to start and are provided with an all-you-can-eat dumpling buffet. The dumplings are diverse and well-presented, giving you the chance to try a range of different types of dumpling from all over China. After you have finished your meal, the show begins, providing you with an authentic feel for the Tang Dynasty through the dance and culture which the Tang Dynasty was famous for.
China is a massive country and while there is plenty to do in and around Xi’an, some volunteers like to travel further afield and experience some of the other incredible areas around China. The list is endless but we’ve highlighted three places below which are well worth visiting if you have time on your trip abroad.
Formerly known as Peking, Beijing is the capital of China. Many volunteers tie in a visit to Beijing as part of their overall volunteer trip, even if only for a weekend. The city is a great place to base yourself if you are looking to visit the Great Wall. Within Beijing itself, the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, Summer Palace and Hutongs are all must sees. In the evenings you can go to one of the very popular Kung Fu or Chinese Acrobatics shows and make sure you have at least one dinner on Ghost Street – Beijing’s most popular eating street.
Affectionately known as “the Paris of the East” due to its decadence and glamour, there is no shortage of things to do in Shanghai. Many people associate the Shanghai skyline with the World Financial Tower and a visit here is a great way to see the city. In addition to this, a visit to Tianzifang to experience “old China”, some bargain hunting in Old Town, canal boat riding in Zhujiajiao and a trip to the Shanghai Museum should all be on your to do list for Shanghai. Before you depart the city, be sure to ride on the Shanghai Maglev train, which reaches speeds of up to 430km per hour!
Guangxi Province (Guilin, Yangshuo and Longsheng)
The huge cities of China can be pretty overwhelming and if you leave China without experiencing the Chinese countryside, you have missed the other half of China. The Guangxi province, which contains the towns of Guilin and Yangshuo, is one of the most beautiful areas in China. Hire a bike and experience the amazing limestone scenery of Yangshuo while cycling through the rice fields, trek through the Dragon’s Backbone Rice Terraces near Longsheng or drift down the Yulong River on a bamboo raft. The Guangxi province is the perfect place to unwind.
If you would like more details on any of these locations or activities, our local team in Xi’an can assist you once you are registered onto the IVHQ China program.
To apply for the program or explore the volunteering opportunities available in China, visit our Volunteer in China page.