East China Travel Guide
Featuring the likes of Shanghai and Nanjing, East China is the economic center of China. It covers six provinces and the city province of Shanghai and harbors the Yangtze River, the Grand Canal, many bustling centers and a gorgeous coastline.
The six provinces of East China from top to bottom are: Shandong, Jiangsu, Anhui, Zhejiang, Jiangxi, and Fujian. Shandong, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, and Fujian lie on the East China Sea coast, along with the small province of Shanghai. In all, East China covers around 30 percent of the China landmass and has a subtropical, monsoon climate.
Zhejiang and Fujian have the nicest shores and are the main destinations for those into hiking, cycling, and windsurfing. In addition, Fujian has a lush interior and lies on the Taiwan Strait, with the major cities of Fuzhou, Xiamen and Zhangzhou. Gulang Yu Island is close to Xiamen Island and is one of Fujian’s most popular destinations.
The main city in East China is that of Shanghai. It is the country’s economic powerhouse and is as modern as they come. Although staying in Shanghai can be expensive and somewhat less safe than other high profile cities, it has unbeatable shopping and eating, along with an excellent transport infrastructure.
Nearby Hangzhou is the capital of Zhejiang Province and has the distinction of being the southernmost city of the Grand Canal, a feature of East China that stretches all the way up toward Beijing, passing the charming water towns of southern Jiangsu. Suzhou and Mudu are the best known of these towns where water gardens dominate. The long Precious Belt Bridge resides in Suzhou.
To the west of Zhejiang, Jiangsu, and Shanghai is Anhui, the poorest province in East China. It is largely agricultural and has tough traveling, yet also harbors many mountain chains, in which Huangshan Mountain (Yellow Mountain) resides. It is China’s most visited mountain and lies near the town of Tunxi. Huangshan Mountain is typified by soaring peaks and has excellent hiking.
Another must-see East China attraction is the Hakka roundhouses, down in the south of Fujian. The Hakka houses are a three-hour drive from Xiamen and are large, fortified structures sleeping many families. Some of them have housed generations of families and they are also the ancestral home of Dr Sun Yat-sen, modern China’s founder.
East China is best visited during the spring or autumn. It gets really hot and wet here in the summer, while winters are cold up north. Avoiding the months of May and October during the two ‘Golden Weeks’ is advised, however, as transport and hotels in big cities and attractions are chockablock all over China during these times.
Getting There & Away
East China has more large cities with international airports than anywhere else in China. Shanghai, Nanjing, Jinan, Qingdao, Xuzhuo, Hefei, Hangzhou, Nanchang, Fuzhou, and Xiamen all have large airports with flights from throughout the region. The main international gateway to East China is Shanghai, with Pudong International Airport receiving flights from all over Asia. Hongqiao Airport serves mainly domestic flights.
East China also has an extensive network of railways, waterways, and roads, with new CRH maglev (magnetic levitation) trains serving Shanghai and surrounds. Getting between the major cities is best done by train, although flying between Fujian and Shandong is the best bet. Major highways crisscross the region although tourists are not permitted to drive in China.