9. For solo travellers: Beijing and Shanghai, China
The setting of: The Last Emperor (Beijing), Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon (Beijing), Empire of the Sun (Shanghai), Fist of Fury (Shanghai), Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (Shanghai), Looper (Shanghai), Skyfall (Shanghai)
What you’ll experience: This exotic far eastern land is the place to find yourself. Beijing and Shanghai are polar opposites when it comes to city breaks. Beijing is the cultural capital of China, and the place to tick off traditional architecture and staggering world-famous sites, including the Great Wall and the Forbidden City. Locals from all over China will be there to see their nation’s sites too, many may have never seen a westerner, some foreigners will be stared at like a superstar (especially if you have blond or red hair). Try some traditional Peking duck in the city’s hundreds of regional restaurants, or dare yourself to venture to the Donghuamen Night Market, where they serve starfish, snakes, silk worms, beetles and seahorses on sticks.
Meanwhile, Shanghai offers an architectural explosion. Bizarre-shaped skyscrapers with futuristic LED screens line one side of the Pudong River, while grand colonial buildings line the other side – stand at the river bank and it’s like you’re in-between the future and the past. It’s easy to spend hours walking through the city, along the French Concession past patisseries and galleries, through traditional lanes like Taikang Lu, where visitors will find Chinese arts and crafts, or downtown People’s Square – a sprawling mass of people buzzing around the centre of town, from trendy businessmen in suits to rural folk wearing traditional farmers hats and balancing baskets on shoulder poles.
Where to stay: Commune by the Great Wall is a great spot if you intend to do a day trip to the wall. Set in the wilderness, this boutique has 35 inventive villas created by 12 different Asian designers. Rooms from £200 per night, (+86 10 811 81888). In Shanghai, the coolest spot in town is the Waterhouse at South Bund. The warehouse-style interiors have exposed brick walls and chandeliers, rusty design features and a terrace with a stunning view over the Huangpu River. Rooms from £105 per night (+86 21 6080 2988).
Visit China with Radio Times Travel, see here for more details