With travel still being somewhat restricted, we thought we'd run a summer series featuring a number of destinations in a place you can visit (relatively*) hassle-free – our beautiful neighbor to the north: Jiangsu Province.
*Please check the latest travel restrictions any time you take a trip
We'll get to the classics of Nanjing and Suzhou a little later down the line – as well as covering a multitude of lesser-known, arguably even more desirable destinations.
But there was just one place we were ever going to start: Changzhou.
Located in the south of Jiangsu Province (we're talking just 50 minutes on a high-speed train) Changzhou, boasts a history that stretches back more than 3,000 years.
It is an ancient city, famed for its profound cultural heritage, as rich as any in both scenic spots and historical relics.
And that's all well and good – and we'll cover the highlights a bit further down. However, we decided to start with Changzhou for a different reason.
We chose to start with Changzhou because it is home to...
China Dinosaur Park
We are well aware of the situation: The kids have been stuck inside, bouncing off the walls for three months (or more); the fun parts of Disney are still not open, and there is nothing happy about Happy Valley right now.
So how to get that long-awaited, well-deserved theme park fix?
What can we say... nature finds a way.
And that way is to hop on a high-speed train and take the 50-minute, 200-million-years-back-in-time trip to Changzhou's China Dinosaur Park. Also known as the Jurassic Park of the East. Also known (by us, anyway) as Disney with Dinosaurs.
China Dinosaur Park has all you could wish from a land before time and more: It's home to seven themed areas, more than 50 rides, and boasts a dozen plus performances a day.
Venture through the Jurassic Period, explore Dinosaur Hill, take in a multidimensional movie, meet the dinosaurs of the sea.
Check out the near complete fossil skeleton of sinosauropteryx in the 20,000 square meter, ten hall museum, as well as large fossils such of brachiosaurus and hadrosaurus.
Get the adrenaline pumping with ziptrek, bungee jumping, summertime skiing, rock climbing, water bicycling and more. Relax in the hot spring pools afterwards.
Shopping, dining, entertainment, a hotel – China Dinosaur Park has got it all.
It's got King Kong fighting a T-Rex...
It's got rides by lakes populated by brontosaurus (or brachiosaurus... or diplodocus... where's Sam Neill/Dr. Alan Grant when you need him?!)
It is even home to a fourth-dimension roller coaster that goes by the bad-ass name Dinoconda. A fourth-dimension roller coaster, for those not in the know, is one whereby riders are rotated independently of the orientation of the track, about a perpendicular horizontal axis.
Scarier than coming face-to-face with a velociraptor, a ride on the ol' Dinoconda.
So there you have it: China Dinosaur Park. Check it out.
But that's not all Changzhou has to offer. Let's take a whirl through some of that cultural heritage on offer...
Chunqiu Yancheng Ruins
Chunqiu Yancheng Ruins is the oldest and most complete ancient city and moat preserved from the Western Zhou Dynasty (we're talking 3,000 years old) to the Spring and Autumn Period in China.
Changzhou's Tianning Temple is one of the key Buddhist temples in China, with a history dating back more than 1,300 years. It is also home to Tianning Pagoda, not merely the tallest of the 4,000 pagodas in China, but the tallest in the entire world.
Oriental Salt Lake Resort
Oriental Salt Lake Resort embodies the essence of Chinese Taoist culture. Surrounded by green mountains and clear waters, it perpetuates the architectural style of the Wei and Jin Dynasties, with simple and quiet ancient streets and lanes. The perfect holiday destination for all ages.
Qingguo Lane is one of the famous ancient streets in Changzhou, and in the vicinity of Nanshi River, the oldest section of the world heritage Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal.
With architecture of the Ming Dynasty, Qing Dynasty and Republic of China, it is both a "living fossil" and also a place of local cultural context, famed for its scholars and celebrities alike.
Ladies and gentlemen, we give you Changzhou – a city with a history that stretches back 3,000 years, or 245 million years, depending on how you look at it.
And all just 50 minutes away by high-speed train.
Want More Travel Tips?
To find out about all sorts of exciting destinations, from ancient towns to wetland wilds, follow Jiangsu Tourism Board on WeChat by scanning the QR code below: