Rhiannon Edwards, The Daily Telegraph, October 23, 2014
If anything indicates how China 's cities have boomed in recent years, it is the how fast their populations have grown.
Between the 1990 census, and the one taken in 2010, some small towns have become large cities, while large cities have become mega metropolises.
Here are a few of the cities that have boomed, and some reasons you might want to visit them.
Chongqing’s population has in the past been over-estimated at about 20-30million. This, Kam Wing Chan of the University of Washington told BBC News, is because some data collectors include farmland in the surrounding provinces of the South-west China hub (some of which can take two days to reach).
Still the last counted population of the city is still impressive, with the 2010 census putting it at 6,263,790 - up from just over two million in 1990.
Visitors to Chongqing can see the Hall of 500 Arhats, the largest collection of arhats (figures representing saints) in China and the Three Gorges Dam. The city also has China’s first and only pedestrian mobile phone lane, so even though it is busy, you might not be bothered by people not lookign where they are going.
How to get there? There are no direct flights, but several airlines fly straight to Beijing, Hong Kong or Shanghai (such as BA, Virgin, Air China and China Eastern), from where you can catch a connecting service. Find out more by reading our China travel guide .
If building work that has been on the cards for a while is approved, Changsha, in the Hunan province in central China, could soon be home to the world’s tallest building. Sky City - which it is estimated could be built next year in just 90 days - will stand at 838 metres (2749ft), a cheeky eight metres higher than the current record-holder, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.
Zaha Hadid is also planning to build a pretty impressive cultural centre there, the Meixihu International Culture and Art Centre. This futuristic building will sit at the lakeside and feature an 1800-capacity theatre, and various other cultural spaces, once completed.
How to get there? No airlines fly direct from the UK. You'll need to go via Beijing or Hong Kong.
It looks relatively modest by comparison, but make no mistake Hefei, in the eastern Chinese province of Anhui, has boomed recently - its population increasing four-fold since 1990 - a result of it being a centre for scientific research. It isn't on the map for western tourists just yet, but those who have been there rave about Sanhe, an ancient village to the south of the city that is strangely European in appearance.
How to get there? China Southern flies via Guangzhou.
In the early Eighties, Shenzhen was a small manufacturing town of about 30,000, overshadowed economically by neighbouring Hong Kong. Now, it has a population of over 10 million.
Claire Wrathall visited for Telegraph Luxury last year, following the opening of an enormous new airport, capable of handling 45 million passengers a year and a Four Seasons hotel. Shenzhen's attractions include the Window of the World theme park, which consists of about 130 models of “the world’s most famous sights”, from Mount Fuji to Mount Rushmore, the Vatican to Venice, the Taj Mahal to Angkor Wat, and Tower Bridge to downtown Manhattan, where eerily the twin towers of the World Trade Center remain intact.
Feeling arty? Shenzhen is also home to the vast Dafen oil painting village – where you can get a wonderful copy of a masterpiece at a fraction of the price.
How to get there? Currently just one European city - Helsinki - has a direct link. Go via Hong Kong.
Chengdu, in western China, is making it onto many people's bucket lists for one furry and elusive reason... it is home to some of the last pandas on the planet. The Chengdu Panda Base is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to bolstering the dwindling population of giant pandas in the world and they are slowly succeeding - having turned a population of 14 pandas into one of more than 80 since opening in 1993. The human population has been a little more prolific - growing from 1.8million in 1990 to 6.3million in 2010. As such, the skyline of Chengdu is peppered with soaring towers and more are planned, including one that will house the Mandarin Oriental, reaching 1,093 ft. Chengdu is also home to what is thought to be the world's largest standalone building, the wonderfully named New Century Global Centre.
How to get there? Chengdu has been adding direct flights to international locations at a frantic pace in recent years. A British Airways flight from London to Chengdu operates five times weekly (0844 493 0787; britishairways.com/en-gb/destinations/chengdu), while Dragonair (dragonair.com) and Air China (airchina.hk) offer several daily flights between Hong Kong and Chengdu. You may also want to consider a direct flight from Frankfurt, Germany via Air China or KLM (klm.com). Find out more by reading our Chengdu city guide .
China 's biggest city and one of its two "megacities" (the other is Beijing), Shanghai was big in 1990, but now, with a population exceeding 20million, it's enourmous. A reasonable indicator of its development is its metro system: between 1993 and today, 14 lines and 329 stations have sprung up, and there are plans for many, many more.
Michelle Jana Chan, our China expert, describes Shanghai as the country's "commercial heart, with its best hotels, restaurants and shopping." Must-see attractions are the riverside Bund, the old colonial neighbourhoods, and the boutiques and cafés of cobbled Xintiandi, a district of rebuilt traditional stone architecture called shikumen. "Within striking distance of Shanghai are two wonderful day-trip destinations, Suzhou and Hangzhou, both reached by high-speed city trains," Michelle adds. "Suzhou is renowned for its classical Chinese gardens, and Hangzhou’s natural landscape and ancient tea plantations have been an inspiration for much of the country’s literature, art and religion.
"Another possible trip from Shanghai is to Huangshan, the mountain peak often seen in classical Chinese painting. Visitors can trek to the summit up nearly 60,000 steps, some of which are more than 1,500 years old, or take a cable car."
How to get there? BA, China Eastern and Virgin fly direct.
This article was written by Rhiannon Edwards from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.