How to find a great escape in the Great Wall

Hikes along the Great Wall are a relatively simple option, easily accessible from Beijing, and can be done leisurely over several days or in a power-trek over just one or two days.

We geared up for the Gubeikou section of the Great Wall in Miyun County, about two hours north of Beijing which is an indispensible destination for last minute China travel deals.

We hiked to four Ming watchtowers on the peaks of rigid hills where we set up camp in a windy tower, downed a few Stella beers and enjoyed the expansive views.

"Checking in" at the Great Wall at Gubeikou.
Equipment and camping gear is strewn about. Sleeping, or trying to sleep, in a watchtower is rough.
The two-hour hike along rigid peaks to reach the watchtower was no easy task.
Now this is a view worth hiking all day for.
We hiked uphill through muddy trails overgrown with trees and lilac bushes to three more watchtowers.
Still standing strong and looking remarkably solid even after all these years.
The view seemed endless. We counted 15 watchtowers on the hilltops around us.

A final look out from the Gubeikou tower window before we departed.

Camping the Great Wall of China

It isn't as difficult to camp the Great Wall as one might think. A quick Google search finds a plethora of companies offering hikes and camping China tours.

Mountain Biking Asia leads a five-day, 40-kilometer trek in Hebei province (from US$2,000 per person).

China Adventure Tours runs hikes ranging from one to 24 days (US$74 to US$3,200+ per person). Or you can go it alone.

A 10-kilometer stretch between Jinshanling and Simatai is a popular section for hiking, and Huanghuacheng and Mutianyu also have sections of well-preserved wild Wall.

Beijing taxis will take you to the wall for about US$70 round trip. Bring plenty of food and water, a flashlight for each person (we learned this the hard way), and toilet paper (missing a flashlight makes things in this area, uh, difficult).

Designate a group toilet, most definitely not in the tower.

Rules and regulations about hiking and camping on the Wild Wall are murky. Technically, Beijing Municipality limits access to parts of the wall not designated tourist areas (Hebei province does not), but rules are rarely enforced. Graffiti, removing bricks and littering are all illegal.

Also, be respectful of your surroundings and don't act like idiots if you choose to camp on (or in) a historic site like the Great Wall of China which is always contained in popular China travel package.

  1. 2013/04/27(土) 17:05:26|
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20 China adventures you won't find in most guidebooks II

11. Yourantai: exotic guest house

Languid, lush and perpetually summer even during China's most bitter winters, Jinghong is home to one of China's most beautiful guest houses.

Located in the Xishuangbanna region of Yunnan, close to the Myanmar border, Yourantai's villas are built in traditional Dai style, scattered through a large garden rich in tropical fruits and flowers overlooking the Mekong River.

The Swiss owner has thought of every small luxury to make for a relaxing stay.

Yourantai, Galan Bei Lu, Jinghong, Yunnan Province, a hot destination for affordable China travel packages; nightly rate from RMB 850 (US$136)

12. Shanxi Museum: huge, underrated

The Shanxi Museum in Taiyuan houses a world-class collection of artifacts spanning the last 5,000 years of human habitation in China, including an exquisitely decorated 3,000-year-old bronze phoenix.

This 50,000-square-meter complex is possibly China's most underrated museum and entry is free.

Shanxi Museum, No. 13, Binhe Xi Lu, Taiyuan, Shanxi Province; +86 351 878 9555; open Tuesday-Saturday 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; free

13. First Bend of the Yangtze

The vast and mighty Yangtze River where you can have Yangtze River cruise might never have been Chinese at all, were it not for its sudden and unexpected about-turn, heading away from Myanmar and firmly back into China at the sleepy hamlet of Shigu in Yunnan.

First Bend of the Yangtze River (长江第一湾), Shigu, Yunnan Province

14. Black Sesame Kitchen in Beijing

The Black Sesame Kitchen in Beijing provides the chance to learn how to make Shanxi noodles, Beijing dumplings or Chinese imperial dishes during three-hour, hands-on classes in an old hutong dwelling.

The cooking school was founded by chef Jen Lin-Liu, who authored the renowned Chinese food memoir, "Serve the People." Courses are given in English.

Black Sesame Kitchen, 3 Black Sesame Hutong, Dongcheng District, Beijing; +86 136 9147 4408; classes from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday; RMB 300 (US$48) per person per class

15. Shilin Stone Forest: spectacular rocks

A naturally occurring oddity rising from the surrounding landscape, the stone forest of Shilin is a 400-square-kilometer wonderland of rocks eroded by wind and water into towering sheets and improbable shapes, such as elephants and turtles.

The site is roughly 78 kilometers east of Kunming, provincial capital of Yunnan Province.

Shilin Stone Forest, Shilin Yi Autonomous County, Yunnan Province; open daily 7:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m.; adults RMB 175 (US$28), children RMB 100 (US$16)

16. Miao festivals

The area around Kaili in Guizhou where you can color your best tours of China is crowded with beautiful villages peopled by the Miao ethnic minority.

Each year, two vibrant festivals take place -- the Sisters Meal Festival in March or April and the Lusheng Festival in November. These are the only two occasions in a year when the local authority organizes English-speaking trips.

The lusheng is a melodic bamboo pipe played by men while the women dance in vibrant ethnic dress.

Personalized English language tours are available through Gateway to Guizhou and Country Holidays. Festival dates are based on the lunar calendar and vary from year to year.

17. Xiaoqikong Nature Reserve: stunning scenery

The 100,000-square-kilometer Xiaoqikong Nature Reserve is situated amid towering mountains in rural Guizhou.

Naturally peacock blue waters from the UNESCO-protected Zhang River tumble over stunning waterfalls and weave past karst mountains and deep forest in this hidden corner of the country. The reserve is easily accessible from the nearby town of Libo.

Xiaoqikong Scenic Area, Libo, Guizhou; open daily 8 a.m.-6 p.m.; adults RMB 110 (US$17.60), free for children under 1.4 meters (four and a half feet)

18. Marathons

China has marathons spaced throughout the year: Xiamen Marathon (January), Great Wall Marathons (both in May -- one near Beijing and one at Huangyuguan in Tianjin), The Grassland Extreme Marathon in Inner Mongolia (June) and the Shanghai Marathon (December).

19. Lugu Lake: Kingdom of Women

Clear, deep blue and surrounded by mountains, Lugu Lake is situated high on the border between Sichuan and Yunnan and also attracts so many tourists for their popular China tour package.

The Sichuan side of the lake is quieter and ideal for cycling, swimming or exploring one of the lake's small islands in a traditional dugout canoe, paddled by the local Naxi or Mosuo people.

Lugu Lake is also known as the "The Kingdom of Women" in China, where Mosuo female rule supreme over men.

Lugu Hu Nature Inn, Dazui Village, Lugu Lake, Sichuan Province; +86 834 630 2198; nightly rate from RMB 168 (US$27) for rooms with private bathroom directly overlooking the lake. Dugout canoe trips start at RMB 30 (US$5) per person.

20. Qinghai Lake: scenic race

The 14-day Tour of Qinghai Lake bicycle race takes place every June and July in Qinghai, Gansu and Ningxia Provinces at around 2,680 meters above sea level.

The race covers some of the most stunning landscapes in China and attracts cycling teams from all over the world.

You can get more about these places via China travel agents.

  1. 2013/04/26(金) 11:04:39|
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20 China adventures you won't find in most guidebooks I

As travel in China gets easier, more visitors are searching for experiences outside the ordinary. These 20 destinations and experiences are among the most memorable

1. Xanadu: the town where two legends met

The spot where Marco Polo allegedly met Yuan Dynasty founder Kublai Khan 800 years ago still exists and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in July 2012.

The fabled Yuan summer capital in modern Inner Mongolia, Xanadu is now in ruins, but it's a site with potent atmosphere.

Xanadu (Yuanshangdu) Relic Site, Xilingol League, Inner Mongolia; open daily 8 a.m.-5:30 p.m.; adults RMB 30 (US$5), children free

2. Suma Bay Eco Park: easy beach getaway

Reached by a causeway from the mainland, Suma Bay Eco Park on Liandao Island is a sheltered cove in the midst of a lush patch of jungle.

Located in Lianyungang city in north Jiangsu, the seaside park is a perfect beach break midway between Shanghai and Beijing (these two cities are always contained in affordable China travel packages).

Suma Bay Eco Park, Liandao Island, Lianyungang, Jiangsu Province; open daily 9 a.m.-6 p.m.; adults RMB 50 (US$8), children RMB 25 (US$4), vehicles RMB 15 (US$2.40)

3. Mati Temple

unique grottoes

Mati Temple in northwest China is an extraordinary labyrinth of tunnels, stairs and passageways carved into the inside of a cliff face over six palpitation-inducing levels. This Buddhist temple and monastery dates back 1,500 years.

Mati Temple, Sunan, Zhangye, Gansu Province; open daily 9 a.m.-5.30 p.m.; adults RMB 70 (US$11), children RMB 35 (US$5.60)

4. Zhangbi Underground Castle: ancient underground fortress

Below Zhangbi (a village of about 1,000 people in southern Shanxi Province) is a complex network of tunnels, booby traps, secret passageways and cubbyholes built 1,500 years ago as a military hideout large enough to hold an entire army.

Some 1.5 kilometers of the tunnels have been restored and can be explored with a guide.

Zhangbi Underground Castle, Zhangbi Village, Longfeng Town, Jiexiu City, Shanxi Province; +86 354 708 6001; open daily 8 a.m.-6:30 p.m.; adults RMB 60 (US$9.60), children RMB30 (US$5), English-speaking guide RMB 40 (US$6.40)

5. Hotan wild livestock market

On the southern edge of the Taklamakan Desert in Xinjiang, Hotan holds a wild and chaotic livestock market every Sunday.

The streets leading into the market are lined with bleating goats. Inside, the real action takes place -- cattle, sheep and camels are bought and sold on a handshake.

Hotan Sunday Animal Market, San Xiang Connection Line, Hotan, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region; open every Sunday 7 a.m.-noon

6. Jiayuguan: fortress at the end of the Great Wall

At the westernmost point of the Great Wall sits the ancient fort of Jiayuguan. It's located in far-flung Gansu Province(a destination for Silk Road travel) in the midst of spectacular desert broken by the winding canyon of the Great North River.

Jiayuguan Gliding Base flies ultralight planes over the area, allowing travelers a breathtaking view of the edge of the former Ming Empire.

Jiayuguan Fort, Jiayuguan, Gansu Province; open daily 8:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m.; adults RMB 120 (US$19), children RMB 60 (US$9.60)

Jiayuguan Gliding Base, Jichang Bei Lu, Xiongguan District, Jiayuguan, Gansu Province; ultralight flights RMB 300 (US$48) per person for six minutes

7. Black glacier

Cleaving its way through an alpine valley in western Xinjiang, the black ice of the Oytagh Glacier is an impressive sight from the warmth and comfort of a traditional felt yurt.

Filled with firs and meadows, the secluded Oytagh Valley is accessed through an impressive ravine from the Karakoram Highway.

Yurts RMB 150 (US$24) per person, per night including dinner and breakfast. Park entry fee adults RMB 50 (US$8), children free.

8. Little Austria

You can find a little bit of Austria in Inner Mongolia and take to the warm waters in the resort town of A'ershan which is an optional attraction for China travel packages.

The town's natural hot springs are set among quirky Viennese-style architecture where open carriages trundle up and down the main street, pulled by handsome ponies.

The 40-room A'ershan Haishen Hot Springs Spa Hotel has direct access to the springs.

A'ershan Haishen Hot Springs Spa Hotel, Wenquan Lu, Aershan, Inner Mongolia; +86 482 715 8888; nightly rate from RMB 900 (US$144); no website

9. Hairy crabs

From January to August, Yangcheng Lake is a quiet little town northeast of Shanghai. This changes in September with the arrival of hairy crab season and an influx of food lovers from all over China who enjoy these small crustaceans from the lake's protected waters.

The lakeside Fairmont Yangcheng Lake hotel has seasonal hairy crab weekend packages from around RMB 2,388 (US$383), which include one-night stay, breakfast and hairy crab dinner for two.

Fairmont Yancheng Lake, No. 3668, Ma’anshan Xi Lu, Kunshan, Jiangsu Province; +86 512 5780 0888; nightly rate from RMB 1,680 (US$269), plus 15 percent

10. Amdo: Tibet without a permit

It's possible to visit Tibet (listed as destination of top 10 China tours) without the hassles of getting a Tibet Alien Travel Permit and following restricted itineraries.

In the Amdo region of neighboring Qinghai Province, the population is predominantly Tibetan and the high altitude and cool weather add to the experience.

Tongren (also known as Rebgong) is home to the graceful Longwu or Rongpo Monastery, which dates to 1301.

Local men, women and children circle the monastery every day from dawn till dusk.

Longwu Monastery, Tongren, Qinghai Province; open daily 8 a.m.-5 p.m.; adults RMB 30 (US$5), children free

  1. 2013/04/25(木) 19:19:08|
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Must-see attractions in Lijiang

Lijiang is a dreamlike peaceful ancient town and one of must-see China vacation deals located in northwest of Yunnan plateau and Lijiang travel has much to offer for visitors. Along your travel to Lijiang, you would be mesmerized by the enchanting Jade Dragon Mountain, well-known Lijiang Old Town, beguiling Lugu Lake, time-weathered Shuhe Old Town, majestic Tiger Leaping Gorge, breathtaking Black Dragon Pool, ancient Baisha Village and gorgeous Basha Murals.

Besides the must-visit attractions in Lijiang, Lijiang travel also has something to offer for gourmets. The palatable Sanwen fish, savory chickpeas bean jelly, delicious Lijiang stuffed buns, mouth-watering salted pork ribs hot pot would be a great feast to your taste bud along your Lijiang travel. Stroll along the ancient street to experience the peaceful atmosphere, stand on the arched bridges to appreciate the distinctive layout of this old town, listen to the mavelous Naxi music at night to explore the profound Bongba culture. These are all what cannot be missed along your travel to Lijiang.

Lijiang travel guide offers the most essential information about Lijiang travel, such as Lijiang attractions, Lijiang tours, Lijiang food, Dongba culture, Lijiang shopping and the like. This Lijiang travel guide would be helpful for planning your travel to Lijiang.

Lijiang Old Town

Lijiang Old Town, also known as Dayan Town and always contained in top 10 China tours, is located in the central part of Lijiang City, with Elephant Hill and Jinhong Hill in north, Lion Hill in west, and boundless farmland in southeast. Lijiang Old Town is a town without city walls, which is characterized with timber-made houses, clean stone-paved paths, ubiquitous bridges and unceasing streams, brimming with laid-back and peaceful atmosphere everywhere. Lijiang is one of historical and cultural old towns in China. Lijiang Old Town including Dayan Town, Baisha Town, and Shuhe Town, was listed into UNESCO World Heritage on December 4, 1997.From that on, the local government pays much attention on development and protection of the old city. Now, with its unbeatable charm, Lijiang Old Town appeals numerous travel addicts home and abroad to pay a visit annually.

Located in Yunnan-Guilin Plateau, Lijiang Old Town has the latitude of more than 2400 meters and covers an area of 3.8 square kilometers. It was started to build in Southern Song Dynasty and boasts the history of more than 800 years, which has been an important town in east of Yunnan province since ancient times. Now more than 25000 people have resided here and most of them are Nanxi people. 30% residents still deal in traditional handcrafts, such as bronze-ware, fur, leather, spinning and brewing and the like.

Jade Dragon Mountain

The Jade Snow Mountain is the sacred mountain of Naxi ethnic minority in Yunnan, and the patron saint of Nanxi people named Sanduo is the incarnation of Jade Dragon Mountain. Every year on February 8th in Chinese lunar calendar, Naxi people would celebrate Sanduo Festival greatly to show their admiration of Jade Snow Mountain and Sanduo Saint. Because of its high latitude of 5596 meters, Jade Dragon Mountain has not been conquered by now, which makes the mysterious legends about it particularly fascinating.

The Jade Dragon Mountain is the main attraction in the Big Jade Dragon Scenic Area and should not be missed for your popular China travel package, and there are still other attractions, such as Big Ropeway Area, Maoniuping Area, Yunshanping Area, Blue Moon Valley, Ganhai Lake, Dongba Valley, Yushui Village, Dongbafang Garden, impression of Lijiang performance and the like.

Tiger Leaping Gorge

The world-renowned Tiger Leaping Gorge is located 60 kilometres north of Lijiang City of Yunnan province, which is part of the Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Areas World Heritage Site. Tiger Leaping Gorge is a scenic canyon on the Jinsha River, which is the canyon with largest falls in the world. As a primary tributary of the upper Yangtze River, the Tiger Leaping Gorge is 17 kilometers in length, 1800 meters in altitude and 200 meter in drops. It is home to 18 dangerous shoals, with precipitous cliff standing on both sides solemnly.

The Tiger Leaping Gorge consists of three sections, upper gorges, middle gorger and lower gorge, which stretches totally 25 kilometers in length. The upper gorges is the narrowest section of the Tiger Leaping Gorge and in the center of it crouches a enormous rock, which cuts the tottering water into two streams and creates the deafening sound. About the name of this rock, here comes the story. As the story goes, it is across this rock that a fierce tiger jumped onto the Haba Snow Mountain and survived, hence the name "Tiger Leaping Rock". Tiger Leaping Gorge is one of best trekking and hiking route in China which attracts many adventure lovers for their China tours.

Lugu Lake

Reputed as "Pearl on Highland", Lugu Lake, also referred as Bright Lake, is located in the northwest Yunnan plateau in the centre of Ningliang Yi Autonomous County in China, 200 kilometers from Lijiang Old Town. It was listed in to 4A Scenic Area by National Tourism Beaura in November 2009. With an altitude of 2690.75 meters, it covers 48.45 square kilometers in area and 93 meters in maximum depth. Water in the lake is so azure blue that even water 11 meters beneath the surface is visible.

The Lugu Lake is the highest lake in Yunnan province, and also one of the deepest fresh-water lake in China. Surrounded by lofty mountains, Lugu Lake is home to five islands, four peninsulas, fourteen bays and seventeen beaches., which is just like a sparkling jade embedded in Yunnan Province. Some algal blooms dot the surface of the lake, Zhucao Boat, the only vehicle on the lake, float slowly and Mosuo ballad echoes around, which makes Lugu Lake a great getaway for escaping from the bustling world. Immersing yourself into this enchanting scene would never fail to be a fantastic experience. Many ethnic minority group are resided along the lake, the Mosuo, Norzu, Yi, Pumi and Tibetan for example, among which Mosuo People inhibited most. The Mosuo People still keeps the wedding custom of matriarchy, so that you can learn more customs of ethnic group to color your China vacation packages.

  1. 2013/04/24(水) 16:09:08|
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Top and Must-see attractions in Chengdu

Chengdu, "Rong" for short, is the capital of Sichuan Province. Chengdu is one of most important economic centers, transportation, communication and trading hubs in the southwest China. With the total area of 12,400 square kilometers, Chengdu has the population of 12,579,000 and has direct jurisdiction over 9 districts, 4 county-level cities and 6 counties.

Chengdu is rich in China tourism resources. Besides some nation-level scenic spots, Chengdu is home to many amazing world cultural and historical heritages and natural splendid beauty such as Leshan Giant Buddha, Mt Emei, Jiuzhaigou, Dujiang Dam, Qingcheng Mountain. In addition, the world's only Giant Panda Breeding and Research Centre is located in Chengdu. In 2007, Chengdu received 42,536,000 domestic tourists and 786,000 foreign visitors. In February of 2007, Chengdu won the title of the Best Tourist City in 2006 of China.

Chengdu Panda Base

Founded in 1987, Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding is a non-profit and breeding facility for giant pandas and other precious and endangered animals. It is located at Futou Hill, about 10 kilometers away from downtown of Chengdu.

The base began with 6 wild pandas rescued from the wild. Now the number of giant pandas increases to 70.

Taking an area of 37,335 square meters, the base was built on basis of creating and imitating the wild environment. It is home not only of giant pandas but also of lesser pandas, black-necked cranes, white crane and some other rare and endangered animals. The necessary facilities for giant panda have been build, which contains fodder room, veterinary station and comprehensive service center. The imitative natural environment was built for protecting species of giant pandas and releasing into the wild at last. The base is a must-see for your affordable China travel packages, especially children including in the packages.


Located at the west section of Dujiangyan City in Sichuan, near Chengdu, Dujiangyan Irrigation System so far is the only water project featured with no-dam irrigation system in the world. It plays roles in flood control, irrigating and shipping.

With the history of 2,260 year, Dujiangyan Irrigation System was constructed in Qin Dynasty by Li Bing. During the Warring States period, people lived along the banks of Min River suffered the annual flooding. So Li Bing was assigned to build the Dujiangyan.

Dujiangyan Irrigation System is made up of three main constructions which work harmonically one another to resist against flooding. These three main constructions include Yu Zui, Feishayan and Baopingkou.

Sanxingdui Museum

Sanxingdui, or Guanghan Sanxingdui, is situated at the southwest of Sichuan Basin. Sanxingdui is the ruins of the Bronze Age in the middle and late Shang Dynasty. With the history of 5000 years, Sanxingdui is hailed as the "Ninth Wonder of the World" by historians.

Sanxingdui was discovered by a local peasant in 1929. In 1986, two sacrificial pits were discovered and thousands of ancient articles and treasures were dug out which includes bronze wares, jade wares, ivories, shells, earthen wares, gold wares, etc. Since then, over 10,000 relics which can be dated back to between 5,000 and 3,000 BC had been unearthed at Sanxingdui. This museum should not missed for your top China tours in Chengdu.

Kuanzhai Lane

As one of famous street in Chengdu, Kuanzhai Lane is regarded as the oldest street which can represent Chengdu City. Built in Ming Dynasty, Kuanzhai Lane is composed of Kuan (Wide) Lane, Zhai (Narrow) Lane and Jing Lane. These three paralleled lanes have different style.

Walking along the Kuan Lane, you can experience and witness the original life style and people's living which cannot be seen in other places of Chengdu. Here you can find local residents, taverns, elaborate door headers and old tea houses. You may also find Old Chengdu life Experience House which unveil to visitors the true life of old Chengdu in an all-round way.

Jing Lane is packed with various kinds of entertainment places such as restaurant, club, boutique shops and so on.

Kuanzhai Lane is a best place for you to relax after tired popular China tours.


  1. 2013/04/23(火) 18:04:12|
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Top 10 Chinese teas II

Xinyang Maojian

XinYang Maojian is a green tea produced in Xinyang City, Henan Province, a cultural destination for your China travel deals. It has a deep dark green color and straight thin leaves. Xinyang Maojian has a relatively shorter harvest due to the cooler climate in Henan and is best picked in the early spring.

It is treasured for its refreshing taste and pleasant aroma. In its legend, nine fairies of the heaven brought the tea down to the human race on the earth. When drinking the tea, you will see the image of nine dancing fairies in the vapor.

Lu'an Guapian

Lu'an Guapian or Lu'an Melon Seed Tea is a green tea from Lu'an, Anhui Province, a destination of China best tours. It is named for its tightly rolled seed-like processed leaves which are flat and resemble a melon seed.

The first documentary evidence of Lu'an Guapian dates back to Tang Dynasty (618-907) and it was designated as the tribute in Qing Dynasty (1636-1911). With a bright color, Lu'an Guapian has a particularly smooth taste and sweet aroma. It uses the second leaf on the plant, not the new buds as most green teas do.

Huangshan Maofeng

Huangshan Maofeng is a green tea grown near the famous Mount Huang, Anhui Province, which is home to many famous varieties of green tea. Huangshan Maofeng was initially produced in Qing Dynasty (1636-1911).

Its English translation is Yellow Mountain Fur Peak, due to the small white hairs covering the leaves which resemble the peak of mountain. It's best harvested in the early spring. Through special processing technique, the tea is jade-green in color and has complex and refreshing aroma with a lingering aftertaste of floral sweetness.

Dongting Biluochun

Dongting Biluochun is a famous green tea originally grown in the Dongting Mountains of Jiangsu Province which is always considered for tourists' popular China travel package. Biluochun's English translation is Green Snail Spring due to its shape of tight spiral, resembling snail meat. It is renowned for its delicate appearance and floral aroma and fruity taste. The tea is harvested in early spring.

It is said that Dongting Biluochun tea plant was first found by a nun when she went for an outing in the spring. With a history of over 1,000 years, it was offered to emperors as the tribute during the Qing Dynasty (1636-1911).

West Lake Dragon Well Tea

The West Lake Dragon Well Tea is a variety of green tea from Hangzhou (making contribution to China tourism), Zhejiang Province. It is well-known worldwide and is highly praised for its green color, long-lasting elegant fragrance and mellow taste.

The tea has a recorded history of over 1,000 years, and was mentioned in the oldest tea book of the Tang Dynasty (618-907). The tea is frequently offered to visiting heads of state, including the British Queen Elizabeth II and former US President Richard Nixon.

  1. 2013/04/19(金) 18:47:49|
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Top 10 Chinese teas I

Of the big three beverages: Tea, coffee and cocoa – tea is consumed by the largest number of people in China.

China is considered the home of tea. Chinese tea had begun to be exported to Japan and Korea before the Tang Dynasty (618-907). In the early period of the 17th century, Chinese tea was exported to Europe via Silk Road (now a famous itinerary for Silk Road tour).

The tea from China is in great abundance and variety. To tell if a pot of tea is nice you can mainly rely on the color, smell, taste and form. According to these principles we selects 10 of the most excellent from the whole of the country.

Fujian Tieguanyin

Tieguanyin is one of China's top teas and synonymous with oolong tea. It stands head and shoulder above the rest of hundreds of different types of oolong tea. Guanyin in English means the Goddess of Mercy.

The tea was originally made in the Anxi County, Fujian Province (a place for affordable China tours) in the 18th century. With precision, it is rolled into tightly knit granulated green balls with red spots and white frost. It has a unique taste with an orchid fragrance.

The legend behind the tea goes like this: A sincere Buddhist praying to the Goddess of Mercy daily. One night, he dreamed of a magic plant, which he discovered the next day. The tree sent out unique fragrance. Buddhists believed it was a gift from the Goddess of Mercy and called it Tieguanyin tea.

Lushan Yunwu

Lushan Yunwu tea is a green tea from Jiangxi Province, home of the Mount Lu. The tea may be traced back more than 1,000 years. According to local records, it was initially collected and planted by monks living in the temple in the Mount Lu.

Lushan refers to Mount Lu (a destination of China best tours)and Yunwu means cloud and mist. Mount Lu's foggy conditions make for a natural shade where the tea plants grow. Long ago, Lushan Yunwu was offered to emperors as a gift because of its unique, gentle and lasting sweetness and it is said that drinking Lushan Yunwu tea prolongs life.

Yunnan Pu-erh

Yunnan Pu-erh, a kind of dark tea, is produced in southwestern China's Yunnan Province. It was named after the Pu'er Town, where most of the tea is processed and sold. Pu'er has a long history of tea trading dating back to the Tang Dynasty (618-907).

Yunnan Pu-erh tea is compressed into various shapes and is black or brown-red in color. It tastes mellow and is purported to reduce blood cholesterol. It is reputed to be the beauty tea and slim tea. It can generally improve in taste over time.

Keemun Black Tea

Keemun Black Tea, one of the most famous Chinese black teas, is produced in Qimen County, Anhui Province which houses many tourist destination such as Yellow Mountain which is one destination of Yangtze River cruise. With a relatively short history, it was initially produced in 1875 and quickly gained popularity worldwide, especially in England. It is regarded as one of the top three fragrant teas in the world.

The aroma of Keemun tea is fruity, which creates a very distinctive and balanced taste. Steeping in boiling water for about five minutes allows the mellow Keemun Tea with a delicate perfume and flavor to fully brew. Keemun can enhance one's alertness and memory. It is excellent after a meal.

Wuyi Yancha

WuYi Yancha is a kind of oolong tea from the Wuyi Mountains (a hot destination for popular China tour package), Fujian Province. Yancha means rock tea. It got its name because the plant grows in crack of rocks in Wuyi Mountains.

Yancha tea features the fresh fragrance of green tea and the mellow sweetness of black tea. With its lovely flowery aromas and health benefits, it was offered to emperors as a gift more than 1,000 years ago. It was enjoyed by Europeans when it was introduced to Europe in the 18th century. Da Hong Pao is one of the best Wuyi Yancha oolong teas.

  1. 2013/04/19(金) 18:44:18|
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Top 10 things to know about Spring Festival I

Similar to Christmas in the West, Chinese Lunar New Year, or the Spring Festival, is the most important festival of the year for Chinese people. It marks the first day of the lunar calendar and usually falls somewhere between late January and early February of the Gregorian calendar.

In China, the Spring Festival is when all family members get together. No matter how far people are from their homes they will try their best to heads back to their hometown to celebrate the festival with their family.

There are many customs that accompany and adds great joy to the traditional festival. We selects the top 10 customs that are widely followed across China during the celebration of the Spring Festival which also attracts many tourists to experience the Spring Festival atmosphere for China vacation deals.

1. Spring Couplets

On the Chinese New Year, families in China decorate their front doors with poetic couplets of calligraphy written with fragrant India ink, expressing the feeling of life's renewal and the return of spring.

It is said that spring couplets originated from "peach wood charms," door gods painted on wood charms in earlier times. During the Five Dynasties (907-960), the Emperor Meng Chang inscribed an inspired couplet on a peach slat, beginning a custom that gradually evolved into today's popular custom of displaying spring couplets.

In addition to pasting couplets on both sides and above the main door, it is also common to hang calligraphic writing of the Chinese characters for "spring," "wealth," and "blessing." Some people will even invert the drawings of blessing since the Chinese for "inverted" is a homonym in Chinese for "arrive," thus signifying that spring, wealth, or blessing has arrived. The spring couplets are popular around the most places of China such as Xian, a destination for Silk Road tours.

2. Nian Hua

Nian Hua (Spring Festival Picture) is a special type of painting in China. It is used during the Spring Festival.

It originated in the Pre-Qin Period (before 221 B.C.), a brief record of which can be found in Zhanguo Ce (Strategies of the Warring States Period).

As late as in the Western and Eastern Han Dynasties (206B. C. -220 A. D.), people liked to paste the images of various gods on both sides of the door, expecting them to ward off evil and usher in good luck. These images are called "the door-gods". Since people pasted them up during the Spring Festival, these pictures gained a special significance for the occasion.

The art of printing from engraved plates, which was invented in the Tang Dynasty (618-907 A. D.), brought about further development of Nian Hua. Before the Tang Dynasty, Nian Hua in most cases were images of deities and spirits. Now it spread almost every corner of China included in major big cities such as Beijing and Chongqing where you can start your Yangtze River cruises.

After the Tang Dynasty, some works evolved into more realistic pictures, and the images of the door-gods turned into two generals: Qin Qiong and Yuchi Jingde. There were more Nian Hua produced in this fashion in the Song Dynasty (960-1279 A.D.), and xylographic Nian Hua, of religious themes developed gradually in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 A. D.).

In the Ming and Qing dynasties, xylographic Nian Hua reached a new height of development and Nian Hua came into the homes of the ordinary people. In the Qing Dynasty, most of the provinces had their own workshops for making Nian Hua.

The main producers included Taohuawu of Suzhou (a tourist destination for top 10 China tours), Yangliuqing of Tianjin, Weifang of Shandong, Foshan of Guangdong, Mianzhu of Sichuan, Wuqiang of Hebei, Zhu-xianzhen of Henan, Shaoxing of Zhejiang, and so on.

3. Reunion dinner

A reunion dinner is held on Chinese New Year's Eve, during which family members get together to celebrate. No matter where people live, they are expected to return home for the festival, and this dinner.

It is a huge feast, where many fantastic dishes are prepared including chicken, pork, dumplings and many special desserts.

Fish is also included, but intentionally not finished, and the remaining fish is stored overnight. Because the Chinese word for fish sounds the same as the word for abundance and by saving it for the New Year, it is believed that the New Year will be filled with abundance. A famous Chinese phrase "every year there is fish/leftover" is a homophone for phrases which mean "be blessed every year" or "have profit every year".

If you want to know more information about Spring Festival, you can contact with China tour agents.

  1. 2013/04/18(木) 18:49:01|
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General Intro of Beijing Local Culture

Beijing enjoys the reputation of time-honored historical and cultural city in China and is one of must-see destination included in AFFORDABLE China travel packages. As the capital of five dynasties, Beijing preserves a large number of imperial palace, imperial gardens, temples and ancient tombs which are symbols of a cultural city. Undoubtedly, Beijing is the culture hub of China. Forbidden City, the imperial palace of Ming and Qing dynasties, well displays the traditional Chinese styles in architecture. Temple of Heaven is world-famous for its logical layout and delicate structure. Ming Tombs including 13 tombs is the biggest imperial mausoleum in Beijing. Beijing culture can also be represented by other elements such as its dialects, opera and cuisine besides the ancient buildings.

Beijing Temples and Churches

China is a country with the religious freedom and respect. As the capital of China, Beijing has many temples including Taoism, Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism and Islam temples, and Christian and Catholic churches. The famous Buddhist temples like Tanzhe Temple have become the hot tourist destinations. As for Taoist temples, Baiyun Temple is the best representative which is the popular destination for pilgrim not very touristy. Yonghe Lama Temple, one of popular China tours, is one of the largest and most important Tibetan Buddhist temples in the world. One of Catholic churches is located in the area of Wangfujing. Some Christian churches can also be found in Beijing.

Beijing Dialect

Beijing dialect, is a dialect of Mandarin spoken in the area of Beijing and then became the basis of Standard Chinese, the official language of China. Beijing dialect is very similar with standard Chinese, but it is very easy to distinguish whether an individual is a native of Beijing speaking or an individual of standard Chinese.

Beijing Opera

Beijing Opera or Peking opera is very favored by Beijing locals and always watched by foreign tourists who have their best tours of China. It is a form of traditional Chinese theatre. Beijing Opera can originate from the several ancient operas in China. In 1790, 'Four Great Anhui Troupes' brought Anhui Opera to Beijing. The performance of Anhui Opera make a hit and 'Four Great Anhui Troupes' performed with Hubei troupes in 1826. The combination gradually formed into Beijing Opera. Now Beijing Opera is the national theatre style.

Beijing Cuisine

Beijing Cuisine is characterized by cooking different muttony and porky dishes. In Ming and Qing dynasties, the most imperial cooks were from Shangdong province so that some elements of Shandong cuisine integrated into Beijing cuisine. It was also combined with flavors of other cuisines like Tanjia cuisine, Islamic food and Manchu style. Beijing Duck is an iconic Beijing dish which is tasted by almost every tourist when they visit Beijing for their China tours.

Beijing Hutong

Hutongs are a kind of narrow alleys formed by lines of siheyuan, traditional courtyard dwellings. Hutongs originated from Yuan Dynasty. According to investigation, the oldest Hutong is Sanmiaojie Hutong with history of 900 years. Dongxi Jiaomin Hutong is the longest with length of 3,250 meters. The shortest one is Qianshi Hutong only with length of 0.7 meter.

If you want to know more about Beijing culture, you can contact with China tour operator.

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  1. 2013/04/17(水) 17:41:20|
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A Museum of World Religions in China

In China’s history textbooks, Quanzhou City can be found in almost any paragraph related to maritime trade. Located in Fujian Province on China’s southeast coast, this time-honored city served as the starting point for ancient China’s Maritime Silk Road. During the Song (960-1279) and Yuan (1271-1368) dynasties, Quanzhou was known as the top port in the East, as famous as Alexandria in Egypt.

Merchant ships and traders from various countries gathered in the city, exchanging goods as well as facilitating cultural exchange. Now, several centuries later, Quanzhou remains one of the most economically vibrant cities in that area. A stroll through the city will reveal myriad well-preserved structures of high historical value, including plentiful cathedrals, temples, monasteries, and mosques from the East and West. Not surprisingly, Quanzhou’s older area is known as “a museum of world religions.” Architecture includes not only structures built for Taoist and Buddhist faiths, which are commonly followed by locals, but also those for Catholicism and Islam which were brought to the port city as early as the Song and Yuan dynasties. A visit to Quanzhou for just a day will illustrate the port’s prosperity and openness across the ages.

Witnessing Eastern Culture

Quanzhou’s history is stirring. Most original residents came to the city from central China to avoid invasions by ethnic groups from the northern regions during the Western Jin Dynasty (265-316). So, the city was built according to traditional culture of central China. Since many were devoutly religious, statues, temples, and various religious icons quickly popped up around town.

Known as Quanzhou’s most renowned, Kaiyuan Temple was first constructed in the Tang Dynasty (618-907) and ranks as the largest Buddhist temple in Fujian Province which are can be considered for your last minute China travel deals. Upon entering the old city proper of Quanzhou, tourists can easily spot two imposing Buddhist towers, the most famous sections of Kaiyuan Temple. With a height of 48 meters, the East Tower was constructed in 865, while the 44-meter-tall West Tower was built in 917. Originally, both towers were constructed of wood. However, they were destroyed many times over the years until they were finally rebuilt with stone during the Song Dynasty.

Along with the two towers, other structures in the temple include the Hall of Heavenly Kings, the Great Buddha’s Hall, and the Sutra Pavilion, all of which embody top ancient Chinese architectural techniques and testify to the popularity of Buddhism in Quanzhou in that era.

Compared with magnificent Kaiyuan Temple, the Temple of Lord Guan and General Yue on Tumen Street primarily served believers of Chinese folk religions from humbler classes. The temple was built in commemoration of both Lord Guan Yu and General Yue Fei. It was constructed in the Song Dynasty, and has been popular ever since. Pilgrims travel from as far as Southeast Asia and Taiwan to visit. Now, the temple also houses the Quanzhou Taoism Culture Research Association.

Contrasting Buddhist Kaiyuan Temple, Temple of Lord Guan and General Yue was built in honor of two historical figures that represented power, justice, and royalty. Quanzhou’s scope of beliefs is diverse. It is common to see a temple dedicated to several gods. Actually, these temples are also common in Taiwan and southern Fujian Province, and still enjoy great popularity.

Imported Cultures for China tour

Just a few blocks away from the Temple of Lord Guan and General Yue is Qingjing Mosque, one of China’s oldest Islamic structures. Constructed during the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127), the mosque has already been standing for more than 1,000 years. The present layout was finalized after plenty of expansions during the Yuan and Ming (1368-1644) dynasties. When every expansion started, merchants and missionaries from the western regions helped with the process. A structure of significant interest for international Islamic academic circles, Qingjing Mosque nowadays still serves Quanzhou’s Muslims as a meeting place for religious services and weddings.

The mosque’s architecture is similar to styles of mosques in Syria’s Damascus. Major surviving structures of the mosque include the Main Gate, the Heavenly Hall and the Hall of Clarity and Virtue. The exterior design of the Main Gate features traditional Arabic Islamic style. Facing south, the magnificent door reaches 12.3 meters in height, with a width of 6.6 meters at the base and 3.8 meters at the door itself.

Heavenly Hall was formerly the major prayer hall in the mosque. However, today’s visitors will only find four stone walls and no roof. The east wall features the pointed-arched main entrance, in the middle of the west wall is a tall, arched structure where the Koran in ancient Arabic was engraved and preserved. At the northwest of the mosque sits the Hall of Clarity and Virtue, which was constructed in the Ming Dynasty. After the roof of the Heavenly Hall collapsed during an earthquake, believers relocated to the Hall of Clarity and Virtue to pray. Presently, an imperial edict engraved in stone by Emperor Yongle (1403-1424) to protect Qingjing Mosque which is must-see for your popular China tours and Chinese Islam is still housed in the mosque.

Exchanges between East and West

As an economic hub of southeast China’s coast, Quanzhou has been synonymous with business and trade for ages. As for the diverse cultural heritage in its vintage area, local government has spared no efforts towards protection and maintenance. At present, Quanzhou’s older area, especially Tumen Road, has preserved architectural styles combining the East and West.

Now, some cities in southern Fujian Province, such as Quanzhou, Zhangzhou, and Xiamen, are considering jointly applying for world cultural heritage, on the basis of the Maritime Silk Road. Of these cities, Quanzhou, as the most well-known port city since Song and Yuan dynasties, serves as the core of the application.

The passage of time is forever etched on historical artifacts. Ancient structures and streets, constructed with bricks, sand, and wood, witnessed unimaginable tales. Their continuing health and vitality represent the city’s understanding of the past. The fusion of new and time-honored structures represents modern Quanzhou at its best.

If you want to know more about Quanzhou, you can contact with China travel agents.

  1. 2013/04/16(火) 18:24:45|
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Resting in Peace - Qingyuan Town

I first experienced ancient Qingyan Town on a sunny summer afternoon. As the sun slowly slipped over the horizon, bathing the town in a glowing orange, everyone I met seemed slightly sluggish, and I started feeling a bit in slow-motion myself. While roaming aimlessly amidst the archaic stone houses, my focus was pulled to sunflowers frequently emerging from walls along with weeds peeking out of cracks. The drowsy silence was only interrupted by chirps of sparrows gliding through the pristine sky.

Qingyan is less than 30 kilometers from Guiyang, capital of China’s southwestern Guizhou Province which is always a destination of China travel deals, and modern transportation from Guiyang is convenient. Travelers often make a stop in Huaxi to try their famous rice noodles, and from there Qingyan is only 10 minutes by car. Centuries ago, during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), Qingyan was only a border fort, and its residents were only a few dozen soldiers. When the men gazed longingly toward their hometowns to the north, their view was blocked by the steep green cliffs of Dajiang Hill. The fort’s name became Qingyan, which literally means “green cliff.”

Over the years, the fort transformed into a bustling town populated by a variety of transient merchants, stationed soldiers, and immigrants from other inland areas. Before long, many were settling down permanently in the town, some because they fell in love with the land, and others because they sought a better life. These people became the ancestors of those who now call Qingyan home.

Guizhou’s first ever zhuangyuan (meaning “Top Scholar,” a title conferred to the highest scorer on the imperial examination), Zhao Yijiong, was born in Qingyan during the reign of Emperor Xianfeng of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). At 29, Zhao traveled the long distance to the capital for the highest imperial examination, which led to impressing Emperor Guangxu with his distinguished literary abilities enough to earn the title of zhuangyuan. Despite his unprecedented fame in literary circles nationwide and especially in Guizhou, Zhao was not quite so successful in his official career. After retiring, he returned to his hometown and served as a teacher until his death at the age of 49. Today, his former residence is still well-preserved in Qingyan. Surrounded by courtyards shaded by laurel trees and filled with stone stairs covered with moss, the once-private mansion has been converted into a tourist destination where visitors can tour the house and even stay the night for their top China tours.

An important commercial hub of Guizhou, Qingyan attracted a considerable population of foreign missionaries by the mid-19th century. Nowadays, a stroll in the town can lead visitors past many religious structures, including not only Buddhist and Taoist temples, but also Christian cathedrals.

The town retains its original layout from the Ming and Qing dynasties. Lining its stone-paved streets are countless shops, many of which preserved authentic wood or stone counters to display local products, crafts, and ethnic costumes and accessories. Typically, teahouses and restaurants are decorated with traditional wood signs, which fuel the nostalgic aura. They are complemented by plentiful memorial archways, of which the most famous is for Zhao Lilun, a villager who is thought to have lived for 102 years. Its stone-carved lions were highly praised by Liu Haisu, a prominent Chinese artist.

Qingyan features many tofu workshops that still use manpowered stone mills. In one workshop, an elderly woman was pushing a stone mill, as white soybean juice dripped from it. The hospitable shopkeeper treated me to a bowl of fresh tofu. The delicious treat stimulated my appetite, so I spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around town tasting local snacks such as rose candy, pear wine, rose wine, and salted pork.

Visitors to the ancient town will encounter dogs sleeping in streets, roadside fortune tellers eager to reveal the future, elderly artisans crafting wood barrels, and local women embroidering butterflies, as they haggle with peddlers about the prices of never-before-seen foods and vegetables or crash a local wedding (strangers are often welcomed to take part in the feast). Most tourists who have China tour packages feel lucky enough to visit leave with a spiritual comfort from experiencing a completely different way of life.

At dusk, I turned back from outside the ancient town’s south gate to marvel at the gate tower glowing magnificently in the rays of the setting sun. A stone wall stretched from the tower and disappeared below the horizon. A plaque on the gate tower reading “Guang Ding Gate” gradually disappeared into the encroaching darkness.

As black settled over the land, frogs in paddy fields began to sing. On their way home, farmers passed through the gate with hands clasped behind their backs. A shepherd led his flock with a flute, and the melodic whistle inspired birds to hover over the woods.

Qingyan was just one stop on my journey across southwestern China. Throughout my life, I have visited many other ancient towns, but in my memory, none rival the peacefulness and tranquility of Qingyan.

China Travel Tips

How to Get There:

The ancient town of Qingyan is about 29 kilometers south of urban Guiyang. A bus leaves downtown Guiyang for Qingyan every five minutes, and a single-trip ticket is only 10 yuan. Tourists can also take a taxi, which costs about 100 yuan.

Where to Stay:

Visitors are recommended to spend a couple of days traveling around Qingyan. The town’s plentiful hotels are affordable, with a standard room rates at about

20-30 yuan per night.

What to Eat:

Qingyan is particularly notable for its local foods. Traditional snacks feature no exotic ingredients, but rather only locally grown grains and household livestock. Thanks to the superb cooking techniques developed by of local chefs, the native snacks are popular with both locals and tourists. Along with famous local snacks such as fried tofu balls and sticky rice porridge, Qingyan is also noted for sugared pork and fish in sour soup. Additionally, wild vegetable dishes are often seen on local dining tables.

By comparision with the towns along Silk Road tour, you will feel a great difference.

  1. 2013/04/15(月) 18:44:22|
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Chakpori: Faith Shines in the Dark

In Lhasa, west of the famous Potala Palace (one of destination of top 10 China tours) is another historic landmark, although this one is more natural than man-made. Chakpori Mountain is considered sacred by many, and once served as home to one of Tibet’s best-known medical schools. At Mentsikhang, as it was known, one could find the best local doctors around. Over the years, the school evolved into a hospital, and now the location remains a renowned medical hub and a traditional Tibetan hospital just west of Jokhang Monastery.

Locals recommend waking up early to scale Chakpori to get the best view of Potala Palace. Under the bright morning sun, the magnificent structure appears more terrestrial. Compared to other mountains, Chakpori offers an unparalleled fusion of faith, human achievement, and natural beauty. Monasteries, stone carvings, and pious worshippers are all common pieces of the wealth of scenery along the road leading to the mountain. Additionally, the mountain lies along one of Lhasa’s most well-trodden paths of circumambulation (a religious activity of circling a sacred shrine). On the 15th day of the fourth month of each Tibetan calendar year, throngs of pilgrims congregate at the mountain to celebrate the Saga Dawa Festival.

Chalalupu Monastery

A well-preserved monastery on the eastern side of Chakpori is known as Chalalupa which is attractive for China tour visitors. Also called the Chalalupu Grottoes, the structure covers a compact area of only 27 square meters. A stone pillar at the entrance marks the start of a narrow lane used for circumambulation. The wall is decorated with 69 stone sculptures depicting figures such as King Songtsen Gampo and his wife, Princess Wencheng.

Songtsen Gampo (617-650) was the reigning king of Tibet when the tiny monastery was constructed over 1,300 years ago. After enduring unimaginable ups and downs over the centuries, the hardy monastery remains in good shape. According to historical records, one of Gampo’s concubines contracted artists to carve Buddha statues on the cliffs of Chalalupu. For each pound of rock they chipped away, craftsmen would receive a pound of salt, a commodity in short supply at that time. The savvy move considerably enhanced the efficiency of the project compared with similar endeavors of the time.

In years past, worshippers could be found at any time on any of the many circumambulation roads in Lhasa. Over its course of development, however, Lhasa changed considerably, and many such roads have disappeared. Only the road circling Chakpori remains unchanged, so its presence tends to move many Tibetan Buddhists and first-time visitors. Under the bright, high-altitude rays of sunshine, worshippers carefully and solemnly prostrate using their entire body. Even from afar, the sound of their kowtows can be heard echoing through the air.

Stone Carving

Chakpori’s stone carvings have enjoyed a lengthy history, with the oldest traced back to the King Songtsen Gampo era. Over the centuries, stone sculptures have covered a length of nearly 1,000 meters. Combined with sutras and colorful Buddha statues gracing the cliffs, the whole mountain becomes quite spectacular so many tourists contain it on their list of China tour packages.

The responsible craftsmen, whose painstaking efforts to illustrate their faith on the mountain, are worth noting. Most contemporary artists are able to make a living by carving, and many talented craftsmen from a wide area relocate to the mountain once they are hired. A craftsman’s daily routine normally involves inscribing sutras and Buddha images on flat slates. Most of their time is spent on the sutra Kangyur, an epic and perennial project. Additionally, they will take freelance projects from locals, most often involving inscribing other sutras used in praying for happiness or health.

One such craftsman is named Yugya. The perpetually grinning man moved to Lhasa ten years ago and has been employed as a stone engraver ever since. Now, his second daughter is three years old and often plays at the foot of Chakpori. Yugya spends most of his time engraving, making it an indispensable facet of his life. When speaking of his work, the man can hardly conceal his passion and devotion.

Still, engraving is a tedious process with monotony only broken by various noises. Those employed in the discipline, however, consider it a blessing to be able to make a living in such a position. For them, every shrill noise is easy on the ear.

Story of a Stupa

In Chakpori, tourists will find a slate stupa, a mound-like structure containing Buddhist relics. On each piece of slate is an inscription of Kangyur. Worshippers from near and far make pilgrimages to Lhasa to visit the stupa and find spiritual comfort. Daten Dawa, who constructed the stupa years ago, has devoted his life to his faith.

Years ago, when he was 40, Dawa set off for Lhasa from his hometown of Yushu in Qinghai Province which is less-visited by tourists for China vacation deals. During the entire trip, he continuously made full-body prostrations. At the time, his daughter was 20 years old. Like many other pilgrims, he moved cautiously and counted his footsteps carefully. Every night before sleeping, he would use a stone to mark the ground to make sure he never missed a step or two. Along the way, Dawa’s daughter became a mother, making him a new grandfather. Two years later, his entire family arrived in Lhasa. After visiting every monastery they could find, the group decided to stay permanently. “I didn’t want to go anywhere else,” he recalls.“I just wanted to stay in Lhasa and build a stupa for Chakpori.” Dawaspent the next ten years raising funds for the stupa and building the structure. Over the years, even in the foulest weather, Dawa could always be found at the foot of Chakpori ready to welcome any who were willing to donate money to help his project become a reality.A decade later, the stupa, with every slate inscribed with sutra, was completed for all to enjoy.


Transportation: Chakpori faces the Potala Palace, and is only a short walk from the palace.

Tickets: Visiting Chakpori is free of charge.

Suggestions: Leave the high heels at home, because tourists will need to do some hiking to get to the top. Be wary of altitude sickness and avoid excessiveexercise or walking during a visit.

Chapori is always packed with people in the morning, as manyphotographers like to shoot Potala Palace at dawn. Still, those desiring to witness or capture the most beautiful images are recommended to visit early in the day.

If you are interested in Chakpori, you can consider the China travel group perchase which save you more money.

  1. 2013/04/12(金) 18:33:10|
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Back to the Stone Age-Baoshan Stone Village

Discovered by European backpackers a few years ago, Baoshan Village soon became a hot tourist destination for adventurous visitors to Yunnan which are always contained in China vacation deals. To enter from the south, one must scale stairs that end at a narrow lane leading into the village before the town’s narrow crisscrossing alleys and neat rows of buildings are visible. The village is home to about one hundred Naxi households, who use the rough narrow stone roads to reach every corner of the village. Erected against stones, most of the village’s homes are vintage two-story abodes representing typical Naxi architectural style. Propped up by several wood pillars, the first story is walled with stones unearthed from the foundation. The second floor is composed entirely of wood and roofed with black tiles.

One of the older homes in the village serves as a stone museum. Many of the artifacts collected in the house were carved from stone, vividly depicting the rich stone culture of Baoshan. Natural cliffs serve as three of the house’s walls, only slightly polished by the owner. In the kitchen, a water tank measuring 50 centimeters in diameter was carved from a huge stone. Atop another massive hollowed-out rock that serves as an oven rest several stone bowls. In another room, two beds are made of stone. It seems that time was frozen in the Stone Age. Dozens of years ago, every family in town utilized stone tanks, ovens, bowls, and beds, but in recent years, those items were replaced by more modern amenities such as ceramic bowls and gas-powered ovens. The modern appliances brought great convenience to village natives.

Residents are savvy farmers. Even though their houses sit atop a rock, they still manage to tame the land around it. Every arable slope in the village is cultivated into terraced fields. Baoshan’s terraces are nourished by an innovative irrigation system. Normally, gravity causes water to flow downward only after the upper fields are irrigated. In Baoshan, however, the fields are linked to hidden canal networks. After the upper fields receive substantial irrigation, that particular outlet can be closed and all of the water can be funneled straight to the lower fields. The design prevents fertilizer fights between patches and embodies the ancient wisdom of the Naxi. The fields primarily produce rice, wheat, and other grains. When wheat and rice mature in May and October, respectively, the village appears like a giant vessel floating on golden waves of crops. These are the best times to take a visit to Baoshan Stone Village and you can list it as your best tours of China.

China Travel Tips


From Lijiang, travelers must pass Ganhaizi, Mingyin, and Baoshan townships before arriving in the stone village, 110 kilometers away. The road linking Lijiang to Mingyin is asphalt, but the section between Mingyin and Baoshan Township is currently under construction to expand the narrow passage. From Baoshan Township, a gravel road finally leads to the stone village. At Sifangjie Station of Lijiang, travelers can rent vehicles to take them to Baoshan Township. Rental fees are 250 yuan a day for a small van and 300 yuan a day for a car. The rate will increase during peak seasons.

Accommodation and Food

The village’s five family hotels include an inner village inn and charge about 50 yuan per night during non-peak periods. Meals are available there. Many small village shops can provide other goods and services.


Mobile phones operated by China Mobile get reception. Landlines cannot be used.

You can contain this village in your China travel packages.

  1. 2013/04/11(木) 18:41:07|
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On Higher Ground of Tibet

In the Hollywood blockbuster, 2012, a global mega-disaster predicted by the Mayans brings the end of the world. A worldwide flood reaches as high as the snow-capped mountains of Tibet, submerging Rongbuk Monastery, the highest temple on earth. Cho Ming, mankind’s final refuge in the film, is only fictional, but Rongbuk Monastery is the real deal. But Rongbuk Monastery is not a top China tours destination.

At an elevation of 5,154 meters, Rongbuk Monastery grips the slope of the Himalayas, facing Mount Everest. The sky-high monastery sheltered by the world’s tallest mountain didn’t see many visitors until a decade ago. As increasing numbers of pilgrims start making the trek to reach it, the once-tranquil monastery has become more and more bustling.

The earliest outsiders to visit were mountain climbers, both from China and abroad, who took advantage of its convenience as a base camp before embarking up the hill to Everest. As the mountain became a hotter tourist destination, great numbers of visitors from every corner of the world could be found there. Some came to pay homage, some sought adventure, and others were lured by curiosity for a mysterious land. Whatever their reasons for making the journey, all of them took refuge in Rongbuk. In July and August, peak months for Everest tours of China, the monastery accommodates more than 100 tourists at a time. Pilgrims leave piles of mani stones under a white pagoda just outside the monastery, along with a few Christian crosses and stones etched with a wide variety of languages including English, Japanese, and Italian.

I visited Rongbuk last October. At the foot of the snowy peaks, the monastery gave off a particularly peaceful and serene aura. Although the temperature had already dropped, the sun remained generous. The moment I entered the courtyard of the monastery, my eyes met several lamas and nuns enjoying the afternoon sun, chatting with each other in their dark red robes. Although their language was totally unintelligible to me, their peaceful smiles communicated plenty. Dozing off under the sharp rays, a puppy leisurely rested at their feet. A moment later, a flock of pilgrims streamed into the monastery, and I guessed that they finally concluded an epic journey from the excitement and piety in their eyes.

Erected in 1899, Rongbuk Monastery was founded by the Nyingma sect of Tibetan Buddhism. When measured against Tibet’s other famous temples, its history is comparatively modest. The five floors of its primary structure grace the north slope of Everest, but only two levels remain in use. In its heydays, the temple was a labyrinthine complex with more than 20 halls, housing 300 monks and 300 nuns. Now, only 20 permanent residents live there.

After scaling a stone staircase, I reached the Prayer Hall. Murals flanking its gate stunned me with striking colors and realism. As I entered the hall, however, the murals became even more vivid, covering all of the interior walls. In 1983, the murals were touched up to ensure the colors remain vibrant. Their most eye-catching figure must have been the god of wealth. Virtually every Chinese visitor, either Tibetan or Han, is compelled to bow to the god to pray for blessings.

To the right of the Prayer Hall, a stairway leads to another hall that houses a golden statue of Padmasambhava, the founder of the Nyingma sect. Rays of sun knifed through the windows, lighting up the entire hall. When I entered, a lama was carefully adding fuel to ghee lamps in front of the statue.

Adjacent to the Prayer Hall is the Sutra Library. Its layout is similar to that of the Prayer Hall and its walls are also decorated with murals. A row of bookcases containing Buddhist sutras rests in the front. When I arrived, a lama was studying sutras wrapped with yellow cloth.

The fifteenth day of the fourth month of the Tibetan calendar marks the birthday of Buddha Sakyamuni. On that day, Rongbuk Monastery becomes packed with people ready to celebrate. Nearby Tibetans arrive a day in advance. They bring zanba (roasted barley flour, a Tibetan staple) and butter tea, set up tents outside the monastery, and decorate them with colorful banners and prayer flags that flutter in the wind.

Lamas celebrate Buddha’s birthday by performing the traditional Cham Dance. The dance begins with long trumpets played by monks wearing yellow, cockscomb-shaped hats. The lama who appears first wears a huge red mask and plays the majestic Buddha. When he reaches the center of the monastery’s courtyard, he stands and begins beating a gong. Then, ordered by age, other lamas enrobed in beautiful gowns emerge. As they dance around a tall pole decorated with prayer flags of yellow, red, and blue, the audience bursts into thunderous applause. Accompanied by trumpets, horns, and gongs, every lama immerses himself in the movements.

A rumor holds that an older monastery also called Rongbuk is hidden higher in the mountains. Only if that rumor were true could such a high place exist with greater peace and tranquility. The monastery is right for your hiking and trekking included in your China travel packages.

Travel Tips

Mount Everest is strikingly visible near Rongbuk Monastery. In fact, many professional mountaineers consider the monastery the best place to view Everest, especially at dawn and dusk. A two-hour walk or 15-minute drive will get you from the monastery to Everest Base Camp.

In addition to a nearby hostel run by local Tibetans, the monastery (although not suitable for China travel deals) also offers accommodations for tourists. Each bed costs 30-40 yuan, but tourists are suggested to make reservations in advance during the peak season from May to August. Renting a car is the best way to reach Rongbuk.

  1. 2013/04/10(水) 18:30:48|
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Timeless Arches in Longchang County

For most people in China, Longchang County is not so well-known. Located in southern Sichuan Province at the border of Chongqing Municipality which is the starting point of Yangtze River cruise, the small county’s geography has held important transit value since ancient times. Due to its convenient location, Longchang has long served as an escape for urban residents from nearby metropolises, a sanctuary for city-dwellers to wash away stress.

Land of Memorial Archways

Longchang is known as China’s hotbed of memorial archways. Its arches, under key state protection, hold both historical and artistic value.

Memorial archways serve as a keystone of China’s architectural history. As commemorative structures, memorial archways were used to honor one’s service to the government and public, achievements in imperial examinations, and careful observation of feudal virtues. While some memorial archways are gates for Taoist abbeys, some are employed to mark different places. In terms of architectural technology, artistic carving, and promoting universal values such as benevolence and generosity, memorial archways are an indispensable piece of the Chinese mosaic.

Stone memorial archways in Longchang were built according to imperial edicts spanning from 1496 to 1887, across Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. The oldest has been standing for more than 500 years. In total, 17 memorial archways remain in the county today, with 13 downtown lined up from north to south. Combining philosophy, history, mechanics, architecture, and aesthetics, these archways are considered an essence of southern Sichuan architecture during the Ming and Qing dynasties. Featuring a wide variety with many constructed because of imperial orders, these stone memorial archways ¨C the largest group of its kind in China ¨C are worth seeing for those visiting Longchang.

Like memorial archways in other parts of China, each of Longchang’s arches is accompanied by a story behind it. On the upper part of the fade of each archway is an inscription to help preserve the tale, along with the names of those being honored, the year the structure was completed, and decorations representing happiness, integrity and longevity. While archways can be built for a variety of purposes, all attach great importance to construction, engravings, and inscriptions. Accurately representing construction techniques and concepts of Ming and Qing dynasties, Longchang archways emphasize nobility, acumen, and philosophy. To embody the hauteur of nobility, a memorial archway should be tall and magnificent. Acumen is represented by delicate engravings and careful selection of stones. And, inscriptions and patterns on archways should contain profound philosophical ideas. You can learn a lot about the Chinese customs and cutlure in small villages and towns for your China tour deals.

Stories Behind Archways

According to Longchang’s annals, as early as the Sui (581-618) and Tang (618-907) dynasties, merchants and men of letters gathered in the county. While many memorial archways were built due to imperial edicts, local officials, celebrities, and businessmen were often willing to donate money to erect such structures.

A memorial archway of longevity graces Longchang’s Nanguan Town. The archway was built to honor a 100-year-old gentleman living during the reign of Emperor Tongzhi (1856-1874) in the Qing Dynasty. Since the average life expectancy was only about 40 at the time, the county magistrate was amazed by the centenarian and reported his longevity to the imperial court, dubbing it a result of the nation’s peace and prosperity. The emperor was delighted and decreed that a memorial archway be erected in honor of the elder.

Some archways commemorate chaste widows who carefully observed loyalty, with one of the most famous being the Guo Family Widow Memorial Archway. When Mrs. Guo was only 23, her husband passed away, leaving her with two young sons. She devoted her every waking hour to raising and supporting her boys. Finally, both sons passed the provincial civil service examination, a lofty honor for the entire family at that time. Thus, in 1838, during the 18th year of Emperor Daoguang’s reign, the county magistrate reported her story to the emperor, and received an imperial blessing to build a memorial archway.

Of all Longchang’s memorial archways, those built to honor exemplary public service are worth noting, such as the Guo Yuluan Memorial Archway. Near its top are four engraved Chinese characters standing for “generosity and benevolence,” written by Fan Yunpeng, a renowned calligrapher of the Qing Dynasty. Guo Yuluan was once the richest man in Longchang’s Yunding Village. He donated large sums of money to set up a “foundation,” which provided tuition for every poverty-stricken child in his clan. He also erected shelters for the homeless, built roads, and aided orphans and the elderly who lacked families. Another memorial archway honoring philanthropy lies in the south of present Longchang County. The elegant and magnificent archway was built for the second daughter-in-law of Guo Yuluan. The woman funded the construction and operation of orphanages. Now, one pillar of the archway has become a supporting pillar of a farmer’s house. “If it was not this family, the archway might have been destroyed long ago,” remarks one neighbor. Years ago, the local family utilized part of the archway to aid construction of a home, and the archway avoided demolition because of its renewed support.

Nowadays, the area surrounding these memorial archways has been developed into a cultural plaza for China tourism. Locals often visit to take a walk, shop in nearby stores, or chat with friends over a pot of tea at a roadside teahouse. And increasing numbers of tourists, from both China and abroad, are paying visits to Longchang just for the memorial archways.


How to get there: Since Longchang is located at a historical transportation hub, many routes lead to it. From either Chongqing Municipality or Chengdu, capital of Sichuan Province, convenient buses and trains serve Longchang. A train ticket usually costs less than 50 yuan and a bus ticket around 60 yuan.

Where to stay: Hotels in Longchang are generally nice and inexpensive. A standard room usually costs from 150 to 200 yuan per night.

What to eat: Fans of Sichuan cuisine will be more than satisfied in Longchang. However, several specific local specialties deserve recommendation, such as mutton soup, cold bean jelly with spicy sauce, and grilled fish.

If you want to know more about arches in Longchang, you can contact with China tour operator.

  1. 2013/04/09(火) 18:16:11|
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Rainforest Sanctuary in China

Morning arrives late in Mekong Villa. Around 9:00 a.m., long after sunshine begins penetrating the thick layers of trees to caress forest roads, the new day begins. Ten years ago, Dr. Josef Margraf and his wife, Li Minguo, built a villa amidst a rubber plantation. Now, the former plantation is home to more than 600 varieties of plants. Actually, the place looks like more of a poetic model for human living, with various trees, flowers, and other creatures living together harmoniously. Here you can have a China tour.

Josef Margraf was born in Munich, Germany, in 1953. He passed away in China in 2010 after a heart attack. Greatly influenced by German environmentalism, Margraf’s passion for biodiversity and the environment began at an early age. He received a master’s degree in ecology and a doctorate in tropical agriculture from the University of Hohenheim. In 1989, as a trained biologist, Margraf created a new way to recover and renew rainforests on Leyte Island in the Philippines. His work is highly regarded by European Union and became a model for biodiversity and rainforest restoration. In 1997, he was assigned by the German government to lead a panel on rainforest protection in China.

In China, Margraf married Li Minguo, a woman from the Naxi Ethnic Group. They met at a reception for the Peruvian ambassador ten years ago. “I just knew this man was precious,” recalls Li. She adds that Margraf possessed true inner strength, and after they got together, the couple rarely parted. “Rather than promises of wealth, my husband brought me countless surprises and possibilities.”

Away from the chaos of metropolis, Margraf and Li settled in Yunnan’s Xishuangbanna(listed as top China tours), and established their home, Mekong Villa, on the Lancang River. The area was formerly a rubber plantation. Little by little, the couple transformed the land into a private garden with more than 600 varieties of plants.

Now, with visuals dominated by greenery, serenaded by birds singing, it is hard to imagine that once only rubber trees could be found there. The couple chopped down the rubber trees with help from family and hired workers, leaving only a handful to commemorate the past. Margraf conceived the idea of restoring the rainforest through interplanting.

Except for the rubber trees, every plant at Mekong Villa was brought from outside by the couple. Li explains that the species were once familiar to the area, and finally came home. Lands ruled by rubber trees are usually barren, so extra care was taken when the flora was planted.

Through painstaking efforts over several years, a self-supporting ecosystem was established and the forest became fertile. Saplings sprouted up, bore fruit, and gradually multiplied. Greater numbers of squirrels, birds, and butterflies settled there, which enhanced pollination. The couple’s relationship with nature grew closer as the empty space in the forest disappeared. Their patience was rewarded with gifts from nature.

Located on mountain slope, Mekong Villa was designed after the local fence style. A fence-style structure is supported on poles. Li, as a native to the area, knows well the advantages and disadvantages of the traditional architecture and improved the structure based on her life experience and inspiration. Chinese screens, long tables, stools, and decorations in Margraf and Li’s home were built with unfinished wood or tree roots. The couple believed that work of human hands can never compete with natural beauty. A long wooden table in the house measures more than a meter wide and more than two meters long, and serves as an ideal location for guests and friends to enjoy wine, chat, and work. The table has never been polished, and retains easily spotted wear evidencing its long-term service to the family. Margraf believed these marks to be the memories of wood.

After spending a few days in the villa and strolling around, visitors will be moved by the hosts’ passion for nature. About every 10 meters, a large stone vat or ceramic jar full of water is found, with beautiful aquatic plants floating on the surface. The water is provided for animals, and squirrels can often be found sipping from the container. A corridor shielding wind and rain connects the kitchen to the main house. Tiles on the corridor were produced at a low temperature in furnace. Although few use this kind of tile today, such corridors are ideal for flowers. Every April and May, orchids bloom up and down the corridor. In the forest, a small pavilion can be found, with a ceramic plaque showing the villa’s name. Full of children’s toys, the pavilion was built by Li for her two daughters.

In 2008, the couple traveled to Xishuangbanna’s Bulang Mountain (where you can have popular China tours) to investigate ancient tea gardens and the local ecosystem. The mountain had become barren due to frequent forest fires. However, the couple happened upon a well-preserved virgin rainforest deep in a valley that protected it from fires. The couple became determined not only to protect the forest in the valley, but also to transform the wasted land on Bulang Mountain into rainforest using verdant trees from the valley. After negotiating with the local government, the couple was granted permission to establish a conservation zone. Full of excitement, the pair soon leased six square kilometers of land from Laobanzhang Village to establish their sanctuary.

At first, even Li herself thought the idea was crazy. With forest coverage at only 16 percent, the land they leased stood at an altitude of 1,600 meters and covered an area 500 times larger than Mekong Villa. A drive from their home to the new land took six hours. When rainy season arrived, the rugged mountain road became nearly impassible. Even a four-wheel-drive off-road vehicle was frequently stuck in the mud. Despite the difficulties, the couple remained committed to the work. Long-term workers were not easy to hire, so veteran gardeners of Mekong Villa were dispatched to care for the land. Saplings were moved from the mountain’s foot to top and replanted. Seeds from existing trees and native saplings were carefully collected and moved. Since beginning of rainy season served as a good time to plant tress, the couple hired more than 30 seasonal workers, all of whom were villagers from near Bulang Mountain, to do the work. During the process, Margraf suddenly suffered a heart attack and died soon thereafter. Convinced that her husband wouldn’t want their forest dreams to die with him, Li stayed committed to the cause. A large fire followed, which made the whole process even more daunting.

Li exhibited a strong will. Overriding objections, the new widow used every tool at her disposal to keep the conservation zone alive. Today, with forest restored, a totally independent vibrant ecosystem has been established on the mountain. Water from a river flowing through the valley provides ample power to nurture the entire conservation zone. Hot water is provided by a solar heating system. Various vegetables are planted in the fields and picked from forests, all organic and natural. Chickens, ducks, and pigs are also raised here, which are not only enjoyed by those near the conservation area, but any surplus is transported to Mekong Villa.

For the future, Li has already developed a blueprint in her mind. She and her colleagues want to make the conservation zone the best reproduceable rainforest model in the world, and promote Margraf’s forestation methods to every Chinese botanical garden. Combining family and work, Li is preparing to make a film with her two daughters. While friends and relatives advise her not to put too much pressure on herself, Li believes that aiming high produces a better harvest. For a forest, even a century is not long. Like planting trees and building homes, the first step is the hardest. Things become easier after everything is set on the right track.

If you want to know more, you can contact with China tour agents

  1. 2013/04/05(金) 17:36:20|
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Samye Monastery: A Sacred Legacy

Samye Monastery in Chanang County, Lhoka Prefecture of the Tibet Autonomous Region, is a holy site to Buddhist believers. It was jointly built in 778 by Master Padmasambhava, founder of Esoteric Buddhism, and Master Shantarakshita from India. It also can be listed on the top China tours.

The first Buddhist monastery in Tibet, Samye witnessed the first group of locals to enter monkhood with shaved heads. Legend has it that since Tibetan King Trisong Detsen (755-797) was eager to construct a monastery, Buddhist Master Padmasambhava used magic to create the illusion of a small monastery appearing in the palm of his hand. “Samye!” exclaimed the king, which means “a place of illusion beyond imagination” and eventually became the name of the real thing.

A Stereoscopic Mandala

From a bird’s-eye view, Samye Monastery is shaped like a giant Vajrayana mandala (meaning “rostrum” in Sanskrit), where religious rituals were conducted in ancient India. On such occasions, a round or square altar was built. Buddhas were invited to attend the ceremony, and their images were drawn on the altar.

The monastery was built after the model of the Indian Vajrayana mandala, representing the Buddhist outlook on the universe. The three-storied Central Hall surrounded by an oval wall symbolizes Sumeru Mountain, the center of the universe in Buddhism. It is surrounded by four halls in each respective direction, each of which is flanked by two small halls. Next to the Central Hall are two halls which symbolize the sun and the moon. In each of the four corners of the Central Hall stands a pagoda which is meant to dispel evil spirits and avoid natural and man-made disasters. The structure fuses Tibetan, Han and Indian styles, which can be seen in statues on each story of the building. The four pagodas in contrasting black, green, white, and red stand out particularly in each corner of the Central Hall.

The monastery (a must-see when you are in Tibet for your popular China travel package) has been well preserved thanks to the repairs financed by the government.

Sutra Translation

Soon after completion, the monastery invited 12 Buddhist monks from India to cut the hair of seven young Tibetan men who were becoming monks. The ceremony was hosted by Master Shantarakshita. The construction of the monastery and emergence of monks marked Buddhism taking root in Tibet.

Buddhism could not spread with language barriers, so translation became even more important. According to records of the monastery, Buddhist sutras were translated heavily over the early years. “Monks sat face-to-face, with crossed legs,” reads one record. “One chanted the sutra, and the other translated it into Tibetan. The translation was written on paper with bamboo pen by a young monk after being polished by a senior monk.” Such scenes were also depicted in murals in the monastery.

To help the effort, King Trisong Detsen invited elite scholars and eminent monks from India and Han-inhabited areas to translate Sanskrit and Chinese Buddhist sutras and medical books into Tibetan. The largest effort since the introduction of Buddhism to Tibet, the translation movement laid a solid foundation for the further development of Lamaism on the roof of the world. For quite a long time, Samye Monastery held the largest collection of Buddhist sutras in Tibet. Unfortunately, much of its collection was destroyed by a fire in the early Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

Samye Monastery was destroyed between 838 and 842 when tyrant king Langdarma attacked Lamaism, and afterward it served as a ritual site for the Nyingma Sect. During the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), the monastery served as a ritual site for the Sakya Sect. After the monastery caught fire during the early Qing Dynasty, most of its structures standing today were reconstructed between 1683 and 1706, the 6th Dalai Lama’s reign. In 1996, Samye Monastery was listed as a relic under major state protection which also attracts so many tourists to explore for their last minute China travel deals. In recent years, it has been repaired through funding from the government.

Kalsang Gyal’s Comments

Samye Monastery was the first formal monastery in Tibetan Buddhist history. Today, it is jointly administered by Nyingma and Sakya Sects, with the Ge-luk-ba Sect also participating. Various halls enshrine the sects’ respective guardian gods. All sects enjoy equal rights to perform rituals. Ritual procedures are usually determined by believers. The monastery itself isn’t restricted by denomination.


Kalsang Gyal was born in 1959 in Hainan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Qinghai Province. He graduated from the Tibetan Studies Department of the Minzu University of China in July 1986. He serves as an associate researcher at the Institute of World Religions under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), a permanent researcher at the Institute of Buddhist Studies under the CASS, and as a specially-appointed researcher at the Beijing Institute of Buddhist Cultural Studies.

If you want to know more about this monastery, you can contact with China travel agency based in Tibet.

  1. 2013/04/04(木) 18:37:56|
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Customs related with Qingming Festival

Many tourists have a China tour for some traditional customs and culture. The following give the customs during Qingming Festival.

The earliest Chinese kites were made of wood and called Mu Yuan. Mu means wood and Yuan means sparrow hawk, a type of bird. So Mu Yuan means wooden sparrow hawk.The invention of paper did not escape the attention of kite makers and soon the kite was called Zhi Yuan. Zhi means paper, so Zhi Yuan means paper sparrow hawk. Kites were not just used for fun. They were also used for military purposes. There are historical records describing enormous kites, some of which are large enough to hife a man high in the air to observe enemy movements.

About 1,500 years ago, Emperor Wudi was surrounded in Nanjing (listed in top 10 China tour packages) by the rebel troops. He used a kite to send out an SOS for outside help. During the Tang Dynasty (618-907), people began to attach thin bamboo strips to kites. When the kite was high in the air, the wind would make these strips vibrate, producing a low-pitched twanging noise, very like that of the Zheng, a Chinese stringed instrument. Thereafter, another popular Chinese name for kite was Feng Zheng, which means “wind Zheng”.

In the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), people would fly their kites as high as possible,then let go of the string. Off went the kite, taking with it bad luck and illness. Conversely, to pick up a kite lost or released by someone else could bring bad luck.

Some enthusiasts enjoy flying kites at night. They hang small colored lanterns on the string with candles burning inside. With dozens of kites up together, arc lines of flickering multicolored lights decorate the night sky.

Visitors should go to Tian'anmen Square (a must-see for AFFORDABLE china tours) to see kites of all shapes and sizes. The biggest could be a hundred meters long, made of a hundred sections to form a dragon or even a centipede. The Weifang Kite Festival held every April in East China's Shandong Province has become a major event, attracting thousands of tourists and kite flying competitors all over the world.

  1. 2013/04/03(水) 18:39:03|
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Chengdu: The Performing Arts

Visitors to Chengdu will undoubtedly see and hear Sichuan folkore, dance, and music after a trip to nightclubs or temples . However, the Sichuan Opera is an especially brilliant art form in Chengdu and must be watched for your China tours.

The Sichuan opera originates from the Qing Dynasty (1650-1910). During the latter part of the Dynasty, immigrants brought several dramatic arts with them to Chengdu. Native Sichuans quickly united their own dialect and traditions with foreign, artistic customs.

Local masters have perfected the dramatic techniques of Chinese opera over the years. The changing faces (bianlin) technique is the most well known and a very complicated gesture. It gains its inspiration from ancient Sichuan dwellers who used face paint to frighten wild animals. This technique attracts so many tourists from China vacation packages.

It traditionally entails a hidden mechanization of lightweight, silk masks or instaneously blowing powdered makeup onto the actor's face. Theaterical lighting designers can now introduce laser and light effects to enhance the changing faces. Still, a significant component of the bianlin technique relies upon the actual actor.

Contemporary professional troupes entertain audiences in variety of settings. Outdoors, formal theaters, and tea houses are some of the more common places visitors can watch the Sichuan Opera. Sichuan Opera Theater, Shunxing Tea House, and Shufeng Yayun Garden regularly host operatic performances for China vacation deals.

  1. 2013/04/02(火) 18:38:11|
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Sisters’ Meal Festival: a guide to rice courtship in China

If you happen to visit China in April, you should consider Sister's Meal Festival

Location: Shīdòng, China

Dates: Begins on the 15th day of the third lunar month (usually mid- to late April)

Level of participation: 1 – watch love weave its spell

Love is in the air in this courtship ritual in eastern Guìzhōu(always contained in private tour of China), when young Miao (or Hmong) women and men set about finding themselves partners through the medium of sticky rice. To a soundtrack of music from the lusheng (a reed instrument), and amid dancing, paperdragon fights and buffalo fighting, the young Miao women dress in exquisite embroidery and kilograms of silver jewellery (the Miao believe that silver can dispel evil spirits).

Their suitors come like Don Juans, serenading the women and presenting a parcel of dyed rice to the ladies who have taken their fancy. The women hand back different parcels of rice. Inside, like a fortune cookie, are a variety of unspoken messages. If there are two chopsticks in the rice, it’s an acceptance of the proposal, while a single chopstick is a polite refusal. A chilli is the most definite of rebukes.

Essentials: To reach Shīdòng travel through Táijiāng. Minibuses between the two take around two hours.

Local attractions: Shīdòng is a good place to buy inexpensive embroidery and silver after your tired China vacation packages here. There’s also a local market held every six days.

  1. 2013/04/01(月) 17:51:15|
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