Explore Victoria Harbour for your travel

1. Aqua Luna Junk Cruise

This is a very pleasant thing to do on a warm, sunny and hopefully clear day!

The Aqua Luna does 45 minute harbour crossings on Tuesday and Friday afternoons and evening cruises daily including a 7.30pm depature to watch the Symphony of Lights show, but I did one of the trips to/from Stanley which operate on weekends departing Central Pier 9 at noon and Pier 1 on the Kowloon side at 12.15pm. The 90 minute trip to Stanley is very relaxing and shows the Hong Kong (learn more via Hong Kong travel guide) skyline from a wonderful new perspective. The return voyage departs at 3.30pm.

A one way trip is HK$210 and includes one drink (alcoholic if prefered)

2. Don't miss the wonderful symphony of lights!

The Symphony of Lights in the Victoria Harbor is a must see in Hong Kong.

The show is a display of lights and lasers with the background of symphony music which is really amazing! I took a ride of the star ferry just for fun while watching the show and for the experience. The star ferry fare is around HK$2… as far as I can remember. At that time, I don’t want to go far from Tsim Sha Tsui (since it’s where I stay) so I decided to have a ride just to the next pier (pier 5)… then back again to TST (Tsim Sha Tsui). I think that’s the effect of traveling alone…???

The show starts at 8pm having the display of lights and lasers that comes from the country's famous buildings in the Victoria Harbor (houses some famous Hong Kong attractions) like the HSBC tower, Bank of China, etc. It’s a very nice thing actually especially when all you want is to relax.

3. Sail on the Duk Ling

The Duk Ling is available for private tours and charters but a couple of times a week the Hong Kong Tourism Board gives tourists the opportunity to cruise the harbour on this beautifully restored Chinese Junk. It is a few years since I was onboard, but the Duk Ling is still giving visitors the chance to step back in time, though for a fully authentic experience you have to imagine the harbour without so many skyscrapers.

Bookings for rides must be made in advance at the HKTB Kowloon Visitor Centre in the Star Ferry Terminal Concourse. The one hour sailings are only on Thursday afternoons and Saturday mornings. Participation is on a first come first served basis and only 30 places are available for each ride. You are required to present your passport when registering at the TST Visitor Centre. If my memory serves me correctly rides on the Duk Ling used to be free of charge. Tickets are now HK$100 per person. So you should not miss this place for your Hong Kong tour.

4. Avenue of Stars

Most people congregate at the Avenue of Stars solely to watch The Symphony of Lights show held nightly at 8pm (see my separate review) and finding an uncrowded spot to view the show can sometimes be difficult. During the day however, this nicely laid out promenade can be enjoyed in a much more relaxed way.

The Avenue of Stars is part of the Tsim Sha Tsui Waterfront Promenade and was constructed by a private company with the support of the Hong Kong Tourism Board. At its opening in 2004 the promenade was handed over to the Hong Kong goverment . Today the Avenue is a public throughfare holding many musical performances throughout the year. Stars of the Hong Kong film industry are honoured in a similar way to the iconic Hollywood Walk of Fame with plaques bearing their names. Bruce Lee is honoured with a large bronze sculpture.

The Avenue of Stars is a great place to take panoramic photos of the Hong Kong Island Skyline

Please contain Hong Kong in your packages of affordable China tours.
  1. 2013/09/29(日) 16:29:57|
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To Discover the esscen of Hong Kong

1. Hong Kong Zoo & Botanical Garden

One of the city's few "green lungs", the Zoological and Botanical Gardens were founded in 1864 and opened to the public in 1871, and are now managed by the municipal authorities. They lie near the centre of Victoria, not far from the Peak Tram lower station.

The Botanical Garden covers an area of 5.4 hectares/13 acres and offers an excellent overview of tropical and subtropical flora, with over 1,000 species of trees, shrubs and plants (fig-trees, palms, rubber trees, conifers and a great variety of flowers). Labels give information about their place of origin, habitat and characteristics. A bronze statue of King George VI was erected in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of British colonial rule over Hong Kong (1841-1941, learn more via Hong Kong travel guide).

Adjoining the Botanical Garden is the Zoological Garden, established after the Second World War, which has one of the largest collections of birds (some 250 species, including a number of endangered species), together with monkeys, jaguars, pumas, cranes, flamingos and various smaller species. An important responsibility of the Zoo is the breeding of animals in captivity in order to ensure the survival of endangered species. Its successes in this field have given it an international reputation.

2. St John's Cathedral

St John's Cathedral is the main Anglican cathedral in Hong Kong and is the head church for Hong Kong Island and the seat of the islands Archbishop. The cathedral is the oldest surviving Western ecclesiastical building in Hong Kong, and the oldest Anglican church in the Far East, with its construction completed in 1849.

Open: 7.15am-6.30pm Mon, Tue, Fri & Sat; 9.30am-5.15pm Wed, 8.30am-1.15pm Thu and 8am-6.30pm Sun.

3. Antiques Street

Hollywood Road was the first street in Hong Kong and should not be missed for Hong Kong tours. Shortly after the British arrived here in 1841, a substantial Chinese residential and commercial district known as Tai Ping Shan sprang up in the area and quickly became the centre of the Chinese community. In those days, foreign merchants and sailors would put up the antiques and artefacts they had "collected" from China for sale here on their way back to Europe. This is how Hollywood Road began its role as an antique market.

4. Statue Square

This square was built at the end of the 19th century. The idea of a square of statues dedicated to royalty was conceived by Sir Catchick Paul Chater. It derives its name from the fact that it originally contained the statue of Queen Victoria (one of famous Hong Kong attractions), as the square's name in Chinese testifies. Statues of Prince Albert, Edward VII were added between 1876 and 1902. The statue of Victoria was ordered to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of the monarch in 1887, should never have been made in bronze, but in marble, an error that wasn't picked up until the bronze statue was almost completed. A statue of Sir Thomas Jackson, the chief manager of the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation was unveiled on February 24, 1906. These statues (except for the statue of Jackson), together with the two bronze lions in front of the HSBC building, were displaced to Japan to be melted by the occupying Japanese during World War II but were brought back to Hong Kong after the war. Sir Thomas Jackson's now stands roughly in the middle of the square, facing the Former Supreme Court Building.

5. Walking Tour around Central

For any new comers to Hong Kong who wishes to discover Hong Kong island or visitors who have nothing to do in the morning: Do the walking tour of Central District. You can get to see the spectacular tall buildings in this area and watch people rushing off to work. Just bring a camera to take lots of photos. Depending on how long you stop to admire the buildings, it would roughly take 2-3h.

Start from the Central Pier, walk down the overhead walkway to the General Post Office and Exchange Square, cross over to Chater House, escalator down, walk east to Statue Square, cross over to Legislative Council, walk east to Charter Garden.

At Charter Garden, you'll see Lippo Tower, Bank of China Tower, Citibank Plaza etc.

Walk along Des Vouex Road west ward to HSBC. See the lobby of HSBC and its elegant Lion statues. Walk west towards Li Yuen Street to see the street markets. Along the way, you would see many stalls, trams passing by, people rushing to everywhere.

To conclude the walking tour, take the Mid Level escalators all the way to the top.

If you want to have popular China tours, you should not miss Hong Kong.
  1. 2013/09/27(金) 15:22:08|
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On the waterfront II

Everything you see in the park is made of cardboard cartons, from figurines and animals to hats, bags and furniture.

"They are not just for display," explains Chen Weilin, general manager of the Carton King Creativity Park. "A chair made of cartons can support as much weight as 200 kg."

The park is the Taiwan company's first store on the Chinese mainland, Chen says. "All the materials are recycled corrugated paper to make furniture and crafts, which are environment-friendly and creative," Chen says.

Chen is optimistic about the future of the park. "With the rapid development of Chinese economy, tourists' purchasing power will increase, and there will be great development space in Zhouzhuang (famous old town for China vacation deals)."

The 1086 Street is another new site to showcase local cultural heritage. The 200-meter-long street is a concentration area of lodging and catering. More recreational facilities like bars and coffee shops have been planned for construction in the near future, according to Ren.

Some of the businesses are run by people from other parts of the country.

Bar owner Guo Tao, from Lijiang in Yunnan province (best travel destination for best tours of China), is one of them.

Guo and his wife first visited Zhouzhuang in 2010. "We fell in love with the town during our one-week stay. Then we decided to move here."

Business was not very good two years ago but it's getting better, with more returning customers, Guo says.

"In Zhouzhuang, I can find the freedom of the soul. I hope one day I could buy a house of my own and finally settle down."

On Minsu Street there are dozens of inns run by local residents. The decorations are authentic and the inn-owners are considerate, honest and enthusiastic.

Zhu Sanguan, 72, once an actor, works at a hotel in town.

A few years ago, Zhouzhuang was very quiet with few tourists for popular China tours and people lived a leisurely life, Zhu recalls. "Most of us lived on farming and fishing."

With the town's increasing popularity, the number of tourists skyrocketed. Many people in the town opened hotels and restaurants, and sold souvenirs.

"Life is much better and busier," Zhu says.

"People used to go to bed after the sunset," he says. "Days like that are long gone."

For more others via China guide.

  1. 2013/09/26(木) 16:14:58|
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On the waterfront I

The ancient town of Zhouzhuang celebrates a storied past and an environment-friendly future, all in a setting that's straight out of a Chinese watercolor.

Zhouzhuang is one of the few places where you can experience the life of a typical Chinese water town for your China tour deals.

Acclaimed as "Venice of the East", the town near Suzhou in Jiangsu province attracts a constant flow of visitors throughout the year with its well-preserved old houses and picturesque landscape of crisscrossing waterways.

Zhouzhuang was listed as the world's Top 10 most beautiful towns by CNN in 2012. It was lauded as a Global Green Town by Global Forum on Human and Settlements in June.

Streams flow through every corner of Zhouzhuang, creating the pulse of local life and making the town look like a watercolor drawing painted with a Chinese brush.

Among the most eye-catching features in this picture-perfect landscape are the bridges, in different shapes and sizes — built with stone or wood. So if you are interested in it, you can consider it for your 4. China best tours.

The Twin Bridge, built during the late Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), is considered the symbol of the town. One of its arches is round and the other is rectangular, which makes the bridge look like an ancient Chinese key. Thus locals also call it the Key Bridge.

The traditional residences in town, mostly built in the Ming and Qing dynasties (1644-1911), flank the winding waterways. Many of them are well-kept and preserve their original appearance, with white walls and black-tiled roofs.

The best way to get a taste of local lifestyle is spend an afternoon at a riverbank teahouse, sipping a cup of green tea and enjoying the river landscape.

In addition to the town's old charm, Zhouzhuang is striving to create new draws and improve its China tourism facilities, according to Ren Yongdong, managing director of Zhouzhuang Tourism Company.

Carton King Creativity Park is one of the new attractions on Zhouzhuang's tourist map.

The park, including stores, a gallery, a museum and a restaurant, has become a must-see since its opening in August last year to public for travel to China.
  1. 2013/09/26(木) 16:12:01|
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Wonderful travel experience on Hong Kong Island

  1. 2013/09/25(水) 15:33:00|
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Please don't miss the following things in Lamma Island

1. O Tsai Fishing Village near YSW Ferry Pier

When you get off the ferry at Yung Shue Wan look to the left and you'll see O Tsai Fishing Village for your Hong Kong tour packages. Turn left towards the library and follow the signs to the Pavilion. You walk past the library and go up some steps and actually walk through a narrow passage way which cuts right through the fishing village. The locals don't seem to mind too much and it's interesting to look inside their homes (not too obviously though). Life must be hard for these families - the homes seem rather basic.

I've spent many hours painting watercolours of the houses and boats in the village and they recognise me now. Spot the difference in colours in one of the houses - it used to be a beautiful blue and now it's completely different! There's a small temple on the rocks opposite the village. The harbour is actually the typhoon shelter for Lamma and when it's a T8 the harbour fills up with boats very quickly.

They built a small pavilion about 18 months ago and you get spectacular views of Lantau and Cheung Chau when it's a clear day. It's great to sit and watch the sunset from there.

2. Weekday trip to Lamma Island

If you would like to see a different Hong Kong for your travel to Hong Kong, Yung Shue Wan on Lamma Island is well worth visiting for the day but not at the weekends - the island seems to be overrun by locals who come over for a day's "hiking"! There are many restaurants as you walk along the Main Street - just a few minutes walk from the Ferry Pier. If you're coming over in the morning, have dim sum at the Sampan. Or try the Lancombe for fresh seafood. If you want good organic vegetarian food, try out the salads or breakfasts at the Bookworm Cafe. This is very close to the Tin Hau Temple.

There are no cars on Lamma and no high rises. It's quiet and such a contrast to Kowloon or Hong Kong Island which houses many famous Hong Kong scenic spots. Watch out for the village vehicles and the island ambulances and fire cars!

The main beach is about 20 minutes walk and it's quiet during the week. At the weekend it's very busy and full of families and young people having barbecues in the special areas. Carry on walking and you can enjoy beautiful views. You can walk to the other side of the island and then catch a ferry back to Central.

It's best to do the walk in spring when it's cooler. It gets very hot and humid in the summer. Make sure you're fit as there's quite a lot of uphill walking.

3. Hiking Lamma

One of the most popular activities on Lamma is hiking. If you go on a Sunday or holiday you are likely to pass by lots of locals as you make your way down the path. The hiking trails on Lamma are actually paved sidewalks. The main path has some gentle inclines but no strenuous climbs. If you are feeling energetic, you can go onto side trails and climb one or both of Lammas two peaks. But you don't have to go to the peak to get great views of the island and the South China Sea.

The walk between Yung Shue Wan and Sok Kwu Wan is an easy one, taking two hours or less if you go at a leisurely pace. This path is great for families, and is even stroller friendly. You can catch a ferry back to central from either city. As long as you are staying on the main path you can get by without a trail map, as there are signposts to help you navigate. If you are planning on going off the main path, a map is probably a good idea when you visit Hong Kong for your China travel deals.

  1. 2013/09/24(火) 16:06:46|
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Adventurous Tour to Taklimakan Desert

If you are challengeable enough and adventurous enough, you must be the one who hopes to travel somewhere unnormal to make your trip memorable and unforgettable, right? If so, you may show great interest on Xinjiang tour in China to explore the Taklimakan Desert – it’s really fantastic and worthy your China vacation deals!

Taklimakan Desert

Just start your amazing Taklimakan Desert tour with your arrival upon Beijing in your first day, and then your itinerary in Beijing will include visiting Great Wall (must-see for top 10 China tours) and the Ming Tomb in second day and taking your flight to Urumqi in your third day. In your 4th day, you will take your drive to Korla to visit the ancient beacon towers, desert, oasis, gobi, and customs of Uygur, Hui, Kazakh nationalities; next day to Kucha to explore the diversiform-leaved polar forest, oasis, ruins of Kusan ancient town, Zhaogul temple ruins, farmer home and apricot orchard; and to Aksu in your day 6 to view the Kezil Buddhist carve, strange stonesand mountains there; in your 7th day, you will take your drive to Taklimakan Desert to experience the charm of Yarkand River and Tarim River; then your eighth day you will drive along the Hotan river course to appreciate the diversiform-leaved poplar, reed, thorn bushes, sheep, wild boar, fox and hare. In your ninth day, you will get the chance to view the?Mazartagh Mountain, ancient beacon towers, uygur people’s tombs and sand dunes. Then comes to the tenth day, when you will keep driving from Mazartagh Mountain to Hotan city to visit the Hotan?silk factory, carpet factory, jade-carving factory and museum in your 11th day and you will flight back to Urumqi (main destination for Silk Road tours) from Hotan in 12th day and depart from Urumqi in you 12th day to finish your excellent tour in Xinjiang.

Just have a try to experience this adventurous Taklimakan Desert right now for your popular China travel package!

  1. 2013/09/23(月) 15:58:01|
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What is Impression Lijiang?

Impression Lijiang (which can be watched after Kunming tour) is the cultural show which demonstrates the lifestyle and traditions of local Naxi, Bai and Yi ethnics of the area. It is the second outdoor production after the impression Liu Sanjie in Yangshuo, Guilin of Zhang Yimou, the famous Chinese Director who was also the co-director of the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games, 2008. The open air performance takes place inside the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain Park at about 3500 meters in an outdoor theater which is specifically designed for showcasing the mountain which is used as the wonderful backdrop. Impression Lijiang is the magnificent outdoor dancing and singing performance which demonstrates the lifestyle and tradition of the local ethnic people.

Impression Lijiang

As an outdoor performance in the full daylight, Impression Lijiang for which Zhang Yimou had spent two years for the preparation was staged in the morning innovatively. This show has been divided into parts- Ancient City Impression and Snow Mountain Impression so you should not miss it for your last minute China travel deals. The production, for these shows cost about 31 million US dollars for making, is staged at Dayan Ancient Town and Jade Dragon Snow, the tow famous scenic spot of Lijiang, which is a scenic city in the south west China. It aims at providing an insight into the live of the ethnic groups of religions and all the dances and song which includes within the show largely portray the daily life of the local people. About 500 local people from the 10 ethnic groups have been selected from about 16 towns and villages in Lijiang of Yunnan Province for performing daily folk dances, songs and rituals for the tourists. This show last for about one hour and represent the real ethnic atmosphere to the show. The people dress up in their ethnic accessories and costumes for performing the show. You will come to learn about their culture in the better way through Impression Lijiang.

Impression Lijiang

For more others in China, you can check out China travel guide.

  1. 2013/09/22(日) 15:54:37|
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Relax Youself by Having a Vacation to Hangzhou, Kunming and Guilin

If you feel heavy stress on your life nowadays in metropolis with fast life pace, you need to go out for a short holiday to relax yourself and slow down your pace. So, here what you should do is to know about which cities are the laziest suitable for your holiday trip for your China vacation deals. Just keep reading this article, you will get satisfied answers here. Here we go!!

Hangzhou West Lake

Laziest cities in China here will recommend you Hangzhou, Kunming (obtain more via Kunming travel guide) and Guilin:

the Stone Forest

Hangzhou (best destination for China best tours) is a beautiful place with poetic living and captivating scenery. When you travel here, you will life there slow and quiet, and you will enjoy yourself by visiting famous attractions such as West Lake, Wuzhen water ancient town, Meijiawu Tea Plantation?, Hangzhou National Tea Museum, Hangzhou National Silk Museum, Mount Putuo?and?Lingyin Temple and of course Grand Canal. You may totally fall in love in this charming city when having your visit there. The next one will be the Kunming city in Yunnan province; whose whether is cool and enjoyable all the year round, and you won’t feel hot in summer and cold in winter, and you will feel much more happy after viewing the Green Lake, ?Dongchuan Red Land, the Stone Forest, and?Yuanyang Rice Terraces, and if time available and enough for you, you can have a visit to Dali and Lijiang nearby to visit the Lijiang Ancient Town, Baoshan Stone Village, and?Lugu Lake, and Shangri-La. The final one of these laziest cities in China highly recommended to you is Guilin, which is a world famous city featuring a plenty of beautiful scenery including the Elephant Trunk Hill, Reed Flute Cave, Seven Star Park, Yangshuo, West Street and of course the Li River! Life will be quiet and low-pace in Guilin and people live a harmonious life there!

For more other cities in China via China travel guide.

  1. 2013/09/18(水) 15:52:40|
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Sit in Coach Tour with the Budget Price – Have Your Taken any Try Before?

If you want to take long affordable China tours outside, what you will consider the most may be the payment and what you hope is to travel in an enjoyable way and save more money in the same time, right? In that case, what I’d like to recommend to you is the sit in coach tour in China to make your summer holiday with the affordable price and enjoy yourself at the same time. It will make you unforgettable I guess! Okay, here comes our tour plan and itinerary in detail in the follows:

Tiananmen Square

14-Day Seat-in-Coach Tour for your summer holiday when travel to China with the budget price which include Beijing, Lhasa and Shanghai you may like it:

zhouzhuang water town

In your first day you will undoubtedly arrive in Beijing which is the city of 72-hour China visa free, the capital of China and have a good rest after your long flight; then your Beijing itinerary will include the sightseeing of Great Wall Bus Tour and Ming Tombs in day 2 and Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven and Summer Palace in your third day and later that day taking an overnight train from Beijing to Lhasa and you will arrive Lhasa at the forth day to continue your China tour by visiting the Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, Sera Monastery and Barkor Street at your fifth day of your China trip and Yamdrok Lake and Southern part of Tibet Plateau in day 6 and Tashilumpo Monastery and a drive tour from Shigatse to Shegar for your seventh day’s itinerary?and then experience the Everest Base Camp in eighth day and enjoy the Everest Sunrise and last peak at Everest? in day 9 and have a free day itinerary for your tenth day in China in Lhasa; and you will take a flight from Lhasa to Shanghai the next day to start your Shanghai tour which includes sightseeing of Lingering Garden, Lion Grove Garden, Grand Canal, Old City Gate, Silk Factory and Zhouzhuang Water Town in 12th day and Yu Garden, the Bund, Xintiandi and Former French Concession at your thirteenth day and departing Shanghai (best city for your top 10 China tours) at the last day-14th day to finish your wonderful sit-in-coach tour in China.

  1. 2013/09/17(火) 12:29:05|
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Just Wonder How to Plan a Tour to Huangshan?

  1. 2013/09/16(月) 16:03:23|
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Olympic Venues

◇ Why is the Olympic Venues number 5 on the list?

The 2008 Olympic Venues are a very important site to Beijing (the must-see for last minute China travel deals) and to China, not only because they were the scene of last summer's XXIX Olympic Games, but because of how China has chosen to present themselves to the world with these venues. China has long since been a country shrouded in mystery and now has chosen to open their doors and share their culture happily with the world; the Olympic games was one of the first opportunities we get to see how China wants to present itself.

◇ What to know before you head to Olympic Park:

Beijing's Olympic park is easily accessed via the Green Line on the Subway.

Admission into the Bird's Nest is 50 RMB (unit for China money) and allows visitors to sit in the very seats spectators watched the Olympics. It isn't hard to imagine the excitement of the crowd and the enthusiasm hanging in the air from the games. Visitors can walk onto the field and look out into the "crowd" or simply have their picture taken with all of the larger than life Olympic mascots in the stands. These mascots (Beibei, Jingjing, Huanhuan, Yingying and Nini) are favorites among visitors and there is often a long line to get pictures made with a favorite. Just above the stands is an Olympic gift shop that visitors can come to peruse for their favorite hard-to-get merchandise. Although there isn't much else to do inside the stadium, it remains a cultural icon for Beijing and visitors are in no short supply. This is currently the largest source of income for the venue and usually fairly crowded.

The best time to visit the park is night, when the venues seem to come alive in brilliant shades of soft reds and blues. The Bird's Nest is illuminated in red and stands in stark contrast to the architecture of Ai Weiwei. The skeleton of the building stands out and the "negative space" takes center stage at night. It seems to reflect the warm light of the Olympic torch, a testament that even though the games are over, the spirit of the Olympics will never be extinguished. The Water Cube however is illuminated in a bright brilliant blue shade, reminiscent of the aquatic interior. These two brilliant nightlights bring a paradox of fire and water onto the Olympic Park while kite flyers quietly soar long tailed kites into the night sky and people stroll along the illuminated park.

◇ What is in store for the venues now that the Games are over?

One of the most exciting things about the venues is that their uses have not been limited to the Olympic Games but have since converted into world class venues for top events. The sites of the Olympic make contribution to China tourism.

The Water Cube, still containing its diving platform and pools, has most recently converted into a water stage for the Imperial Russian Ballet. The world's first "sports edition" of the classic ballet Swan Lake was running through August 2, 2009 and showcased exciting divers and swimmers along with the classic ballerinas. Also the Olympic warm-up pool has been opened to the public and for 50 RMB, visitors can do laps in the same pool as Olympic greats like Michael Phelps.

The Bird's Nest has a lot of new and exciting activities lined up on the schedule. Most recently it was home to a summer concert series that included greats such as: Song Zuying, Jay Chou, Placido Domingo, and Lang Lang; all national favorites. It has been theorized that this could develop into an annual event for the venue and a great way to kick off summer. Other upcoming events include the opera Turandot, which, staged by Zhang Yimou (chief director of the opening and closing ceremonies at the Beijing Olympics), will begin on October 6. Additionally Beijing's first international car racing festival, the 2009 ROC Nations Cup, will be held on November 1, 2009.

Be sure to be on the lookout for other upcoming events. These are a great way to convert the venues into a new use and not let them slip into a dated era. Beijing anticipates using them for many years and is currently considering selling the naming rights. For more others via China guide.

  1. 2013/09/13(金) 12:37:30|
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Two New Years in Tibet

I arrived in Nyingchi prefecture of eastern Tibet autonomous region last November for China vacation deals. The Dongbitang village is near the town of Menri but is rarely visited and has kept the traditions of the Kongpo people, a branch of the Tibetans.

Village chief Nima Tsering told me the locals would celebrate New Year the next day. The Kongpo people have maintained their cultural traditions well. They wear cubic furry hats and a "waistcoat" that goes all the way down to the knee.

But the most striking difference is that the Kongpo New Year is celebrated on the first day of the 10th month in the Tibetan calendar, which is two months ahead of the traditional Tibetan New Year, which is Feb 25 this year.

"The Kongpo people are very happy - we enjoy two New Years," says Nima Tsering.

Legends say that invaders came to the area centuries ago and that the King of Kongpo led them in battle. It was close to the New Year and many soldiers were depressed that they might not make it home for the festival. A sage advised the king to celebrate the New Year ahead of time, which boosted morale and eventually won the war. To commemorate the warriors who died, Kongpo people offered sacrifices and kept vigils. In time, this tradition became the Kongpo New Year.

Real life is always more wonderful than legends attracting tourists for best tours of China. When I followed Nima Tsering home, I almost tripped on the floor. His wife had rubbed the floor with butter to make every inch shine and smell pleasant. With a small basin of zamba (roasted qingke barley flour), she put white dots on columns, the stove, door, wall and cupboards while chanting "tashi dele" - a Tibetan phrase for good luck.

As the family head, Nima Tsering busied himself with redecorating the Qema box, which is a perennial offering to the deities. He emptied the box and refilled it with newly ground qingke flour and butter shaped into flowers and other auspicious symbols. He also changed the peach branches and wheat straws for blessings of a bumper harvest.

As the sun set, the whole family gathered in the sitting room for the grand meal on the Eve of the New Year. The diligent housewife had spent the whole day preparing a pot of milky white soup with yak bones.

But I was more impressed with the cheese-like gyeta, which is highly valued, as a big pot of yak milk can only turn out a small piece of gyeta. In the past, locals only enjoyed the delicacy at New Year.

It's interesting how the gyeta is eaten. The hostess put a thin wooden stick through the hard cheese and showed me how to roast it over the fire. As the exterior melted, I could lick it and savor the mellow taste. It was the first time I had learned that cheese could be eaten this way.

Exhausted after my long trip of popular China travel package, I couldn't stay up long enough to see the New Year's first event, a sort of competition between the local women. With a water pail on her back, each woman leaves home at about 3 am to fetch the year's first bucket of spring water before the cock crows. They believe the woman who gets ahead of others will bring greatest fortune to the family.

I slept soundly and didn't wake up until the sitting room became boisterous with throngs of villagers coming to offer greetings.

Before I could find out if my hostess had succeeded in her adventure, I was offered bowls of qingke wine and became light-headed. I felt as if I were walking on cotton clouds as I joined the crowd to visit other families. Strong young men carried a big jar of wine and shared it with everyone to exchange good wishes.

A light snow during the night had turned the village into a silver fairyland. Compared to the quiet roads, each family's sitting room became full of merriment. People joined hands to form a circle, dancing and singing from dawn till late into the night.

The village's proximity to forests has enabled locals to use plenty of wood and build themselves two-story houses. As dozens of people stamp their feet and leap in uproarious joy, the entire building shakes and joins in the frenzy.

I found it hard to stand upright and caught glimpses of the cups, plates, pots and pans also dancing merrily with us.

"Tashi dele!" another bowl of wine appeared. There was no excuse for opting out of the New Year's greetings and I gulped down the fuel.

Feeling my brain running like an overheated engine, I threw myself into the chorus of throaty songs and foot-stomping ... and left behind concerns about the building collapsing.

For more others, you can check out China guide.

  1. 2013/09/12(木) 16:05:04|
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Hangzhou's Xixi Wetland Park attracts travellers

The Xixi Wetland Park has an extensive history and is located on the southern tip of the longest and oldest canal in the world, the Hangzhou-Beijing Canal. Dragon boats take you around in the network of rivers and show you a new side of Hangzhou, also known as the paradise city of China. The park is an optional destination for last minute China travel deals.

To see the striking beauty of this place there is definitely reason to be updated on the legends of Hangzhou which then gives this you a whole new spectrum to fill your imagination with.

What I've seen to a great extent in Hangzhou is contrasts, and Xixi is not an exception. Our boat goes down a river which is a branch of what is called the Tai Lake. These waters are supposed to bring happiness, knowledge and money to people crossing them and I can already feel new knowledge coming against me as a fresh breeze swirls in from behind.


This place is peaceful and I can't believe my eyes when a road and massive complexes appear around the corner. As I turn my head the other side of the river shows a whole other panorama. White wooden houses with dark decorations in traditional Chinese style are spread out in harmony with the most beautiful of trees. The pink flowers covering the treetops make this scenery look just like those typical Chinese paintings my grandmother used to have on her wall. Put a warrior and his lover in the center and the scene is complete.

Reed, trees and bushes are what clean the water in this area, just like the massive mangrove further south. I imagine one of the trees as being part of The Lion King, with birds nest waiting for vultures to return, something I soon convince myself is not going to happen anytime soon. This place truly gets my fantasy going for my top China tours.

"This place has many different kinds of fish," my colleague whispers in my ear at the second a see something touching the water surface.

Although civilization may be around the corner, the Xixi Wetland Park makes you forget about this and helps you focus on the sounds of the nature, the way us humans are supposed to live.

This gives you strength and inspiration as well as it did many artists and literates during ancient times.

I feel like a female version of Hercules when getting off the dragon boat, ready to face new adventures in Hangzhou, the city of paradise.

To be perfectly honest the title of the park isn't something that attracts my wishes when traveling to China.

Good thing my mother taught me never to dismiss before trying.

The Xixi Wetland Park has an extensive history and is located on the southern tip of the longest and oldest canal in the world, the Hangzhou-Beijing Canal. Dragon boats take you around in the network of rivers and show you a new side of Hangzhou, also known as the paradise city of China.

To see the striking beauty of this place there is definitely reason to be updated on the legends of Hangzhou which then gives this you a whole new spectrum to fill your imagination with.

What I've seen to a great extent in Hangzhou is contrasts, and Xixi is not an exception. Our boat goes down a river which is a branch of what is called the Tai Lake. These waters are supposed to bring happiness, knowledge and money to people crossing them and I can already feel new knowledge coming against me as a fresh breeze swirls in from behind.

This place is peaceful and I can't believe my eyes when a road and massive complexes appear around the corner. As I turn my head the other side of the river shows a whole other panorama. White wooden houses with dark decorations in traditional Chinese style are spread out in harmony with the most beautiful of trees. The pink flowers covering the treetops make this scenery look just like those typical Chinese paintings my grandmother used to have on her wall. Put a warrior and his lover in the center and the scene is complete.

Reed, trees and bushes are what clean the water in this area, just like the massive mangrove further south. I imagine one of the trees as being part of The Lion King, with birds nest waiting for vultures to return, something I soon convince myself is not going to happen anytime soon. This place truly gets my fantasy going.

"This place has many different kinds of fish," my colleague whispers in my ear at the second a see something touching the water surface.

Although civilization may be around the corner, the Xixi Wetland Park makes you forget about this and helps you focus on the sounds of the nature, the way us humans are supposed to live.

This gives you strength and inspiration as well as it did many artists and literates during ancient times.

I feel like a female version of Hercules when getting off the dragon boat, ready to face new adventures in Hangzhou (one of best travel city for popular China tour package), the city of paradise.

  1. 2013/09/11(水) 16:12:02|
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Life on water-s trip to Baiyangdian

Baiyangdian, the largest freshwater lake on the Hebei plain in northern China, often gives its visitors a misleading impression of being in an exquisite and moist water town usually seen in southern China. You can consider it for your last minute China travel deals.

Baiyangdian is divided into 146 shallow lakes by 36 villages and 800 hectares of reed marshes.

Legend has it that the lakes are fragments of a mirror dropped by a goddess when she descended to earth.

Located in the center of a golden triangle area formed by Beijing, Tianjin, and Shijiazhuang, Baiyangdian is a hot spot for people eager to flee the hustle and bustle of the metropolises.

The major means to get around in Baiyangdian is by boat. And travelers can get almost all the information of Baiyangdian from the boatmen, whom are probably veteran local villagers for it would be a mission impossible for outcomers to remember the 3,700-plus ditches and river courses linking the lakes.

The special feature of Baiyangdian is its luxuriant reed marshes. During the anti-Japanese war, the Chinese guerrillas, supported by local villagers, wiped out numerous enemies under the cover of endless reed marshes. Nowadays, local people still benefit from the plant. They weave the reed marsh straws into mats, which are now the top export product of Baiyangdian.

If you come in summer, preferably mid-July, you may catch the annual Lotus Flower Festival which should not be missed when you visit there in mid-July for your popular China travel package. The blooming pinky lotus flowers, together with the big green leaves floating on the surface of the water, forms a splendid vista and has soothed the eyes and hearts of numerous visitors.

The lush water is home to about 50 varieties of fish and multiple varieties of wild geese, duck, and birds. When you are rowing on the lakes in a wooden boat, you can see low-flying birds pass you by.

Another thing not to miss when you visit Baiyangdian is its 'fish banquet' for best tours of China in which each course is made of fish, just that the species of the fish and their ways of cooking is different. There are steamed fish, fried fish, grilled fish and sauteed fish amongst others.

With such alluring food and scenery, Baiyangdian has been a treasured place since ancient times. According to recorded history, Emperor Qianlong of the Qing dynasty visited Baiyangdian four times. He loved the place for being an ideal natural environment for fishing and hunting.

Now Baiyangdian is a state-level tourist spot favored by travelers for its indigenous lifestyle and natural beauty.

Travel How-tos:

How to get there: A bus to Anxin county, where Baiyangdian is located, leaves every half an hour from the train station of Baoding city, Hebei province, costing only $2 USD, and taking less than 2 hours.

Where to lodge: There are few starred hotels inside Baiyangdian but you can live in family-run holiday inns and experience the authentic lifestyle of locals.

When to Go: Many tourist festivals and ceremonies including the Lotus Festival, are held in summer and autumn in Baiyangdian, so, they are the best season for visiting.

What to buy: Both Baiyangdian preserved eggs and lotus seeds are delicious. For more others in China via China travel guide.

  1. 2013/09/10(火) 15:39:30|
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Nanping impression

We followed a narrow cobblestone path winding through expansive green fields on both sides as we entered Nanping village in southwestern Yixian county in Anhui Province (famous travel place for last minute China travel deals). This is the filming location of two of the most internationally acclaimed Chinese movies - the Oscar-nominated "Ju Dou" by renowned director Zhang Yimou in 1990 and the Oscar-winning film "Crouching Tiger and Hidden Dragon" by Ang Lee in 2000.

Since then, tourists have flocked to this century old village, which they know only from the silver screen, to explore it with great interest and curiosity.

The vintage trees that perch on the grasslands at the entrance to the village appeared even greener and fresher after a rainfall. We unconsciously slowed our pace and became absorbed in the village's ambience.

We glimpsed residents washing things by a nearby stream, working in distant fields or chatting in narrow lanes as we passed through. The village contains 300 well-preserved ancient buildings with grey tiles and white walls, dating back to the Ming and Qing dynasties.

But our immediate sense of comfort gradually turned into unease as we walked along a mazelike network of 72 intertwining lanes and realized we could easily get lost. The lanes make for a grand view for visitors to the village, in addition to the ancestral halls, what Nanping is best known for so you should not miss it for your best tours of China. The buildings are a unique feature of ancient China's feudal society where the clan system dominated.

In those old days, there were about 1,000 inhabitants in 300 households, most of which belonged to the Ye clan. Smaller portions of the population belonged to the Cheng and Li clans.

The patriarchal system played a vital role in maintaining social order in feudal China, solidifying the masses and stabilizing clan development. A clan's ancestral hall such as Xuzhi Hall or Kuiguang Hall was the spiritual home of its members.

Xuzhi Hall, or Ye's Ancestral Hall, was the setting for the film "Ju Dou". Props from the film set still decorate the hall, including an overhead sign at the building's entrance which was altered to read "Yang's Dye-house."

We pushed open the door, and a magnificent sight came into view - a colorful meter-long cloth hung in the patio in the traditional three-hall-and-two-courtyard style house that conjured up images of the classic tragedy. The building constituted a sharp contrast with the grey tones of other structures. It seemed as if it was the personification of the contrast in the emotions of the characters in "Ju Dou".

The 1990 film, starring famous actors Gong Li, Li Baotian and Li Wei, was about a tragic romance that occurred in the dye-house in the 1920s. A woman named Ju Dou played by Gong Li was forced to marry the brutal, impotent and impoverished owner of a dye mill in a rural village. As the third wife, she was repeatedly mistreated and cruelly disciplined by her husband, Jin-shan, for failing to bear him an heir. The heroine later had an affair with her husband's nephew and conceived a boy who eventually killed his biological father under the unbreakable feudal traditions.

Luminous Gong Li became more famous after "Ju Dou", and still shots of the film hang on the walls of the hall, showing the unsophisticated look of the international star in her early days.

Ancestral halls were places where big occasions such as clan meetings, celebrations and sacrificial offerings were held. Only men were allowed to enter the halls on a regular basis, while women could enter through a lower level only once during their lifetime - on their wedding day.

After centuries of change, Xuzhi Hall now stands empty. The housekeeper locked the door when we left. As it suddenly startted to rain, some villagers could be seen quickly carrying items into their houses. Clothing hung outside was protected from the rain by the eaves of the roofs.

We then stopped at another ancestral hall of the Ye clan for popular China travel package, one of the best preserved halls of the Ming Dynasty and the filming site for Ang Lee's movie "Crouching Tiger and Hidden Dragon." Over a large fan-shaped screen inside the hall, we saw where actresses Zhang Ziyi and Michelle Yeoh fought in the movie.

Still photos show how the film was shot back then. Zhang Ziyi had tiny safety wire tied to her waist while she performed flying stunts over the bamboo forest with Chow Yun-fat.

Some old men chatting inside the building casually told us about when the movie was made a decade ago. They said they were pleased that the film had attracted many tourists and brought the villagers many tangible benefits.

The next stop, Bingling Pavilion, or Ice Slice Pavilion, was another beautiful old hall built about 200 years ago during the middle of the Qing Dynasty. Today it is a frequently visited inn in Nanping.

Peering out of the ancestral hall, I suddenly realized the other visitors had already moved on and I was left alone, lost in Nanping's maze of lanes.

By the way, you can check out China guide for more others.

  1. 2013/09/09(月) 15:54:23|
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Top 10 autumn destinations in China II

Top 5: Kanas, Xinjiang

Kanas,in a valley in the Altai Mountains, is located near the very northern tip of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (main destination for Silk Road tour). "Kanas" is a Mongolian word meaning "lake in the canyon." The area is famous for its mysterious and wild landscape and especially its legendary lake.

When September comes, Kanas enters a golden season. The plants covered by the golden sunshine, the lake in the near distance, the snow-capped mountains in the backdrop, the small wooden houses and the strolling herds of cattle and sheep, create a fairytale view.

September is believed to be the best time to visit Kanas.

Top 4: Nyingchi, Tibet

Nyingchi, which means "sun throne" in Tibetan, is situated in the southeast of Tibet which is the holy and dreamlike destination for last minute China travel deals. Located in the lower reaches of Yarlung Zangbo River, Nyingchi is blessed with a semi-humid climate and fascinating scenery. It is nicknamed the "Switzerland of Tibet."

Autumn is the most colorful season of Nyingchi, when the golden pine forests, green canyon and crystal snow-capped mountains form a striking sight. Due to the altitudinal zonality of Namjagbarwa Peak, various plant species are scattered across the mountain, forming multiple levels of color.

It is best to visit Nyingchi before October comes around.

Top 3: Shangri-La, Yunnan

Located in northwest Yunnan Province, Shangri-La is a Tibetan county of Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, featuring spectacular landscapes and a mixture of ethnic cultures. Set in tranquil grasslands surrounded by snow-covered peaks, gorges, lakes and virgin forests, the county's attractions include the famous Tiger Leaping Gorge, Songzanlin Temple, Bita Lake Nature Reserve and Baishui Terrace (White Water Terrace). Shangri-la is at its most beautiful in May and October. In October, when leaves turn yellow and red, the area astounds visitors with its stunning vistas. Tourists can also experience the lifestyle, culture and cuisine of 13 different local ethnic groups.

Top 2: Jiuzhai Valley, Sichuan

Jiuzhai Valley in Aba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province, is a magical fairyland in nature that enchants tourists with mountains, forests, lakes, waterfalls and teeming wildlife for top 10 China tours. During autumn, colorful leaves are reflected in the clear emerald waters. Lakes vary in color according to their depths, angles and surroundings, striking a lively contrast with the blue sky and snow-white clouds.

Top 1: Eerguna, Inner Mongolia

Eerguna is a wetland area straddling the China-Russian border in the northeast of Inner Mongolia. It is located on the west side of the north of the Greater Xing'an Mountains, which are famed for their stunningly colorful autumn scenery. The trees and plants in various colors, the pure blue sky and the clear waters, are extremely enchanting.

The afternoons give you the most amazing scenery in the Moerdaoga National Forest Park, when the whole forest is covered in golden sunrays. White Deer Island is the best place to go and see the red leaves. The rivers that run through the grasslands are also charming, like painted belts winding down the forest.

September make for the best time to visit Eerguna for travel to China. The temperature in the forest region may drop below 0℃, so make sure to put on something warm.

  1. 2013/09/06(金) 15:22:54|
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Top 10 autumn destinations in China I

Autumn is widely regarded as the most beautiful of all four seasons. Although the southern part of China is still quite hot throughout September, the impending autumn has already brought some highly anticipated cool air for the nation's northern half.

This is by far the best season to go hiking in the forests or mountains, ride horses across the grasslands and do some general outdoor activities. Let's start looking for the most beautiful autumn colors in all of China right here, right now.

The following are the top 10 best Chinese destinations we can recommend for your autumn China vacation deals.

Top 10: Shigatse, Tibet

Shigatse, the second largest city in Tibet, sits at the junction of the Yarlung Tsangpo River and the Nyangchu River and is the most colorful area in Tibet. It has vast grasslands, fertile river valley fields, flourishing semitropical jungles and snowfields. Famous attractions include Xiqin Spring, Yatung Spring, Yongzelucuo Lake, Palkor Monastery in Gyantse, Sakya Monastery, Pingcuolin Monastery, Juenang Monastery, Pala Manor and Tashilumpo Monastery.

Top 9: Hulunbuir Grasslands, Inner Mongolia

Located in northeastern Inner Mongolia, the Hulunbuir Grasslands are considered the "most unsullied grasslands" in China. Named after the Hulun and Buir lakes, the grasslands feature forests, rivers and lakes. After May, the green grassland is dotted with colorful flowers, birds, and cattle and sheep scattered among the grasses. There are also various local activities, including horseback and camelback riding, horse racing and wrestling for your top China tours.

Top 8: Changbai Mountain, Jilin

Changbai Mountain in southeastern Jilin Province is located on the border between China and North Korea. Considered as the most famous mountain in northeast China, Changbai Mountain has rich biodiversity. With an average altitude of 2,000 meters, the mountain is well-known for its snowy scenery, cool summers and an abundance of mineral springs.

Top 7: Zhangjiajie, Hunan

Zhangjiajie, located in the northwestern part of Hunan Province, is about 265 kilometers to Changsha, the provincial capital. Most scenic spots in the area are situated in the northern part of the city, including Zhangjiajie National Forest Park (where you can hike for travel to China), Wulingyuan, Tianmen Mountain, Huanglong Cave, Baofeng Lake, and Suoxi Valley. They are known for their beautiful forests, odd-shaped rocks, exquisite canyons, limestone caves, and jaw-dropping panoramic views. The hills present different views to visitors with the changing of the seasons. In October, colorful leaves, sheer cliffs and secluded valleys wow visitors.

Top 6: Daocheng, Sichuan

Situated in the south of the Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in southwest China's Sichuan Province, Daocheng County is often referred to as "the last pure land in our blue planet." At an average elevation of 3,800 meters, Daocheng is renowned for its magnificent mountains, white glaciers, broad valleys, lush pastures and picturesque lakes. Forests, grasslands and creeks can also be found in the grand valley, fringed by splendid snowcapped mountain peaks. After September, the area goes into colorful autumn, attracting hundreds of visitors to travel and hike there and enjoy some of the quietest and purest natural scenery on Earth for your popular China tour package.

  1. 2013/09/06(金) 15:21:43|
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24 hours in Chongqing


Check in to the Yangtze River Hostel (80 Changjiang Binjiang Lu, Yuzhong, 023 6310 4208) for the best quality a hostel price will afford you in Chongqing (dorms from 30RMB/person, doubles from 70RMB/person). Alternatively, Chongqing has an overabundance of five star hotel rooms, meaning they often go cheap. The InterContinental Hotel (101 Minzhu Lu, Jiefangbei, 023 8906 6888) (with rooms from 755RMB/night) is bang in the centre of town.

Good coffee is hard to find in Chongqing where you embark cruising ship of Yantze River tour, but not at Lavazza Coffee stand, outside the Harbour Plaza hotel (Wuyi Lu, Jiefangbei, 023 6370 0888). Go straight for the double espresso (20RMB). Alternatively, try BonBon (AG01/A101, Chongqing Tiandi, 150 Ruitian Lu, Hualongqiao, 023 6382 2121) for a large and very quiet garden in which to enjoy a cup (from 20RMB for a single shot).


Refreshed and caffeinated, take it easy in Chongqing’s art district. The Sichuan Fine Arts Institute (Huangjueping Zheng Jie, Huangjueping, 023 8618 1008) is located at the end of a curious Graffiti Street (Huangjueping Zheng Jie) and the area itself is packed with art book stores, art supplies and a few decent – but well-hidden – artist bars and cafes.

Inside the school campus check out the Tank Loft to see artists’ studios, exhibition spaces and the particularly nice Muse Wine Bar (Tank Loft, Sichuan Fine Arts Institute, 139 8311 6658) for some inexpensive rosé (45RMB/bottle). On the opposite side of the road is the 501 Art Space (126 Huangjueping Zheng Jie, Huangjueping, 134 5233 4661), an old factory now home to more artists’ studios and other creative workspaces. If doors are left open, have a peek in and step inside, most will happily discuss their work.

If you’re after truly secret attractions for your affordable China travel packages, Chongqing provides numerous hideaways from alcoves, up or down mountains, to bomb shelters. For a lunch of the best (and largest) ribs in the city, head to Zeng Lao Yao Yu Zhuang, a restaurant located in a bomb shelter on the Yangtze barely touched since WWII. It’s a ten minute cab ride from Jiefangbei; call 023 6392 4315, hand the phone to a taxi driver and prepare to be blown away.

After lunch, take a look around Chongqing’s spectacular old towns. Makeshift homes cling to the sides of mountains and steps weave between narrow dwellings. Shibati (just off Zhongxin Lu, look down the side of the hill for the steps taking you down) is one such old town just yards from skyscrapers and the bar street of Jiefangbei. It blankets the entire side of a hill that creeps down to the Jialing River, and goes a long way in helping imagine just how Chongqing’s gangster types once evaded the law in this old metropolis.

Cool off with a bag of peanut milk offered by the ‘bang bang’ women, who tout it from bamboo poles carried over their shoulders. Try some sugar cane, sesame cakes, or cold tomato with sugar for a mid-afternoon boost (all under 10RMB).


Before dinner grab an aperitif at the Nanshan Lijing Hotel (88 Zhenwushan, Nanping, 023 6247 8888), which has one of the most stunning views of the downtown Yuzhong peninsula in all its Manhattan-esque glory. Find a table outdoors and enjoy the vista.

Hotpot in Chongqing is well-known and easy to find on any street, but the rule of thumb for finding the best experience for your top 10 China tours is to look for oldest and crummiest places. Shongdihuo Laohuoguo (Xinshi Jie Chaoshi Louxia, Gongren Cun, Shapingba, 138 8340 9221) is one of the best places to get your fill of ‘old oil’, mala spices and plum wine (10RMB/cup) to wash everything down with. Hot pot for four with beer costs around 150RMB,while being in the university district of Shapingba means that you’re already close to the late night action.


No trip to Chongqing would be complete without a visit to Nuts Club (Chongqing University South Gate, Shazhong Lu, Shapingba, 023 8810 1647). It’s the best place to enjoy live indie, dub-step, techno, metal and punk. Beers go from 5RMB, and ‘Russian Cocaine’, vodka with coffee and sugar on a slice of lemon, is 20RMB. Da Rasta (4 Youpai Qingnian Gongyu Block B, opposite 7 Days Inn on Hanyu Lu, 186 2336 4003) is a smaller but lively bar with house pours and cocktails from 25RMB and a regular student crowd.

Late-night dining in Chongqing is a solid tradition and comes highly recommended, although your intestines may be less thankful than your tastebuds the next morning. If you’re hungry after all that partying, the spicy shrimp (78RMB, enough for four) at Tieguomen (61-2 Gongrencun, Shapingba, 023 6542 6209) is the perfect way to end a big night out.

If you’ve still got some party in you however, Cici Park (Kuixing Plaza, 2 Linjiang Lu, 023 6303 6940) is the best place to enjoy the small hours in Chongqing for your popular China travel package. It’s home to the city’s electro scene, has plenty of imported beers, indoor and outdoor seating and is as trippy as any 24 hours in Chongqing should be.

  1. 2013/09/05(木) 16:04:10|
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Tracing the ebbs and flows of history's tide II

As a book lover, on his travels Fan collected more than 70,000 volumes from all over China and built Tianyige in his hometown Yin County, today's Ningbo City, to house them.

His collection covered a wide range of texts, including local chronicles, records of imperial examinations, political documents and anthologies.

Most are block-printed and manuscript editions from the Ming Dynasty.

Private libraries have been a tradition among Chinese scholars since Han Dynasty (206BC-220AD), especially government officials.

Thanks to the prosperous commercial development, Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces (the two famous travel provinces for last minute China travel deals) became the center of these private libraries during the Ming and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties.

More than 60 percent of private libraries in China were found in these two provinces.

These created the foundations for preserving cultural heritage, as they collectively had more books than state-owned institutions.

However, many were short-lived.

Some fell prey to natural causes such as fire, damage by insects and humidity.

Others ended up in the stewardship of founders' descendants who might not share the same enthusiasm or were financially challenged.

In fact, very few private libraries were able to pass down more than three generations.

That's why Tianyige (famous attraction for book lovers for China best tours) is so special in Chinese history - it has survived almost 450 years and has been passed down through 13 generations of Fan's family.

Fan Qin established strict rules to protect the valuable books in his library.

A small lake was built in front, providing a ready source of water should the building catch fire.

Flames and alcohol were prohibited, while insect-repellent leaves and grasses were put on bookshelves.

In another measure, Fan's descendants were entrusted with different keys to separate locks at Tianyige.

As the whole family needed to get together to open the library, this made it more difficult for one member to remove volumes.

Despite all these efforts, Tianyige has still had its difficult times over the past 400 years.

Emperor Qianlong of Qing Dynasty is a controversial figure in the history of this ancient treasury.

When he heard about the numerous rare books at Tianyige, he ordered Fan's family to present them to the imperial government for the compilation of "Si Ku Quan Shu," or "The Complete Library in the Four Branches of Literature."

The emperor promised that the books were just being "borrowed" and would be returned after being copied, but this never happened.

Yet although 6,000 books were taken from Tianyige and never returned, the emperor's interest also increased the library's fame all over the country.

After the compilation was finished, seven copies of the complete "Si Ku Quan Shu" were distributed to seven different royal libraries, including Wenyuan Chamber in the Forbidden City.

These libraries copied the structure of Tianyige, hoping that Fan's design would benefit them too.

The Opium Wars, in the middle of the 19th century, brought Tianyige more turbulence that it had experienced in the 300 years before.

Over the years that followed, foreign invaders and local thieves looted a large part of the collection, so by 1940, it had dwindled to less than 20,000 volumes.

Therefore, it's oddly relieving to find today that Tianyige is empty: all the ancient books left were removed to a new library besides the building.

With high-tech temperature and humidity control equipment and huge modern shelves, these historic books are finally safe.

After the establishment of Tianyige Museum, dedicated to the protection of both the old building and the books, donations of books came flooding in. Now the Tianyige make great contribution to China tourism.

Tianyige's name became such an attraction that many local book collectors donated precious volumes to the museum for better protection.

The modern museum is now home to around 300,000 volumes - and rising.

One third of the books are already digitalized so book lovers can flip through the yellowed pages on the museum's website without touching the actual volume.

Qing'an Guild Hall

Ningbo's city slogan boasts that it is "a City of Culture and a Gateway to the World."

The culture is evident in Tianyige, while the gateway part is shown clearly in another museum: Qing'an Guild Hall.

Ningbo has been a port city since the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BC). During the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907), the city, then known as Mingzhou, was one of the four shipping hubs in China and the starting point of "Silk Road on the Sea."

Trading glory continued through the Ming and Qing dynasties, and Ningbo businessmen - known as "Ningbobang" - had great influence on the regional and national economy.

Qing'an Guild Hall, where Ningbo's businessmen used to gather to talk business, brings to life the city's trading history. Appropriately for a hot spot of trade and commerce, it is located at Sanjiangkou, the confluence point of three rivers that flow through Ningbo.

Driving toward downtown Ningbo, you can find the tranquil-looking black and white building, dating from 1850, among high buildings, mansions and modern bridges.

The merchants may be gone, but as a museum, today's Qing'an Guild Hall preserves their story.

Large model ships and other exhibits tell visitors the story of the surprisingly sophisticated level of marine technology achieved by China hundreds of years ago.

As well as the exhibits, what also took my attention were two large stages and the Mazu Temple (an option for popular China tours).

As a gathering place for businessmen, a stage was must-have feature for festival performances. But the two-stage setting is rare in China.

On the day I visited, a young couple were having wedding photographs taken in front of one of the stages.

Golden decoration on the red wooden stage provided a fine background for the happy occasion, adding a special traditional vibe to the smiling couple's pictures.

Mazu Temple inside the guild hall was a central part of the structure, where the goddess of sea Mazu was worshipped.

It's not difficult to imagine how the most important figures used to gather here and pray for calm seas; praying for their businesses and lives.

  1. 2013/09/04(水) 16:02:15|
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Tracing the ebbs and flows of history's tide I

A prosperous port renowned for its long history of trade and industry, Ningbo in eastern China's Zhejiang Province also boasts a feast of cultural riches. Zhou Yubin samples some.

When I heard about my trip to coastal city Ningbo, in eastern China's Zhejiang Province, culture was not the first thing that sprang to mind.

For after all, Ningbo, on the Yangtze River Delta (the lower reach of Yangtze River where you can have Yantze River tour) facing the Zhoushan Archipelago in the East China Sea, has long been famed as one of the largest and most important Chinese ports.

Its shipping trade and industrial development over the years have made it one of the richest cities in the country.

But along with this commercial and industrial might, Ningbo has also developed a surprisingly rich culture to develop local China tourism.

As a National Famous City for Historical Culture, Ningbo is home to 1,530 cultural preservation sites - including 22 sites at national level.

So this time around, my visit to this commercial and industrial powerhouse would focus on a feast of unique culture at an ancient library, a historic guild hall and a spectacular museum.

Tianyige Library

Tianyige Library, the largest private library in China, got its name from "I Ching," or the "Book of Changes."

According to this classic book of yin and yang, which may date back to the second millennium BC, a combination of "tian" (sky) and "yi" (one) gives birth to water.

This magical name has protected the library and its books from fire for more than 400 years.

Before the trip, I'd heard a lot about Tianyige (famous attractions in Ningbo for China vacation deals), such as it's the oldest private library in China and has more than 300,000 historic books.

However, the building itself was quite different from what I'd imagined - a modest two-story wooden structure.

From its appearance, it could be taken for just the ordinary residence of a big family.

This humble, dark library was built by Fan Qin in 1566, a secretary of defense during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).

Fan worked as a government official in many provinces, including Shaanxi, Hunan and Fujian (most popular destination for popular China tour package).

  1. 2013/09/04(水) 16:00:14|
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One-way ticket to Tibet

Tibetans had long believed that their country's Tanggula Pass, taller than Mont Blanc at 16,640 feet above sea level, was "insurmountable even by eagles" and that the KunLun mountains surrounding Lhasa, the Tibetan capital, was a barrier that would hold back one of China's most controversial latter-day engineering projects - the Beijing to Lhasa (the holy destination for best tours of China) railway.

They had figured without 30,000 Chinese workers toiling day and night, in temperatures as low as -40F and altitudes with 40 per cent less oxygen than at sea level, to build the world's highest railway. As of a month or so ago, for just £25 you can leave Beijing and arrive in Lhasa 48 hours and 2,500 miles later.

"The last tourist we sent on the train suffered headaches and nosebleeds but he was old - 39..," my guide reassures me, apparently oblivious of my own telltale grey locks. I've had altitude sickness before and it's horrible.

There's confusion about whether travellers have to produce health certificates before boarding. Minutes before our departure, I'm told I need to undergo a health check, right there on the platform. Instead I keep walking towards the train and somehow am waved on board.

The train is sleek, modern and scrupulously clean. My "soft" sleeper compartment accommodates four and we have our own automatic supply of oxygen-enriched air, as well as flat-screen TV at the foot of each bunk (programmes in Chinese only). Washing facilities are two basins down the corridor. Cheaper "hard" sleepers have six bunks, harder mattresses and oxygen available only on "manual". We leave Beijing (best and must-see travel city for last minute China travel deals) at 9.30pm in darkness.

I awake excitedly the following day to green fields and rocks suffused in a soft misty orange glow but the farther west we go, the more the colours fade. Much of the day is spent watching the parched pale earth under a nondescript grey sky. Every few hours there's an industrial-looking city and the train stops. But not for long. No one gets on or off, except to stretch their legs.

Even if you had the time, these aren't particularly inviting places. There's Xining (less-visited destination for Silk Road tour), with its military garrisons and gulags, and Lanzhou, a sprawling concrete mess which, according to my guidebook, has the dubious distinction of being the world's most polluted city (how does one measure that exactly?). En route apparently is the Nuclear Weapons Research and Design Academy, where China's first atomic and hydrogen bombs were developed.

Tomorrow comes and, except for some railway workers and their temporary accommodation, it is six hours before I see any sign of life. And then just a herd of yaks and sheep. The scenery is eerily repetitive and inordinately flat, as if it were steam-rollered by a giant groundsman: a stony and light brown treeless plateau, tinged occasionally with green or what looks like a muddy stream but is actually permafrost. A vast inhospitable wilderness that goes on for hours. Paul Theroux described it as "the last place on earth; like a polar ice-cap, but emptier".

I leave my comfortable "soft" sleeper, with its automatic supply of oxygen-enriched air and wander into the more austere, all-seat hard-class compartment. It feels voyeuristic, particularly on the second morning when any pretence of normality has evaporated and everyone is lying asleep on the floor. A young German couple aside, everyone is Tibetan.

Construction on the railway began in June 2001, nine months after Wembley Stadium was contracted to be built and completed three years ahead of schedule, at a cost of over £2.3 billion. To appreciate the scale, imagine the Russians extending a line between St Petersburg and Cologne line by laying another 700 miles of track to London - including 50 miles of tunnels and bridges - and throwing in the highest mountain range ever breached by a railway.

But cresting the mountains was only half the story. The route lies over 400 miles of unstable permafrost, thawing and dropping by inches, then refreezing and rising overnight. To combat this, 100 miles of track were built on an elevated surface, while elsewhere cooling agents are pumped into the ground, insulating the track from the top level of ice and preventing the rails from buckling. And then there's the fault line. Only five years ago, near the Kunlun Pass, an earthquake registered 8.1 on the Richter scale.

Perhaps my silent Chinese companion is pondering such matters as he sits and shaves on my bunk each morning. I have more joy from the engaging Catalan couple, with whom I cheerfully while away the hours. Even so, with no fresh air and only a corridor and restaurant car to escape to, the second day palls. We feel like restless patients convalescing in a mobile ward - until, that is, the altitude increases and the headaches begin.

That night there's a large bang. I awake startled. Apparently, we've hit 5,000 metres (16,405ft) and my "Portuguese-flavoured" meat-stew crisps have exploded. We've reached Tangu, the world's highest freshwater lake. According to a taped announcement, I should be "feeling sublime, my spirits soaring". Instead my head is throbbing. I lie down and contemplate an extra blast of oxygen.

As the sun sets, we hurtle across green plains, with herds of black shaggy haired yaks roaming and occasional Tibetan nomads standing in the distance. Spirits do soar this time, and the scenery is captivating. The sun has appeared after two days of grey skies, catching the distant mountains. We are approaching Lhasa.

The railway is China in a microcosm. A symbol of extraordinary economic and industrial development and unbridled ambition. Proof that anything is possible, yet simultaneously the fulfilment of Mao's "Tibetan dream".

Beijingers often tell you that China feels incomplete without Tibet but no one explains why - and let's face it, China has treated Tibet harshly. In 1950 alone, over 6,200 monasteries and convents were destroyed, leaving only eight standing. Miraculously, Tibet's enchanting spirit remains undiminished but how much longer will China allow this flame to flicker.

If you can, skip the first day. Instead fly to Golmod and join the train there for the last 15 hours. You'll still get the sense of drama as the train climbs up on to the roof of the world - the last four hours are the most beautiful - and a real feel for China's pioneering spirit and the desire to conquer the wilderness - a contemporary version of the railroad reaching out into the wild west. Whatever you do though, go soon, before Lhasa is filled with an anticipated 6,000 additional tourists a day.

For the record, we reached Lhasa an hour early, unlike my return home on the Heathrow Express, which was delayed due to "the train running on lines, some of which are normal and some of which are not". Go figure. By the way, you can check out China guide for more others in China.

  1. 2013/09/03(火) 16:16:01|
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Calls for volunteers to guard historic sites

Cultural heritage experts are urging managers of historic sites to recruit more volunteers to keep watch over China's priceless relics.

The call comes shortly after centuries-old stonemasonry at Beijing's Ming Tombs (most popular site in China for affordable China tours) was badly damaged by suspected would-be thieves.

Although many sites already have cameras and barriers, expert He Shuzhong warned that the general lack of awareness among the public and administrators about the importance of relics is a threat to their preservation.

The Beijing Cultural Heritage Protection Center founder said that protection through cameras and fences is easier than increasing public awareness. "But we can absorb more volunteers and form a positive atmosphere about relic protection."

With advanced technology, Chinese heritage protection has been improved, but this does not mean the preservation will rely only on such technical skills, he said. "Instead, many people are interest-driven, aiming to be rich by stealing and selling relics."

The center, an NGO providing activities for enhancing the protection awareness among the public, has more than 5,000 volunteers nationwide, but He said the number is far from enough.

Zeng Yizhi, a cultural-relics protection activist, said calling for more volunteers to participate in protection will be effective because the volunteers will learn the importance and value of relics from their work.

"Many residents have no respect for our heritage and don't think their damage or theft will be punished. What they want is just to get more money," she said.

On Tuesday, an engraved stone at the Ming Tombs, an important legacy of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), was found severely damaged.

The Royal Ming Mausoleum is the 80-square-kilometer cemetery of the 13 emperors from the dynasty and a UNESCO World Heritage Site which make contribution to China tourism, according to the Ming Tombs Special Administration, which manages the site in the capital's Changping district.

Cui Jinze, who called police after finding the damaged relic, said that when he visited the spot on Tuesday, he discovered that a sidestep, a precious heritage item with decorative patterns, and its protective footing stones, had been damaged.

"The stones around the heritage site were broken into pieces, while the surface also had obvious scars," he said.

A relic protection volunteer, Cui said many cameras at the spot did not work and there is no protection around the damaged steps.

If more residents enhance their knowledge and awareness of protection, such destruction will decrease, he added.

After the damage at the Ming Tombs, an employee with the administration's security department denied that all cameras in that area are out of order and said they had known about the damage before Cui.

However, a police officer in the district, who did not want to be identified, said: "We received a resident's report on that day and never received any information from the department."

The security department employee said authorities will set up more barriers and a monitoring system around the heritage site, adding that the case is still under investigation. If you want to know more others about Beijing, you can check out travel China guide.

  1. 2013/09/02(月) 15:42:58|
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