Tag Archive | China

Sightseeing in Hong Kong

One of the leading tourist destinations in the world is undoubtedly Hong Kong, thanks to the thousands of tourist attractions that await visitors. Whether it is taking in the year-round festivals that the region is known for, visiting the amusement parks or simply shopping around for the most exotic souvenirs to carry back home, you can bet there is something for every ardent traveler. Here are some of the things you should not miss out when you decide to visit this wonderland.

The Dragon Boat Festivalthis is an annual event that often takes place every year on the 5th day of the 5th moon, which can fall either on May or June when using the Western Calendar of events. It is a special festival on its own right, with lots of mouthwatering traditional delicacies, breathtaking parades, and the characteristic dragon boat races. If you happen to be in Hong Kong at this time of the year, this is one festival you wouldn’t want to miss. Needless to mention, you should ensure your camera has enough memory space to capture each and every detail of the festival, because the colors are rich, bright and just amazing.

The Chinese New Year – yet another annual event that takes place shortly after the 1st of January each year on the Western Calendar. It is marked by parades and festivities which last for a whopping 15 days, with the best of the best reserved for the 15th night of the holiday.

Ocean Park – want to experience nature at its finest in Chinese land, why not check out this theme park that features amazing shows and rides that are sure to cater to the entire family.

Lantau Island – want to learn about the history of this great land? Why not visit the Lantau Island that adorns the region’s skyline with grandiose features, such as the 100 foot tall Buddha statue that adorns the skyline in its charm and beauty.

Disneyland – if you still can’t get enough of theme parks, you can bet that Disneyland will never disappoint. This is where you get to see all your favorite Disney characters in action as they present the most amazing parades and shows you have ever seen.

Stanley Park – strategically located just outside the busy metropolis, the Stanley Park presents a great experience for your memories in this region.  Ranging from mouthwatering delicacies to great souvenirs, you can bet there is something for every taste and preference out there.

Victoria Peak – this is a must visit place when you decide to take Hong Kong flights to this wonderland in Asia. With a cable powered tram, you can be bale to reach the peak of this grandiose tourist attraction that was named after the famous Queen Victoria. Be sure to visit the site when it is already at night and the entire district lit up and you will have the most breathtaking view of the city underneath.

When all is said and done, it is important to plan your itinerary in advance so as to coincide with the festivals that you want to experience in the region. The internet is a reliable place you can find useful information to help you not only know of the festivals but also plan accordingly.

Touring Around China

Tourists who visit China cannot come away from there without visiting one of the great man-made wonders of the world, The Great Wall of China. Before you set out on a tour to China make sure you get all the details from a reputed travel operator as there are many who may not offer the right options. Make sure you make plans in advance so that you enjoy your holiday when you opt for anyone of the tours.

The Great Wall of China stretches for nearly 6,700 kilometers over cliffs, deserts, hills and plateaus, separating nations from the Northwest corner to the East Coast of China. This wall is one of the most visited spots, as tourists travel in large numbers, to admire one of the most massive structures in the world that has 2000 years history to their name. Tours are given from any one of the nine sections that constitute the Great Wall of China. Every section is different from the other in the way it is preserved and the features offered.

The wall in Beijing is the most commonly visited as the segments that remain of the wall are the best preserved and interesting. The sections are further subdivided into seven different secions. These include Badaling, Jinshaling, Simati, Gubeikou, Mutianyu, Jainkous and Huanghuacheng and display the works carried out in the Ming dynasty before the city was conquered by Qing. The wall looks very large and more pronounced when it touches Beijing and therefore, this section has become popular, especially for tourists who visit China.

The Badaling is the most famous of these sections and most of the pictures of the Great Wall of China are shot from around this area, which is close to the Juyonguan Pass. In the tourist season, many visitors also make trips to the Mutianyu portion as one can view the massive remains and portions of the walls that are better preserved from here.

The other tour locations have their different eight perspectives of the history of the wall that goes back 2000 years. These include Tianjian, Shaanxi, Hebei, Shanxi, Ningxia, Gansu and Inner Mongolia, which stretch westward across the northern portions of the country.

You can expect to see variations in each segment of the wall that makes up the Great China Wall. Some are narrow and very old and offer a secluded glimpse of the wall and is therefore rarely visited. Tourists prefer to head to the more popular sections. Some sections offer hiking facilities as one can climb through hills and over mountains.

Whichever angle or section you select when you decide on tours of China, make sure you include the best of the lot which is the Great Wall of China tours.

A Winter Holiday in China


Last year I could feel itchy feet coming on as I did my calculations and realised that I had about a week off to take either in December or the first week in January. I wanted to travel far away and so I began searching!

My budget was limited to around $3,500. I had already been to South America, and Europe didn’t really appeal to me this time round. I wanted to go somewhere different. Given that China has always been a place I have wanted to visit, and you can’t say that it isn’t an unusual destination, I started looking for cheap flights to Beijing. All kinds of thoughts were going through my head. Would I have enough time to make the most of my trip? Would my budget stretch far enough to see everything I wanted to? Would it be better to save a long-haul journey for the summer when I have more time? I managed to find return flights with Air China for $1,528 from New York to Beijing and I just bought them without thinking twice.

I found China to be quite cheap, although Beijing is slightly more expensive than areas outside the city or less touristy parts. The good thing about visiting the Chinese capital in the winter is that there are fewer tourists, which means that sightseeing is much easier and you don’t have huge crowds of people in your photographs. Likewise, you will also find that entrance fees to most of the tourist attractions are lower, as are hotel rates. The downside is that it is very cold and I found myself constantly looking for somewhere to sit down and have a warm drink. I went alone and found it safe….in fact I found it more fun setting off on the adventure by myself. In the end the trip was perfect and I had plenty of time to sightsee.


5 Reasons to visit Hong Kong

hong kong market

There are many reasons to visit the Chinese island of Hong Kong. It has an assorted and colourful culture which is so different to that of the western world in so many ways, yet at the same time so familiar too. Below are just some of the reasons to visit Hong Kong:

The nature of Hong Kong is often neglected in favour of the built up city centre. The fact is however that around 60% of the island is undeveloped countryside, meaning there is great potential for a day out. The parks in particular make for a superb day out, as do the natural beaches.

Street markets
Hong Kong is famous for its traditional street markets which for centuries have been the century of commercial activity on the island. Although the country has now developed, these markets continue to flourish and the nature of some of the goods on sale will leave you gobsmacked. The noise, smell and sights all together give these street markets so much character and value to the tourist.


Whether it is a religious festival or the birthday of a significant figure, the Chinese love a festival. There are various festivals which take place throughout the year, including the Chinese New Year and the Dragon Boat Festival amongst many more. Often, during these festivals the streets are transformed into one big party, giving the Chinese the opportunity to demonstrate their unique flair.

Mixture of east and west culture

Many parts of Hong Kong are well developed and have a distinct western feel to them. There is a thriving business culture, many locals dress as westerners and the buildings are increasingly large and modern. In direct contrast however, there are many areas which still retain their eastern traditions. This makes it a perfect locations for those who enjoy experiencing different cultures whilst remaining in close proximity to that which they are familiar.

No Visa requirement

Despite being part of China, Hong Kong has different Visa requirements to that of the mainland. If you are visiting Hong Kong for a period of less than 30 days you will not require a Visa.

Guest post by James who works with Hong Kong rentals and Paris apartments.

Gourmet Food in Taiwan

taiwan food

Traveling to Taiwan is a glorious experience for anyone who loves food, because as Taiwan was always a cultural melting pot and economic center of Asia, it has brought together a lot of different food traditions – from mainland China, Hong Kong, Korea, Japan, the Philippines and South East Asia as well as some of the Pacific Islands and Indian fare to the west, Taiwan has a grand mixture of tastes and recipes.

A saying in Taiwan goes: “A snack bar is within three steps of you and a large restaurant within five.”

Chinese fare

For a start, in Taiwan you can get every type of local and regional food from China – such as Tianjiang, Beijing, Shandong and southern food such as Sichuanese, Hunanese, Zheijiangan and Guangdong.

International food
Since Taiwan is a multicultural global hub, any tourist there who wants to experience food from back home will find it very easily. From any type of junk food from the USA, to Italian pizza, to Mexican tacos and Spanish fajitas; from halal to kosher everything is available in large quantities.

Local food
Local food is largely based on the staples – rice and noodles. These are flavored with natural and fresh flavors, such as fresh meat (pork, beef, chicken) and vegetables. Food that seems exotic to a tourist but that is a delicacy enjoyed by locals are snakes, dogs, spiders, cockroaches, grasshoppers and monkeys. All sorts of seafood are also used and not much is spared unless it is truly toxic.

Another specialty of Taiwanese food is that it is often mixed with medicinal herbs and plants. Thus medicine in Taiwan is most often consumed in this way and it also depends on the season.

Some famous Taiwanese snacks are pearl milk tea (made from tea, milk and sago pearls which are chewy).

Famous Festivals in Taiwan

taiwan lantern festival

taiwan lantern festival

Taiwan is world famous for its festivals which date back to thousands of years ago.

Taiwan Lantern Festival
Every year for example they hold the Taiwan Lantern Festival. This now 20 years old and takes on ideas from ancient Chinese culture. Lanterns represent dead relatives and other spirits and are released into the air or onto rivers in their thousands during the Chinese New Year and the Lunar Festival.

In the Taiwan Lantern Festival, participants parade through the streets carrying lanterns in their hands.

Taipei and Kaohsiung Lantern Festival
There is also a Taipei and Kaohsiung Lantern Festival which is celebrated as a national festival as well as a major event in both cities.

The festival takes place at the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial hall and there is even a gigantic lantern which is made to represent the current Chinese zodiac animal. During this festival the Love River is ablaze with thousands of lanterns slowly sailing out to sea.

Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival

The unique event of the Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival is when thousands of lanterns are released into the sky with some helium. The lanterns hovering through the air are beautiful to behold but have ironically contributed to many UFO sightings as well. Lanterns were used in the past in this way as warning signals to let family members know that you are safe. Today they are used as a symbol of good fortune.

Yenshui Fireworks Festival

The Taiwanese have been using fireworks and gunpowder for about 5,000 years – in fact, it was Marco Polo who brought this item back to Europe in the 15th century.

During the fire festival to the God of War in the temple in Yenshui, there is a massive fireworks display that is hard to forget if you’ve ever seen it. There is also a parade throughout the city with firecrackers being hurled day and night for several days.

Traveling China

xian city wallYou will get some everlasting memories, while making a trip to China. It is a perfect place for enjoying romantic getaways, relaxation, adventure and thrill. You can also enjoy comfortable accommodation, tasty dining, excellent shopping and delightful nightlife here. It is worth to shop around online to find the best deals to travel to China.

Guilin is a fabulous place to visit in China. The strangely shaped hills and green foliage ranging from bamboo to conifers make it a great attraction for tourists. Elephant trunk hill, Reed Flute Cave, Li River and Seven Star Park featuring a stone museum are the must see places in this city. You can reach the city by flight, bus or train.

Xian is situated in the central northwest China. Terracotta warriors are the most significant attractions of this place. They are the important archeological excavations of the 20th century. More than 7,000 ceramic soldiers, horses, chariots and weapons have been found out and most of them have been refurbished to their former magnificence.

Xian city wall is another important attraction. The wall has 18 gates that are open for all tourists. Big Wild Goose Pagoda is located 4 kilometers away from the downtown. It is a holy place for Buddhists. Its simple, yet in spring construction attract thousands of tourists every year. The surrounding scenery is very charming with water fountains and gardens.

Huashan Mountain is located 120 kilometers away from Xian. It is one of the five holy mountains in China. The narrow paths, high mountain ranges and steep cliffs offer a thrilling experience. It houses several Taoist temples. It is regarded as the sacred land of Taoism.

Shanghai is a famous international metropolis. It is becoming the most important economic, cultural, international and technical center of East China. It attracts more and more tourists every year. Shanghai Museum is an important place to visit. It is located in People’s Square. It is divided into eleven galleries and three exhibition halls. The galleries cover almost all the important kinds of Chinese art like Ancient ceramics, bronze, paintings, sculpture, Qing furniture and coins. You can find more than 400 pieces of wonderful bronze wares in this museum.

Jade Buddha temple houses two precious jade Buddhist statues. They are renowned for their rare cultural relics and porcelain artworks. The statues were carved with white jade that gives the beauty of sacredness to Lord Buddha.

Dream Cruises

cruiseImagine a dream in which you’re drifting serenely along Shanghai’s Grand Canal before stepping into an exquisite city garden. Then you find yourself in Tokyo, wandering onwards until you’re amidst the fabulous temples, courtyards and pavilions of Beijing’s stunning Forbidden City. A little later, you find yourself looking up at a soaring vista of sky lanterns ascending into the night sky of Taipei, Taiwan. If you think that sequences like this can only happen while youíre asleep, think again. This is a fairly typical itinerary for Far East cruises: it’s a dream that cruise holidays can make true and itís available for anyone who wants to see this fantastic part of the world for themselves..

The choice of cruises available today is dizzying. As well favorites like Mediterranean cruises and Caribbean cruises, there are Red Sea cruises, Baltic cruises, and even cruises to the Antarctic! Cruise operators like P&O Cruises, Thomson Cruises, Princess Cruises and Costa Cruises run fleets of ships, offering a choice between smaller, more intimate vessels and lavish floating castles! This range, in addition to the excellent cruise deals available continually, ensure that whatever your budget, a cruise experience can be yours. If you’re relatively young and active, or if you’ve got young kids to keep occupied, opting for the larger vessels may be well worth the extra cost. You’ll find anything from onboard water parks, water skiing, ice skating, and rock wall climbing, to numerous pools suitable for all ages. And the price includes not just your en suite cabin, but gourmet food and evening entertainment, too.

Combine a resort holiday with a cruise in one of the many cruise and stay holidays available. Whatever you choose, you’ll never forget your cruise and will always have some fantastic memories of the places you may only get to visit once in your lifetime..

The Picturesque City of Hangzhou

west lakeThe picturesque city of Hangzhou, located 118 km. south of Shanghai, makes for a lovely day or overnight trip for tourists staying in Shanghai. It offers a relaxing break from your time in the bustling metropolis. Catch the express train from the main Shanghai train station and it is approximately a 2.5-hour train ride to the city. Hangzhou has been a well-known place for reflection and escape for centuries. Historically it was an imperial retreat for Chinese Emperors and their families.

West Lake is one of Hangzhou’s most famous sites and over the years poets, revolutionary Chinese heroes and even Marco Polo have praised its still waters. West Lake appears like a traditional Chinese Garden on a large scale. The lake is divided by causeways and has several man-made islands scattered throughout. Around the lake there are bike and paddleboat rentals. Bear in mind that if you are visiting in the summer it will be hot and humid. Be sure to keep yourself hydrated.

Hangzhou is known for producing some of the highest quality green tea in all of China and there are several tea villages in the West Lake district. It is a short taxi ride from West Lake to the tea fields where you can walk amongst the plants or if you are lucky catch a farmer or two drying the tealeaves. If it is a weekend you are also likely to see a few wedding parties posing for pictures. Travel tip in order to catch another taxi back you will need to return to the main road.

Jingci, Lingyin, and Yue-Wang are all Buddhist temples located in and around Hangzhou. Lingyin is one of the largest Buddhist temples in China. You could spend several hours there wandering through the many pagodas and Buddhist grottoes. There are also impressive reliefs carved into the cliffs and caves. In the darker caves the carvings are only visible by the light of the camera flash. The most famous carving is the Feilai Feng or “the peak that flew hither.” All of the temple sites contain giant wooden carvings of the different forms of Buddha.

Hangzhou is also famous for beautiful silks and satins. The biggest silk wholesale and retail market in China, Hangzhou Silk City, is located here. Silk City has more than 600 silk vendors selling a wide variety of products from clothing to scarves and ties.

Qinghefang Street in the historic district is a must see for anyone with an interest in history. The street is lined with well-preserved buildings from the Southern Song Dynasty as well as the Ming and Qing dynasties.

The modern commercial center of Hangzhou is located along the Yanan Road. Zhejiang Provincial Great Hall of the People, Hangzhou Culture Center, Victory Theatre, and the International Mansion are all places of interest.

Insider tip- when you are ready to catch the train back to Shanghai after a long day of site seeing enter through the first class entrance. The other main entrance at peak times can be a mob scene.

Chinese Panda Bears

giant pandaWell-traveled non-Mandarin or Cantonese speaking readers I have a test for you- name a famous Chinese pop singer. Could you do it? If you did– now name another. Lost yet? The point is much of Chinese popular culture is not publicized in Europe or the Americas. But here is a question I bet more of you can answer- who are Ling-Ling and Hsing Hsing? If you said Pandas- you are right, if you said Giant Pandas you get a bonus point!

The Giant Panda is one of China’s most successful and historic cultural ambassadors. As early as the Tang Dynasty (618-907) there is record of a Chinese emperor sending pandas as gifts to Japan. The practice became famous when US President Richard Nixon visited China in 1972 and was gifted Ling-Ling and Hsing-Hsing. The pair instantly became one of the most popular exhibits at the National Zoo in Washington DC. Several generations of school children- this writer included- have grown up giving elementary school reports about these beautiful animals.

If you still have childhood fondness for these cuddly giants you shouldn’t make a trip to China without a trip to the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding (the base) in Sichuan province.

Despite its popularity the Giant Panda remains on the endangered species list where it has been decades. However there are major efforts underway to preserve panda habitats and help them breed. The panda’s natural home is the central mountain ranges of China including the Sichuan, the Shaanxi and Gansu provinces. There are two major Giant Panda Reserve Centers, The Wolong Giant Panda Reserve Center and the The Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding. The Wolong Center was devastated by the May 12, 2008, earthquake and is now in the process of rebuilding. The Chengdu Research Base was not physically damaged but tourism to the base since the earthquake has dropped exponentially.

The Chengdu Research Base is located 6 miles outside of Chengdu City. It was founded in 1987 with six pandas rescued from the wild. It has grown to become an internationally recognized research and educational facility. As of 2008 the Giant Panda population of the base was up to 83 individuals. The base is designed to exist in harmony with the surrounding environment in order to best simulate the Giant Pandas natural habitat. In addition to Giant Pandas the base is home to Red Pandas and other endangered Chinese animals. The base provides daily, guided tours of the grounds. It also includes a new interactive Giant Panda museum for tourists and local school groups. For those travelers interested in supporting the pandas in the long-term, you can participate in the “adopt a panda” program.

Travelers interested in volunteering should consider the Giant Panda Center in Bifengxia in Ya’an City, China. The Wolong Center previously accepted volunteers but is currently closed due to the earthquake damage. The Giant Pandas from Wolong have now been moved to the sister Center Bifengxia. Bifengxia is accepting individual and group volunteers. However, the trips must be prearranged with partner travel agencies.