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Must see locations, events and places to travel and enjoy in China.
Must see locations, events and places to travel and enjoy in China.
Eat shoots & leaves – Shanghainese cuisine is a cocktail of influences from the Jiangnan region, pepped up with a shot of European flavours. The city is best known for its dumplings and red-braised dishes; less widely recognised are its refreshing soups and healthy vegetable dishes. Local chefs draw on seasonal ingredients — including bamboo, leafy greens and shrimps — and add flavour with cured Jinhua ham, dried seafood and other preserves.
Shanghai souvenirs – Bring back a bottle of aged Shaoxing wine (for both drinking and cooking) and look out for jars of pickled vegetables such as xue cai, a salted mustard green that’s one of the staple ingredients of local fare. Browse the food shops on Nanjing Lu or Huaihai Lu for all manner of ingredient sand, if you’re interested in knives, checkout the cleavers at ZhangXiao Quart in Nanjing Lu.
Dumplings & delicacies – Don’t miss steamed soup dumplings with their tidy pleats and juicy stuffings: head to the tiny Jia Jia Tang Baoforan authentic local experience or bag a table at Din Tai Fung if you’d rather take your time. Alternatively, book a private room at Fu 1088 and order steamed river shad or braised Shanghai cabbage with tofu and salted pork.
LOCATED JUST 5 KM SOUTHEAST OF X IN CHANG CITY, QIONGHAI LAKE IS THE SECOND LARGEST LAKE IN ATTRACTIONS IN THE PREFECTURE. The lake is embraced in the peaceful arms of lush green Lushan Mountain in the south and the majestic Daliangshan Mountain in the east, making it naturally rich and spectacular. The beautiful sceneries also earned the lake the reputation of one of the greatest scenes in Xichang.
As season changes, Qionghai Lake reveals its different faces to the world. There are many faces to the magical sceneries of Qionghai Lake don’t varied with the season. In spring, the lake and its surroundings are kissed by lively willow trees and pink peach flowers, then comes the summer when reflections of distant mountains, trees, temples, and villages all combined to create stunning panoramas.
Autumn arrives and the leaves say goodbye to the trees, creating a rather lonely yet romantic scenery around the lake. The circle ends with the winter breeze blowing softly as red maples stand by the side of monasteries and pavilions, revealing another kind of beauty against the background of the lake.
MACAO INTERNATIONAL DRAGON BOAT RACES – If you’re big on boats but don’t fancy getting yourself soaked, you’re going to want to head down to the shores of Nam Van Lake in the city centre for the Dragon Boat Festival in May. The annual event sees dedicated local and international teams paddle their colourful dragon-shaped longboats ferociously along the water to the sound of beating drums, while competing for the ultimate prize.
MACAO FIREWORKS CONTEST – China is famous for its fireworks, but this event’s simply exceptional. Throughout September and into October, pyrotechnic geniuses from around the world go head to head to see who can create the most incredible show of bangs and bright lights, all set to music. Expect awe-inspiring entertainment on the shorefront of the Macau Tower.
CELEBRATE CHINESE NEW YEAR – Combine your visit with Chinese New Year on 28 January in 2017-it’s the most important and colourful Chinese festival of the year. Over ten days the whole city comes alive by day and night with colourful long dragon and lion dance displays, lit-up temples and lanterns lining the streets. Observe the locals setting off firecrackers to ward off evil spirits and receiving gifts of red envelopes containing money for prosperity in the year ahead.
MACAU GRAND PRIX – For high-octane action and breakneck speed, petrolheads should check out the Macau Grand Prix, which sees the world’s best F3 drivers put pedal to metal as they race through the city’s streets every November (from 17-20 November this year). Beyond the street circuit, you’ll be sure to find a festival buzz about the city, as bars and restaurants bustle with the thousands of spectators.
VISIT OLD TAIPA VILLAGE – Strolling around the narrow streets and lanes of this atmospheric district, you’ll get a captivating glimpse of Macao’s traditional village life. A treasure trove of niche shops, restaurants and classic villas, don’t miss Rua do Cunha – known as ‘Food Street’ – which is the place to sample local delicacies like almond cookies, egg rolls and beef jerky. Or head to the Sunday flea market to find that perfect souvenir to take home.
WHEN THE SUN GOES DOWN – With its cool clubs, sleek modern bars and glitzy casinos, Macao has endless after-dark options to unwind or revel. Whether you’re partying it up with the world’s best DJs, sipping a cocktail on a rooftop terrace or enjoying a nightcap in a cosy bar, you’ll always find the ideal spot to end your evening – with Macao’s glittering skyline as the perfect backdrop.
DISCOVER MACAO’S PAST – Those looking to step straight into the destination’s unique history should take a walk through the many World Heritage-listed temples and buildings of Macao’s Historic Centre. With 30 sites to check out, there’s hardly a more fascinating square mile for history buffs in the whole of Asia. Wonder at the dramatic Ruins of St. Paul’s, or enjoy Senado Square, with its pastel-painted buildings and beautiful wavy black and white flagstones.
MACAU TOWER VISTAS – For a rush of adrenaline, there’s only one thing better than taking in the breathtaking city views from the top of the iconic 338m Macau Tower, and that’s bungee jumping off it! It’s the highest commercial bungee platform in the world and – for those with the nerve – the screams and wobbly knees are well worth it for the thrills, not to mention the views. For a less dramatic option you can Sky Walk around the edge of the tower or indulge your taste buds at the 360° Cafe – the tower’s revolving restaurant. At a lofty 233m up in the sky, it’s one of the best spots for skyline vistas.
CHECK OUT COLOANE’S BEACHES – If you want a change from the hustle and bustle, there’s really no better place to go than Coloane, the beautiful countryside island in the south of Macao. When you’re there, you’ll find rolling green hills, laid-back beaches and old European-style churches and squares that serve as a reminder of Macao’s rich Portuguese heritage. Sip a refreshing drink at an alfresco cafe, take a stroll along one of the walking trails or chill out beside the lapping waves on Hac-Sa beach.
THE HOUSE OF DANCING WATER – If you’re after an evening of high-flying action and awe-inspiring storytelling, head to the theatre at the City of Dreams resort on the sparkling Cotai Strip to catch The House of Dancing Water. The mystical tale of a humble fisherman, this electrifying multi-million dollar performance is the world’s largest water-based show, starring over 80 gymnasts, divers, motorcyclists performing high-dive acrobatics and stunts that’ll blow your mind. It’s not just one of the hottest tickets in Macao, the hour-and-a-half extravaganza is one of the greatest shows on earth.
It’s not just the flawless recreation of Art Deco opulence, the Chanel showroom, or the bedrooms overlooking Huangpu River with views of jostling tankers and fishing boats. It’s not even the chilli-hot noodles for breakfast in the marble-pillared lobby. No, what makes The Peninsula Shanghai so impressive is the service. When on a rainy morning taxis are scarce and there is talk of an hour’s wait, somehow the doorman conjures up a deep-green vintage Roller and an important meeting is saved. An army of concierges is always on hand, such is the attention to detail. But it’s also fun to potter around the wonderfully restful bedrooms, which are havens from the bustle of Shanghai.
Sipgreen tea and phone friends for free; Instagram the Star Trek-style Oriental Pearl TV Tower lit up in princess purple. And the electronics demand ago, from triple-choice curtains at the touch of a button to the nail-polish blow-drier tucked into the panelling in the enormous dressing room. The food, both Chinese and Western, is wonderful. This year executive chef Terence Crandall has garnered Michelin stars aplenty (two in Yi Long Court, one in Sir Elly’s Restaurant). The heated pool, spa and fitness suite are tip-top too. This might not be the coolest hotel in the world, but it is one of the most impressive. A conjuring trick? Maybe. Incredible staff, for sure.
69 COLEBROOKE ROW, LONDON – With its unmarked side-street door, white-jacketed bartenders, jazz pianist and party vibe, this legendary spot is like tripping back to Fifties London. Even in the afternoon, the small, black-and-white, retro-designed room is buzzing with cocktail lovers. The candlelit tables are so crowded with exquisite drinks there’s barely room for the olives and mini saucisson.
Every one is innovative, including the Manhattan Steel Corp, made with maraschino liqueur and dry essence (a distillate concentrate of macerated grape seeds).
Almost too beautiful to drink, each is the creation of owner and mixologist Tony Conigliaro and his team at the Drink Factory. New comers are often surprised by their simplicity, but every cocktail is cutting edge and the changing menu has gained a cult following.
LITTLE RED DOOR, PARIS – Come here for a nightcap or five – it’s open until 3am on Saturdays – after bar-hopping around the Marais. It’s a laid-back spot with love-seat sofas, dimly lit corners and round-back chairs upholstered in a mish-mash of colourful fabrics. But to be in the thick of things, take a velvet-covered pew at the bar, where barmen with impressively high pours are dressed in denim shirts, dickie bows and aprons printed with flowers and butterflies. Bottom line: they’re having fun and the atmosphere here is super-friendly as a result. The Bartender’s Board Special changes fortnightly; original concoctions include The Hedgewitch, made with Amontillado sherry, Kamm and Sons botanical spirit, whiskey, blackberry liqueur and honey, garnished with a dehydrated blackberry. It’s a tribute to the mixologist’s mother’s favourite tipple.
LOS GALGOS, BUENOS AIRES – One of the city’s wonderful traditional bars, untouched for decades, the original Los Galgos closed its doors in 2015. But thanks to a rescue mission instigated by the savvy team behind the famous 878 bar in hip Palermo, an important slice of Buenos Aires’ Thirties history has been saved. Features such as French oak boiserie and beaten-up encaustic floor tiles keep the essence of the old Asturian tapas bar alive. And, given their taste both for nostalgia and a stiff drink, portenos have ensured that the relaunch has been an enormous success. It’s open all day, so start with a mid-morning cortado and come back for a vermouth and soda. But the cocktail that stands the test of time is the Negroni. One too many? Rib-eye seared medium-rare on the wood-burning grill will do the trick.
SALON DE NING, NEW YORK – Ah, the myth of Fifth. Not the most poetically named of avenues. Nor, these days, the prettiest. And yet – enchanted. Especially when seen from up high. Take the express lift, therefore, from the lobby of The Peninsula, at Fifth Avenue and 55th Street, to Salon de Ning, the hotel’s elegantly east-meets-west-styled rooftop bar. Stand as close to the edge of the terrace your sense of vertigo allows. Cast your gaze up and down the street, which suddenly seems endless, seething with life and energy, and submit to sheer skyscraper hoodoo. Then take a seat or a day bed, recline into its plump silky cushions and raise a glass of something chilled and exotic – the house riffs on classic cocktails are unfailingly catchy – to what may still be the greatest city on earth.
DRY MARTINI, BARCELONA – Just as Ferran Adria was the wunderkind of the Spanish restaurant scene in the 1990s, the debonair Javier de las Muelas was its cocktail-bar impresario. He first shimmied his way into the spotlight in 1978 with the opening of emblematic Dry Martini. Almost 40 years later, he’s still going strong. How grown-up it feels to be in his gloriously old-fashioned world of polished-teak-panelled walls, racing-green leather armchairs and marble bar tops trimmed with gold. So cultish is its appeal there are now outposts from London to Singapore. But you really can’t beat the original joint, which hawks 100 variations of the classic Martini, as well as some of De las Muelas’ more outre inventions, such as The Pipe – a lethal concoction of Glenmorangie and Lagavulin whiskies, absinthe, spice droplets and smoke. Salut!
Gorge on Flavor While Hiking Through China – Nestled in the mountains of northern Yunnan, Tiger Leaping Gorge is one of the most rugged and scenic hiking spots in the world. Your reward for tromping over the steep trails between Lijiang and Dali? Some of the most delectable Chinese food you’ll ever have, served at a number of authentic guesthouses set up along the way. The Naxi Family Guesthouse is a highlight; a family-run operation that you can reach only by foot. It‘s a great place to meet other travelers and feast on regional specialties, including kung pao chicken. You’ll also get a kick out of western-themed options, like a sweet flatbread with banana slices. Everything is prepared using fresh ingredients from the mountains, making for an experience that can’t be had anywhere else.
Cook What You Catch In New Zealand – If you want to try your hand at living off the land, head to Big Bay, one of New Zealand’s most renowned surf spots Situated on the country’s southwestern coast just outside Mount Aspiring National Park. Big Bay has become a haven for foraging and cooking in the wild. Big Bay offers glassy swells, beautiful hikes, and an abundance of sea life to catch for supper. Awarua Guides hosts expeditions and provides tips for campfire cooking come sundown. You’ll feast on hand-caught lobster, mussels, and trout. When supplies run low, you can always make a run for the supermarket, which is Guides proprietor Warrick Mitchell’s loving nickname for the ocean. Meat eaters can enjoy venison caught in the hills surrounding the camp’s main cabin, which Mitchell’s parents built in the ’60s when they settled the area with a dozen other families.
Fujian is a southeastern Chinese province known for its mountains and coastal cities, and is traditionally described as “Eight parts mountain, one part water, and one part farmland”. Due to the province’s shoreline, the port towns of Xiamen, Fuzhou, and the island of Gulangyu all have streets and housing influenced by ancient world travelers. Pedestrian streets offer sights like 19th-century colonial villas, temples, and old-town districts, and in the city of Quanzhou, once visited by Marco Polo, there is fascinating Maritime Museum.
Fujian is rich in many ways. Being relatively secluded until the 1950s, the province boasts a canopy of healthy soil and forests, whereas many parts of China are experiencing soil erosion due to lack of forest cover. Manufacturing and other industries are abundant here, and span the gambit from tea production, clothing and sports manufacturers such as Anta, 361 Degrees, Xtep, Peak Sport Products and Septwolves. Many foreign firms also operate in Fujian, including Boeing, Dell, GE, and, Nokia, among others.
Quanzhou – Our introduction to this mountainous province was the drive to Quanzhou, the city that was the starting point of the Maritime Silk Road! The public tours of two temples, the Kai Yuan Temple and the South Shaolin Temple, are worth the effort. The Kai Yuan was originally built in 685 or 686 and features its main hall, named the “Mahavira Hall” where some columns have fragments from a Shiva temple built in 1 283 by the Tamil community. The South Shaolin temple is famous for its monks practicing martial arts!
A visit to the Quanzhou Maritime Museum that, through its broad and valuable display of historical relics, offers a glimpse into the development history of the major Eastern Citong Port and the vital role that Quanzhou played in economic and cultural exchanges with foreign countries. After a dinner of local favorite Mianxian Hu, a soup that prepared with oysters, shrimps and mussels over a slow fire, we were off to the heart of downtown Fuzhou, which has, instead of skyscrapers, a large area of ancient residential buildings! This area, known as “three lanes and seven alleys” contains about 150 ancient houses with courtyards and all are placed under some measure of heritage protection. The construction is very unique, as there are tiny seashells embedded in the walls from the sand that was collected to make the bricks!
Mt. Wuyishan – The next morning we once again explored the Three Lanes and Seven Alleys and enjoyed an amazing lunch of local foods. We then boarded the 10:30 train to Wu Yi Shan. The afternoon saw us visiting Plum Village (Xia Mei Cun), where the locals live life at a very slow pace and they all seem to know each other. In the past, it was a departure point for the boats carrying tea to the north of China, and with its 300 year-old buildings and small bridges, it was a picture postcard village. The locals treated us like stars and we were very grateful for the welcome.
The few hours here were spent in a back alley tea house with groups of old men playing cards, exploring temples, old houses, people watching and speaking about the bygone days and the changes in this village with the elderly. Wuyishan would offer a great many opportunities for video and picture-taking, with scenery rivaling the western hemisphere must-sees! We were treated to a big hike up to Tian You Peak. This would be the start of a visit to the whole area which is part of Mont Wuyishan, and a popular place for the Chinese. Tian You is not an easy climb. The energy and time it took to climb was well worth it, and the locals who told us to “keep climbing” were right. The view from the top was wonderful and filled with mountains, rivers, forest and nature as far as the eye could see.
In the afternoon we all climbed aboard bamboo boats for a little rafting down the beautiful Nine-Bend Stream. This was a great experience, as we had been watching the bamboo rafts all day from many different places including from way up high, and now it was our turn. Our trip down the down the beautiful Nine-bend Stream was magnificent, though we should not have listened to our oarsman as they said our feet would not get wet! It sure did not matter, as the sun was shining bright and the experience was memorable as we would go from lazily rowing around bends to being suddenly hurled over rapids!
After the activity-filled day, it was nice to settle in for the Impression Da Hong Pao (big red robe) Show. This internationally renowned nightly show is an important cultural tourism draw that highlights the splendid scenery of Mount Wuyi and its rich tea culture. The stage covers nearly one hectare and the 70-minute show offers 360-degree viewing and a capacity of two thousand!
Wuyishan – Our favorite stop this time round had to be at the Wuyi Palace, where the original Red Robe Tea was founded. The special tea, also known as ‘Rock Tea’ is the most expensive tea sold on the global market and only a few of the original bushes remain. The secret seems to be the soil which is exceptionally high in mineral content not found in teas produced outside of the region. We had an incredible tour of a tea house in a rural setting where they do everything with tea here, from growing to drying to sales from their private ‘tea Fault’ with very expensive vintage teas from decades ago!
The Tea ceremony itself was remarkable, with a serious protocol about to how to serve good tea with the right mountain water at the prefect temperature and how it must be served to the drinker. Very exotic! This was another great visit to China. As the country opens more and more to the world, visiting these out of the way places people hardly know about will be more common and if you want to see places that have major significance to the history of this remarkable ancient country, these are the places for you.
Traditionally, this tourist route was divided into two: the East China Sea Silk Route and the South China Sea Silk Route. The former connected China with Japan and Korea. This portion of the route, which dates back to the Zhou Dynasty, was known for its silkworm, silk reeling, and weaving techniques – techniques that seeped into Korea through the Yellow Sea. Silk production was eventually Korea’s main commodity. This led to building many ports for exports to Japan. Moreover, Korea became the centre for technology. Because of the Haijin policy under the Qing Dynasty reign, however, business along the Silk Road declined. This policy prohibited maritime activities. The latter portion of the route connected Chitia with other countries. As its route name specifies, this route surrounded – and still does today – the South China Sea. Guangzhou, Quanzhou, and Ningbo were the main departure cities when construction workers built this route. Like the eastern route, the southern route thrived during Jive dynasties (Qin, Han, Stii, Tang, Song) and declined during two of them (Ming and Qing). The decline was more noticeable during western wars, but the route renewed itself in the late Tang and Song dynasties with the rise of navigation and shipbuilding technologies. It connected with Southeast Ada, Malacca, the Indian Ocean, the Red Sea, and Africa.
What exactly is the Maritime Silk Road? It’s a Chinese strategic initiative designed to increase investment and foster collaboration through the Silk Road (former network of trade routes that connected Asia to other eastern and western localities).
The Maritime Silk Road consisted of eight Chinese provinces: Hebei, Shandong, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Guangdong, Guangxi, Fujian and Hainan as well as two municipal areas of Tianjin and Shanghai.
Located in the southeast of China, Jiangxi province spans the banks of the Yangtze river in the north into hillier areas in the south. For the world traveller, this is a perfect place to visit in China, as most foreigners in China visit other, better known provinces. During our visit, this ‘road less travelled’ offered us less of the crowds that are found in the other popular Chinese destinations.
Here we visited ancient villages, climbed mountains, feasted on wonderful cuisine, partook in tea ceremonies and witnessed the once-a-year blooming of the very colorful rapeseed flower fields.
Located to the northeast of Shangrao City, Mount Sanqingshan was added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List on July 6th, 2008. Considered a “treasure of the world”, this would prove to be an amazing place to visit on our first day.
The views from the top of the mountain are breathtaking, but to experience them, the trip up the mountain is long, but not overwhelming.
We had to take a gondola to get part of the way up, a ride that provided lovely panoramic views, and that was followed by hours of climbing.
Even though the hiking was on paved steps and paths, and was easy for just about anyone to accomplish, the long walk made our thighs burn with effort and pain. Luckily, we had lunch at a wonderful restaurant. Here we were treated to a spicy douchi (fermented black beans) and tofu (beancurd) stir fry which offered us a delicious and relaxing break from the first trail we did, and gave us energy for the second longer, though less demanding, trail that afternoon.
All around was pure nature, a good thing since China is so populated and land is so over used. An amazing place and great photo ops all round!