Hong Kong always takes our breath away and is a favourite winter destination.
But don’t just take our word for it! Here are some record breaking reasons why you need to plan a trip to Hong Kong.
Hong Kong’s skyline is staggering, with more skyscrapers than any other city on the planet. More people live and work above the 14th floor here than in any other city in the world!
To get around, you have the biggest double decker tram fleet at your disposal…. Plus more Rolls Royces per person than any other city. Although you might need to seek alternative transport to reach Hong Kong’s 200 plus islands…!
When you’ve recovered from all that island hopping, marvel at the biggest nightly show of light and sound in the ‘Symphony of Lights’ at Victoria Harbour.
When you’re visiting China, there’s a lot more to see beyond (the admittedly fascinating) Beijing and Shanghai. Chengdu is the vibrant and visually stunning capital of Sichuan, the Chinese province known for its relaxed vibe.
Here are 5 reasons why Chengdu should be bumped to the top of your list when you’re travelling in China.
One of the first things to try in Chengdu is the famous fiery Sichuan food. Be sure to try the local classic dish, Chengdu Hotpot, and sample the street food on Wide and Narrow Alley. Sichuan peppercorn, or huajiao, is a Chinese peppercorn with a spicy flavour so powerful it will make your mouth go numb! Cool down after all that heat with a spot of Kung Fu tea, another local tradition.
An irresistible reason to visit Chengdu is to get close and cuddly with Pandas at Chengdu Panda Research Base. The base is the only research centre that focuses entirely on the critically endangered Giant Panda. Get there around 8:30am if you want to catch feeding time before the Pandas spend the day indulging in their favourite activity – sleeping! Giant Panda in China literally translates to ‘big-bear-cat’, and a visit to the base contributes to the conservation of these adorable bears. If you have a couple of days, you could make the trip to Wolong National Nature Reserve to observe the Pandas in the Qionglai Mountains.
3. Natural Beauty
As well the bustling city, the area surrounding Chengdu is home to stunning natural beauty. A must-see is Qingcheng Mountain, one of the most important centres of Taoism in China. Emeishan (Mount Emei) is the tallest of the four sacred Buddhist mountains, and you can choose to stay over on the mountain and watch the sunrise as part of your hike!
4. Traditional architecture
Another reason to make time to explore Chengdu is to explore the traditional architecture. The stunning Wenshu Temple is the best-preserved Buddhist temple in Chengdu, dating from the Tang dynasty. Luodai Ancient Town dates all the way back to 220-280AD. The most breathtaking architecture comes from the four guildhalls, built during the Qing Dynasty. If you can, visit on 26th – 27th July to take part in the Water Dragon Festival, where locals celebrate by splashing water all over each other in the streets.
Make time to catch an opera. Sichuan Opera originated around 400 years ago, and incorporates circus elements, illusionists, and the unbelievable art of face changing! For a less explosive dose of culture, you can also explore Jinsha Museum, or marvel up at the Giant Buddha of Leshan.
There’s one Chinese city that’s been on everyone’s lips over the last weekend, and that’s Hangzhou.
Unless you’ve been off the grid for the last few days, you will have noticed the buzz online about the G20 taking place in China. It’s brought a lot of attention to a city that you may not have heard of before, but you will see a lot more of in the future.
So, what’s there to do in Hangzhou? Here’s a list of top 10 things to do that’ll make you want to add Hangzhou to your travel bucket list.
Hire a bike from the biggest bike share scheme in the world. With over 70,000 bikes available from 2,700 stations you’ll never be without a ride (especially as this number is expected to DOUBLE by 2020).
Climb the steps of the Leifang Pagoda for panoramic views of the city. The five-storey tower was originally built in 975AD, but the version we see today dates back to 2002 as the original tower sadly collapsed in the 1920s!
Be sure to make time for a leisurely paddle across the West Lake. The stunning freshwater lake has inspired poets, scholars and artists since the 9th century. It even appears on Chinese money!
Take a selfie outside Alibaba, the world’s largest retailer founded in 1999 in Hangzhou by Jack Ma.
Visit a paradise for bookworms and architecture lovers alike at the Zhangshuge bookstore.
Give in to temptation and try local Street food at Hangzhou Snack Street. Want to try a local delicacy? Grab a beggar’s chicken, the city’s signature dish. The flavour comes from coating the chicken in MUD before roasting!
Southern Song Imperial Street was built during the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279AD). Back then, it was used only by emperors when offering sacrifices to their ancestors and to heaven. Now, you don’t have to be an emperor to stroll along the street. Visit after dark to enjoy the sights and sounds of the vibrant night market!
For a glimpse into old Hangzhou, step into Hefang Old Street to experience Southern Song Dynasty architecture and traditional Chinese crafts, such as sugar-blowing, paper-cutting and hand-made dough figurines.
Lingyin Temple, or ‘Temple of the soul’s retreat’, is perfect for catching your breath after a day spent at bustling markets. The temple dates back to the Eastern Jin Dynasty (317 – 420AD), and it remains one of the largest and most visited Buddhist temples in China. As you enter, an inscription on the door reads: ‘Let us sit and wait upon the threshold, where we shall see another peak flying from afar. Let us welcome spring with a smile as the snow melts and the brook starts to flow once more.’.
How would you spend a weekend in Hangzhou? Have we missed off something that you’re desperate to try, or a recipe you just have to recommend? Let us know in the comments below!
Natural wonders, jaw-dropping engineering, delicious food, bustling cities, ancient temples, glamorous fashionistas, visionary thinkers. This is the site to meet China's icons – past, present and still to come