China


China destinations

about China. The name alone makes you want to get packing. It's going places, so jump aboard, go along for the ride and see where it's headed.

Breathtaking Antiquity

Its modern face is dazzling, but China is no one-trick pony. The world's oldest continuous civilisation isn't all smoked glass and brushed aluminium and while you won't be tripping over artefacts – three decades of round-the-clock development and rash town planning have taken their toll – rich seams of antiquity await. Serve it all up according to taste: collapsing sections of the Great Wall, temple-topped mountains, villages that time forgot, languorous water towns, sublime Buddhist grottoes and ancient desert forts. Pack a well-made pair of travelling shoes and remember the words of Laotzu: 'a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step'.

Stupendous Scenery

Few countries do the Big Outdoors like the Middle Kingdom. China's landscapes span the range from alpha to omega: take your pick from the sublime sapphire lakes of Tibet or the impassive deserts of Inner Mongolia, island-hop in Hong Kong or bike between fairy-tale karst pinnacles around Yángshuò; swoon before the rice terraces of the south, take a selfie among the gorgeous yellow rapeseed of Wùyuán or hike the Great Wall as it meanders across mountain peaks; get lost in green forests of bamboo or, when your energy fails you, flake out on a distant beach and listen to the thud of falling coconuts.

Cuisine

The Chinese live to eat and with 1.4 billion food-loving people to feed, coupled with vast geographic and cultural variations in a huge land, expect your tastebuds to be tantalised, tested and treated. Wolf down Peking duck in Běijīng, melt over a Chóngqìng hotpot or grab a seasoned ròujiāmó (shredded pork in a bun) before climbing Huá Shān. Gobble down a steaming bowl of Lánzhōu noodles in a Silk Road street market, raise the temperature with some searing Húnán fare or flag down the dim sum trolley down south. Follow your nose in China and you won't want to stop travelling.

Diversity

China is vast. Off-the-scale massive. A riveting jumble of wildly differing dialects and climatic and topographical extremes, it's like several different countries rolled into one. Take your pick from the tossed-salad ethnic mix of the southwest, the yak-butter-illuminated temples of Xiàhé, a journey along the dusty Silk Road, spending the night at Everest Base Camp or getting into your glad rags for a night on the Shànghǎi tiles. You're spoilt for choice: whether you’re an urban traveller, hiker, cyclist, explorer, backpacker, irrepressible museum-goer or faddish foodie, China’s diversity is second to none.

612577

Constantly reimagining itself as it races towards the future, yet inextricably linked to its glorious, notorious past, Běijīng is as compelling as it is complex.

Food Heaven

Food is an obsession for the Chinese and the dazzling array of different dishes you’ll encounter in Běijīng reflects the sheer joy locals take in eating. Dining out is the main social activity; it’s in restaurants that Běijīngers party with friends, romance each other, hold family reunions and do business, and the sheer variety of places to eat here is mind-boggling. Menus will have you salivating over succulent Peking duck, delicious dumplings and chewy noodles, but there’s food from every corner of China (and beyond) to be sampled too. From fiery Sìchuānese to Turkic-inspired Uyghur cuisine, Běijīng's 60,000-plus restaurants cover every base.

Imperial Delights

Few places on earth can match the extraordinary historical panorama on display in Běijīng. There are six Unesco World Heritage Sites in this city alone (just one less than the whole of Egypt). At its heart is the magnificent Forbidden City, a royal palace on a scale like no other. Běijīng is also home to sublime temples that aspire to cosmological perfection, while the city centre is criss-crossed by enchanting hútòng: ancient alleyways that teem with life today, as they did hundreds of years ago. And, to cap it all, the awe-inspiring Great Wall snakes its way across the hills north of town.

Architectural Ambition

It's not just the ancient architecture that wows tourists. Běijīng is also home to some of the world's most innovative modern buildings. The world's leading architects clamber for the chance to make their mark on this global powerhouse, and jaw-dropping structures such as the CCTV Building, Galaxy Soho, the NCPA concert hall and the Olympic Stadium are clear signs that Běijīng is not shy about proclaiming its status as China’s capital. Like the temples and palaces of the ancient past, and the imposing socialist realist monuments of the 1950s, these latest additions are built on a scale that screams, ‘Look at me!’.

Acrobats & Artists

Běijīng isn’t just the political centre of China – it’s the cultural heart of the country too. The nation’s top artists, writers, movie-makers and musicians converge here, making this the place to take the pulse of China’s ever-evolving cultural scene. With top-class museums, galleries galore, and an increasing number of music venues, there’s enough to keep you busy day and night. Běijīng is also the centre for the traditional Chinese performing arts. Whether it’s the mystique of Peking opera, tumbling acrobats or the graceful lines of Chinese classical dance that entrances you, the capital has it and more.

Book your Flight & Stay in Beijing

All Tested by Experts · No Hidden Fees · Secure Booking · Best Neighbourhoods

Sights

Many of Běijīng's key sights are located in and around the centre of the capital, making it easy to move between them by subway and allowing you to see multiple places in a day. But even the sights that are on the far fringes of town are accessible by subway these days. The big exception is The Great Wall, whose various sections are mostly spread out a couple of hours travel away to the north and west of Běijīng.

Sleeping

Hostels offer the best all-round value, with traveller-friendly facilities and English-speaking staff, but bear in mind that you can find midrange hotels at a similar price point to hostel private rooms. Courtyard hotels are wonderfully atmospheric, but they lack the facilities (pool, gym etc) of top-end hotels in similar price brackets. Thanks to an excess of Olympics-era accommodation, Běijīng has rooms in international five-star hotels often going for under ¥1000.

Eating

Běijīng is a magnificent place for culinary adventures. With upwards of 60,000 restaurants here, you can enjoy the finest local dishes, as well as eating your way through every region of China. Some of your most memorable Běijīng experiences will take place around the dining table. So do as the locals do – grab those chopsticks and dive in.

Drinking & Nightlife

It's amazing to contemplate, as you sip an Old Fashioned in the latest hot spot or dance to a big-name European DJ, that until 30 years ago there weren't any bars or nightclubs, outside a few hotels, in Běijīng at all. Now, as more and more locals take to partying after dark, the capital is home to an increasing number of sophisticated nightspots.

Entertainment

Běijīng is the cultural capital of China and by far the best place to be if you’re interested in seeing anything from ballet and contemporary dance, to jazz or punk bands. Then there are the traditional local pastimes such as Peking opera (jīngjù) and acrobatic shows, as well as movies, theatre and Běijīng’s various sports teams.

Shopping

Whether you’re a diehard shopaholic or a casual browser, you’ll be spoiled for choice in Běijīng. Join the locals in their favourite pastime at any number of shiny shopping malls, markets and specialist shopping streets. Then there are the pavement vendors and itinerant hawkers. All ensure that keeping your cash in your pocket is increasingly difficult.

Activities

Běijīng isn't a hive of sporting activity, although you'll find swimming pools, gyms, golf courses and the usual classes – aerobics, martial arts, yoga – here. But the capital makes a fine launching pad for hikes into the countryside, while biking is the best way to experience the hútòng neighbourhoods. Football (soccer) and basketball are the two most popular spectator sports.

Travel with Children

The Chinese have a deep and uncomplicated love of children and openly display their affection for them. Běijīng may have less child-friendly facilities than equivalent-sized cities in the West, but the locals will go out of their way to accommodate your kids.

LGBT Travellers

Although the Chinese authorities take a dim view of homosexuality, which was officially classified as a mental disorder until 2001, a low-profile gay and lesbian scene exists in Běijīng. For an informative and up-to-date lowdown on the latest gay and lesbian hot spots in Běijīng, have a look at Utopia (www.utopia-asia.com). Another useful publication is the Spartacus International Gay Guide (Bruno Gmunder Verlag), a bestselling guide for gay travellers.

Utopia (www.utopia-asia.com) posts lots of Thailand information for LGBT travellers and publishes a gay guidebook to the kingdom.

What to do in Beijing

Best attractions, Tours & Excursions for you, check it out!

612577

Shànghǎi: few cities in the world evoke so much history, excess, glamour, mystique and exotic promise in name alone.

Architecture

Shànghǎi is home to the world's second-tallest tower and a host of other neck-craning colossi. But it's not all sky-scraping razzmatazz. Beyond the crisply cool veneer of the modern city typified by Pǔdōng, you can lift the lid to a treasure chest of architectural styles. The city's period of greatest cosmopolitan excess – the 1920s and 1930s – left the city with pristine examples of art deco buildings, most of which survived the 20th-century vicissitudes assailing Shànghǎi. And there's more: from Jesuit cathedrals, Jewish synagogues and Buddhist temples to home-grown lòngtáng (laneway) and shíkùmén (stone gate) housing, Shànghǎi’s architectural heritage is like none other.

Cuisine

Thirty years ago Shànghǎi's dour restaurant scene was all tin trays and scowling waiting staff, with international food confined to the dining rooms of 'exclusive' hotels. Today the mouth-watering restaurant scene is varied, exciting and up to the minute – and Shànghǎi has its own Michelin dining guide in 2017, proving just how far the city has come. Food is the hub of Chinese social life. It’s over a meal that people catch up with friends, celebrate and clinch business deals, and spend hard-earned cash. Some of your best memories of the city could be culinary, so do as the Shanghainese do and make a meal of it.

Shopping

Bearing in mind that Chinese shoppers constitute up to 47% of the global luxury-goods market, shopping is rarely done in half-measures in Shànghǎi. Retail therapy is one way of spending new money and the Shanghainese aren't called 小资 (xiǎozī – 'little capitalists') by the rest of China for nothing, especially at the luxury end of things. But it's not all Prada, Gucci and Burberry. There are pop-up boutiques, bustling markets, cool vintage shops and young designer outlets. Beyond clothing you're also spoiled for choice, whether you're in the market for antiques, ceramics, art, Tibetan jewellery…whatever is on your shopping list.

Entertainment & the Arts

Běijīng often hogs the limelight as China’s cultural nexus but, for what is essentially a town of wheelers and dealers, Shànghǎi is surprisingly creative. Many art galleries are exciting, offering a window onto contemporary Chinese concerns, while nightlife options have exploded. Acrobatics shows are always a favourite and you might grab the chance to catch some Chinese opera. Shànghǎi’s music and club scene is vibrant: from unpretentious jazz and indie venues to all-night hip-hop and electro dance parties, the city swings with the best of them.

Book your Flight & Stay in Shanghai

All Tested by Experts · No Hidden Fees · Secure Booking · Best Neighbourhoods

Sights

The majority of sightseeing in Shànghǎi centres on the Bund and People's Square with its cluster of museums and lovely park. Roaming the Bund promenade provides a non-stop show of heritage architecture with views over the river to the futuristic skyscrapers of Pǔdōng. A quick ferry ride across will have you zipping up to the observation decks of the Shànghǎi Tower and the iconic Oriental Pearl TV Tower. Back on the Pǔxī side, it’s all about peeking inside historic mansions in the former French Concession and seeking out a much-needed culture hit in the sacred temples and traditional teahouses of the Old Town and Jìng’ān.

Sleeping

There's never been a better time to find a bed in Shànghǎi. From ultrachic, carbon-neutral boutique rooms to sumptuous five-star hotels housed in glimmering towers, grand heritage affairs and snappy, down-to-earth backpacker haunts, the range of accommodation in town is just what you would expect from a city of this stature.

Eating

Brash, stylish and forward-thinking, Shànghǎi’s culinary scene typifies the city’s craving for foreign trends and tastes. As much an introduction to regional Chinese cuisine as a magnet for talented chefs from around the globe, Shànghǎi has staked a formidable claim as the Middle Kingdom’s hottest dining destination.

Drinking & Nightlife

Shànghǎi adores its lychee martinis and cappuccinos to go and, with dazzling salaries and soaring property prices leaving the streets sloshing with cash, there are more than enough bars and cafes to wet the lips of the thirsty white-collar set. There's a happening nightlife scene that keeps everyone – VIP or not – well entertained.

Entertainment

Shànghǎi is no longer the decadent city that slipped on its dancing shoes as the revolution shot its way into town, but entertainment options have blossomed again over the past decade. Plug into the local cultural scene for a stimulating shot of gallery openings, music concerts and laid-back movie nights at the local bar.

Shopping

Shànghǎi's runaway property market and thrusting economy have filled pockets citywide: Shànghǎi shoppers buy up big-time. While locals have a passion for luxury goods and designer labels, it's not all about Gucci, Prada and Louis Vuitton. Whether you're after boutique threads, a set of snappy heels, Chinese antiques, handmade ceramics or a period poster from the Mao era, Shànghǎi is an A to Z of shopping.

Travel with Children

Shànghǎi may not top most kids’ holiday wish lists, but that may change with the new Shànghǎi Disney Resort park in Pǔdōng now adding a must-see attraction to the city. There are also several other Shànghǎi sights to keep the family entertained.

LGBT Travellers

Local law is ambiguous in its attitude to LGBT people; generally the authorities take a dim view of same-sex couples but there’s an increasingly confident scene, as indicated by gay bars and the annual event-stuffed Shanghai Pride (www.shpride.com). Shànghǎi heterosexuals are not, by and large, particularly homophobic, especially the under-40s. Young Chinese men sometimes hold hands; this carries no sexual overtones.

For up-to-date information on the latest gay and lesbian hot spots in Shànghǎi and elsewhere throughout China, try Utopia (www.utopia-asia.com/chinshan.htm). For further tips, check out Travel Gay Asia (www.travelgayasia.com).

What to do in Shanghai

Best attractions, Tours & Excursions for you, check it out!

612577

Hong Kong welcomes with an iconic skyline, a legendary kitchen, and lush, protected nature where rare birds and colourful traditions thrive.

Neighbourhoods & Islands

Hong Kong's enchanting neighbourhoods and islands offer a sensory feast. You may find yourself swaying along on a historic double-decker tram, cheering with the hordes at the city-centre horse races, or simply gazing out at the glorious harbour. What most visitors don't immediately realise is that over 70% of Hong Kong is mountains and sprawling country parks, some also home to geological and historical gems. Escape the city limits on one of the world’s smoothest transport systems and spend your day wandering in a Song dynasty village, hiking on a deserted island or kayaking among volcanic sea arches.

Cuisine

One of the world's top culinary capitals, the city that worships the God of Cookery has many a demon in the kitchen, whether the deliciousness in the pot is Cantonese, Sichuanese, Japanese or French. So deep is the city's love of food and so broad its culinary repertoire that whatever your gastronomic desires, Hong Kong will find a way to sate them. The answer could be a bowl of wonton noodles, freshly steamed dim sum, a warm pineapple bun wedged with butter, a pair of the sweetest prawns, your first-ever stinky tofu, or the creations of the latest celebrity chef.

Shopping

From off-the-rack Chinese gowns to bespoke speciality knives (and vice versa), the sheer variety of products in Hong Kong’s shops is dizzying. Every budget, need and whim is catered for in 'can do' spirit by a similarly impressive assortment of venues: glitzy malls where the moneyed shop, chic side-street boutiques and vintage dens where fashionistas find their gems, nerdy gadget bazaars, and a mix of markets where you can haggle to your heart’s content. The city has no sales tax so prices are generally attractive to visitors.

Culture

Underneath the glass and steel of Hong Kong’s commercial persona is a dynamic cultural landscape where its Chinese roots, colonial connections and the contributions of its home-grown talent become intertwined. Here you’re just as likely to find yourself dissecting art in the dizzying number of contemporary galleries as joining in dawn taichi or reading the couplets of a local poet to the drumbeat of a dragon boat. Culture could also mean indie music by the harbour or Chinese opera in a bamboo theatre, not to mention the thousands of shows staged year-round at the city's many museums and concert halls.

Book your Flight & Stay in Hong Kong

All Tested by Experts · No Hidden Fees · Secure Booking · Best Neighbourhoods

Sights

Hong Kong is quite an eyeful offering architecture, museums and some of the world's most iconic sights. And if you head out to the countryside, green and blue imprint themselves on your retina.

Sleeping

Notorious for its boxy rooms, you won't get much bang for your buck in Hong Kong hotels. That said, service is usually very good and there's plenty of diversity, from dorm beds to chic apartments and palatial suites. Most hotels on Hong Kong Island are between Sheung Wan and Causeway Bay; in Kowloon, they fall around Nathan Rd, where you’ll also find budget places.

Eating

One of the world’s most delicious cities, Hong Kong offers culinary excitement whether you’re spending HK$50 on a bowl of noodles or HK$2000 on a seafood feast. The best of China is well represented, be it Cantonese, Shanghainese, Northern or Sichuanese. Similarly, the smorgasbord of non-Chinese – French, Italian, Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese Indian – is the most diverse in all of Asia.

Drinking & Nightlife

Energetic Hong Kong knows how to party and does so visibly and noisily. That said, don't be surprised that many of the city's bars are hidden inside skyscrapers; would it be Hong Kong if it were otherwise? You can find any type of bar or pub you want, but boozing will cost you dearly as alcohol is one of the few things that are taxed in this city: follow the happy hours.

GBT Nightlife

For a world city of its size and status, Hong Kong has a surprisingly small LGBTQ+ scene. That said, it's made big strides in recent years and is slowly growing in confidence. The nightlife is relatively low-key and does not focus heavily on one particular area of the city. The biggest concentration of venues can be found around Kowloon and Central/Sheung Wan.

In 2018 a cluster of bars in Sheung Wan launched a 'Gaybarhood' (www.gaybarhood.net) collaboration in an effort to encourage more of a local scene.

Shopping

Hong Kong is renowned as a place of neon-lit retail pilgrimage. This city is positively stuffed with swanky shopping malls and brand-name boutiques. All international brands worth their logos have stores here. These are supplemented by the city’s own retail trailblazers and an increasing number of creative local designers. Together they are Hong Kong’s shrines and temples to style and consumption.

What to do in Hong Kong

Best attractions, Tours & Excursions for you, check it out!

WhatsApp chat