Why Travel China with a Small Group

For anyone who loves to ditch the map and experience a country on your terms, a group journey might not be on your travel radar. Yet when it comes to China—and you’re looking to travel the fine line between luxury and off-the-beaten-path—a group trip might be the best way to experience this enormous country.

Just make sure that “small” means small because no one wants to be bussed around with 30 other tourists in baseball caps, or embarrassingly follow a tour guide with a megaphone! For discerning travelers, small should mean from around 5 to 12 people, not including the expert or guide dedicated to ensuring you get the most out of your trip. Here are five reasons why small groups work really well in China and why it’s such a benefit, especially for first time visitors:

wildchina-travel-china-tibet-why-travel-in-small-group61) Stress-free traveling

When you sign on to join a group journey, it’s EASY. There’s no debate about whether you have enough time to get from Shigatse to Lhasa before your flight—logistics no longer have to fall on your shoulders, which is great because China is huge, and making those decisions and confirming reservations, drivers, and transportation for every leg of your trip can be draining. If you don’t want to spend weeks before your trip planning, and the precious days during your journey making sure things go according to that plan, small group travel is right up that alley.

2) Interesting travel companions

China is a different sort of travel destination that attracts a different type of traveler. It isn’t a week on the beach in Mexico…and this is why people come—because it’s a fascinating place to visit. Meeting others who want to explore such an off-beat destination is part of the fun of traveling China, and at the end of a day, when there’s a lot to process, a lot to be curious about, and a lot of surprising experiences and interactions, discussing with other travelers at the end of the day is sure to enhance you experience.

All meals are family-style in China--the more, the merrier!

3) More great food

Eating in China is always a group affair, with large round tables and lazy-susans heavy with the weight of dishes. Some call it “family-style”, others call it “Chinese-style” but dishes are ordered for the whole table and then shared. A basic rule of thumb when eating in China is to order one dish per person at the table—and then throw in a couple extra to make sure no one goes hungry. This is great news for groups because the more people at the table, the more food you get to try and taste.

4) Better value

Traveling with a group means that you’re splitting all the mundane costs like vehicles and logistics with other travelers. It also means you can experience things that might have been too big of splurge if you were traveling on your own – like a famous expert guide to personally explain their area of passion, or a special private lesson on Chinese art. This is great news for those who want a rich, multi-layered trip to China.

5) Unexpected experiences

Traveling with a group is like ordering the chef’s recommendation for the evening. It takes a step of faith, but the outcome is almost always the same: a new and delicious eating experience! Here at WildChina, we constantly hear great feedback from travelers who say there was something on the trip that they wouldn’t have chosen for themselves, but that they ended up loving. It’s all part of traveling to a new place taking the step towards new experiences that will stretch and delight you.

 

The key to China travel euphoria is simply to remember the golden rule and join a very small group…that really is our best advice!  Our upcoming Chinese Treasures trip accepts a maximum of 12 travelers to ensure that everyone enjoys the best experience possible. If you have any questions, or want to learn more about your options for visiting China, do let us know, we’d be happy to hear from you!

 

Muang La Resort: Secret Retreat in the Jungles of Laos

In the heart of Laos’s mountainous north, lies the small village of Muang La. Wooden and bamboo houses sit quietly here in the valley between the Nam Pak river and the wild, tropical rainforests. Hidden away in this village is a beautiful boutique hotel that is sure to be a highlight of your journey to Laos.

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Tibet’s Holy Lakes

At elevations of about 15,000 ft, Tibet’s holy lakes are the pristine settings of sacred Lama rituals. For generations, Buddhist pilgrims have journeyed to these lakes to pray, meditate or seek wisdom. Many lakes in Tibet are considered to be holy by Tibetan Buddhists, but three are regarded as most sacred, Lake Yamdrok, Lake Namtso, and Lake Manasarovar.

yamdrok lakeLake Yamdrok. Photo by Goran Hoglund (more…)

Why Travel to Laos

WildChina has just launched a new set of tours to Laos. Find out what drew us to this country and how to travel to Laos in style.

Land of the mighty Mekong and kingdom of a thousand elephants, Laos is quietly hidden away between its more well-known neighbors, Thailand and Vietnam. But this country has an inner strength powered by Buddhist traditions and the majestic Mekong that makes it a special treasure among travel destinations.

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Attention Shopaholics. China Introduces New Sales Tax Refund

International tourists to Shanghai and Beijing are now able to enjoy tax refunds on goods purchased while on vacation. A new law, officiated on July 1, offers a rebate of up to 11% on consumer goods purchased at designated department stores in China’s most iconic megacities.

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2015 WildChina Sustainability Award Goes to…

View from a hiking trail in Moganshan

Congratulations to Nali, Marco, Michael, Yeonjun, and Graci for their prize-winning “Bam! Bamboo Workshop” sustainable business plan.

In early June, these five students from Shanghai and their nearly 100 classmates spent a week in Moganshan to learn about responsible tourism and what it really means to be sustainable. Their final project? To design a business, NGO or non-profit that would contribute to a village in Moganshan.

From the list of twenty amazing ideas, it was hard to pick one, but the Bam! Bamboo Workshop took the cake for these reasons:

Great Cause: Operates as a non-profit, so all extra proceeds will go towards supporting local farmers and charities

Creative Business Plan: Provides workshops for travelers to understand traditional methods of bamboo cultivation and craft-making.

Thinking Local: Gives locals job opportunities and promotes cultural education for the community

Along with using their brains at the Sustainability Workshop, the Bam! Bamboo Workshop team and their classmates took part in a week long adventure through bamboo hills and serene lakes in Moganshan. From hiking 15 kilometers through natural bamboo forests and working together to make sturdy bamboo rafts, we can say that it was a lot of fun with a good dose of challenging bits.

Students doing Taichi at Moganshan

Great job! As summer vacation approaches, how about your keep the rules of sustainability in mind for your future adventures.

Conserve. Respect. Purchase Locally. Distribute Equally. Educate.

Happy Summer from WildChina!

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The best place to see pandas in Chengdu

A trip to Chengdu is not complete without seeing China’s cuddly national icon, the panda bear. There are three main options for panda viewing in Chengdu, each with its unique draws. Read on and find out which panda reserve is the best choice for your trip.

Panda at the Chengdu Base

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WildChina Receives TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence

This week, we are very pleased to have been awarded a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence as a top rated China tour and activity provider. The award is given to businesses that “consistently achieve outstanding traveler reviews on TripAdvisor” and with 37/38 reviews rated as ‘Excellent’ (and 1 rated as ‘Very Good’), we fall pretty strongly into that category.

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Two Days in the Tibetan Plateau

The Monastery

As we wandered around the monastery, we heard a deep horn. Whatever plans we had were gone and we were off to find the source of the sound. After turning a few corners, we looked up and there on top of a roof were two monks, blowing into long horns that ran along the ground. Below this, a group of monks hurried into a courtyard and then back into a building. What they did there I don’t know – received a blessing? Swapped out their shoes? In no time, they were all back in the courtyard. One very serious monk came and sat down in the middle of the courtyard at a table. The others began to arrange themselves in seated lines behind him. Older monks sat in the front, younger ones in the back.

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Looking For Wildflowers Around the World

In 1910, in the valley of Sichuan’s Min River, a group was on an arduous trek. The leader of this trek, a man named Wilson, was being carried by two others in a bamboo sedan chair. They had been traveling for days in search for a wild flower called The Regal Lily. As they were walking, a rockslide came without warning and the group was unable to avoid the huge rocks falling from the mountain. Once everything had settled, Wilson found that one of his legs was buried under the rocks and smashed completely. He moaned in agony, took out his camera tripod, and bonded it to his leg. Three days later, the group returned to civilization but he was left with a limp. Years later we would mock his limp and obsession with the Regal Lily referring to his walk as the “lily limp.”

flower-china-lily

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