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The absolute latest updates in China travel information.

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Our tales from the trail and dispatches straight from the source.

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What to bring, where to go, and how to get around China.

Mei Zhang
WildChina founder, entrepreneur, mother.

Chelin Miller
Insider tips on China's finer side

March 8th, 2013

Chinese Treasures: A WildChina Original (Book by 3/31 for $200 off)

By: WildChina | Categories: Culture, News You Can Use

*BOOK CHINESE TREASURES BEFORE THE END OF MARCH TO RECEIVE $200 OFF THE PRICE. EMAIL US AT INFO@WILDCHINA.COM TO ENQUIRE)*

Back in 2000, when Mei Zhang first started WildChina, her clients were personal friends, family, and acquaintances. Because she knew these first customers well, Mei took special care to create a journey that she knew wasn’t available anywhere else–she created Chinese Treasures. Mei wanted to take her friends to the famous Chinese sites that they had heard about all their lives–the Great Wall, the Terracotta Warriors, Shanghai’s colonial Bund–but also provide them with experiences that would take them off the beaten track, to see a very real side of China few travelers ever learned about.

The trip was a huge hit. Chinese Treasures is book-ended by China’s two most famous cities, allowing travelers an up close look at the imperial architecture of the past, the development of the future, and all the delicious dishes Beijing and Shanghai have to offer in between. Mei decided that after visiting China’s bustling metropolises, she would show her friends the place she knew best in the world–her home province of Yunnan.

In this southwestern, rural Chinese province, Mei’s friends would have the chance to break bread–or in this case noodles–with local people and take part in traditional banquets, songs, and dances. They would even get a little taste of nirvana with a trip to the heights of Shangri-La.

Upon their return Mei’s friends were euphoric. Mei’s initial success would inspire her to lay out the ethos of personal interaction and firsthand knowledge that would shape every journey created at WildChina since. Testament to her travel know-how and thoughtfulness for her travelers, Mei has been honored to be selected as a Condé Nast Top Travel Specialist for China an incredible three times since WildChina was founded. While Mei’s fingerprints are visible on every WildChina journey, Chinese Treasures is where it all started. If you are considering a trip to China, we can think of no better introduction than this; a journey of epic proportions planned and perfected by our founder.

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If you have questions about travel in China, send us an email at info@wildchina.com and we will be happy to assist you.

 

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February 27th, 2013

WildChina’s New Year’s Adventures

By: WildChina | Categories: Culture, News You Can Use

Each year WildChina’s staff eagerly await Spring Festival (Chinese New Year), and the week-long government-mandated  holiday that ensues because it means that we get a week off to do what we love most–TRAVEL!

This year was no exception. When we closed the doors to our Beijing office for the holiday earlier this month, we were scattered to the winds. From New York to Hawaii, the Philippines to Sri Lanka, from Singapore to Thailand to Sweden to Dubai, WildChina staff set a new office record for number of countries visited in a week. Of course, many of us also stayed in China, visiting family and exploring the Middle Kingdom.

Whether traveling by plane, train, car, bike, surfboard, or rickshaw, there we were, notebook in hand, recording the best travel ideas we saw on the road.  It’s how we stay inspired to keep our WildChina adventures fresh and new for our clients. Below are some snapshots from the WildChina family:

WildChina founder Zhang Mei‘s digs on her trip to Thailand with her family:

Our marketing director Nellie Connolly‘s photo of her favorite part of Sri Lanka: the tea fields.

Senior travel consultant Devin Corrigan on a six-day, 883km bike trip from Chengdu in southern Sichuan province to Xi’an in the north (he’s on the right, his friend Ben is on the left):

Senior travel consultant Claudia Pumarejo enjoying lunch at Capitol M in Beijing (somebody has to tend the office, even when we’re closed!):

Justin Ong, who does business development for our corporate services team, moseyed through the Myeongdong shopping district in Seoul, Korea:

Anna Bosco from our marketing department sleeping on the beach on the island of Palawan in the Philippines:

Leisure travel consultant Elmer Chen’s photo from his trip to Staten Island in New York City. Elmer said his favorite part about being in the Big Apple was going for a run on the high line.

Christian Adams from our marketing department surfing it up in Kauai, Hawaii:

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If you have any questions about travel in China send us an email at info@wildchina.com and we will be happy to assist you.

 

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February 22nd, 2013

The New York Times Asks: “Are there people who want to visit remote locations in China?”

By: WildChina | Categories: Culture, News You Can Use

This past week, The New York Times did a feature with travel expert Kurt Kutay. Kurt has made a name for himself in the travel world having worked both with the Adventure Travel Trade Association, and The International Ecotourism Society, in addition to currently serving as the president of the International Galapagos Tour Operators Association, CEO of Wildland Adventures, and director of the Travelers Conservation Trust. The focus of The New York Times article was Kurt answering questions posed to him by the baby boomer generation about travel today. Baby boomers, due to their numbers, have always had an outsized impact on the travel industry.

WildChina’s name came up in the discussion when Kurt was asked the following questions by Mr. Mitenbuler of Chicago: “Are there people that want to visit remote locations in China? Do you think there is an awareness of ‘wild China,’and if so, is it a destination that will see increases in travelers?”

Mr. Mitenbuler was so close to the right answer! If he had just combined “wild” and “China” he would have had our name-sake and an organization deeply devoted to showing travelers the less traveled parts of China. As it was though, WildChina was at the fore of Kurt’s mind when he responded due to his friendship with WildChina founder Zhang Mei. Kurt reached out to Mei before answering the question and she replied that she feels there is indeed a growing number of people interested in exploring off the beaten path in China. Mei said that business men and women who have traveled to China’s major cities for work have acquired a curiosity to visit the more rural areas of the Middle Kingdom with their families.

Kurt noted several other examples of the burgeoning number of travelers interested in taking the road less traveled before closing his answer to the question with remarks from Mei that Tibet is quickly becoming one of the most popular destinations for travelers. So at this point it’s clear there are people who want to visit remote locations in China, the real question is, are you one?

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If you have questions about travel in China, feel free to send us an email at info@wildchina.com and we will be happy to assist you.

Photo of Kurt Kutay by The New York Times

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January 24th, 2013

WildChina’s founder Zhang Mei on CNN

By: WildChina | Categories: Culture, News You Can Use

Some exciting news from WildChina! WildChina founder Zhang Mei has been featured on CNN’s “On China” series with Kristie Lu Stout. “On China” is the first regular series on the Middle Kingdom by CNN and provides an insider’s view of China from within the country’s own borders. Mei was invited to speak on Chinese explorers and the spirit of exploration in China.

In the feature Mei notes how China’s philosophy of filial piety has made exploration anathema. One Chinese proverb that Mei discusses is “Fu mu zai, bu yuan xing,” or — roughly translated — “When your parents are around, don’t travel far away.” Mei explains that “The first virtue was to be “xiao,” or filial to your parents and that held back a lot of people and they stayed home. But with the internet, young people now see the world and say, ‘Wow… why can’t I do that?’” Why not indeed. Tune in this weekend to catch the full story.

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If you missed the earlier broadcasts of Mei on CNN they will be shown again this weekend on Saturday, January 26 at 9:30PM and Sunday January 27 at 1:30PM Beijing time. If you have other questions about travel in China, send us an email at info@wildchina.com and we will be happy to assist you.

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January 17th, 2013

The North Face to Outfit WildChina Explorer Grant Winner

By: WildChina | Categories: Culture, News You Can Use

WildChina Travel and The North Face® are proud to announce their partnership for the WildChina Explorer Grant!

The WildChina Explorer Grant is an award of up to USD 3,000 given to adventurers seeking to push the boundaries of responsible, off-the-beaten-path travel in China. This year, the grant’s third year, The North Face® has generously signed on as the apparel sponsor for the lucky grant recipient. Winners of the 2013 WildChina Explorer Grant will be outfitted head-to-toe in The North Face® gear, tailored to the winner’s individual trip needs and climate.

With both firms committed to exploration and transformational experiences, WildChina Founder Zhang Mei says, “The North Face coming on board brings the WildChina Explorer Grant to a whole new level. We are honored to partner with them and cannot wait to announce the news to the applicants in this years pool .”  Jacob Uhland, General Manager of Asia Pacific at The North Face® says, “The North Face is interested in supporting the WildChina Explorer Grant because we heard about the inspirational people associated with WildChina, like Jeff Fuchs [2011 WildChina Explorer Grant winner] and Zhang Mei. We have built relations with both of these people and we feel they embody the spirit of exploration which is at the heart of The North Face brand and the purpose behind most of what we do and support.  We have tremendous respect for the efforts of WildChina and their efforts to raise awareness of the outdoors through their Explorer Grant.”

For those of you holding your breaths for the Explorer Panel‘s 2013 decision, we’ll be announcing the winner of this year’s WildChina Explorer Grant on January 21st!  To see the English-language submission videos on Youtube click here. To see the Chinese videos on Youku click here. If you have a favorite, show your support on our Facebook, Twitter, Weibo, Youku and Youtube accounts!

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To learn more about our WildChina Explorer Grant click here. If you have other questions about travel in China send us an email at info@wildchina.com and we will be happy to assist you.

Photos by 2012 WildChina Explorer Grant winner Shanghua Zhang and The North Face

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January 8th, 2013

Shining a spotlight on female leaders; HBS chooses Zhang Mei

By: WildChina | Categories: Culture, News You Can Use

Harvard Business School has plenty of famous alumni, so it was particularly humbling when WildChina founder Zhang Mei made it to the cover of the HBS Alumni Bulletin this past December. In an issue that recognized the 50th anniversary of women being allowed into Harvard Business School’s MBA program, Mei was featured along with a host of female alumni. With graduation years ranging from 1962 to 2010, these women represented a wide range of professional pursuits. However one thing they all had in common–other, of course, than their time spent in Cambridge–was that they are recognized by their fellow alumni as superlative leaders, mentors, and role models. Each alumna gave their thoughts on a variety of issues, ranging from who they admired, to reflections on the early days of their careers, as well as their thoughts on a business career in general.

One section of the bulletin keyed into the executive-suite challenges that women still face today–even as society works to shed the influences of the historically male workplace. When asked what she thought men could learn from women leaders, Mei said the key is to look beyond stereotypes, and that “what is most important is for men and women to approach business relationships—and life—with an open mind and a readiness to learn from everyone.” A readiness that, for Mei, is essential to traveling across cultures, and a curiousity she hopes to instill in WildChina travelers.

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If you have questions about travel in China feel free to send us an email at info@wildchina.com and we will be happy to assist you.

 

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November 16th, 2012

Zhang Mei recognized as Condé Nast Top Travel Specialist 2012

By: WildChina | Categories: Culture, News You Can Use

WildChina is honored to announce that for the third year in a row WildChina founder Zhang Mei has been recognized by Condé Nast Traveler as a Top Travel Specialist.What is a Top Travel Specialist? The Condé Nast website says it best: “Offering an unbeatable combination of expertise, access, and good value, these select travel consultants are the pros to turn to for your next big vacation.” Mei was among a total of three specialists chosen for all of China with particular attention given to her expertise in her native Yunnan in addition to Guizhou and Sichuan.

Mei has said she is extremely honored to have received the award and notes “my attention is still on improving our customer satisfaction and overall experience–there’s no time to rest now.” Onward and upward! If you have traveled with us in the past, we hope your trip has been enjoyable.  We are looking forward to continuing to help people Experience China Differently in 2013.

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If you have questions about travel in China feel free to send us an email at info@wildchina.com and we will be happy to assist you.

 

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July 19th, 2012

Travel Advice from WildChina’s Experts

By: WildChina | Categories: Culture, News You Can Use

This week, in addition to updating you on our adventures in Guizhou and Guangxi, WildChina has been concentrating on providing travel tips. If you have been following our blog, then you have seen our top five tips for easy China travel, as well as heard from our founder Zhang Mei about her essentials for running and hiking. In our final chapter of recommendations for this week, we turned to our team of specialists and advisers to provide us with their travel secrets. Below are recommendations from our experts which we think will appeal both for those excited by raw adventure and those more interested in the culture and history of China.

Zhang Mei: Although you did hear from WildChina Founder Zhang Mei only yesterday on her essentials for running and hiking, she also had a few recommendations for items she will not leave the house without when she is going traveling. Simple but crucial, Mei relies on her First Ascent EddieBauer raincoat, OFF! bug spray and Lindberg sunglasses. The raincoat is great if there is a quick shower in Yunnan, the bug spray perfect protection in Guizhou, and sunglasses block out the powerful sun in Xinjiang.

Katherine Don: Having made a career running galleries in Beijing and New York Katherine has spent plenty of time crossing the globe.  Her recommendations? Dig into the community as quickly as possible. Use jet lag in your favor and explore the neighborhood when you are awake in the early morning. Discover an aspect of the local community that you would otherwise have missed. Another trick is to download local applications for current listings of restaurants and major attractions. As Katherine notes, “GPS is great, but if the network is down, it’s a basic lifesaver to handover a phone number to a driver and let the other end communicate with directions. If all else fails, ask a local for directions or recommendations.” She explains, “Guanxi  -Chinese for ‘relationships’- is a point of pride for people living in China. People tend to go out of their way to help make connections. Just be aware of advice that is given when you have not asked for it!”

Shanghua Zhang: One of last year’s WildChina Explorer Grant winners, Shanghua recently completed an arduous trek through the Ganzi prefecture of Sichuan province. While in the back country, he found the two things he relied on the most were a good map and simply being polite. A map got him there, but Shanghua also found fostering good relations with the people he met in the mountains to be particularly important. In addition to sharing fascinating stories about their lives, newly made friends would sometimes offer Shanghua a soft bed and warm meals free of charge – a much appreciated change from his tent and diet of increasingly stale buns.

Sean Gallagher: When he is not giving lessons to WildChina travelers on the Silk Road, Sean is tramping around the world using photography to bring light to a host of environmental issues. Needless to say, Sean is used to schlepping a true assortment of equipment across a plethora of landscapes. Sean’s travel tip is simple, yet brilliant: bring plastic shopping bags. Sean says “Whenever I travel in the field on shoots, I always pack a bunch of regular supermarket plastic bags. They can serve a multitude of useful purposes from putting dirty shoes or clothes in, to acting as temporary waterproof housing for your equipment, separating foods or toiletries, and keeping your general rubbish in. You can even re-use them on multiple trips and since they are incredibly light, you won’t be lugging extra weight around.”

Gady Epstein: Since 2002, Gady has made a name for himself covering China and Asia for The Baltimore Sun, Forbes, and The Economist. During his time working for these periodicals, Gady has spent ample time in airports. His advice for getting through transportation hubs in one piece? Good noise-cancelling headphones and a book. As Gady writes, “Air travel has become the worst part of anyone’s China experience. At some point in your trip, you’ll find yourself waiting around in an airport and, worse, on an airplane sitting on the tarmac. You may even find your ears assaulted with the musical stylings of your captors, the worst kind of muzak playing on repeat, slowly chipping away at your sanity. Escape into your own music and a great book.”

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We hope you find these tips helpful, if you have some of your own you would like to share feel free to post them on our Facebook page. As always if you have any questions about travel in China do not hesitate to be in touch at info@wildchina.com

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July 18th, 2012

Mei’s Must-Have Items for Travel

By: WildChina | Categories: Culture, News You Can Use

When she is not occupied with journeying around the world or updating her Weibo with the captivating sights she encounters on her travels, WildChina’s founder, Mei, thoroughly enjoys exploring the outskirts of greater China, whether it means running a marathon in Inner Mongolia or trekking up the boding hillsides of Guizhou. Traveling luxuriously is one thing, but traveling luxuriously in style is another. For us at WildChina, it is no surprise that Mei has effortlessly mastered both.

Whether she is racing along the Erhai Lake in Dali or simply on a treadmill at her local gym, Mei’s iPod nano is always by her side. Lightweight, durable, and reliable, this pink gadget has been her loyal companion on the most memorable runs through some of the most remarkable backdrops. So what are a few of the top hits on Mei’s track list? Not the predictable Mozart or Bach. As an avid fan of the latest chart-toppers, Mei’s eclectic taste in music ranges from Propellerhead’s jazzy beats to Adele’s crisp voice. Who says Lady Gaga is only for teenagers? Mei will be the first to admit that the country rock twist added to “Born This Way (Country Road Version),” along with the pop star’s strong vocals, are indispensable when running through nature’s most beguiling wonders. Besides, for those of you worried about getting lost amongst the monumental mountains of Abujee, the refrain will reassure you that you are in fact “on the right track.”

Not only does Mei have the perfect ‘pump-up’ track list for her run, she also looks très chic while doing so. From running shorts to racerback tanks and even socks, Mei is an avid fan of Lulu Lemon, an athletic apparel company whose lush lightweight fabrics ace the founder’s tests for functionality and durability. The racer back’s body-skimming fit is flattering and the top is so comfortable that you won’t ever want to take it off, even in exchange for your pajamas. With its loose fit, the featherweight “Light as Air” running shorts will help you “fly without taking off from the ground.” For the perfect amount of sun protection, Mei recommends the Adidas Adizero Sequence Hat, which, with its ClimaCool ventilation, will keep you cool, dry, and stylish all-in-one. For the winter months, check out a brightly-colored North Face Goretex Jacket to keep warm. Windproof and waterproof, nothing will ever get in your way from exploring Mother Nature ever again. Whoever said workout gear wasn’t fashionable?

An ardent runner, Mei knows from personal experience that the key to a great run is all in the sneakers. She loves the functionality of her Adidas Adistar Salvaation 3 , which helped her spring to the finish line in a recent marathon in Inner Mongolia. With its reliable support and cushioning, these sneakers are comfort and durability at their finest. With such a great pair of shoes, you are bound to get compliments while running in style. For hiking, Mei recommends Asolo’s indestructible hiking boots, which are perfect for trekking along the Tiger Leaping Gorge in Yunnan in either rain or shine.

Want to give your lips a whole lot of love? Mei recommends Burt’s Bees Pomegranate Lip Balm, which will hydrate and revitalize your thirsty lips with antioxidant-rich pomegranate oil. Best of all, it smells absolutely delicious! L’Occitane’s best-selling crème is a classic, one of Mei’s go-to items. Even after an adventurous day exploring the high mountaintops of Gaoligong in Yunnan, this buttery cream makes her hands feel soft and luxurious.

What are some other necessities that Mei always keeps in her bright red, versatile REI Flash 18 Pack? Weighing in at almost nothing, this affordable and durable daypack is ideal for short hikes away from camp. It comfortably fits all of Mei’s essentials, from her impact resistant Camelbak water bottle to her handy dandy travel-size Purell Hand Sanitizer, which Mei admits, has collected as many mileage points as she has. Regardless of whether or not she is traveling by herself or with her kids, sunscreen is a must on Mei’s checklist. She loves the one from Shisedo, which not only boasts an SPF of 60+, but is also non-greasy and odor-free. To reenergize, Mei recently discovered the Dali Bar at Salvadore’s Cafe in Kunming, each and every one hand-made by locals. Consisting of a mixture of sunflower seeds, honey dates, oats, and walnuts, this bar is not only delectable, but also, full of nutrients. Who ever said healthy couldn’t taste good?

Whether it be luxury travel in China, chart-topping music, or the latest fashions, WildChina’s founder Mei is on top of it all. How does she pamper herself post-travel? Mei loves to relax while taking a bath using some aromatic Hongjintian Bath Salt with a cup of her favorite Longjing Green Tea by her side. With a fashionista as its founder, WildChina is not only a front-runner in simply luxury travel, but rather, luxury travel in style. Even Harper’s Bazaar is impressed!

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Check out Mei’s Weibo (@yunnanzhangmeiand Twitter for some more travel trips from the best of the best and like us on Facebook for constant updates on the latest travels news in China.

 

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July 11th, 2012

Harper’s Bazaar China comes to WildChina

By: WildChina | Categories: Culture, News You Can Use

Blinding lights. The never-ending snapping of a camera. “Smile and look cool – no, not that cool.” Have you ever wondered what it’s like to partake in a professional fashion shoot? Last week, a few members of WildChina’s staff, alongside founder Mei, had the opportunity to put their fancy collection of poses to good use when China’s branch of top fashion magazine Harper’s Bazaar came to our office for a photo shoot to go alongside their special feature of our founder Mei in their upcoming issue.

At WildChina, we often get questions regarding the “wild” in our company’s name. “Where does it come from? Are your trips actually wild?” Well, aside from our unforgettable journeys, this photo shoot was a perfect example of why our company’s name is so fitting. With each flash of the camera, the office was transformed into a scene from Kanye West’s hit song “Flashing Lights” and WildChina’s very own Mei, Elmer, Nan Ding, and Nellie transformed into top fashion models while spending their morning prepping for the shoot by getting their hair and makeup done and making some unexpected wardrobe changes. Their diligent practice in front of their full-length mirrors at home really paid off. As Elmer brought hazelnut-colored suits back into fashion and Mei worked her five-inch red heels like a supermodel, we at WildChina, have proven that we are not only front-runners when it comes to traveling in China, but we do it in style, giving even the most renowned professional models a run for their money.

Check out these behind-the-scenes photos from this very “wild” fashion shoot:

Don’t forget to grab a copy of the August issue of Harper’s Bazaar China to see their spotlight on founder Mei and WildChina!

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Want to travel in elegant and chic style? Check out some of WildChina’s favorite items for traveling in fashion on our Pinterest.

 

 

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