Last week, The New York Times published “Easy China: Three Ways,” a look at how first-time visitors can tackle Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai. Everyone at WildChina religiously keeps up with what is being written about China– we want to make sure our clients are not missing out on any amazing restaurants or an experience that we think would really wow. On the whole, we think this article has a lot of interesting suggestions and serves as a great introduction into China’s biggest cities. We invite you to read our reflections on this latest piece.
Looking over the Beijing portion, the recommendation to visit 798 is spot on and the galleries highlighted– UCCA, Pace and Galerie Paris-Beijing are definitely the big daddies to see. For die-hard art lovers, though, a visit to Caochangdi, is a bit more off the beaten path and if you are lucky, you may stumble across Ai Weiwei (or at least peek out his home…). Walking through Caochangdi and 798 with WildChina art expert, such as Katherine Don or Meg Maggio, founder of Pekin Fine Arts is a total treat as they know everyone in the scene. Interested in meeting emerging artists? They will arrange. A passion for ink painting (the new “it” trend in Chinese art)? Done– they know the movers and the shakers.
We absolutely loved reading the recommendation of touring the hutongs. That is an absolute highlight while touring Beijing and a meal at Xian Lao Man is delicious. Whenever we have a bad day, their fried dumplings (guotie) seem to be the solution to any problem. We look forward to holding our next Where the Wild Things Are at Great Leap. The owner Carl is a hoot and a good friend. Best beer in China. End of discussion.
One area that we were utterly confused about is the idea that a car for a full day to Mutianyu (1.5-2 hours outside of Beijing) is RMB 500). In order for this to happen, there are two things going on (or if you are very unlucky, perhaps both). First, your car will make stops along the way to visit jade markets where you will be forced to enter and encouraged to purchase dubious goods, or second, your car/driver will be so far below safety standards that if your bumper is hit, the entire car will fall apart (and don’t get us started on if the driver has a license or not….). Trust us– it is worth it to spend the additional USD 30 to book a car through a reputable agency to ensure that you get an experienced driver, working airbags and no unwanted visits to cheap markets!
Heading down to Hong Kong, many wonderful suggestions were recommended, especially eating at Aqua. Yum. Roughly 70% of WildChina clients eat at one of these restaurants while in Hong Kong and we have never heard a negative word uttered– only high, high praise.
Yes, we know, the Hong Kong Shangrila has a very convenient location. But we have to admit that there is no place more amazingly relaxing and wonderful to get over jetlag than the InterContinental Pool. The picture below really explains it all. Yes, it is not on the HK side. But if you are in HK for leisure or have business on the Kowloon side, there is not better place (we feel).
Moving on to Shanghai, again, many of our old standbys are there. Anytime I’m in Shanghai, a drink at Glamour Bar is a must. There is nothing like a champagne cocktail and owner Michelle Garnaut, a good friend of WildChina’s, runs a top-notch show. For business travelers, the Puli is fantastic and so relaxing. The location is not 100% perfect– you have to get in a cab to reach the French Concession or the Bund– but this property has been a particular hit with European clients.
Our only beef is that la grande dame of Shanghai hotels– the Shanghai Peninsula– was not listed at all in the article. The location– incredible. The rooms– they have nail polish drying stations. Come on! The service– this is the hotel that takes care of any VIP guest coming into China.
We hope you enjoyed a few of our insights and reflections on the article. Looking forward to hearing your comments on this blog post.
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