July 7th, 2014
WildChina | Categories: Uncategorized, WildChina Explorer Grant
2014 WildChina Explorer Grant WildChina Explorer Grant .
Every year, it is not an easy task to choose a WildChina Explorer. This year we received piles of inspirational applications and fun videos, making the reviewing process a lot of fun! It’s exciting to see up-and-coming China explorers wanting to get their hiking boots dirty. However, with every contest, not everyone can be a winner (though I wish they could be!).
After a long deliberation among our judging panel, they chose Ricky and his continued pursuits in filming a feature-length documentary about the Mosuo people, China’s last matriarchal society. Hovering between the borders of Yunnan and Sichuan provinces, his filming adventure will lead him on a month-long trek via horse caravan to some of the most remote and least documented places in the lower Himalayas.
[Left: Teammate. Right: Ricky]
The son of Chinese immigrants, Ricky spent his childhood in Southern California. His travels have taken him to destinations from the fabled Scottish Highlands to the deep reaches of the Karakoram in Central Asia. He has devoted his life to film, exploring the medium’s ability to transfigure an audience’s perception of culture, place, and time. For the past two years, Ricky has been producing and directing a documentary. We at WildChina are excited to be a part of his journey into northern Yunnan and to follow his documentary’s story from remote villages into the beyond.
Check out his documentary’s teaser here.
Follow his expeditions on Instagram @supplythelight.
Congratulations on winning the 2014 WildChina Explorer Grant, Ricky!
June 23rd, 2014
WildChina | Categories: China Travel Tips
Chengdu China tours China travel China travel tips Ritz-Carlton Sichuan Six Senses Top China Hotels .
When you plan your trip to China, you probably don’t have Chengdu, Sichuan in your top destinations list. Why go? It’s a wonderful place to pamper pandas, eat spicy food and walk through scenic UNESCO World Heritage Sites, all while staying comfortably in our Top 3 Hotels.
Chengdu: an international hub
Far from being inhabited by just pandas and peppers, Sichuan’s capital Chengdu is China’s fourth largest city, named by Forbes as one of the next decade’s fastest-growing cities. Designated by UNESCO as Asia’s first City of Gastronomy, the city hosted the 2013 Fortune Global Forum which saw world leaders and CEOs meet.
Where to stay? Our top 3 hotels
The Six Senses Qing Cheng lies at the gateway to the Taoist Qingcheng Mountain, a UNESCO World Heritage Site north of Chengdu. With its 111 suites, Six Senses has a luxury village theme with design and landscaping that reflect the surrounding natural area. This resort is very close to a new panda base and research center where you play with the resident pandas.
The Anantara Emei Resort & Spa is located at the base of the Buddhist Mount Emei, a UNESCO World Heritage Site south of Chengdu. This resort has 90 rooms and 60 suites, an outdoor pool, manmade lake, and international cuisine. Anantara Emei is a tranquil oasis, the perfect place to put your feet up and play mahjong after a hiking excursion. As a day tour, the world’s largest stone-carved Buddha at Leshan is also accessible from the resort.
The Ritz-Carlton Chengdu is located bang in the middle of downtown Chengdu, offering panoramic views of its historic center, Tianfu Square, which used to be the site of the Imperial Palace. Now, the square sprays water from its fountains in time to music twice a day and is watched over by a towering statue of Chairman Mao. This is a super luxurious hotel with 353 rooms, including over 50 suites, all with high-end facilities – including intelligent toilets!
How to get there?
United Airlines just started a nonstop service from San Francisco, putting Chengdu up there with Beijing and Shanghai. Chengdu is also served by a number of airlines including British Airways, Etihad, Air France/KLM, Cathay Pacific, and Lufthansa.
When to visit?
All year round.
If this sounds appealing to you, contact us at email@example.com for more information about our Sichuan tours.
June 10th, 2014
WildChina | Categories: China Travel
China tours Sichuan travel China guide travel to China .
Check out this on the road experience from WildChina’s travel product design manager, Colleen O’Connor, and discover an unknown trail situated deep in Emei’s sacred mountain range, just waiting to be explored…by you!
We traveled to Sichuan with one main goal in mind: to find more exciting, adventurous routes accessible for you to Experience China Differently! For today, our destination included a little-known hiking trail along Sichuan’s Emei Mountain, one of China’s four sacred Buddhist Mountains. The name “Emei” literally translates to “delicate eyebrows,” deriving from two of the mountain’s peaks—Ten Thousand Buddha Summit and Golden Summit—resembling the curvature of one’s brow. On this hike, we planned to follow along Emei’s brow into mountainous terrain, bamboo groves, and an isolated temple.
The night before, Rebecca, WildChina’s Operations Manager, and I spent the night at the luxurious Anantara Emei Resort & Spa, a recently opened 5-star hotel nestled along the foothills of the Tibetan Plateau. After packing our daypacks, we left the comforts of our spacious double room and scooted along by private cart, passing the resort’s outdoor hot spring and colorful flower gardens to the main lobby.
Double Room at Emei Resort & Spa
We met our friendly Sichuan guides at the dining hall for a continental breakfast, boasting a wide array of Western and Chinese breakfast foods. After filling our stomachs, we hopped into an SUV to begin our 2-hour ride through remote villages and twisting mountain roads into the heart of Emei’s mountain range. Our first plan of action was to meet our local guide, who would lead the hike.
As the morning mist hovered over the country road, our driver drove slowly to avoid residents walking along the road’s edge. Through the window, I saw men carrying plows with dirt still hanging of the metal grips from yesterday’s farm work. The women carried empty woven baskets, preparing for a day of vegetable picking…a glimpse of an ordinary morning in rural Sichuan.
After two hours, we ascended one last bend along a cliff face before meeting our guide at a local home. His own home is situated far above in the mountains and inaccessible by road. So, he met us in the middle. He looked into the SUV, with a sweet-smelling pipe in hand, and grinned, “You ge laowai day” “There’s a foreigner!”
Mr. Yue, our friendly Emei Mountain Guide
He put his pipe away and jumped in, while guiding the driver through dirt roads along towering cliffs and tiny hillside villages to our hike’s starting point, a slow moving river. The car slid to a muddy stop and we stepped out into a valley with a river trailing between the surrounding alpine mountains. After a night of light rainfall, the refreshing scent of wet pine was all around.
We said goodbye to our driver and followed our guide as he hopped as light as a feather over the stones placed in the river, beginning our trek into Emei Mountain. The hike started with a gradual incline to a wooden hut, surrounded by tilled land. Our guide explained that this little farm cultivated a type of root used for traditional Chinese medicine. As we took off our warm layers, the traditional medicine farmer came out of the hut to meet us, striking up a conversation with our guide, who was his close friend and neighbor.
We said our farewells and continued our way into a sea of bamboo groves. Being the end of March, late winter’s yellowish green tint took up most of the scenery’s color, except for the refreshing and vibrant green bamboo leaves that encircled the trail. Towering pines, shedding birch trees, and tangles of other tree types added to the mountainous flora.
Hiking through a tangle of trees and fresh moss (March scenery, we recommend you hike this trail in either spring or fall)
While exploring this unbeaten trail, I felt a sense of adventure and excitement for what would come next. Possibly another a unique bird, animal prints, or a mountainside vista? Thinking about the possibilities led to pondering over the other, more developed side of the mountain. How would it compare? I had heard it is equally beautiful, but also touristy with thousands of tourists visiting each day, hiking up a plethora of stone steps. The back trail, on the other hand, was the opposite, with hillside villages, dirt paths, and an intimate feeling of you with nature.
Beyond the steps emerged the Ten Thousand Buddha Temple
After six hours of hiking, we finally reached the Ten Thousand Buddha summit, the highest point of Emei at 3,099 meters (10,167 feet). On the peak resides an isolated temple surrounded by clouds and sky, situated in a quiet, hard to access portion of the national park. It was the perfect place to rest and eat lunch. I gazed into the distance, peaking through pockets of mist and seeing the bluest of blue skies hiding beneath. I felt as if I was high in the air, one with the sky. The nearby Golden Pagoda, a larger than life golden statue of Samantabhadra, shimmered in the distance, waiting for us to visit.
After lunch, we set off to finish the rest of the trek, which was primarily flat as we followed an old train line that once led tourists to the temple. The line is now closed after an earthquake years back. We finally made it to the Golden Pagoda, ending our fun-filled day of adventure.
The hike ended at the shimmering Golden Pagoda
This trek is for hiking-lovers, or for those who want to bring out the adventurer within, and witness a very real side of Sichuan’s countryside and will be at the tip of your fingertips by September 2014 after roads are fully accessible.
Experience Emei Mountain Differently with WildChina!
[Photos taken by Colleen O'Connor]
What did you think? If Colleen’s descriptions of hiking Emei Mountain got you excited, check out other fun, new activities available in Sichuan in the Into the Heart of China’s Panda Country itinerary [here]. If you have any questions, shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
April 30th, 2014
WildChina | Categories: Adventure Travel in China, WildChina Experts
Ancient Tea & Horse Caravan Road China travel Dali Jeff Fuchs Lijiang october 2014 Shaxi Tea & Horse WildChina WildChina expert Xishuangbanna Yunnan .
Musings from WildChina Explorer and Expert Jeff Fuchs on the importance of the Ancient Tea & Horse Caravan Road, and why we should all bump it up on our travel list…
The Ancient Tea & Horse Caravan Road has long held the attention of explorers and vagabonds alike for the fact that it represents one of the globe’s great and daunting adventures. A cultural odyssey as much as a physically demanding pathway that brought tea, salt, horses, and all manner of goods from the fringes of the old dynastical empires into and onto the Tibetan Plateau. Pre-dating the Silk Road, the Tea & Horse Caravan Road and its meandering pathways through indigenous zones, ancient tea forests, and stunning geographies offer up a deeper look into the very historical fabric of southwest China, Tibet, and beyond.
Across snow passes, over some of the planet’s great waterways, the route takes in three- dozen cultures, two dozen languages…all with their own histories with tea and the great trade route.
Tea figured greatly upon this ‘highway through the sky’ as it was – and to some extent remains – one of the great panaceas and commodities of time. Tea was more a fuel and medicine to the ancient tribes and its safe transport was one of the great vitals of the trade world.
This WildChina journey along the Ancient Tea & Horse Caravan Road seeks to dig into and take the journey back to its roots. Authentic touches of exploration off the beaten path, serious tea-highs from some of the planet’s purest ancient tree teas, and home stays that are entirely integral with delving deeper into a culture and land are on offer. Walking through some of the oldest tea forests on the planet, and then sampling them in a cup bind the leaf to its drinker and by extension to any that partake in a cup.
We’ve enhanced sections to take you deeper still into Yunnan’s diversity and created more of a full-on adventure. Daily tea samplings, from fresh bitter harvests, to locally prepared specialties (including the Tibetan’s famed and pungent butter tea) from local regions.
I’m delighted that this journey has continued and been intensified to add a more authentic feel that reflects life and travel upon the Tea & Horse Caravan Road. In traveling upon this most ancient of trade routes, it is important to retain some of the original feel of travel, life, and interaction for our guests.
It is vital that such a journey keep its vitality and spontaneity. It is only in this kind of travel and attention to detail that a route’s history, legend, and truths can remain intact.
All photos by Jeff Fuchs
If Jeff’s descriptions of tea got your heart beating a little faster, check out the itinerary & October dates for the 2014 trip here. You can also download the flyer to share around here. If you want to read more about Jeff and his travels, check out his blog here. And finally, if you have any questions, shoot us an email here: email@example.com
March 21st, 2014
WildChina | Categories: Luxury China Travel
China travel group travel .
For anyone with an adventurous soul who loves to ditch the map and experience a country on your terms, it’s safe to guess that a group journey would never make it onto 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. It can leave you free to focus on the moments, without the confusion and frustration that comes with not speaking the local language, or understanding local customs—both huge hurdles in China!
Making the decision to join a small group journey may not be easy for all travelers so first things first. Be 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 16 people in the group, not including the expert or guide dedicated to ensuring you get the most out of your trip. So here’s why small groups work really well in China and why it’s such a benefit, especially for first time visitors:
1) Travel like you’re eating off a set menu.
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 (Tibet) 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 overwhelming.
If you’re looking for a simple holiday option that you can easily book, traveling in a small group is right up that alley. Most travel companies offer fantastic add-on options to customize parts of your trip, but for the most part, it’s like ordering a set menu—no fuss, and you get to try a bit of everything. 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.
2) More takeaways.
China is different. It’s different from the US, from Canada, from Europe, from Australia…you get the picture. But this is why people come—because it’s a fascinating place to visit. A week on the beach in Mexico, China is not…which means there’s a lot to process, a lot to be curious about, and a lot of surprising (hopefully exciting!) experiences and interactions to discuss at the end of the day. Traveling with others, who might have completely different or similar impressions as you, makes for great conversation and insight to take with you at the end of the trip.
3) Food. Definitely the 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.
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 trip to Tibet in June accepts a maximum of 16 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 or traveling to Tibet, do let us know, we’d be happy to hear from you!
March 18th, 2014
WildChina | Categories: Dining Experiences in China
1949 beijing beijing restaurant best beijing restaurant noodle bar noodles .
Hand-pulled noodles, freshly-made broth, and an open kitchen? Welcome to Noodle Bar, part of 1949 The Hidden City. Enter the tiny room and pick one of only 12 stools around the bar; with so few seats, everyone gets front-row tickets to the noodle-pulling spectacle.
Let the show begin! From your seat you’ll be able to watch the expert whip your noodles into true noodle LOVE!
Noodle Bar only offers one thing: (you guessed it!) noodles. But within that, there are plenty of choices: thick noodles, thin noodles, beef brisket, beef tendon, beef tripe, mushrooms…etc. You get the idea. And it’s all laid out on single-page menus attached to cute miniature clipboards, for your extreme convenience. Just tick the options you want and no need to fret if you’re coming here on your own—the menu is bilingual.
March 10th, 2014
WildChina | Categories: WildChina Corporate Travel, WildChina Travel Tips
Beijing Beijing hotels Beijing travel Chaoyang Hilton Beijing Hilton Suites travel in China where to stay WildChina WildChina favorites WildChina travel .
With the large range of accommodation options available to you in Beijing, sometimes it’s the little things that help you decide – like the finishing touches of the Imperial and Chairman Suites at the Hilton Beijing in Chaoyang district. This hotel lives up to the Hilton name, and then some, and is located in the city’s embassy district, not far from Beijing’s financial centers and the bustling nightlife and dining options of Sanlitun.
The Hilton Beijing’s Imperial Suite
The Hilton Beijing offers nine distinct suites–but our favorites are the Chairman Suite and spacious Imperial Suite that even boasts a zen-life relaxation room! These suites each have a large kitchen with separate access for the private chef and staff, available around the clock to prepare everything from an authentic Chinese dinner after a long day, to an opulent formal dinner party for eight people in the Chairman Suite and 15 in the Imperial.
The living area of the Chairman Suite
Bedroom of the Chairman Suite
Relax in style in this 165m² suite located on the ninth floor of the executive tower, offering executive lounge access and complimentary breakfast. The contemporary design and state-of-the-art amenities convey a sense of blissful comfort, and to unwind you can enjoy a movie on the plasma TV with a heart-pumping Bang & Olufsen sound system that completes the ultimate in-home theater experience.
Living space in the Imperial Suite
This suite is called Imperial for a reason. At 200m² and located on the top floor of the main tower, this superbly crafted suite offers great views of Beijing, while the interior combines modern technology with a touch of local Chinese flair. The spacious dining and living area is perfect for hosting a private reception, while the separated bedroom and office provides a personal space to recharge from a busy day.
In addition to these suites, the Hilton Beijing offers three dining options, a lounge, and a funky bar serving signature cocktails and delicious Champagnes. There is a large health club, spa, and even a Tony & Guy salon located in the main lobby. For meetings, it is an ideal location with 12 function rooms, including the city’s first 360 degree round infinity ballroom.
We recommend the five-star Hilton Beijing for both business and leisure travelers. It is located a quick 30 minute car ride from the airport and offers easy access to the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, major shopping and entertainment and more!
Looking for more hotel recommendations? Don’t hesitate to send us an email with your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org!
November 29th, 2013
WildChina | Categories: Adventure Travel in China, Exclusive Access China, On the Road, WildChina Travel Tips
adventure travel China Dai people Manfeilong Stupas travel to Yunnan WildChina travel WildChina Travel Tips Xishuangbanna .
If cold weather is not your thing, head south to the subtropical region of Xishuangbanna.
Nestled in the southernmost tip of Yunnan province, just between neighboring Myanmar and Laos, this region hosts a vibrant intermingling of cultures and landscapes. With average daily highs of 26 degrees Celsius in January, the forests and villages here are immune to the annual chill that is felt in the north. It’s no wonder Xishuangbanna was picked as Travel+Leisure’s 2012 Hottest Travel Destinations.
What better way to spend the winter than in the mountains and rainforests of Southeast Asia?
The winter months are the ideal time to visit this part of the world, as they mark the end of the wet season. Imagine finding your inner naturalist as you walk among the regional flora, keeping an ear out for the song of the elusive black-crested gibbon.
The home of peacocks, wild oxen and various primates, Xishuangbanna is also the only place in China that still has a wild Asian elephant population.
Xishuangbanna’s biodiversity is matched by an equally astounding cultural presence. Of more than a dozen different ethnic groups living here, the most prominent is the Dai population, which makes up nearly a third of the region’s one-million inhabitants.
Dai culture is markedly different from that of other Chinese populations. The language spoken here is more similar to that of the Thai, which draws heavily upon Theravada Buddhism and the indigenous practices that predate it. Both geographically and culturally, this is the one part of China that really belongs to Southeast Asia, and that feeling is impossible to miss.
If you are looking to get a taste of this unique cultural identity, your best bet is to take a trip into one of the many villages that dot this region. Here, you experience life as it has existed for centuries – something that is increasingly precious in a country that is rocketing into the 21st century. Visit the age old Buddhist pagodas, or step into a villager’s home for a cup of tea. This is, after all, the corner of the world where tea originated.
If you’d like more travel ideas or to join WildChina on a trip to China’s subtropical south, see our journey:
Pushing China’s Southern Boundary: Trekking in Xishuangbanna.
On the road in Xishuangbanna: Manfeilong Stupas.
Photo Credit: Chris Horton
November 22nd, 2013
WildChina | Categories: Uncategorized
Hong Kong may not be a place you would think to spend the holidays, but a visit to this historic trade city offers a chance to put an eastern twist on a western tradition.
Each year as December approaches its end, Hong Kong’s skyline takes on a festive air. Christmas imagery adorns the towering walls of city skyscrapers, while at street-level holiday decorations abound. It is impossible not to notice the commercialism that drives this activity; it is fascinating to see the degree to which this far eastern metropolis has embraced the “Christmas Spirit”.
One of the most apparent ways in which this spirit manifests is the shopping activity.
Every year, Hong Kong’s famous shopping malls out do themselves with extravagant Christmas displays and holiday sales. Hong Kong’s theme parks also do their best to spread the holiday cheer, with Santa and his reindeer making regular visits at Ocean Park and Disneyland’s gingerbread village.
Although Hong Kong celebrates its annual Winterfest during this period, it really feels more like spring or early autumn. In fact, the cool, dry weather makes winter one of the best times to visit this famously hot and humid city, as you can comfortably enjoy a range of outdoor activities.
While Hong Kong is well known for its densely packed urban landscape, people often overlook the incredible beaches countryside just outside the city. Nearly 40% of Hong Kong’s land has been preserved in the form of parks and nature reserves, making it an unlikely destination for sports such as hiking, surfing and mountain biking.
As no holiday is complete without a proper feast, be sure to explore the rich food culture that has earned this city nicknames such as “Gourmet Paradise” and “World’s Fair of Food”. With the highest concentration of Michelin star restaurants of anywhere in the world, Hong Kong offers fine dining options that range from international cuisine to local dim sum favorites.Whether you’re in the mood for south Asian cuisine or New York style pizza, you can find the best of it here.
If it’s a more traditional Christmas dinner that you’re after, you’re in luck. Every Christmas, Hong Kong’s hotels compete among themselves to see who can provide the most delicious holiday spread.
So this year, why not have a very Hong-Kong holiday?
November 18th, 2013
WildChina | Categories: WildChina Explorer Grant
We are proud to announce that Canadian explorer and tea expert, Jeff Fuchs, will be joining us this year as one of the WildChina Explorer Grant judges. Having won the grant himself in 2011, Jeff has dedicated his life to adventure and discovery. He is most well known as the first westerner to travel the full length of the Ancient Tea and Horse road that was used for centuries as a trade route between China, Tibet, Nepal, and India. This expedition was extraordinary in that it brought to light a major piece of cultural history and gave voice to the stories of the remaining “muleteers” who would make this arduous journey before the building of roads began to replace this means of transport.
His fascination with old trade routes did not stop there, however, and in 2011 Jeff received a WildChina Explorer Grant to retrace a portion of the old Tsalam Salt Road. Located in the remote highlands of southern Qinghai province (Amdo), this passage sustained many of the nomadic communities that occupy the region which, as Jeff explains, “remains culturally, historically and geographically one of the least documented portions on earth.” In traveling to these lost channels of cultural and commercial exchange, Jeff Fuchs has consistently demonstrated the power of exploration to shed light on the amazing human histories that are embedded in the landscape.
For the chance to win $3000 of funding for your own Chinese adventure, don’t forget to apply for the 2014 WildChina Explorer Grant!