China Travel Tips

Reflections on Travel in China

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Living in Caves in China

We often assume living in caves is from ancient days; however in north China there are hundreds of thousands living in caves yet today. Caves are warm in the winter and cool in the summer and are normally lined to keep out the moisture. Most are in Shaanxi and Shanxi provinces of northern China. Countryside caves as in the photo are usually dug out of a hill side. This one is south of Datong and inhabited by an elderly man who enjoys having visitors come to visit him. There are whole communities of cave villages that can be seen by train from Xian to Luoyang. Most however do not enjoy having curious tourists visit them in the countryside. On the outskirts of Xian you can visit some of these cave dwellers but it is becoming more of a touristy situation rather than a cultural visit. In Luoyang they have what they call an Urban Cave shown in the other photo. Above the cave is "ground level" and a large square hole is dug and caves are made off to the side for sleeping, eating, cooking etc. This cave was for a large family with several children who now live above the ground in mud brick homes. Their mother still lives in the caves as she has for the past 70 years. Her husband died several years ago and I go back to visit her at intervals. She celebrated her 92nd birthday this past year and is very hearty. I had visited her 10 years earlier and before I left told her I would be back in another 10 years and told her to take good care of herself.....she quipped back that she hoped I would still be alive!!! Another part of China Culture.  Click on photos for full screen.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Bamboo Sea National Park

This past fall I found the Bamboo Sea National Park which must be a secret in China because this beautiful park had next to no tourists. This national park has many varieties of bamboo in a large reserve along with countless varieties of butter flies, birds and insects. There are cable cars that stretch over 4 miles across the canopy of bamboo trees spread across the hills besides the many hiking trails available. A photographers paradise, there are hidden lakes which you can rent canoes and enjoy the quietness of this wonderful reserve. You would think that in this remote spot that there would only be small old hotels with so few tourists but near by is the Eden 5 Star Resort with Spa and pools fit for a king and not very costly so far. A two day tour of this park is included in a 5 Day Ecological Tour listed on my web site which can be added to any other tour or a private planned tour by us. Check our web site at and click on Packaged tours and then Ecological Tours to see a 5 day itinerary.

Guiness Book of Records Longest Hair in the World

The Zhrung nationality people living in the mountains outside of Guilin at Longsheng Rice Terraces hold the record for longest hair in the world. The women traditionally do not cut their hair but once in their life time. At age 13 they cut their hair but keep it and make a bun out of it weaving it into their hair that continues to grow the rest of their life without cutting. For a small tip the women will unwind their hair to show you the length as in the photograph here.  It is a nice one day outing to Longsheng from Guilin to enjoy the countryside and rice terraces. It is also a great area for hiking or walking through the hills and villages. There are a few hotels for staying overnight if you wish to stay overnight and enjoy the beautiful sunset, ranging from a 5 star small luxury hotel to nice 3 star hotels with western facilities. In the spring you will see rice planting, during the summer and early fall green rice terraces and during the later fall the harvesting of the rice. For more information on touring in this area contact me at    Click on the photos for full screen viewing!
25 Years of doing Quality Tours to China

Walk or Hike The GREAT WALL

The Great Wall is one of the premier sites that people want to visit in China. There are several places to visit for just a short walk or hikes that can be moderate to more difficult. I will try to give you a view of several sections. Badaling section is where the group tours go as it is the closest section to Beijing and buses go there on the freeway. Easy walks and light hiking can be done at this area. Mutainyu is my favorite section with few if any buses, much less crowded and a good place for walking or a light hike with a cable car to take you up onto the Wall. The Simatai section is a favorite section for hikers for moderate hiking with some sections not repaired. You can hike from Simatai to Jinshanling which takes about 3 to 4 hours and is about 40 miles north of Beijing. If you are into more difficult hiking near the same area there is a 3 to 4 hour loop of hiking from Huanghua to Zhuangdaokou Guar that is considered a Wild Section which has not ever been repaired but only experienced hikers should attempt this hike. Good sturdy walking or hiking shoes should be worn and it tends to be windy and cooler than in the city. A good day pack with snacks and water is a good idea too. For more information on visiting the Great Wall, email me at

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Huanguoshu Waterfall Area - Guizhou Province

One of the lesser known provinces of China is Guizhou province just south of Sichuan and East of Yunnan provinces. Guiyang is the capital and only airport city in the province. Not many western tourists have gone there in the past but the province has the largest waterfall in China located at Huanguoshu. It is a cascading water fall for several miles and has many trails for hiking in the area. Also located nearby is a wonderful Bonsai garden one of the best I have ever seen in China set among arched bridges and ponds. Not far near Anshan are some wonderful stone villages from ancient days and even a stone castle which is open to the public called Tumpa Han Village and fort. There the decendents of 22 generations live whose ancestors were warriors Few western tourists visit this area so you will get an excellen view of the real and ancient China up close and personal. The Zhrung and Miao nationalities live in this area which has hills, forests with lakes and caverns to visit too. For those who are interested in remote areas with few western tour crowds and natural settings, a three day visit is sufficient.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Li River Cruise

The Yangtze River Cruise of course is very famous and takes a few days; but most people do not know about the Li River Day Cruise which is 4 to 6 hours from Guilin to Yangshuo. A narrow and shallow river, the Li River cruise is through some of the most beautiful countryside and hay stack like hills in all China. Once the bottom of the ocean millions of years ago, this area has become one of the best river cruises in China. You are bused through the countryside form Guilin to the boat docks to board one of the river boats complete with lunch during the cruise. Be sure to take plenty of film as this cruise is a photographers dream. You can take the short cruise that goes directly to Yangshuo or you can take the cruise that stops at Crown Cave. Crown cave is included on some of the itineraries and is a great example of carst caves of this ancient area. Arriving at Yangshuo, you will find an old village that has now become a tourist destination for the fantastic evening show on the river with hundreds of local people involved in the entertainment. It is one of the best shows in China. Once a small village, Yangshuo has become a wonderful place to spend a few days relaxing, biking, hiking, shopping for bargains or just enjoying country life here. Many street restaurants serving both Chinese and western food along with great people watching are just part of the attraction to this area.