China Travel Tips

Reflections on Travel in China

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Visiting Lhasa, Tibet

One of the best times to visit Tibet when it comes to culture is November. It is a bit cool in the 60's during the day and 30's at night but the skies are usually clear and the sun very bright and warm. Why November? There are not many tourists during the winter months but the nomads from all over Tibet come to Lhasa to trade their goods, get supplies and make a pilgrimage. Many tribes come to Lhasa with their different dress and culture during the winter months and are also there to have a good time after being out in the remote areas. They spend just about all their money they get for selling hides, jewelry, yak meat and of course Yak Butter the staple for every Tibetan family which you see above. Money has no use out in the plateaus so they spend it all while they are in Lhasa. My Tibetan friend above and I spent several days combing the city which is only about 400,000 people and easy to get around in. We visited all the monasteries, the Potala Palace, old neighborhoods and of course the Barkhore street market just a block from my hotel. Earlier I wrote about visiting Lake Yamdok at 16,000 feet above sea level and visiting a home in one of the villages there. See my web site at for some great package tours to Tibet or ask us to plan a special tour just for you to include Tibet and other places in China. 25 years experience in Tours To China. Ask us for our references of very satisfied clients who have visited Tibet too.

Pagoda Built in 1492

There are many pagodas and ancient buildings in China but the one above is interesting as it was built in 1492, the year Columbus discovered America. It is located in the Tiger Hill Park in Suzhou not far from Shanghai. If you are in Shanghai and want to spend an interesting day, the train takes about 45 minutes to get to Suzhou which is an easy city to get around. Tiger Hill Park has a show every afternoon too in the park. Suzhou is also known for its parks with over 89 formal gardens of which only about 27 are open to the public. The three main parks worth seeing are the Humble Administrator's Park, Lingering Gardens and the Garden of the Nets. Garden of the Nets has a musical evening with traditional instruments too. Also known for Silk, the #1 Silk Factory can be toured and samples from the other 26 factories are on display there in the show room. A short live fashion show is also put on daily at 15 minute intervals. Suzhou also has canals running through the city and a boat ride is worth your time. For more information on Suzhou, please contact us at We are Tour Operators to China and Tibet for over 25 years. Check our web site at

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


One of the most asked questions I get as a Tour Operator to China is about exchanging money. Above is the largest bill in China, a 100 Yuan note, at today's exchange rate is worth about $16. Just four years ago, it was worth about $12 so the U.S. dollar has decreased against the yuan. Most hotels will exchange cash or refer you to a near by bank. It is best to have yuan if you go into rural areas as foreign exchange is sometimes not available. Cash machines are popping up all over in China including some 4 and 5 star hotels and your credit or debit cards can be used. You put in the U.S. dollar amount that you want exchanged and out comes the correct Yuan amount. The charges vary with the banks. I use a debit card issued by my stock brokerage and they cover all the exchange fees. When you want to exchange your Yuan back into U.S. dollars,(which is done at the a airport when you are leaving) you must present the exchange slips that you received in order for the Chinese bank to make your exchange. Only exchange your money at the hotel's exchange counter, cash machines or Chinese bank. (not all banks exchange international money) Never exchange money with local people as there is much counterfeit money in China. For more money hints, contact us for more information at  Our web site:

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Leaping Tiger Gorge

The Leaping Tiger Gorge is the most famous in China. It got its name from the myth that a Tiger leaped across the gorge after being chased by hunters landing on the rock in the bottom photo. Located between LiJiang and Dali in Yunnan province, it is usually visited on a day trip from LiJiang or stopped at from one of the many different sightseeing routes in that area. If you are into hiking, there is a hiking path along the gorge also. For more information on the many sites of China please feel free to contact me at I have been travelling all through China for the past 25 years and over 50+ trips to China and Tibet and have planed tours sending over 2,500 people to China from all over the world. Tours to China is my business, but the Chinese culture is my passion. Click on the photos for full screen Views!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Living at 16,000 feet Above Sea Level

This fall my annual working trip to China took me to Tibet. The changes since my last trip were more than I had anticipated. Lhasa has doubled in size in just 10 years. Going in November it was in the 60's during the day and 30's at night with an intense sun. Walking from the sun into the shade was quite a contrast in temperature as the air is cool but the sun is warming. More modern hotels, lots of cars and wealth has come to the people of Tibet. Restaurants now have western, Tibetan, Chinese and Indian food on the menu. My Tibetan friends took me out to a sacred lake at 16,000 feet where I was surprised to find several small villages and we stopped to visit one family to see what life is like at that altitude. A simple life and certainly cold most of the year, without electricity but still have cars to get to the city when they want or use motorcycles rather than horses to round up their yaks. They even plant some vegetable crops at that altitude. A great time to visit is November because there are few tourists but the Nomads from around Tibet come to Lhasa to trade their wares for supplies and goods plus making a pilgrimage while they are there. One sees the different dress and peoples from the whole country at this time of year. Check our web site for new packaged tours to Tibet or let us design a custom tour to your interests and requirements. Tours to China is our business and our only business for over 25 years.  Click on the photo for full screen viewing.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Century Line on the Yangtze River

As a tour operator to China and Tibet only I must review new tourist spots, hotels and yes the Yangtze River Cruises.  I reviewed the Century Line with their 6 new wonderful boats on the Yangtze River. Century just started marketing in the U.S. this past few years so of course I had to review their boats and service.  Above you see one of their boats going through the Gorges which are spectacular even after the new dam has been finished. Note the spacious standard cabin and the center stairway to the upper floors although there are elevators available too. Breakfast and lunch is buffet style and dinner is served to round tables of 8 which is done in 5 star style. The staff is very friendly and very accommodating to your wishes. Evening performances in spacious lounges are held in the evenings and during the day there are off boat excursions and demonstrations going on too. Kite flying off the top deck during the day and commentary on what you are seeing is done in English and Chinese as you pass by the 3 Gorges and cities along the way. All this is included in one price including an off boat visit to the new dam and the 5 sets of locks which are the largest in the world. For more information and bookings, contact us at We represent the U.S. Victoria Line and the new Century Line two best cruise lines on the Yangtze River. Combine it with a China and or Tibet tour and save an extra 25%   Click on the photos for a full screen view!      and