China Travel Tips

Reflections on Travel in China

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Hiking in China

Many people ask me about hiking in China. There are many places to hike but few regular trails as we have in the U.S. except perhaps in National Parks. Much depends on your hiking wishes whether it be leisure or difficult hiking. The Great Wall is a favorite place to hike but can be difficult too depending on which section of the Wall is chosen. Hiking in National Parks is often on wooden plank trails to preserve the land. The Dragon's Back is a favorite hiking area outside of Guilin at the Terraced Rice Paddies of Longsheng. Huashan mountains near Xian is another favorite area as well as Huangshan mountains in south China. I have hiked all over China for over 25 years and can give you recommendations for hiking at the level you choose including Tibet even though sometimes you might need to make your own trails in more remote areas. Light day hikes of course are always available for Birding or just the enjoyment of nature whether it is in the forests of the Bamboo Sea National park or the jungles of southern Yunnan around Xishuangbanna and their Botanical parks. Let my 25+ years in China and Tibet give you more ideas about visiting and hiking in China. Check my web site at Private personal planned tours are my specialty.

The Last Matriarchal Society in China

The last Matriarchal society in China are the Mosuo people who live around Lugu lake at 8,000 feet about 7 hours drive across 4 mountains from LiJiang in north Yunnan province on the border of Sichuan province. The society has changed a little over the last 25 years that I have visited it, but I still enjoy this colorful minority group. New modern hotels are now available and one of the mountain tops is being leveled to allow an airport to be built in the future which will bring a flood of tourists. Presently few tourists reach this area and it is still pristine area to visit. You can even rent a dug out canoe or go with the Mosuos for a tour of two islands in the lake with one of them having a small Monastery with a few monks that you may visit. There is a show each evening with Mosuo dancing and traditional music mostly for the few tourists however the local people also like this show too. There is no real city, just a small village on the lake. The Mosuo tradition of not marrying is still common and it is quite interesting to visit them and learn about their culture. Although remote, there are small restaurants available with local food and fresh fish from the lake. In a few years this will all change with so many tourists coming so plan on visiting them soon or in the next couple years. Let my 25 years of experience in China help you plan a China and/or Tibet tour just for you. Click on the photos for full size screen.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Culture Show in Dunhuang

There are many culture shows in China based on history, individual cultures as well as celebrations. In 22 years of travelling in China, I have seen good ones and bad ones. I recommend only a few of them that I consider outstanding. One of them surprised me as being excellent as it is never included in group tours and only by accident did I find it. Dunhuang on the Silk Road tour is a small city in the desert but very historical and site of the Great Sand Dunes. I was in the city inspecting hotels when I saw a brochure on an evening show there. The guide asked me if I would like to attend it. Not expecting much but having nothing special to do other than check a good restaurant, so I went. The show is a historical show of ballet and music with fantastic costumes in a small theater that I loved. I now include it in all of my tours of the Silk Road. There are no speaking parts which is typical of Chinese shows like this so you don't need a translation. The cost is little but the show was great for such a small town. For more information on shows in China, email me at

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Tibetan Art in Yak Butter?

After travel in China and Tibet for the past 26 years and over 50 trips I still am fascinated by Chinese and Tibetan art. During festivals the Tibetan monks prepare displays of art made from yak butter that is dyed many different colors. The monks design and make displays for the festivals that often takes weeks to make which are beautiful and so unusual. After the festival is over, the displays are taken down and melted to be used again or to be burned in the monasteries. To me this is art and a special art that only exists for a short time and then lost forever in the melting pot. Most monks will let you take pictures without flash to preserve this art. So when you travel throughout China and Tibet watch for these special pieces knowing that you may have the only photos of them.