China in your hands
China on your bucket list but looking a bit daunting? Get the lowdown from the experts
With everything from casino cities to panda conservation, terracotta warriors to five-star river cruises, China is an iconic destination of a lifetime. It is also an essential stop for anyone hoping to learn more about the direction the world is taking this century. But it’s a little bit different culturally, and in terms of the language, than say a trip to good old Spain. So we asked our friends and Kent & Sussex travel experts Baldwins Travel Group to give us the lowdown on the best way to explore this beautiful and distant land.
How to get there?
‘Go with Wendy Wu!’ they told us.
‘Who is this Wendy Wu who’s going to kindly take me on holiday with her?!’ you’re thinking… Turns out this is the name of the tour operator genuinely founded by a lovely Chinese woman called – you’ve guessed it – Wendy Wu! Well now Wendy Wu is the UK’s leading Asia specialists who can also take you worldwide, but they’ve managed to hold onto that personal touch and they’re particular experts in China.
But they do coach tours right?
Think escorted tours with coaches are just for those in retirement? Then think again, because Wendy Wu tell us the average age of travellers on such trips has recently dropped by a decade. And to keep up with demand travel companies are now offering cooler, authentic experiences that allow for the kind of adventurous cultural immersion that the younger traveller enjoys.
Most importantly China is a place where even keen independent travellers like myself put their hands up and let the experts take over over. Because of the language barrier, unless you are fluent in Mandarin and Cantonese, getting around on your own is very difficult – no one speaks English, you won’t even be able to read signs… then there’s the red tape. On an escorted tour everything is organised, from food to visas.
Want to see all the famous sights?
Wendy Wu’s popular Wonders of China tour is a 16 day journey covering all the classics, including Beijing (the Great Wall, Forbidden City, Summer Palace and many more iconic sites), Xian (Terracotta Warriors), a Yangtze River cruise and a Panda House visit. You also take in the beautiful and stunning scenery of Guilin & Yangshou in the South and finish off in Shanghai, the most modern city in China. How’s that for the ultimate whistle-stop tour of the ‘bucket list’ bits?
Want a cool city break?
Try the Hong Kong and Macau Short Stay Trip – it’s the cool twin-centre trip you may not have heard of. Hong Kong of course is famous for Shopping and Michelin Star Restaurants. Macau is the lesser known destination of splendid beaches, exciting casinos and Mediterranean culture. Yup, you read that right. It’s basically the Vegas of Asia – a long casino strip with a lot of the big famous Vegas hotels. What’s more it has Portuguese heritage from colonial times mixed with Chinese so you get cobbled streets and Catholic churches with Buddhist temples all blended together – making for a thoroughly unique experience.
At the moment you take a ferry ride between Hong Kong and Macau but in 2018 a new road bridge will open making it even easier to twin these two fun and fabulous destinations.
And if you’re after a bit of adventure?
Travellers nowadays aren’t content to just sit on a coach and watch the scenery, they want to get involved with local customs and activities. If this sounds like you then check out Wendy Wu’s new Immerse Yourself discovery tours, that include such experiences as hiking the Great Wall of China, visiting one of the less touristy panda reserves, taking a tuk-tuk around the famous Angkor Wat Temples in Cambodia or a vespa tour around bars and food stalls in Saigon, Vietnam or perhaps a jeep tour of Rajasthan, India. Or even a visit to Everest base camp in Nepal (need I go on…?)
What about those pandas?!
The In Pursuit of Pandas experience is a 9 day tour that takes you through the imperial treasures of Beijing through atmospheric Xian (with its famous legions of Terracotta Warriors) to reach the city of Chengdu, where you will meet its most famous residents – the captivating Giant Pandas. Here you can actually roll your sleeves up and get involved in conservation work – helping with cleaning up the habitat of these endangered, beautiful big bears. Awww. Let’s be honest it’s on most people’s ultimate ‘must-see-in-my-lifetime-if-I’m-lucky-enough’ list…
So there you go, China in your hands… and you safely in the hands of the experts.