From China

12 Asian Destinations for First-time Solo Backpackers

In 2012, I traveled solo for the first time in my life.

I still remember how scared I was before the trip. With only a small backpack, a Neil Gaiman book, a thousand dollars, and a will to get out of my comfort zone, I boarded the plane to Bangkok. As I was checking in, there were no butterflies in my belly, only a great fear that I might find myself unfit for the travel lifestyle and come running back home earlier than planned.

Read more

5 Lesser-Known but Must-Visit Places in China

Where I’m from, when you say traveling to China, it means touring one of these five cities: Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai, Macau and Guangzhou. Outside the travel circles and blogging communities, only a few have heard of other Chinese destinations. Everything else can already be considered “off-the-beaten-path.” But if there’s one thing that my journey from Guilin to Zhangjiajie has taught me, it’s that this vast, vast country has a gazillion surprises tucked in its provinces.

We asked travel and food enthusiast Wai Zhou, co-founder of Eating Adventures Food Tours, for other marvelous places in China that every explorer must experience. She has traveled extensively throughout the country with a particular interest in Yunnan, Guangdong and Xinjiang provinces. Here are her recommendations, words and photos by her.

Read more

Beguiling Guilin: Li River Bamboo Rafting to Yangshuo, China

I’d always imagined myself touring the Li River at sunrise. In my head was a picture of me, rafting through the mist that hugged the cliffs that rose from the banks while a cold, purplish blue light covered the scene. That picture, for the longest time, had been framed and nailed to the walls of my mind. If I would ever find myself in Guilin, that scene would have to happen. River. Cliffs. Dawn. Perfection. It had to happen.

But I am not a morning person. Absolutely not a morning person.

Read more

Wulingyuan and Zhangjiajie, China: Budget Travel Guide 2016

Every now and then, you find yourself in a place that even after many years later, you would look back and still couldn’t believe yourself when you say, “Damn, I was there?”

To me, other than the screening of M. Night Shyamalan’s The Happening — I can’t still believe I paid for that — that place is the city of Zhangjiajie in Hunan Province, China. But for Zhangjiajie, I mean that in the best possible way.

Read more

Avatar Floating Mountains: Finding Pandora in Zhangjiajie, China

Try as I could, I was not able to stop gaping as the scene unfolded before me. My eyes seemed to be playing a trick, revealing the floating Hallelujah Mountains of Pandora. Except, this was not a movie scene. And none of this was fictional. Granted, the peaks were not really floating, but it took very little imagination to see how these cinematic pillars inspired the creators of Avatar, the highest-grossing film of all time.

Read more

6 Incredible Attractions in Tianmen Mountain, Zhangjiajie, China

Just a month before we arrived, a Hungarian wingsuit flier crashed to his death when he hit a cliffside here at Tianmen Mountain National Forest Park. But that did not stop us from paying a visit to this scenic area in Zhangjiajie, China. And it shouldn’t. After all, we won’t be jumping from the sky.

We were not alone. With us were many other tourists, mostly domestic. The queues were long and everyone was excited to enjoy both the natural wonders and the man-made structures built at the site. Tianmen Mountain is incredible, to say the least. The scenery alone would make me not forgive myself if I left Zhangjiajie without spending a few hours in the company of these famous peaks. Daredevils, I imagine, are easily drawn, too. Aside from the usual relaxing spots, the site boasts a number of thrilling attractions that not only offer breathtaking views but also gives your adrenal glands a little squeeze. Here are six of them.

Read more

In Pictures: Sunset in Zhangjiajie, China

When I hopped into the gondola to go down to the city center of Zhangjiajie, I was thinking of only one thing — the train to Liuzhou.

I stayed way too long at Tianmen Mountain National Park. I did not notice the time pass. Blame the countless incredible sights at Tianmen. I probably spent much of the time picking my lower jaw up off the floor. Earlier that morning, I was thrilled with the idea of a 28-minute cable car ride. But pressed for time going back down, I just wanted it to be over quick. Twenty eight minutes is too long for a guy who is paranoid that he would miss the last train of the day.

All that changed with one westward head turn. The sunset had begun.

Read more