Archive for the ‘China Top 10’ Category

Top 10 Souvenirs in China

Thursday, July 22nd, 2021
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There are many exotic and unusual things to buy in China which make wonderful souvenirs and gifts for relatives and friends back home.

If you are wondering what to buy on your China Tour, the following top 10 souvenirs in China may serve as a guidance planning your own shopping in China. If you travel to Beijing in particular, you may read my another article Top 10 Souvenirs in Beijing for more information.

1. Silk 丝绸

China is the birthplace of silk. Chinese silk is famous all over the world for its magnificent quality, color and variety. Silk products from Hangzhou, Sichuan, Suzhou and Dandong are particularly good.

Silk and Blouses in China

When come to China, many visitors would like to buy some souvenirs. The smooth silk product is certainly the best choice. Silk can be make into chi-pao (Chinese-styled long gown), clothes and other accessories.

2. Tea 茶叶

There are hundreds of varieties of Chinese tea. The practice of drinking tea has a long history in China. Chinese tea can be classified into five categories: green tea, black tea, brick tea, scented tea, and oolong tea.

Chinese teas

The 10 most famous Chinese teas are:
Longjing (Dragon Well) produced near West Lake;
Maofeng (Fur Peak) from Mt. Huangshan in Anhui;
Tieguanyin (Iron Goddess) from Anxi, Fujian;
Yinzhen (Sliver Needle) from Mt. Jun, Hunan;
Qi Men Hong (Black Tea) from Qimen County, Anhui;
Maojian (Fur Tip) from Xinyang, Henan;
Liu’an Guapian (Mellon Seed) from Liuan County, Anhui;
Duyun Maojian (Fur Tip) from Duyun Mountain in Guizhou;
Pu’er from Simao, Yunnan.

3. Porcelain 瓷器

Porcelain, also called “fine china”, has been one of the earliest artworks introduced to the western world through the Silk Road. It is an artform that has been developing since the dynastic periods.

Blue and White Porcelain

China is richly endowed with the raw materials needed for making ceramics. Jingdezhen, one of China’s most famous cultural and historic cities, is the ancient porcelain city.

4. Handicrafts 手工艺

There is an old saying goes “you can tell a nation from its handicrafts”. Chinese handicrafts are created to be living things. It has been the highest level pursued by countless artisans on their works.

Chinese Embroidery

You may think the norm abstract, intricate, or mysterious, but when you see close to some works, you would feel an undercurrent of power flowing in them.

The famous Chinese handcrafts include: embroidery, paper cut, woodblock picture, leather silhouette, silk embroidery, carving, pottery, etc.

5. Jades 玉器

Jade symbolizes beauty, nobility, perfection, constancy, power, and immortality in Chinese culture. Jade has a history in China of at least four thousands years. Jade craftworks were among the most precious and luxurious ones; people wore and decorated rooms to indicate loyalty, elegance, beauty, and eternity. 

Jade Carving

The most four famous jades are:
Hetian Jade produced in Xinjiang;
Xiu Jade produced in Xiuyan County, Liaoning;
Dushan Jade produced in Nanyang, Henan;
Turquoise produced in Hubei.

6. Chinese Paintings 中国画

Chinese painting is one of the oldest continuous artistic traditions in the world. Over the centuries, the growth of Chinese painting inevitably reflected the change of time and social conditions.

Chinese Painting

The two main techniques in Chinese painting are:
Meticulous — Gong-bi often referred to as “court-style” painting;
Freehand — Shui-mo loosely termed watercolor or brush painting.

The Chinese character “mo” means ink and “shui” means water. This style is also referred to as “xie yi” or freehand style.

7. Calligraphies 书法

Chinese calligraphy is an art form, and calligraphers are highly respected.  There are several styles of writing:  Seal, official or clerical, regular, running or semi-cursive, and cursive.  Each one has its own characteristics and purpose.

Calligraphies

The four treasures of the study are brush, paper, ink and ink stick. If you are interested in Chinese Calligraphies, you can buy some while you are touring in China.

8. Antiques 古董

China is one of the four most countries in the world in the ancient times. If you’re an antique enthusiast, China is a good place for you! Fascinating antique and curio shops and market stalls are to be found in most cities and country towns of China.

To be a successful antiques collector you will have to educate yourself on the exact value of antiques in your area of interest. Care is needed, however, when buying expensive items to ensure, for example, that the item carries the official red seal of the shop and the sale documents are in order.

Wines and Spirits 葡萄酒和白酒

Er guo tou (Chinese Firewater)

Alcoholic drinks, in ancient China, were regarded as sacred and were used only in sacrifices. Today, however, wines and spirits are becoming popular as accompaniments to Chinese food.

The following spirits are very popular around the world and have won many international awards:

Moutai Liquor from Guizhou
Wuliangye from Yibin, Sichuan
Laobaigan from Hengshui, Hebei
Jiannanchun from Mianzhu, Sichuan
Luzhou Laojiao from Sichuan
Yanghe Daqu from Jiangsu
Gujing Tribute Liquor from Anhui
Fenjiu Liquor from Shanxi

Traditional Chinese Medicine 中药

Traditional Chinese Medicine is an integral part of Chinese culture. Traditional Chinese medicines play a major role in Chinese lifestyle that is substantially different than the role of medicines in the west. The use of traditional herbs and potions lie at the core of Chinese medicine.

Herbs Chinese Medicine

There are thousands of herbs that are used as medicines, including Aconite root, Camellia, Cayenne, Chinese Cucumber, Chrysanthemum flowers, Cocklebur fruit, Cow Dipper, Croton Seed, Ginger, Ginseng, etc. Beijing Tongrentang is the largest pharmacy of traditional Chinese medicine.

Hassle-free China Guided Tours

If you don’t want to go the do-it-yourself route and prefer the hassle-free escorted tours,  here are some options for China guided tours:

China Private Tours
China Small Group Tours
China Train Tour
China Yangtze Cruise Tour
China Silk Road Tour

Further Readings


Top 10 Places to Visit in China
10 Fascinating Facts about China
Top 10 Most Essential Things to Pack for China
Plugs and Sockets in China
China Tour Packages
Learning Useful Chinese Phrases for Travellers 
How to Recognise Chinese Currency

Top 10 Travel Experiences in China
10 Most Scenic Drives in China
Top 10 Most Beautiful Mountains in China
Top 10 Most Beautiful Lakes in China
Top 10 Most Beautiful Grasslands in China
Top 10 Most Beautiful Rivers in China
Top 10 most beautiful waterfalls in China
Top 10 Places to See Autumn Leaves in China
Top 10 Most Beautiful Villages in China
Top 10 Most Beautiful old towns in China
Top 10 Most Beautiful Museums in China
Top 10 China Tourist Scams
Top 10 Souvenirs in China

Any questions, just drop a  line.

Top 10 Tourist Scams and Traps in China

Thursday, July 22nd, 2021
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Tourist scams and traps follow travelers wherever they go. China is no exception in this phenomenon. China is generally a very safe place for tourists. However, while travelling in China, there are several tourist scams that visitors should be aware of. Always be careful with what you do and with who you can trust.

If you travel to Beijing in particular, you may read my another article Top 10 Tourist Scams in Beijing for more information.

“Black” Taxis

“Black” taxis don’t mean that the colors of the taxis are black, but refer to the illegal taxis or cars that can be found all over China. You may encounter them almost everywhere you need a taxi, including the airport, the city center, or around attractions.

The drivers will approach you and asking “where are you going”. They will not only overcharge you but there have been reports of tourists taken out into the middle of nowhere where several of the black taxi driver’s friend showed up and took all of the tourists belongings. Don’t even talk to these people.

Free Tour Guide

These people may found in tourist-heavy area of largest cities of China: the Bund of Shanghai, the Tian’anmen Square of Beijing, the City Wall of Xian, etc.

An attractive male or female will approach the tourist and offer to be a free tour guide. They may actually take you to a place or two, all the while learning more about you to find the best way to get your money. Just remember, there is no free lunch in the world, so don’t believe them.

Super-cheap Tours

There are always many cheap tours offer to you when you arriving at some cities of China. They will take you to shopping places and force you to buy a lot of things which you don’t want to buy, and you may spend more time at these places than at the places that you intended to visit.

What’s more, the services are not very good: dirty bus, bad lunch, for example. You should find a standard tour agency to start your tour in China.

Teahouse Scam

While you are touring in China alone, one person may starts to chat with you in fluent English. He/she is friendly to you and teaches you a lot of local customs. He/she shows you around, then brings you to a teahouse.

You order cups of teas. At the end you’re told you should pay a large amount of money for the tea. Don’t talk to them at first, or check the price of the tea you will be drinking beforehand.

Art Student Scam

Also at some big tourist destinations of China, some young people, disguised as “art student”, will approach you. Of course, they will show you the art that they have allegedly produced.

This one is usually more of a waste of your time than anything, and once you have realized that they are only selling the same “art” that you can find everywhere and that they are selling it at much higher prices, you can simply leave.

Pickpockets

Pickpockets always can be found in the major tourist sites of China. Always keep your eyes on your bags, and carry your wallets in a front pocket or a pocket inside your coat, especially in the late evening alone.

Beware of these young men and also of the ladies in whose interests they ply their trade. This is one scam where a true tour guide is very helpful, as thieves will not target tourists with a tour guide that knows how to turn them in to the police.

Vendors and Counterfeit Bills

While you are wandering around some scenic spot, a tout may asks you if you want to buy a souvenir from him/her. You like one of them, then you haggle over price. Then you found that you only have RMB1OO notes.

You give it to the seller and he/she gives you a RMB50 and some change. Later you try to use the RMB50 but others will tell you that it is fake. You should always keep small change on you to pay for little things, or learn to distinguish the real money.

Expensive Souvenirs

There are always many stalls which selling souvenirs in a ridiculous high price inside some scenic spots. These vendors always sell souvenirs to visitors, especially to foreign visitors who don’t speak Chinese.

Just don’t buy them inside these scenic spots. If you want to buy some souvenirs of some city, you can go to the markets of that city.

Child Beggars

Some children will beg for money, sometimes even grabbing onto your legs until you pay them some money in some cities of China.

There are reports that these children may have been kidnapped from other places specifically to be used for begging purposes. If you give money to child beggars, you may have the risk of getting a swarm of them. Just avoid those child beggars.

Ticket Scam

When joining a tour, or being guided at a local sightseeing spot, you may be offered a higher priced ticket, including a performance that you don’t want to watch. Always ask the price of the sight-only ticket.

Hassle-free China Guided Tours

If you don’t want to go the do-it-yourself route and prefer the hassle-free escorted tours,  here are some options for China guided tours:

Top China Private Tours
Top China Small Group Tours
Top China Train Tour
Top China Yangtze Cruise Tour
Top China Silk Road Tour

Further Readings


Top 10 Places to Visit in China
10 Fascinating Facts about China
How to Pack for your China Trip
Plugs and Sockets in China
China Tour Packages
Learning Useful Chinese Phrases for Travellers 
How to Recognise Chinese Currency

Top 10 Travel Experiences in China
10 Most Scenic Drives in China
Top 10 Most Beautiful Mountains in China
Top 10 Most Beautiful Lakes in China
Top 10 Most Beautiful Grasslands in China
Top 10 Most Beautiful Rivers in China
Top 10 most beautiful waterfalls in China
Top 10 Places to See Autumn Leaves in China
Top 10 Most Beautiful Villages in China
Top 10 Most Beautiful old towns in China
Top 10 Most Beautiful Museums in China
Top 10 China Tourist Scams
Top 10 Souvenirs in China

Any questions, just drop a  line.

Top 10 Most Beautiful Old Towns in China

Wednesday, July 21st, 2021
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China’s urbanization drive has produced a great number of booming towns and super cities. Urbanization has been a necessary condition for achieving sustainable development, but more and more towns and cities look alike in terms of shopping malls, public parks, buildings, etc. After traveling around, you won’t have deep impression of the these towns and cities which closely resemble each other.

To curb the urban assimilation drive, in the past 30 years great efforts have been made by the local governments at different levels to have overall city construction plans and protect traditional elements especially in the tradiional old and small towns, balancing development and protection.

These exotic and charming old towns in China have still kept their own traditions and cultures, which have attracted more and more tourists home and abroad, greatly enhancing their understanding of a real China.

The top 10 most charming old small towns here are carefully hand-picked. If you want to experience a real and genuine China, the top 10 list of the most beautiful small towns in China will offer you some guidance in planning your own China tour.

1. Pingyao Old Town 平遥古城

Location: Pingyao is a small town, about 80km southwest of Taiyuan in central Shanxi Province. Pingyao has plenty of cultural relics. The city wall was first built during the Zhou Dynasty (256 B.C.) and was expanded in 1370, the third year of the reign of Ming Emperor Hongwu. In 1997, it was listed as a World Heritage Site.

Check out the following links for more information:
Pingyao Tour
Pingyao, Bring you 2700 Years Back
Where to Stay in Pingyao
How to Visit Wang Family Courtyard

Shopping at the old town of Pingyao

Sitting on the ancient trade route between Beijing and Xi’an, Pingyao developed into a business center with the use of the nation’s earliest banks. These organizations were the first in China to use checks, and business came up in the 19th Century, when the city was the financial center of the Qing government. Pingyao is the best preserved ancient town in China.

2. Old Town of Lijiang 丽江古城

Location: Lijiang old town sits in the city of Lijiang City of Yunnan Province. Now it is a UNESCO Heritage Site. The old town has more than 800 years and was once a confluence for trade along the old tea horse road.

Check out the links below for more information:
Lijiang Yunnan Tour
Top 10 Attractions in Lijiang
The best time to visit Lijiang

Lijiang at night (Photo Credit: Yang Zongyou/Xinhuanet.com)

The Lijiang old town is famous for its orderly system of waterways and bridges. The old town of Lijiang is quite different from other ancient Chinese towns in architecture, history and the culture of its traditional residents the Naxi people.

3. Old Town of Shanhaiguan 山海关古城

The walled Shanhaiguan town was built in Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644) to seal off the narrow passage leading to the northeastern Manchu. The garrison town succeeded in safeguarding the country until 1644 the Chinese rebels seized Beijing and the General Wu Shangui opened the town and let the Manchurian troops to enter the country to suppress the uprising. Later the Manchu army seized the whole country and established China’s last dynasty – Qing Dynasty (1644 – 1911).

“Old Dragon’s Head” in the Shanhaiguan ancient town is the eastern tip of the Great Wall of China, which was to seal off the narrow passage leading to the northeastern Manchu. Though the present town is much of a reproduction of the old , it is still a pleasant place to walk around and feel the sense of the its past histry.

Check out the following links for more information:
Beijing Beidaihe Qinhuangdao Tour
Shanhaiguan Trip
Top Attractions in Shanhaiguan

My backdrop is the”Old Dragon’s Head” .

Over 10 daily bullet trains go from Beijing ( Beijing Railway Station ) to Shanhaiguan, a 2 and half hours’ train ride. People may make a round trip to Shanhaiguan from Beijing or stay overnight in Shanhaiguan and return to Beijing next day.

4. Yangshuo Old Town 阳朔

Location: Yangshuo is located 65km the south of Guilin city in the northeast of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, south of China. The town has been 1400 years, famous for its picturesque mountains and rivers, a perfect place for holiday vacation where you forget time and experience the happiness of your vacation.

Check out the following links for more information:
Guilin Tour
Top 10 Things to Do in Guilin
Biking through Shili Scenery Gallery in Yangshuo
Impression Liu Sanjie Mega Performance in Yangshuo

Yangshuo at night

The area around Yangshou is dotted with Karst peaks and the Li river meanders its way around them. Yangshuo is the final stop on any of the cruising on Li River. You may spend a few hours here or several days to explore its neighbouring areas.

5. Zhouzhuang Water Town 周庄

Location: Zhouzhuang Water Town is located at the middle between Shanghai and Suzhou. It is an ancient town of Kunshan City, Jiangsu Province. The town abounds with rivers and lakes. Zhouzhuang boasts many cultural and historical relics.Best Travel Time: All seasons, but avoid public holidays.

Check out the following links for more information:
How to Visit Zhouzhuang
Zhouzhuang Pictures – Zhouzhuang Photo Gallery
Suzhou Tour
Shanghai Tour

Tired of the noisy world and get lost in Zhouzhuang

Regarded as “Venice of the East”, this town has the best water town preserved in China. The town has a history of over 900 years and most of houses in the town were constructed in Ming (1368-1644) or Qing Dynasties (1644-1911). The rivers and streams in Zhouzhuang pass the town and are connected by 14 stone-arch bridges constructed in Yuan (1271-1368), Ming, and Qing Dynasties.

6. Tongli Water Town 同里

Location: Tongli Town sits by the Grand Canal and the Taihu Lake, about 18 Kilometer away from Suzhou, 80 kilometer from Shanghai. It has a history of over 1000 years with very convenient transportation.

Check out the following links for more information:
How to visit Tongli Town
Suzhou Tour
Shanghai Tour

Bridges, trees, canals, boats and happy holidaymakers

Tongli is typical of the water county of South China. There are totally 5 lakes circling Tongli from both outside and inside. The town is sectioned into 15 small islands by over 10 rivers. However, the islands are linked by over 40 stone bridges of various style which were constructed in successive dynasties. Tongli is noted for her small bridges, and clear water.

7. Huizhou Old Town of She County 歙县徽州古城

Huizhou Old Town, also known as She County Old Town since Huizhou Old Town is located in the old area of She County ( Shexian County ). Under the jurisdiction of Huangshan, She County is about 27km in the northeast of Huangshan City. The ancient town is famous for its rich culture and long history and listed as one of four best preserved ancient towns in China, along with Pingyao Old Town in Shanxi, Lijiang Old Town in Yunan and Longzhong Old Town in Sichuan.

Check out the following links for more information:
She County Photography Tour
Huangshan Tour

The charming old world of the white-washed walls and black tiles

She County is representative of Hui Culture, the cradle of Peiking Opera. Shexian County (She County) is the original area of Hui merchants. She County is the main production area for the Ink and ink stone, the two treasures of the four treasures of the study. She County is also nicknamed “the county of Paifang”. Paifang is also called “pailou’, a traditional Chinese architectural archway.

8. Langzhong Old Town in Sichuan 四川阆中古城

Langzhong old town is located in the northeast of Sichuan basin, about 268 km northeast of Chengdu. Situated on the middle reach of Jialingjiang River, Langzhong old town is one of the four well preserved ancient towns in China.

Langzhou has a history of over 2300 years with well preserved flagstone streets,  black tiled roofs, temples and pavilions, and cliff carvings, constituting a unique tourist resources and culture in Langzhong.

Check out the following links for more information:
Sichuan Tour
Top 10 Places to Visit in Sichuan

Langzhong old town ( Photo: internet)

Visiting Time: suggested 1-2 day
Location:  268 km northeast of Chengdu
How to Get There
Take buses or trains from Chengdu

9. Fenghuang Old Town in Hunan 凤凰古城

Location: Fenghuang literally means “Phoenix” in Chinese, a small and old city, 145 km south to Zhangjiajie City and 50 km south to Jishou City in Hunan Province, China. Fenghuang covers an area of 1700 km with a population of 370,000.

There are the minority ethnic group, such as Miaos, Tujias. Fenghuang was described as“the most beautiful ancient city in China” by the famous writer Louis from New Zealand.

Check out the following links for more information:
Top 10 Attractions in Hunan
Hunan Tour

Fenghuang Old Town (from Internet)

Fenghuang has lots of relics and the sightseeing, the ancient city’s mountains and Tuo river, residents and establishment, temples and pavilions and so on. How to get to Fenghuang? You may first go to Zhangjiajie and connect buses to Fenghuang or you first go to Jishou and connect the buses to Fenghuang. Beijing West Station K267 12:58 / 14:53 next day.

10. Chikan Old Town in Guangdon 赤坎古镇

Location: Chikan old town is 12km away from the city center of Kaiping City, 160km southwest of Guangzhou City in Gongdong Province. The old town was first built in Qing Dynasty with a history of over 350 years. It still retains much of her charm as a flourished market town.

Check out the following links for more information:
How to Visit Kaiping Diaolou from Guangzhou
Top 10 Attractions in Guangdong
Guangdong Tour

Chikan Old Town

The Tanjiang river passes by the town with fishing boats and the western style buildings made up picturesque view for this ancient town.


Hassle-free China Guided Tours

If you don’t want to go the do-it-yourself route and prefer the hassle-free escorted tours,  here are some options for China guided tours:

Top China Private Tours
Top China Small Group Tours
Top China Train Tour
Top China Yangtze Cruise Tour
Top China Silk Road Tour

Further Readings


Top 10 Places to Visit in China
10 Fascinating Facts about China
How to Pack for your China Trip
Plugs and Sockets in China
China Tour Packages
Learning Useful Chinese Phrases for Travellers 
How to Recognise Chinese Currency

Top 10 Travel Experiences in China
10 Most Scenic Drives in China
Top 10 Most Beautiful Mountains in China
Top 10 Most Beautiful Lakes in China
Top 10 Most Beautiful Grasslands in China
Top 10 Most Beautiful Rivers in China
Top 10 most beautiful waterfalls in China
Top 10 Places to See Autumn Leaves in China
Top 10 Most Beautiful Villages in China
Top 10 Most Beautiful old towns in China
Top 10 Most Beautiful Museums in China
Top 10 China Tourist Scams
Top 10 Souvenirs in China

Any questions, just drop a  line.