Labour Day travel reveals a beautiful China
REMEMBER feeling claustrophobic amidst the throngs of tourists during the seven-day Labour Day break last May? Many people swear never to travel during public holidays after such bad experiences, but most end up packing their bags again anyway to get away from the bustle of city life.
One good news for those planning to take trips during the May Day holidays is that the price of tours around the country range from about 100 to 600 yuan ($12 to $73) lower than the same period last year.
But lower prices mean more people may be willing to brave getting squashed by crowds to take a trip at bargain price.
Most scenic spots such as Hainan Province, Beijing, Kunming, Guilin and Zhangjiajie are still very popular, according to the report of the local media Youth Daily.
So if you want to have a real happy tour, choose some routes that are not so well-known. You will have less trouble because the place won't be jam-packed with people, and there won't be any rush to book rooms at hotels or eat out at restaurants.
Here are some suggestions from Shanghai Star reporters Susan Xu and Jane Tian:
Wuyuan is located in Jiangxi Province. It is highly appraised on www.ctrip.com, the nation's biggest travel website. But because of the famous Huangshan Mountain, Lushan Mountain and Jingdezhen nearby, Wuyuan seems to have been hidden in the shadows.
Touring in Wuyuan is like taking a tour through history - almost everything you see is much older than you are. The ancient houses, old trees, a deep well...almost every spot has a legend.
Here are several routes:
Route to visiting ancient architectures: Qinghua Street - Caihong Bridge - Yancun Village and Sixi Village - Ziyang Town.
Lingyan Cave: Qingyun Cave - Lianyun Cave - Stone Forest-Zhangshan Waterfall.
Route to visiting old villages: Jiangling - Yu's House - Likeng Ancient Village - Ziyang Town.
Yuanyang Lake: Yuanyang Lake - Yangchun Ancient Stage - Fengyou Mountain - Xucun Village - Wengong Mountain.
To Wuyuan, you can take train 5085 at 7:45pm from Shanghai Railway Station and arrive at Quzhou at 5:37am. Then take a bus to Wuyuan - the trip will take about four hours.
You may never have heard of Dongying, located in Shandong Province, but you must know the Yellow River. Dongying is the place where the Yellow River flows into Bohai Sea.
In the north of the city, you can enjoy beautiful scene of wild fields. In the spring, you can see countless reeds with white flowers swaying in the wind and dozens of unusual-looking willows stand at the bank. The city's core industry is oil, so the downtown area has very little to offer to tourists in terms of sightseeing.
In the south is the newly built agriculture zone. Swan Lake is rather interesting. Taking a boat, apart from enjoying the big swans, you can also watch fishermen catch fish.
Go further south and you will reach Dawang, famous for its agriculture. Be sure to prepare a big basket, because the sweet fruits, colourful vegetables and various kinds of flowers will certainly make you hard to leave empty-handed.
To Dongying, you can first take train from Shanghai Railway Station to Jinan, the capital city of Shandong Province. Every half-hour, there is a bus from Jinan to Dongying.
Sanqing Mountain, located in Jiangxi Province, features beautiful peaks and unusual stones. It is called "Sister Mountain of Yellow Mountain," as its beauty is comparable to that of Yellow Mountain.
There are 10 famous scenic spots there, including Shennu Peak (a peak looks like a slim woman), a huge stone that resembles the Monkey King looking at the sea and a stone like a mother embracing her son.
Waterfalls, streams flowing down from the mountain and pools of water can be seen here and there.
In addition, with fewer visitors and less pollution, wild plants and animals live freely. There are 1,088 kinds of plants in the mountain. You can even see deer, giant salamanders and goats, if lucky.
Take train 2001 from Shanghai West Railway Station at 7:48pm and arrive at Yushan at 4:30am. Then take bus at 6:45am to the mountain.
There are more than 10 hotels in the mountain. Generally speaking, 100 yuan ($12) per person is enough. And make sure you bargain for a fair room rate.
Two days at the mountain is enough. To return to Shanghai, take train 2136 at 8:38pm in Yushan. You will arrive in Shanghai at 5:26am.
Shengsi Archipelago in east Hangzhou Bay is comprised of hundreds of islands where the Yangtze River and the Qiantang River join and empty into the sea.
This area boasts beautiful reefs, flat beaches, intriguing stones and steep cliffs, providing tourists perfect scenery of sea islands.
There are 394 islands, each with an area more than 500 sqm and just 18 of which are inhabitable. The largest island is Sijiaoshan with an area of 21.2 sq km.
The region is subtropical, with a yearly average temperature of 15.8 degrees Centigrade. It is also notable as a fishery that attracts more than 100,000 fishermen every winter.
Two of the finer hotels include the three-star Jinsha International Hotel and the Beijielin Hotel. Fishery guesthouses with local decor cost 20 yuan ($2.40) per person and are worth a try.
Shanghai has daily overnight boat rides from Shiliupu Port that depart at 9:00pm and arrive at Sijiao Island the next morning. At Luchao Port of Nanhui, boats leave at noon every day and reach Sijiao Island at 5:00am the next morning.
Kangding, the capital of Ganzi Tibet Autonomous Prefecture, is famous for a love song known to both young and old Chinese. Surrounded on three sides by exquisite mountains on the highland, the city is a typical sacred place worth exploration.
The rich rainfalls of the region can show visitors the rare co-existence of forests and glaciers.
The region holds a grand festival on Monday, as April 30 is said to be the bathing date for Sakyamuni, founder of Buddhism. Tibetan monks will go around Paoma Mountain on the edge of the city to chant scriptures. A parade will follow.
Later, a worldly famous horse-racing contest will be held as Paoma Mountain is named for horse racing. Local people with ethnic minority dressings will dance and sing. Some may enjoy the half-hour climb the 3,000-metre mountain to view the city from on high. Others can pay 10 yuan ($1.20) to ride a horse up.
Jingpo Lake, in the southeast corner of Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, also is known as Northern West Lake. The lake runs 45 km from south to north and 6 km from east to west with an elevation of 350 metres. It is the largest barrier lake formed during volcanic eruptions more than 10,000 years ago. The blue lake, 90 sq km of pristine, non-polluted water, is set against rolling mountains and luxurious forests. Lava tunnels and underground forests fascinate both tourists and scientific researchers.
The lake is a 2.5-hour bus trip from Mudanjiang, the province's transportation hub. Pudong International Airport offers a three-hour flight that leaves daily at 11:10am for 1,610 yuan ($194).
Zhangye is an important city along the ancient Silk Road. Once known as Ganzhou, it is in the middle of the Hexi Corridor of Northwest China's Gansu Province. The Qilian Mountain stands to the south and Heli Mountain is to the north, leaving the city in between an area of 4,240 sq km. It is a nationally recognized historic city where Marco Polo stayed for more than a year when he explored China. Tourist sites abound, including the Big Buddhist Temple, home of the largest indoor lying Buddhist statue in the world. The temple was built in 1098 and boasts the largest relic of Xixia, an ancient kingdom. The lying Buddhist is 34.5 metres long with 7.5-metre-long shoulders and each 2-metre ears. Eighteen arhats stands by the two sides of the statue. There are 6,000 volumes of sacred and well-preserved Buddhist literature, some written with gold and silver powder. The special tastes of Yugu Nationality food is also a big attraction.
Hongqiao International Airport has five-hour flights there at 5:15pm daily for 1,550 yuan ($187).
Almost all Chinese know of the lake because of a famous song called "Weishan Lake." But few have actually visited the place.
The lake, located in Shandong Province, has several small islands and is most charming in the summer when lotus are in full bloom.
But in the spring, you can also experience what life would be like for a local fishermen.
Rent a small boat and have a casual day at the lake. You can have a meal on Weishan Island of red heart duck egg, fish balls, arrowroot and carp.
At night, you can stay at the home of local fishermen if you bring your own sleeping bag.
Traffic: Take train 2148 to Zaozhuang in Shanghai West Railway Station at 8:48am and arrive there at 9:16pm. Then take a bus from Zaozhuang to Weishan.