China is a surprising destination that never ceases to amaze me. This country has a lot to offer, and I’ve only visited a small part of the country for now!
First stop: Hong Kong, an urban paradise!
A cosmopolitan city, a shopping paradise, in Hong Kong there’s a mall around every corner; you can feel the glamour and the elegance but at the same time the city is authentic, colourful and accessible. The streets are full of life: businessmen reading the newspapers in the morning, old women with shopping baskets in search of the freshest products, teenagers looking at their mobile phones, 100-year-old streetcars that contrast with the imposing skyscrapers, and many stalls of food; lots of food!
One of the things that you can’t miss in Hong Kong is our foodie tour with one of our local insiders, your will be amazed at such a variety of flavours!
Although the city may seem chaotic, there’s a harmony that you will be able to perceive if you have visited other Asian cities.
Victoria’s Peak a one of the city’s must. From this 552 meters high hill you will be able to admire the best views over the entire city and the 300 islands surrounding it… The views are simply stunning.
The peak can be accessed by car or tram. If you want to have some fun, the tram is the best option, since the slope is quite steep. If you want a more quiet means of transportation and enjoying the surroundings, the car is your option.
During my stay in Hong Kong I was lucky enough to stay at a Swire hotel: The Upper House. In this innovative and exclusive hotel, every detail counts, and less is more.
My favourite experience in The Upper House: having breakfast while enjoying the views of the harbour; the best Benedict eggs I’ve ever eaten in my life!
I could go on and on talking about Hong Kong, but I don’t like spoilers!
We left Hong Kong behind and after a 2-hour flight we arrived in Hangzhou, a city with more than 9 million inhabitants.
West Lake is undoubtedly the highlight of the city, this is why it was described by the famous merchant Marco Polo as “The City of Heaven, the most beautiful and magnificent in the world”.
Strolling along its pleasant paths between ancient gardens and temples is like entering a haven of peace, and many poets and artists have been inspired by these landscapes.
As a funny anecdote, Chinese people love taking pictures with Westerners, and since West Lake is so famous among the locals, tourists come from all over the country to visit it. There, I felt almost like a celebrity, as many Chinese girls wanted to take pictures with me!
Also, you can find street food everywhere. Delicious noodles, shrimp skewers and all the seafood you can imagine, as well as chicken fingers, though this is a dish for the brave!
After a busy day, nothing better than retreating to an environment full of mysticism, peace and spiritual serenity: Amanfayun. This is more than just a hotel, it’s the recreation of a traditional village surrounded by tea fields, where both monks and guests share the paths to the temples.
Our following stop was Chengdu, in the Sichuan Province, a city that lives up to its name, “perfection”, combining tradition and modernity in a symbiotic way: traditional wooden houses stand amid the proliferation of modern buildings and shopping malls.
In addition, Chengdu is famous for being the home of the panda bears; such adorable creatures, and sadly, an endangered species.
Our first encounter with a panda bear was a magical moment in which I was able to understand the fragility of these animals. Being face to face with them was something very special, and it certainly doesn’t happen every day.
We were fortunate to see five adult pandas in action, but you have to visit them really early in the morning, when they are more active and eat more; afterwards they become lazy and spend long hours sleeping.
And the puppies were so cute! As they are more vulnerable to the environment, they are protected in a closed area and visitors can observe them from the outside.
The province of Sichuan is well-known for its cuisine, with spicy as the main flavour. It’s said that one can’t leave Chengdu without having tasted a traditional hot-pot.
It’s a kind of spicy soup heated by a curious mechanism of stoves integrated into the table. The experience is a must! We ordered all kinds of vegetables, very tender veal and some kind of fish. Everything is added to the soup, so that it’s cooked while you eat it with chopsticks, little by little. Only for the brave! I remember that I felt the spicy flavour for hours.
One of the best moments in Chengdu, apart from meeting the pandas, was relaxing in the spa at the Temple House Hotel. A sanctuary for well-being, an injection of rejuvenation where, during 60 minutes, I was transported from earth to heaven.
The Temple House lives up to its name: it’s a temple in the middle of the city, a hotel that has marked a before and after in the city of Chengdu, selected as the best hotel in Asia in 2017, a well-deserved prize.
And finally… We arrived in Shanghai, our last stop in China!
It wasn’t the first time that I visited the city, and in comparison to my last visit, I was able to notice big changes in the city. The growth rate is amazing!
We stayed in the sky-scraper that houses the Jing An Shangri-La Hotel, in the west of Shanghai, which despite being further away from the bund, is one of the trendiest areas among the locals.
Ideal for young people, a great atmosphere, cool restaurants, bars with live music… This area is certainly as interesting as the busy center of Shanghai.
The skyline from the bund is one of these snapshots that never ceases to amaze me. Day or night? Hard choice…
But it’s not all about the bund and the Pearl Tower… I also enjoyed walking through the Narrow and Wide Alleys, full of flowers, wandering about the streets full of charming little shops, bohemian artists and avant-garde designers, getting lost among the food stalls and original dim sums…
And I also enjoyed one of the funniest experiences in Shanghai: riding a bicycle!
China is definitely full of surprises… A lot!