Exploring Chengdu’s Backcountry – Pingle Old Town

For those in the know travellers, China’s new urban star Chengdu brings to mind not only the adorable, worry-free giant pandas and spicy, delicious Sichuan Cuisine, but also a dozen ancient towns around Chengdu, making it a great all-round travel destination in China. Pingle is one of the best of Chengdu’s old towns, and offers fun cultural experience.

9-day Chengdu Culture Tour to Pingle Ancient Town

Cheng old town tours

Located 93kmk southwest of Chengdu, Pingle Town was initially built as far back as 150BC during the West Han Dynasty, and used to an important town on ancient Silk Road and Tea Horse Road. There is a river running through the ancient town, and leading us into the heart of Pingle, for more atmosphere and a wealth of cultural sites, including the Ming and Qing dynasties’ traditional dwellings, the thousand-year-old alleys, the ancient temples, weirs, docks, beautiful old bridges, etc.

Rambling the streets of Pingle Town, walking through the humble wooden buildings, and listening to the ancient music, you may feel that you are back in time. You can also try many local specialty foods and snacks, and experience some interesting folk activities.

If you are looking for an adventure on a mountain or a mountain hiking trip around, then you’re encouraged to visit the tranquil Lugou Bamboo Sea. There is a huge Buddha statue on the mountain, even taller than the famous 72-meter-high Giant Buddha in Leshan.

How to get to Pingle Old Town: Take a bus from the Jinsha Bus station/Chengdu Chengbei Bus Terminal (North Train Station)/Shiyangchang passenger Bus Center to Qionglai City (about one hour), then take a bus or small van to Pingle (about 15 minutes).

Best Season to visit Pingle Old Town: March till June and September till November

A Romantic Approach to Dali for Erhai Lake and Cangshan Mountain

For years, the peaceful, romantic town of Dali has been a popular destination for honeymooners, photographers and world travelers. However, a few days’ cursory sightseeing tour will not reward you the real unique beauty of Dali. Why not take an in-depth Dali tour with unexpected cultural and spiritual experience?

Dali tour

Embraced by Erhai Lake and Mount Cangshan, small Dali is a place of self-exile. Numerous people from big cities like Kunming, Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou come and stay here to relax the mind and find peace. They cycle around Erhai Lake to find the primitive villages of Bai people, take a boat cruise in Erhai Lake to watch the cormorant fishing, and take a cable car up Cangshan Mountain to find the ancient Buddhist temples and the Three Pagodas of Chongsheng Temple (at the foot of the mountain), and enjoy the splendor of sunset and the wonderful panoramic view of Erhai Lake.

You’re encouraged to reserve a hotel or guesthouse by Erhai Lake in Shuanglang, Longkan, Taoyuan or Caicu Village with a lake-view room. Stay several days for the sunrise on Erhai Lake, the dramatic scene when it is sparkled in the sunshine, and absolutely clear after the rain.

 

Dali trip 

For some spare time, you can stroll through Dali Old Town to feel and perceive its profound culture and folk art. Stop on the Renmin Road (People Road), you will find some special shops with special stories. For example, here is a watchmaker’s shop, which is a mess, with a beaten-up shopkeeper. His wife left him in 2006, so the time of all the clocks and watches stops in 2006. Sounds like a movie script, right?

 

Recommended China Yunnan tours to Dali:

9-day Colorful Yunnan

12-day Yunnan Tour to Dali Lijiang Shangri-La 

A Food Tour of Hangzhou: 14 Famous Local Specialty Dishes

Hangzhou Cuisine, Ningbo Guisine and Shaoxing Cuisine combined complete Zhejiang Cuisine, one of the top eight cuisines in China.  

East China’s Hangzhou City is famous for West Lake, Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal, the enticing tea culture, as well as the local foods that make the most of abundant, superb ingredients. Hangzhou foods are known for its freshness, tenderness, smoothness and mellow fragrance, thus always connected with health benefits and favored by all. A trip to Hangzhou isn’t complete without tasting the city’s top 12 specialty dishes.

West Lake fish in vinegar gravy – A popular traditional Hangzhou dish, there are many stories and legends about it. This dish uses middle-sized grass carp, which is steamed with fresh water first, and then blanked with thick, sweet vinegar sauce. Lou Wai Lou at 30 Gushan Road, Xihu District serves authentic West Lake Fish in Vinegar Gravy – the restaurant’s signature dish.

西湖醋鱼

Dongpo pork – Named after Su Dongpo, a famous poet, calligrapher and painter nearly 1000 years ago during North Song Dynasty, Dongpo pork uses layers of lean and fat meat, which is pan-fried and then stewed with wine.

Chind foodie tour

Jin pai kou rou (Dongpo pork pyramid) – An upgraded Dongpo pork, the pork pyramid is sliced into more than 20 layers, and stuffed with chestnuts and smoked bamboo shoots.

Hangzhou food tour

Longjing tea-fried river prawns – As the name suggests, this Hangzhou dish uses the river spawns in West Lake and the best green tea leaves produced in Longjing Tea Plantation Village.

China gourmet tour

Beggar’s chicken – It was created by a beggar who baked the chicken on fire wrapped with mud. Nowadays, the dish has been renovated – the chicken itself is stuffed with pork and mushroom, and wrapped with lotus leaves.

China food culture tour

Deep-fried bean curd roll – A favorite toufu snack in Hangzhou, it is of golden brown color, crispy and tastes very good.

top China foods

West Lake vegetable soup with fish ball

top China dishes

Mi zhi huo fang (Honey Ham) – Made from Jinhua ham, mixed with pine nuts, lotus seed, and blanketed with honey, the dish satisfies both sweet and savory cravings.

best Chinese dishes

Stewed Fish Head with Tofu in Pottery Pot – This nutrient-rich fish dish is good for health and a good choice in winter.

Chinese fish dishes

Orange stuffed with crab meat – A royal dish from South Song Dynasty, it is made from fresh orange, stuffed with chicken soup and crab meat – good in taste and beautiful in shape.

Chinese royal dishes

Codfish Ball

Zong xiang huaxi bie (river turtle meat zongzi)

traditional Chinese foods

Steamed pork with rice flour wrapped with Lotus Leaf

Lotus root filled with sticky rice

China’s Most Beautiful Mountains in Photos

China is a great destination for mountain enthusiasts. Some of the world’s most legendary mountain ranges and peaks rose here millions of years ago – some are sacred with religious and secular significance, others are endowed with breathtaking natural scenery.

Mount Everest – Summon up courage to ascend the highest peak on earth, or sit outside a tea house in the nearby village, admiring silently at the soaring, elegant peaks of Everest.

top china mountains

Mount Kailash – This is where the Gods live – you can have a spiritual journey or a tough yet most rewarding hiking experience.

China mountain tours

Meili Snow Mountain – It reminds to be conquered. And you’ll discover the vertical vegetation distribution – fruits along the river valleys, precious traditional Chinjese medicines, teas and lesser pandas on alpine meadows…

China mountain peaks trips

Mount Wudang – a holy Taoist mountain in Shiyan, Hubei Province and a great place to practice Tai Chi in China

China holy mountain tour

Mount Wutai – the first of China’s holy Buddhist mountains, and one of the world’s five Buddhist sanctuaries

China Buddhist Mountain trip

Mount Emei a famous Buddhist sanctuary in Sichuan, Mt. Emeishan once had more than 100 temples

China Taoist Mountain tour

Mount Tai – one of the few World Natural and Cultural Heritages

Top China mountain trip

Mt. Hua one of the Five Sacred Mountains of China, also known for its dangerously steep landscape and scariest mountain roads and cliffside walkways

China mountain hiking adventure

Mianshan Mountain – the birthplace of Qingming Festival, its spectacular architectures built above the cliff

China mountain hiking trip

Yellow Mountain – the most-visited mountain in China

China mountain trekking tour

Mount Lu – a hauntingly smoky mountain in Jiangxi Province with magnificent waterfalls

Most beautiful mountains in China

Mount Wuyi – a natural summer resort in Fujian of typical Danxia Landform & a great place for Chinese tea culture experience

Mount Sanqing – one of the holiest Taoist mountain, UNESCO recognized it as a world natural heritage site in 2008

Karst Mountain in Guilin, Guangxi

Zhangjiajie National Forest Park

China's most famous mountains

Danxia Mountain – Red RocksGeological Park in in Shaoguan, Guangdong Province

Camel Peak in Sichuan

Travel through Hutong by Rickshaw: Where to Find the Real Beijing

Beijing hutong discovery

Take a look beyond the gaudily ornate buildings and some oddly-shaped modern structures, and you will find more history, atmosphere and hospitality, as well as the real Beijing in the humble hutongs.

Recommended China tour and Beijing tour with hutong travel experience:

1-day day Beijing Walking Tour

8-Day Super-value China Golden Triangle Tour

There’s no better way to experience the unique charm of hutongs than by rickshaws. Rent yourself a rickshaw and listen to the driver’s stories and folktales about the over 700-year-old hutongs – overseas Chinese often feel lost in time, not least for foreign travellers.

Beijing hutong tour

There were thousands of hutongs surrounding Forbidden City (Palace Museum) in Beijing. Many of them have been torn down and replaced by the striking modern architectures, however, hutongs still occupy one-third of Beijing’s land and are home to almost half of Beijing ordinary people.

It is surprising that the people, especially the elderly are so friendly and enthusiastic when showing visitors the way. Most of the time, they run a small business, play chess, play with the birds, or simply enjoy the free time.

Beijing hutong travel

On first glance, Old Beijing’s hutongs look the same, long and narrow, and all with gray walls and gray tiles. But the drivers tell us each of them has its own story and the different types of courtyards (siheyuan dwellings) belonged to different people. For example, if there are round stone piers in front of the gates, the original owner must be military officers, while the square stone piers went to civil officials. A lion on the pier implied a royal family.

Some hutongs are quiet and somehow deserted, while some are very lively and popular, such as  Nanluogu Xiang, Yandai Xiejie, Mao’er Hutong and Liulichang Cultural Street, where there are many bars, cafes, boutiques, street vendors, traditional restaurants and markets.

  

Articles you may also interested in:

The 10 Most Famous Hutongs in Beijing

Five Free Ways to Explore Beijing

Shanghai Weekend Getaway to Nearby Water Towns: How to Get There

Around Shanghai scatters several ancient water towns – the nearby Zhujiajiao and Jiangnan’s top six water cities, all in sharp contrast with the modern, efficient, cosmopolitan and gaudy Shanghai. For those looking for weekend fun or ancient town exploration to these places, here are the important transportation tips:

Shanghai – Zhuajiajiao (61km):

take Subway line 8 at Renmen Square Station (人民广场站), get off at Lujiabing Road Station (陆家浜路站), then switch to Subway line 9 and get off at Dongjing Station (洞泾站). Walk for 40 meters to get to the Tangqiao Station (塘桥站) and take Shanghai-Zhujiajiao special-line bus

Shanghai water town tours.

Shanghai – Luzhi Town (72km):

1. Take Subway line 1 and get off at Zhongshan Road (N) Station, here you can take the scheduled bus directly to Luzhi in Zhongshan Bus Station

2. Take Shanghai-Suzhou bullet train to get to Suzhou first, then take Bus No.518 to Luzhi Town Station

3. Get to Kunshan first, then take bus to Luzhi Town

Shanghai Zhouzhuang tours

Shanghai – Zhouzhuang Water Town (70km):

1. Take regular bus to Zhouzhuang in Shanghai Tourist Bus Center (Add: 666 Tianyaoqiao Road, Xuhui, near Shanghai Stadium)

2. Take Shanghai-Kunshan bullet train to get to Kunshan first, transfer to Bus No.88 to Xinke Station (新客站), then take Bus No.130 to your destination Zhouzhuang Town.

Shanghai Wuzhen tours

Shanghai – Tongli Water Town (90km):

1. Take the regular bus to Tongli in Shanghai Tourist Bus Center (Add: 666 Tianyaoqiao Road, Xuhui, near Shanghai Stadium)

2. Shanghai long distance bus station (1662, Zhongxing Road) – Tongli

Shanghai – Nanxun Water Town (150km): Take the regular bus to Nanxun in Shanghai Tourist Bus Center (Add: 666 Tianyaoqiao Road, Xuhui, near Shanghai Stadium)

Shanghai – Wuzhen Water Town (130km):

there are scheduled buses going to Wuzhen every day from Shanghai long distance bus station (south), address: 666, Shilong Road, Shanghai

Shanghai Xitang tour

Shanghai – Xitang Water Town (85km):

1. Take the bullet train from Shanghai Hongqiao Train Station to Jiashan South Train Station (嘉善火车南站), then take a taxi to Xitang.

2. Take regular bus from Shanghai Long-Distance Bus Terminal or Shanghai long distance bus station (south) to Jiashan Bus Terminal (嘉善客运站), then take a taxi to Xitang.

The Remarkable Historic al Architectures on the Bund Shanghai

The Bund (外滩) of Shanghai, with its exotic colonial buildings, is one of the famous landmarks of the city and a must-visit while travelling in Shanghai.

Stretching approximately 1500 meters from Waibaidu Bridge in the north to Jinling East Road in the south, at the intersection of Huangpu River and Suzhou River, the bund is the epitome of semi-colonial Shanghai for about a century.

Shaghai tour

The historical building cluster (from No.1 to No.29) is now known as “World Architecture Fair”, and includes East Wind Hotel, China Merchants Bank Building, Shanghai Pudong Development Bank (HSBC Building), South Building of the Peace Hotel and North Building of the Peace Hotel (Sassoon House), Shanghai Customs Building, Shanghai Foreign Exchange Trade Centre, Shanghai Bund Weather Signal Station, etc.

Shanghai Pudong Development Bank or HSBC Building (No.12)

The second largest building in the world at that time, this six-floor neo-classical building was also known as Municipal Government Building and served as the headquarter of the Shanghai branch of The Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation from 1923 to 1955. It now houses the Shanghai Pudong Development Bank.

 Shanghai trips

Shanghai Customs House (No.13)

It stands right next to HSBC Building. Together the two buildings are considered as one of the symbols of the Bund. Built in 1927, Shanghai Customs House follows a Greek-revival Neo-Classicist design, and consists of two parts: the eastern part is eight floors tall, but topped by a 90-m-high clock tower and favorably faces the Huangpu River. The western section is five floors tall, and faces onto Sichuan Road.

Shanghai Municipal Trade Union Council (No.14)

It was built in 1948 and designed by architect, C. H. Gonda with a Neo-Renaissance style which emphasized the vertical lines and simple and clear façade of architectural design. Formerly Bank of Communications Building, currently it houses the Shanghai Council of Trade Unions.

Peace Hotel (No.20)

Peace Hotel is separated by Nanjing Road into two buildings: The North Building and The South Building. Sir Victor Sassoon of the Sassoon family built The North Building, hence the name Sassoon House. Originally the Cathay Hotel, it is now the Fairmont Peace Hotel run by Fairmont Hotels and Resorts of Canada. The South Building was built as the Palace Hotel and is today the Swatch Art Peace Hotel.

Shanghai tours

Visitors are encouraged to plan a Shanghai history and culture trip: have a leisure stroll on the Bund, or take a cruise ship trip on Huangpu River at night to enjoy the impressive visual contrast between the colonial architectures on the Bund and the skyscrapers of the Oriental Pearl Tower and Shanghai World Financial Centre on the other side of the river.

China Shanghai tours