British Airways Launched New Direct Flights from London Heathrow to Chengdu

British Airways, the UK’s national carrier, has launched new direct flights between London Heathrow and Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport from September 22, 2013, and become the second European carrier offering nonstop service to this Southwestern China metropolis. The company will offer three round-trip flights every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday, departing from London, served by a four-cabin Boeing 777-200ER aircraft, with First, Club World (business class), World Traveller Plus (premium economy) and World Traveller (economy).

The plane was deliberately painted like a giant panda


The British plane deliberately painted like a giant panda arrived in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province on September 23. Distinguished guests on the inaugural flight included Willie Walsh, CEO of IAG, British Airways parent company and Sandie Dawe, CEO of Britain’s Tourism Bureau, who were confident that the new route would prove popular with customers travelling between the two major economic hubs. According to Mr. Walsh, the airline planed to switch from the Boeing 777 to the 787-8 Dreamliner in the summer of 2014, and increased weekly service from three to five.

For travelers booking service from Chengdu to London between now and January 6, 2014, flights will be on offer for £508, inclusive of taxes and surcharges.

The first Chengdu-London direct flight run by British Airways arrives at Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport

Chengdu, the third city after Beijing and Shanghai in mainland China to have direct flights to London, is the hometown of giant pandas and chief pandas captive breeding centers, and very popular among leisure travelers with its excellent spicy food, fascinating traditional culture and leisure ambience. It is also the fourth Chinese city to allow visa-free entry for international travelers from 45 countries, including Britain, the US, France and Singapore.

The new service from Chengdu will offer Sichuan Cuisine on the plane

What to Do in Chengdu – China’s New Urban Star

Located in the southwestern China, Chengdu has been experiencing decades of rapid development, and become a new urban star in 2000s involving innumerous business opportunities. But there’s much to do in Chengdu! Chengdu is the hometown of pandas, and world famous for its profound tea culture, spicy food and cultural attractions.

With the good news of Chengdu being China’s fourth city (in the company of Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou) offering 72-hour visa-free transits, and the launch of China’s first direct freight train services to Europe — from Chengdu, the city are expected to see more international guests, who’d likely to enjoy its slow life style – people get up late and spend half a day playing mahjong or drinking tea leisurely.

Plan a leisure Chengdu tour with easytourchina

Highlights in Chengdu:

Giant Panda Breeding Research Base – Giant pandas are undoubtedly Chengdu’s biggest draw, and can be found in Giant Panda Breeding Research Base, 10 kilometers north of Chengdu. Plan a China panda tour to stay close to these cute creatures and get to know the present and future of them.

Jinsha Cultural Relics Museum The Jinsha Site was the most significant archaeological discovery in the 21st century in China, endowed with thousands of gold plates, jade articles, stone wares, bronze wares and ivories traced back to Kingdom of Shu (221 – 263). Among them, the Holy Bird has become the symbol of China Cultural Heritage.

Wuhou Memorial Temple it is a historical and cultural site lying in the south of Chengdu, enclosed by red walls where there are spacious buildings shaded by towering old cypresses.

Jinli Ancient Street Next to Wuhou Memorial Temple, you’ll find this dynastic-era street, crowded but still worth a visit – there are small shops and vendors selling special local products, antiques, souvenirs and delicious local snacks. Meanwhile visitors can admire the traditional-style buildings all along.

Kuan & Zhai Alleys or Wide and Narrow Alleys are three parallel Chinese old-style alleys—Kuan Alley, Zhai Alley and Jing Alley, where there are teahouses, inns, restaurants, bars, theaters, handicraft stores, snack vendors and specialty shops creating a delightful leisurely ambience.

Tea Houses – Drinking tea is an essential part of Chengdu people’s daily life. Visitors to Chengdu will be amazed at the teahouses of various sizes and layout, and the “Tea Doctors” and their unique teapots. Join locals to drink tea in a up-scale teahouse or a simple tea stall in the park, chatting and relaxing.

Sichuan Opera Face changing is the highlight of Sichuan Opera, which is a must to see. Wu Hou Ci Grand Stage, Sichuan Opera Theater and Shufengyayun Operatic Circle are ideal places for Sichuan Opera show.

Don’t-miss Dishes in Chengdu

Chengdu is the place to feast on authentic Sichuan cuisine, one of eight major Chinese traditional cuisines, and characterized by three Peppers, seven Tastes and eight flavors. Visitors, especially spicy food lovers should not omit the classic Chuan dishes in Chengdu.

Mapo Toufu (Bean curd with mince and chili oil) 麻婆豆腐: It is a classic Chuan food spreading all around the world.

Kungbao Chicken (Spicy diced chicken with peanuts) 宫保鸡丁: stir-fried dish consists of small slices of chicken block, dried chilies and peanuts.

Twice Cooked Pork 回锅肉: Pork belly steak chunks boiled in hot water with sliced ginger and salt, and then cut into thin slices, fried in moderately spicy oil.

Hot Pot 火锅: Very popular throughout China. Whatever can be boiled, can be thrown into the hot pot, provided it is a basic chili pepper oil foundation.

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8 Off-the-beaten-track sights along Ancient Silk Road

China’s Silk Road refers to a network of ancient trade routes crossing Asia from China to Europe, and now becomes an epic journey among adventurous travelers dreaming of the off-the-beaten-track sights hiding in the sand dunes of desert, vast stretches of mountains and exotic cities all along. Travel along the ancient Silk Road with the off-the-beaten-track sights, you will throughout history and back to over 1000 years ago – caravans came and went, regions arrived in China with important relics…

Easytourchina itineraries following the Silk Road
15-day China Silk Road Discovery
15-day Silk Road Adventure at Soft Grade
12-day Essence of the Silk Road Tour

Qinghai Lake and Bird Island – In Mongolian, Qinghai Lake is called Kukuruo’er, and in Tibetan, Cuowenbo, both of which mean blue sea. It is the largest salt-water lake in China lying 3,200 meters above sea level, and embraced by high mountains. At its northeast end are the “Bird Islands”, where countless migrating birds fly in and out. Visitors can hear the warbles of birds from miles away.

Mount Maiji Grottoes – the 1500-year-old Mount Maiji Grottoes were first built in Later Qin of Sixteen States (384-417), and now boasts 194 grottoes linked by zigzagging jutting plank roads, with 7,200 pieces of clay statues and stone carvings and more than 1,300 sq meters of frescoes.

Zhangye Danxia Landform – Zhangye’s unique Danxia landform with a total area of approximately 410 square kilometers do create a very strong visual shock for adventurous travelers. Admire the Danxia cliffs, stone walls, pillars and peaks, eroded caves, table mountain terrain…

Jiayuguan Fort – 7 km southwest of Jiayuguan city, Jiayugyan Fort is the west end of the Great Wall built in Ming Dynasty. It is the most magnificent and best-preserved ancient military fort in China. Climb atop on Jiayuguan Fort for sweeping views! The Overhanging Great Wall nearby is also a great draw for travelers along the Silk Road.

Mogao Grottoes in Dunhuang – Mogao Grottoes is the greatest treasure house of Buddhist art with innumerous sculptures, murals and manuscripts, and a glittering pearl that adorns the Silk Road.

Mingsha Dune & Crescent Lake –Minghsha Dune (or Singing Sand Mountains) is the first in a series of thousands of dunes that make up the Taklamakan Desert. And the Crescent Lake is an oasis Gobi desert lies at the foot of Minghsha Dune. Legend has that people have never seen Crescent Lake covered by sand, despite thousands of years of sand erosion.

Turpan Grape Valley – In the oasis city of Turpan, a vast areas of grapes valley is a paradise to keep away the surrounding desert heat. Feast on all kinds of grapes, and sip a fresh glass of white wine made by Uygur people.

Great Wall of Han Dynasty – located in Dunhuang, the walls were 1000 years earlier than the Great Wall of Ming Dynasty that we usually talk about and made of local sand and weed. However, it is now in danger! Only a few broken sections and several towers distorted beyond recognition are standing still, due to nature erosion and artificial damage.

Practical Tips on Buying Jade in China

Reputed for its beauty, grace, purity and bringing good fortune, jade stones has become a very popular keepsake among souvenir hunters and talented jade enthusiasts when visiting China. All top China destinations as BeijingHong KongShanghai offer a vast assortment of jade carvings and jade jewelries including earrings, pendants, bracelets, etc. However, the market is now flooded with imitation jade – sometimes being passed off as genuine. How to tell apart the real ones and fake ones? Here some tips on buying jade in China.

What to buy in China

1. Check the jade type. There are generally three grades of jade: A, B and C. All grades, from A – C, are real jade just of differing quality and value. Only type A jade is the naturally produced stone. While type B & C are processed with chemicals or added with artificial colorings to various degrees. It is worth noticing that deep green and white jade are relatively rare and the most expensive ones.

2. Purchase from a reputable seller. Despite the street pedlar may offer pretty “jade stones” at good prices, we suggest you purchase high quality jade in reputable seller, which can ensure product quality, and better handle post sales issues.

3. Ask for a certificate of authenticity. Shop around first to get to know the market value of certain prices. And for a high-grade piece of jade, a serious vendor should be able to offer a certificate of authenticity, which indicates the jade has been scanned and checked with authorities.

4. Some practical and helpful tips to buy jade. The real jade should be tough, smooth and cool to touch, without scratches on the surface. Choose the one with intense colors. Fake jade can often feel lighter than the real one. For translucent jade, which comes from the water, slightly striking it will produce a vibrational frequency. And for mountain jade articles, shine the light through the stones, the light will heighten the difference between the shades of green. But with fake jade, the light will only make it blurry.

5. Imitation jade can be fun too. Always beware scams and tricks when buying jade in China, but for the seller who is upfront about exactly what they are selling – imitation jade made from glass, plastic or other kinds of materials just on the right price, you may also take some as they can be interesting and pretty too.

Basic Table Manners in China

China has long been known as a nation of rites. People attach importance to politeness, courtesy and comity on any formal occasion, whether it is a wedding ceremony, a celebration party, or a banquet. Traditional Chinese customs have even spread throughout East Asia. As they say, When in Rome, do as the Romans do. The following basic table manners will help you initially master the Chinese dinner etiquette and ensure a pleasant dining experience.

Know  Chinese food & drinking

1. The typical seating arrangement is a part of Chinese dining etiquette. That is to say the respectable members, usually the elders or the guest of honor are given the best place – the place at the head of the table. It is discourteous to seat guests at the place where the dishes are served.

2. Dinning may only begin provided both the hosts and guests are seated. To better serve the small groups of guests, square dining tables are more often used than rectangular tables to permit easy sharing.

3. All the food is to be shared, except your own bowl of rice. The dishes are placed in the center of the table, and everyone can feel free to help yourself. Please remember not to make any noise when chewing the food.

4. Respect the chopstick, and you should not lick chopsticks, use them to stir up the food, point them at others, or even worse, stick them in the middle of the rice bowl. While waiting for the next course of dish, the chopsticks should be put on the chopstick rest.

5. Tea is usually served in a formal Chinese dinning. The one sitting closest to the teapot should pour tea for others. When the tea is served one should say “thank you” or make a gesture of thanks. However, the host should not let guests pour tea.

6. Make a toast to the senior. Conventionally, the host will make a first toast to everyone present to start the dining. When someone toasts you, you should immediately stop eating and drink to accept and toast in response. Toasts will continue to be made throughout the dinner. However, it is impolite to urge others to drink.

7. It is ok for you to stand up and reach for your food, if there is not a lazy Susan. When the dinner is over, the host will stand up and offer the final toast. Guests are expected to leave immediately thereafter.

8. Dress cheerfully When you are invited to a Chinese New Year party or a wedding ceremony (completely in black is not a wise choice).

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