Inner Mongolia is an autonomous region in North China- to the north it borders with Mongolia and the north east tip borders with Russia. The region is a home to the most scorching dry deserts in China, but also (ironically) to the most beautiful lush grassland sceneries. Hohhot, the capital of Inner Mongolia, is popular among tourists for grassland tours. Another popular place is Xiangshawan, or “singing sands gorge” which is located in the Gobi Desert. It was a region I did not hear a lot about before I came to China, but I came across a local advertisement about a trip to Baogutu Desert in Inner Mongolia.
When I heard that a travel company named Local Ren organises a trip to Baogutu desert (宝古图沙漠), which is the biggest desert in Northeast China, I signed up immediately with my fellow colleague from InternChina. The Local Ren travel agency is actually a student start-up. Although they were not always professional, they seemed very easy-going and were making jokes all the time! In the end, 80 people signed up, who were for the most part international students from all over the world.
On our first date, we left Dalian, Liaoning province and travelled to Fuxin, a town located on the border between Liaoning province and Inner Mongolia. The more we approached the town, the more the scenery changed to endless rice fields. Also, the temperature kept on rising, reaching 32 degrees! Quite a difference from what I was used to in the UK. After six hours of travelling, our local Chinese guide told us that we had reached Fuxin, a rather small town of just 2 million! What I noticed while I was passing through was that there were lots of Mongolian BBQ restaurants, whose signs were written both in Mandarin Chinese and Mongolian. Apparently, both languages co-exist in the region, however Inner Mongolia uses the traditional Mongolian script for their alphabet, whereas the Republic of Mongolia uses the Mongolian Cyrillic alphabet, which they adopted due to Soviet influence.
When we arrived in Fuxin, the receptionist had to take a photo of our passport front page and visa. This is a standard procedure in China, that’s why a foreigner must carry their passport all the time when visiting new places. After that, we found a Mongolian hot pot with lamb meat. As the locals were not used to see foreigners, they were buying us more things to try and the servers were very kind and sweet.
On the next day we left for Baogutu desert. On the way, I saw that there were many tree plantations. The guide told me that the government is trying to claim back the land from the spreading desert. There were many trees planted and workers watering them. It would be interesting to see in a decade if their plan is successful.
The road to the desert was narrow and the condition of the road was bad. When we arrived at the tourist centre everything seemed under construction. There were several skeletons of hotels, but there were public bathrooms with plumbing and 3G! The organisers gave us our tents and other students showed us how to build one. In one hour, 50 tents were laid out proudly over a vacant field. After we secured them, we were divided into teams. The travel agency gave us ankle protectors and masks and we set off into the desert.
In the beginning of our hiking, I was not impressed. There were newly planted trees everywhere and I thought it did not look like a real desert. The camel guides saw us and approached us- each of them showing off their animals. They had dressed them in traditional Mongolian colours and were following us along the way like shadows.
The deeper we went into the desert, the more the heat was becoming unbearable. After 30 minutes, a landscape of endless sand dunes spread in front of our eyes. The white sands stretched out over the horizon unevenly and lazily. There were spots where the wind was unsettling the dunes, but did not impede our breathing.
As we were the only tourists there we had plenty of camels to choose from. It cost only 30 RMB for a camel ride. Also, we could sand board if we wanted to, but most of us were taking photos with the camels which were idly laying in the sand and were not scared by being touched.
In three hours’ time, we head back to our camping site. Due to the strong wind, we couldn’t have had a bonfire, so we had only a BBQ. The meat was halal and there were plenty of vegetables. The BBQ was like an organised chaos- although no one assigned jobs, everyone just picked what they are good at and stuck with the task. But as the night advanced, the wind grew stronger. Eventually, the organisers asked us to return to our tents as the wind was blowing them away and they were literally people chasing them after. As a result, we returned to our tents, but found a unique way to continue to have fun. A group of Thai people played the guitar and sang from their tent. We connected a microphone to a big portable speaker so everyone could enjoy the music. At the same time, people were sharing what food and drink they had left, despite the hordes of sand that the wind was blowing against us. It was a night to remember!
In the morning, most of us woke up to see the sunrise after the sandstorm. We all helped each other to pack up the tents and travelled 12 hours by bus back to Dalian. Overall, this experience was worth every penny and every minute. If you are looking for an adventure – Inner Mongolia is the place for it!
To have the chance to embark on a similar adventure with InternChina, apply now!
Eine Woche während Chinese New Year, geschlossenen Geschäften und einigen freien Tagen- was bietet sich da besser an als eine Reise? Nur wohin? Bloß nicht nach Guangzhou- zu voll! Bloß nicht in die ländlicheren Gegenden- zu voll! Bloß nicht zu teuer und auch nicht zu weit weg…also…Chongqing!
Thelma und ich haben uns für unsere Reise für die „Sparfuchs-Variante“ entschieden und anstelle des Schnellzuges den „normalen“ Zug gewählt. Dadurch haben wir für unsere Hin- und Rückfahrt nur 93RMB bezahlt anstelle von 150RMB für eine Fahrt.
Chongqing hat uns bereits nach den ersten Minuten unserer Ankunft begeistert! Ein sehr gut ausgebautes Nahverkehrsnetz, eine atemberaubende Skyline und das Beste: nicht voll!Als größte Stadt der Welt hat Chongqing wirklich so einiges zu bieten! In den nächsten 3 Tagen haben wir wunderschöne Tempelanlagen gesehen, uns an Massen von Streetfood satt gegessen und haben letztendlich leider doch eine Kostprobe davon bekommen, was zu Chinese New Year ganz normal ist.
Das alte Städtchen Ciqikou im Chongqinger Shapingba Bezirk eignet sich besonders gut wenn man ein bisschen Alt Chinesischen Flaire genießen, ein paar Souvenirs kaufen oder den gut erhaltenen Baolu Tempel besichtigen möchte.
Eins meiner persönlichen Highlights (im wahrsten Sinne des Wortes)war definitiv die Fahrt mit der Gondel von einer Seite Chongqings über den Yangtze auf die andere Seite der Stadt. Wir mussten zwar fast 1 ½ Stunden anstehen bis wir endlich an der Reihe waren, aber die Aussicht- einfach Wahnsinn! Mit 30RMB für einen Roundtrip auch preislich völlig in Ordnung.
Das Stadtinnere ist mindestens genauso beeindruckend wie die Skyline! Ein Hochhaus überragt das andere und auch hier lohnt sich der Besuch bei Nacht da viele der Gebäude bei Nacht angestrahlt werden.
Beschämenderweise haben Thelma und ich es nicht geschafft, den schärfsten HotPot der Welt zu probieren für welchen Chongqing so berühmt ist. Nach dem wir innerhalb der 3 Tage an gefühlt jedem Streetfood-Stand gehalten haben, war einfach kein Platz mehr für HotPot.
Aber auch ohne diese HotPot Erfahrung war der Trip nach Chongqing rundum gelungen. Wer gerne für ein Wochenende so richtig Großstadtluft schnuppern möchte und gleichzeitig wunderschöne, chinesische Kultur erleben mag, der ist in Chongqing genau richtig!
Wenn man an China aus der Sicht eines Touristen denk schießen einem sofort Begriffe wie „Die große Mauer“, „Shanghai“ oder „Die Terrakottaarmee“ in den Kopf.
Natürlich stehen auch all diese „must have seen“ Orte auf meiner Reiseliste aber im Dezember stand mir eher der Sinn nach etwas Natur. Zufällig war ich zu diesem Zeitpunkt gerade in dem Büro in Zhuhai und hatte somit einfacheren Zugang zu Reisezielen in und um die Region Guangdong. Meine Ziele für die kommenden 4 Tage hießen Guilin, Yangshuo und Longji.
Mit einem berüchtigten Schlafbus, ging es innerhalb von 11Stunden von Zhuhai nach Guilin in die Provinz Guangxi. Nach der außergewöhnlichen Anreise war ich froh meinen Tagestrip nach Yangshuo für den kommenden Tag direkt im Hostel buchen zu können.
Mit dem Bus ging es dann direkt vom Hostel ins 2 Stunden entfernte Yangshuo. Die Landschaft war schon auf der Hinfahrt der absolute Wahnsinn! Berge wohin das Auge reicht! Zudem hatte ich auch noch irrsinniges Glück mit dem Wetter- strahlender Sonnenschein, ein blauer Himmel und Temperaturen um die 15-20Grad, und das im Dezember!
Der Bus ließ uns in einem kleinen Dorf raus, von wo wir unsere Reise mit dem Bambusfloß über den berühmten Li-Fluss fortsetzten. In aller Ruhe und Gelassenheit über den Fluss zu fahren und die umliegende Natur zu bewundern wurde umgehend zu einem meiner China-Highlights!
Auch das Städtchen Yangshuo, welches ich im Anschluss mit dem Rad erkundet habe hat mir ausgesprochen gut gefallen. Umringt von eindrucksvollen Bergen und direkt am Fluss, ist Yangshuo wirklich der ideale Ort für jeden Reisenden und Hobbyfotografen- hier gelingt definitiv jedem ein Schnappschuss!
Nachdem ich am Abend wieder nach Guilin zurückgekehrt war, habe ich meine Reise am darauffolgenden Tag zu den Reisterrassen nach Longji fortgesetzt. Die Terrassen befinden sich ca. 23 km von der Stadt Longsheng und 3 Autostunden von Guilin entfernt. Auch diese Tour konnte ich problemlos und sehr bequem über das Hostel buchen. Nach einer Autofahrt durchs Gebirge und auf Serpentinenstraßen erreicht man schließlich ein Tal von welchem man entweder mit der Gondel auf den höchsten Punkt zu einer Aussichtsplattform fahren kann, oder man erklimmt die Terrassen zu Fuß.
Die Aussicht ist in jedem Fall atemberaubend! Obwohl die Becken nicht wie im Sommer bewässert waren, war der Blick ins Tal mit den umliegenden Terrassen auch im Winter ausgesprochen eindrucksvoll!
Für jeden, der die „natürliche“ Seite Chinas erleben möchte und auf der Suche nach dem Ein oder Anderen Fotomotiv ist, wird in Yangshuo und Longji auf jeden Fall fündig!
Ich kann eine Reise nach Guilin, Yangshuo und Longji nur auf´s Wärmste empfehlen!
Last weekend I decided to treat myself to a little weekend trip away. I hadn’t been out of Zhuhai in a while and when a fellow intern asked if I would be interested in checking out the new Shanghai Disneyland with her, I didn’t hesitate to say yes. Before I knew it, we had arrived in Shanghai and were as giddy as little children on the night before Christmas as we tried to get some sleep before going to the park the next day. The next morning we got up bright and early to catch the subway and make the journey out to Disneyland. The park just opened this past summer and they extended the subway line to extend all the way to the park, so it is really convenient to get there by public transportation. By the time we arrived at the Disney subway station the cars were absolutely packed and we started to get worried that we were going to spend the whole day packed into the park like sardines. But once we made it out of the subway and through the entrance to the park, the crowd started to disperse. We had finally made it to the “happiest place on Earth!”
Our first destination was the souvenir shop so that we could pick our some very important accessories – our Mickey Mouse ears for the day. The shop had a huge selection of different ears, and we probably tried on more than ten pairs each until we finally found the ones we wanted. So with our ears all set, we were ready to go hit the rides.
Ever since the park opened over the summer, there had been a lot of hype over the TRON Lightcycle Power Run – the new rollercoaster that made its debut at the park over the summer, and we made that our first destination. The line was still manageable at that time, and before we knew it we had mounted our TRON Lightcycles and shot off into the sky. When we got off, we both had grins as big as the Cheshire Cat on our faces, and agreed this was the best rollercoaster we had ever been on. So for anyone who is into rollercoasters, this one is not to be missed.
We continued to make our way through the park, doing all the things one does in Disneyland. We got a picture with Mickey Mouse, ate corndogs and Mickey Mouse pretzels, watched little girls getting their princess makeovers and ended up riding almost every ride in the park. Another highlight was the new Pirates of the Caribbean ride. They added some elements from the new movies and updated the graphics along the whole ride. We had so much fun on that ride that when we got off we saw that the line was really short, we hopped right back in the line and rode it again.
The day ended with the classic Disney light show and firework display, and before we knew it we were on our way back to our hostel with very tired feet, but smiles on our faces. We had just enough energy to grab some street barbecue by our hostel before jumping into bed and getting some hard-earned rest.
Overall we had a really amazing time at Shanghai Disneyland. The park is so big that the crowds are pretty well dispersed, and with a combination of fast track tickets and single rider lines we rarely had to wait very long to get on any rides. All of the classic Disney elements are there, with some Chinese flair thrown in so everyone who goes is sure to have a good time. I would definitely recommend a trip out to Shanghai Disneyland to all Disney fans out there who want to check out the newest park the franchise has to offer.
In ganz China und sogar über die Grenzen der Volksrepublik hinaus, ist das UNESCO Weltkulturerbe Jiuzhaigou bekannt. Besondes zur Herbstzeit pilgern täglich mehrere Tausend Chinesen in das von Chengdu 9 Fahrtstunden entfernte Naturschutzgebiet. Aus diesem Grund hat sich auch InternChina entschlossen die Reise dorthin anzutreten. 24 Interns ließen sich weder von der langen Fahrt noch von den dortigen Temperaturen abschrecken.
Die Fahrt war trotz der 9 Stunden alles andere als langweilig! Nach ungefähr 2 Stunden ließen wir die graue Hochhäuser Metropole Chengdu hinter uns und fuhren ins Gebirge. Der Weg führte uns durch Täler mit riesigen Seen, vorbei an kleinen Dörfern und durch Kilometerlange Tunnel. Wir folgten einer Serpentinenstraße bis wir am Abend das Friendship Hostel erreichten.
Am nächsten Morgen sind wir bereits früh morgens, im dicken Zwiebelook zum Park aufgebrochen. Die Eintrittstickets hatten wir bereits am Abend zuvor im Hostel erstanden, weswegen wir uns eine Wartezeit an den Ticketschaltern ersparen konnten. Um möglichst viel von der Schönheit des Parks zu sehen, entschieden wir uns die Hälfte des 72.000 Hektar großen Parks zu Fuß zu erkunden. Vor uns lagen rund 20km entlang eines kleines Pfades bis zur Touristeninformation von wo wir die Erkundungstour mit dem Bus fortführen wollten. Die 5 Stunden lange Wanderung bei frischen 9°C war jede Minute wert, da waren sich alle einig! Wir wurden mit atemberaubenden Naturbildern belohnt! Riesige Wasserfälle, kristallblaue Seen, imposante Berge mit schneebedeckten Gipfeln und Wälder in herbstlichen Farben.
Das wohl Beste an dieser Art der Parkbesichtigung war wohl, dass wir nur vereinzelt auf andere Touristen getroffen sind und uns nicht in vollbepackte Busse drängen mussten.
Nachdem wir die Touristeninformation erreicht hatten, entschied sich eine Hälfte der Gruppe dafür die mehreren, kleineren Seen zu besichtigen, währen die andere Hälfte die wenigen großen bevorzugte. Für beides hatten wir leider keine Zeit. Ich schloss mich der Gruppe an, welche zu den kleineren Seen aufbrechen wollte. Was soll ich sagen? Enttäuscht wurde keiner! Besonders der 5-Flower-Lake war von atemberaubender Schönheit! So schön, dass auch mehrere Brautpaare dort ihre Hochzeitsfotos machen ließen.
Noch nie habe ich einen See von dieser Farbe gesehen! Das einzigartige Blau des Sees in dem sich die Gebirgsketten spiegelten war ein Anblick den ich wohl mein Leben nicht vergessen werde. Das Farbenspiel ist wirklich einmalig und die Szenerie die sich einem bietet unglaublich.
Gegen 18Uhr sammelte sich die Gruppe erschöpft, aber überglücklich, wieder im Hostel um den eindrucksreichen Tag mit Tibetischen Essen und bei dem ein oder anderen Tsingtao ausklingen zu lassen.
Insgesamt hatten wir 9 Stunden in dem Park verbracht, waren umgerechnet 72 Stockwerke erklommen und haben über 20km zu Fuß zurückgelegt.
Würde ich nochmal so lange mit dem Bus fahren und einen derartig lange Fußmarsch auf mich nehmen um Jiuzhaigou zu besichtigen? Auf jeden Fall!!!Ich kann nur jedem, der bereits von Jiuzhaigou gehört und mit dem Gedanken gespielt hat, einmal dorthin zu reisen, aufs wärmste ermutigen dies zu tun-besonders im Herbst!
If you’re lucky enough to be interning in Qingdao, and you have a multiple entry visa or are looking to renew your current visa, you can take a short vacay to South Korea and explore the incredible city of Seoul.
With the journey only lasting just over an hour and 16 flights every day at reasonable prices, there is no excuse not to visit! I marked the half waypoint of my internship by heading to the Land of the Morning Calm for a weekend of shopping, sightseeing and eating all the delicious Korean food in sight!
This blog post outlines some of the main attractions in Seoul, and also personal opinions from my visit to the city in July.
A wide variety of accommodation is available in Seoul, from quirky hostels to Gangnam style luxury hotels! Personally I always prefer to stay in hostels, especially when I am solo travelling, as it gives you a greater chance to meet new people to explore with. I checked into a clean and tidy 4-bed dorm in a cute little hostel in the university district of Hongdae. It cost less than $10 a night and was a great base to explore the city and experience Seoul’s crazy nightlife! Here is a cool site which gives you some tips on where to stay in Seoul: https://triphappy.com/seoul/where-to-stay/84746.
There are tonnes of sights to see in Seoul and the surrounding area, including Gyeongbok Palace, Insadong, Itaewon, War Memorial and the Blue Palace. For me, the key attraction was a tour to the DMZ; to see the border of North Korea with my own eyes, and hear the stories of war from local people.
My visit to the DMZ included visits to the Imjingak Park, where the Freedom Bridge to the North is located. It is hoped that one day the bridge will be opened and people will be able to travel freely between the North and South. It is quite a surreal environment, as you are constantly aware that the world’s last isolated nation is so close, yet it is also very commercialised with a range of shops, restaurants and fairground rides in the area. Other major sights include the 3rd Infiltration Tunnel, where North Korean soldiers tried to invade the South by using explosives to create a direct route to Seoul. A number of these tunnels have been found, but the 3rd is the most popular one to visit, as it is the longest and deepest. The North have previously claimed that they are natural formations…
The tour concluded with a visit to the Dorasan Observatory, on a hilltop looking toward the North. There are a series of binoculars allowing you to view the nearest village in the North, Kijŏng-Dong or Peace Village. During my visit, it was quite surreal to see normal people in the street going about their daily business through the binoculars. Dorasan Station is nearby with the tracks already in place for trains to start travelling to Pyongyang.
You can do the DMZ tour comfortably in half a day (with an early start), so once you arrive back in Seoul you have the whole afternoon to explore the city. The sobering Korean War Memorial should be next on your to do list. More of an extensive museum than memorial, with huge military displays of tanks, planes and guns. Given the high tensions on the Korean peninsula, and that a peace agreement has never actually been signed, the Korean War Memorial is a very relevant attraction to visit.
The city is also to home to Gyeongbok Palace, which is probably the most famous in Korea. It’s located at the end of Sejongro, and is also nearby the Blue House (President’s residence) and Bukchon Village. The palace was built in the late 1300s, and has been destroyed and rebuilt many times since. It is a beautiful spot, and you can spend a few hours wandering around the grounds admiring the traditional Korean architecture.
No trip to Seoul would be complete without a spot of shopping. Three major department stores dominate the shopping scene: Lotte, Shingsegae and Hyundai. You can purchase a variety of goods within these stores, from clothing to make up to Korea’s beloved kimchi (spicy fermented cabbage). Wide, straight boulevards dominate the city, but a quick wander into the little laneways in their shadows and you will find plentiful quirky Korean stores, selling all kinds of merchandise. Aside from the department stores, expat-friendly Itaewon and Insadong are also very worthy of a visit to pick up more authentic Korean goods.
Seoul is frequently regarded as a world leader in cosmetics: it is often referred to as the Silicon Valley of skincare, due to the high tech ingredients and futuristic formulations. Therefore if cosmetics are on your to purchase list, your first stop should be Myeong-dong to explore the hundreds of beauty boutiques that occupy the narrow streets. Popular K-beauty brands like Innisfree, Face Shop and Etude House are in their abundance, with enthusiastic staff welcoming you in store with offers of free facemasks and samples galore.
One last of the last things I would recommend tourists do in the city is visit the four main animal cafes. You can go to dog, cat, sheep and raccoon cafés in Seoul! As a massive dog lover, I went to Bau Hause where you can cuddle over 20 different dogs ranging from Chihuahuas to Golden Retrievers. The café is divided in to small and large sections so you can spend time with whatever dogs you are most comfortable with, all whilst enjoying a coffee!
Finally, Seoul is an amazing city with plenty to do, tasty food and incredibly kind people. If you’re interning in Qingdao, with a multiple entry visa or looking to renew your current visa, and fancy a short break away you should definitely consider a visit to the city with soul!
Hi, my name is Steeve and I am currently undertaking a one month internship in Zhuhai organised for me by InternChina.
Within my first day of arriving in Zhuhai I was approached with the offer to join the other interns on an InternChina organised trip to Xiamen, naturally I was slightly sceptical due to the long 10 hour bus journey. However, I reluctantly joined knowing that this may be my only chance to experience the cultural history of China. Once the journey to Xiamen began, I am very pleased to say that I was completely wrong to second-guess the trip. Although the journey was long it was barely arduous. Driving through beautiful scenery and breathtaking mountainous backdrops really made the long journey a lot easier.
Before arriving at Xiamen the bus stopped for a toilet break, during this 15 minute break I was pleasantly surprised at the warmth and welcome from the locals. They sat us down and served us traditional Chinese tea. Although my understanding of Mandarin is not the best the language of welcome is universal and this village optimised it.
During our time in Xiamen we were fortunate to experience the variety of different environments the city has to offer, ranging from religious temples, to island tours. On the second day of the trip, we went to an area just outside of Xiamen which consisted of seven villages dating as old as 700 years; Yunshuiyao, Tianloukeng Tulou Cluster, Taxia Village, Huaiyuanlou, Hekeng Tulou Cluster, Yuchanglou, Heguilou and last but not least Yunshuiyao. With beautiful scenery rich in culture and breathtaking streams and water features. We got to see traditional tea making as well as traditional rice wine making. We even got the chance to meet some of the villagers, the pride they showed in their culture was awe-inspiring.
While in Xiamen we also had the opportunity to visit a famous island just off the coast of the city, the main attraction of the island is the sunlight rock. Do not let the name fool you as it was more than just a rock we saw!!
We were also fortunate enough to visit the Piano Museum where we got to see some of the greatest collections of classical pianos played by composers such as Igor Fyodorovich Starvinsky.
The nightlife in Xiamen was quite vibrant and cosmopolitan with friendly people; those who could speak English would always say hello to you and make conversation which helped us feel so welcome.
I’d like to be 1st to thank all the staff at intern China for arranging such a wonderful trip. It felt less like being taken around by talk guides and more like a road trip with close family and friends. And I would like to encourage any in turn to grab the opportunity with both hands.
If you would like the opportunity to explore China, all while doing an internship apply now
One of the greatest things about doing an internship in Sichuan’s capital Chengdu, is not only do you have access to a vibrant cosmopolitan Chinese city with a really exciting business climate – but you will find some of the most beautiful places in China are just on your doorstep. Here are the InternChina Chengdu office’s top 4 escapes from the city;
Jiu Zhai Gou
The ‘Nine Village Valley’ is surely one of the most breath taking places in China. This UNESCO world heritage site in the North East of Sichuan is high up on the Tibetan Plateau spanning over 180,000 acres. It is famous for it’s snow-capped mountains, waterfalls and the amazing azure blue lakes – they say mineral deposits in the earth give the water it’s otherworldly blue and purple hues.
The valley was originally home to nine Tibetan villages, seven of which are still there; which make great places to stop and try some Tibetan treats like yak meat jerky and salty yak milk tea in between hikes. As is the case when travelling anywhere in Sichuan, the journey to Jiu Zhai Gou isn’t easy – it is normally a ten to fifteen-hour bus ride on bumpy mountain roads. But this one journey definitely worth braving the service station toilets for. It isn’t to be missed! InternChina run a trip here at least once a year!
How long do I need? You will need at least 3 days. One to travel there, one to explore the valley and one for the journey back to Chengdu.
How do I get there? There are 2 busses from Chengdu; one leaves Xinnanmen Bus Station at 8.00am daily and the other option is to travel from Chadianzi Bus Station, which departs at 7.20am, 8:00am, 9.00am and 4.00pm. There is a high speed train currently being built from Chengdu, but this will not be open for another few years.
How much does it cost? Around 300rmb for the bus tickets 100rmb for a private room in a hostel 310rmb entry to the valley (200 with a student card)
Kangding & Tagong
Kangding is a city nestled in a valley high up in the autonomous Tibetan region of Ganze. Historically Kangding marked the border between Tibet and China – so has a rich culture combining Tibetan customs with influences brought in from Han Chinese traders. The city is quite unlike any other place we have visited in China – it is cut in two by a raging river, and as you walk through the winding streets, mountains tower over you from all sides littered in colourful prayer flags.
From the city centre you can climb PaoMa mountain and visit temples and beautiful Buddhist stupas. Kangding also makes a great base to explore the surrounding area; stunning grasslands cans be reached by hiking 3 hours or so from the city – and Tagong, a beautiful Tibetan settlement is a few hours away by car. On returning to the city, every evening in the main square there is a big community dance with hundreds of people in colourful Tibetan clothes taking part. Kangding is a very unique and very beautiful excursion.
How long do I need? You need a day to travel there, as the journey is 10-15 hours by bus, a day to explore Kangding and a day for the return journey – however we recommend going for at least 4 days, to allow you to visit Tagong and some of the other settlements nearby.
How do I get there? A bus leaves Xinnanmen Bus station every hour from 7:00 to 14:00 daily. You can also fly from Chengdu to Kangding airport, which is one of the highest airports in the world!
How much will it cost? The return bus journey from Kangding will cost you 260RMB – plane tickets start from 300rmb each way. There are some great hostels in Kangding which cost only 45rmb a night for a shared room. A private driver can be hired for 400rmb a day take you to Tagong.
4 Sister Mountain
This mountain is the highest peak of the Qionglai Mountain range in Ngawa Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture in Western Sichuan. This mountain range is known as the ‘Alps of Sichuan’ and when you arrive, the snow-capped mountains dotted with fir trees make you feel very far away from dusty Chengdu! The area is great if you enjoy mountain climbing – and for the brave, ice climbing – but is breathtakingly beautiful even for the casual hiker.
A good place to base yourself is in the town of Rilong, which is lively with plenty of hostels – and it is a good gateway to the 3 valleys; Chanping ( a day long hike), Shuangqia (easy and quite touristy) and Haizi (for the more seasoned hiker/climber). The real beauty of the 4 Sisters Mountain range is you may very well have it to yourself – because it is difficult to reach and still relatively unknown, you can enjoy the stunning scenery without being poked in the back with someone else’s selfie stick – bliss!
How long do I need? 3 days. Two for travelling and one to explore.
How do I get there? There is a daily bus to Rilong from Chadianzi bus station at 6.30am.
How much will it cost? A return bus fare is roughly 170rmb and a private room in a hostel is 120rmb. Entrance tickets to the valleys varies between 60-90rmb depending on the season.
If you don’t have 3 days to spare from your internship in Chengydu, there are also a few very beautiful daytrips. Just an hour away on the new bullet train lies one of China’s most famous Taoist mountains, Qingcheng Shan.
This mountain has been the subject of many famous writers and painters, one claiming it is ‘the most peaceful and secluded mountain under heaven’. It certainly isn’t secluded now, but does offers beautiful hikes which lead you to temples, caves and palaces – some of which date back to the Jin Dynasty! It makes for a very peaceful mini getaway!
How long do I need? Just 1 day!
How do I get there? You can take bullet trains from Chengdu Railway Station to Qingchengshan Railway Station. Then take bus no. 101 to Mt. Qingcheng (Front Mountain). You can also take a regular bus from Xinnanmen Bus Station or Chadianzi Bus Station to Qingchengshan.
How much will it cost? The entrance ticket for the mountain areas are 90rmb + 20rmb or so for entrance to caves and palaces. The high speed train ticket is just 15 kuai each way!
Would you like to experience some of these beautiful places? Then apply for an internship in China here!