Beyond Kyrgyzstan and the 3,752 metre high Torugart Pass is China, a country where everything – and I do mean everything – is completely different from what most travellers are accustomed.
Laura and I are so-called “permanent overlanders”. We’ve been non-stop on the road now for many decades; our most recent venture a six-year motorcycle journey from Europe to Australia. And like so many other road-warriors who cross Asia with their own vehicle, we encountered a couple of hurdles along the way.
The greatest logistical challenge, by far, was obtaining legal permission to ride through China without a guide. Very, very few overlanders have managed to achieve this. We may have even been amongst the first, who knows?
But we certainly weren’t the last. A handful of vagabonds on wheels have transited China independently since our crossing in 2014/2015.
This is the story of how we did it …
Gambling is one of the oldest leisure activities in human history; dating back to the Paleolithic period, before written history.
It was first invented in Mesopotamia, a historical region of Western Asia, where the Chinese invented a game of chance using tiles. This was back in 3,000 BC, though some 5,000 years later, Asia’s gambling game has stayed strong.
Whether it’s the thrill of the tumbling dice, the suspense of the spinning wheel, or the charm of how the cards might turn, gambling has become one of the most popular pastimes in Asia for both locals and tourists alike.
There’s no better place to experience the thrill of the casino than in the region that gambling was first invented, and for travelers interested in rolling the dice, you’ll be pleased to learn that the three biggest casinos in Asia are all in Macau. They don’t call it the ‘Las Vegas of Asia’ for nothing!
Traveling on the Beijing to shanghai train is the quickest and most cost-efficient way to get between these two iconic mega-cities. Because China’s high-speed trains operate at a speed of 350 km/hr, you can travel 819 miles within 4.5 hours.
While this is of course longer than the time it takes to fly (2 hours), there are many perks to train travel, including easier security, the convenient location of stations, comfort of travel, and cheaper cost of ticket.
And, when you consider getting to the airport at least an hour before your flight, and the time it takes you to disembark, collect your bags, and then catch a taxi, train travel actually ends up being around the same amount of time.
So, you’ve decided the book the train between Beijing and Shanghai. What else do you need to know?
It’s one of the biggest countries in the world, home to the largest population on the planet, heck- the landmass covers five entire time zones (errr, even though there’s only one).
There are no two ways about it: traveling in China is next some next level nomad business.
Anyone who’s ever spent time in the big Zhongguo can tell you that China’s diversity of language, culture, and landscape is enormous. Sometimes just traveling from province to province feels like you’re crossing international borders; it’s that different.
For the adventurous among us, this can actually be the most exciting thing about traveling in China- you can have a lifetime worth of crazy experiences, all within the borders of a single country.
From teetering over the edge of a sky-high mountain to skimming your surfboard down the lip of a wave, here’s our pick of the craziest, kookiest, and downright coolest outdoor activities you can do while traveling in China.
Beijing is one of those rare cities that offers something special for every kind of traveller. Browse a never ending supply of world-class museums, sample the finest in authentic Chinese cuisine, marvel at innovative architectural wonders of old and new, and be introduced to the nation’s top artists, musicians, and writers.
The only hardship Beijing presents is finding enough time to experience all the city has to offer. When it comes to such a large city as Beijing, it can be difficult to know where to begin.
To that end, the following are things to do in Beijing for every interest – great ideas for your itinerary no matter what your interests!
It’s one thing to see pictures of incredible wildlife online, but getting up close and personal with them is another matter entirely.
From meeting pandas in their natural environment, and snow monkeys in Japan to ethical experiences with elephants in Thailand, here are six amazing travel ideas for animal lovers.
Experiencing underwater life never ceases to inspire and amaze. Offering an entirely different pace, human beings have long been enchanted by the blue silence, surrounded by marine life.
It is true that some of the coolest places on the planet are under water. There are hotels, shipwrecks, temples, museums, restaurants and other underwater sites around the world that are worth diving and snorkeling for.
While the list of exceptional underwater experiences seems as endless as the great depths of the sea, we’ve put together our favorites; some the top sites to don a full face snorkel mask and explore underwater life.
If you’ve ever heard of the Silk Road, this refers to an ancient network of Eurasian trade routes that once connected the East to the West. These were routes that emerged across both land and sea, along which silk and many other goods were imported and exported.
For many years, this was the primary source of cultural crossover between Europe and Asia. And while the Silk Road stretched all across Europe and the Middle East, it is the Asian stops of the Silk Road that are most worth the trip today.
This is where the Silk Road originated, when China opened up to trade in the first and second centuries B.C. But while goods were obviously traded, imported, and exported in and out of Asia, it has a much greater cultural significance. The constant movement and mixing of populations also brought about the transmission of knowledge, ideas, cultures and beliefs, which had a profound impact on the history and civilizations of the Eurasian peoples.
For those with an interest in history and cultural heritage, the Silk Road is a great path to follow when travelling in China, Japan, Korea, and other Asian countries. Here are 3 must-see destinations you shouldn’t miss.
Thanks to appearances in countless Hollywood movies, Las Vegas has been widely regarded as the gambling capital of the world, with the bright lights of Sin City drawing visitors from around the globe for many decades.
However, the famous Nevada city can no longer claim to be the king of casino culture, and, in truth, hasn’t been for just over a decade now.
Rising to park itself firmly on that particular throne is Macau, which has transformed itself remarkably from what was once a sleepy fishing port to a booming Asian tourist destination at the top of many ‘must visit’ lists. Move over Las Vegas, because Macau is where the action is!
Shanghai has long been the gateway to China. Located on the Yangtze River delta, it is known as the city above the sea, the Paris of the East.
It is the largest economic and trade center in China, and one of the country’s biggest cultural centers. Though despite the ancient cultures we find in Beijing and Xi’an, Shanghai is a relatively young city, with a unique fusion of Eastern and Western cultures.
As China’s largest and richest city, Shanghai is a mega-metropolis which oozes an atmosphere on par with New York and Paris in terms of modernity; a bustling international hub with something for everyone.
Whether you’re in Shanghai for architecture, cuisine, history, shopping, or entertainment, this is a town that’s tailored just for you. The following are things to do in Shanghai for every interest – great ideas for your itinerary no matter what you like to do!
Fairy tales have captured our hearts and minds since once upon a time, and these imagined lands are often so vivid that they stay with us into adulthood. We dream of escaping to these fantastic, otherworldly settings to escape the bore of daily life.
But the authors who imagine these enchanting lands often draw inspiration from locations in real life. From the mountains of Germany to the plains of sub-Saharan Africa, there are many places around the world which look like they’ve been ripped from the pages of a fairy tale. And that’s because the real world inspired the story.
If you love fairy tales and have a serious case of wanderlust, you can visit these real places that inspired some of the best stories of all time. None of these destinations require a fairy godmother to reach – just a short flight!
The most rewarding travel moments are when you can have an experience that few others achieve.
When it comes to exploring China, visiting popular tourist sites like the Great Wall or eating Peking Duck may satisfy the bucket list, but that makes your experience just like any other tourist.
So when we visited China, we wanted to make our experience unforgettable and uncover the real China that few tourists ever get to see. We decided to teach English in China, and on reflecting back, have the following advice for those looking to achieve an immersive experience.
A nature reserve and national park located in the north Chinese province of Sichuan, Jiuzhaigou is known for fabulous scenery such as multi-level waterfalls and snow-capped peaks. Though perhaps the parks best-known feature is its dozens of blue, green and turquoise-colored lakes. The saying that “no more water worthy of appreciating after those of in Jiuzhaigou” can be the true interpretation of its scenery.
But for such wonderful attraction, why do so many tourists miss it? Most simply don’t know how to get there. As the largest city in the southwest China, Chengdu is only about 400 kilometers away, and is your best gateway. From here you have the option of daily flights and buses to Jiuzhaigou.
The difference between choosing a bus or a plane comes down to both time and price. Most of time, taking bus from Chengdu to Jiuzhaigou will take 9 to 10 hours, as opposed to the 40 minutes to 1 hour for the journey on a plane. The following if information to help guide your choice.
Tibet is a beautiful area within China* that is home to its own unique culture, style, and landscape. This fascinating place is the perfect destination for adventurers and travelers of all kinds! You’ll find ancient history, beautiful surroundings, and religiously-inclined locals who are happy and kind.
*Tibetans say their country is an independent nation: the Chinese government says it is part of China. Read more about the Tibetan sovereignty debate.
Here’s how you can visit the highlights of Tibet in 48 hours.
Jilin is a northeastern Chinese province bordering North Korea and Russia, and while it may not be the first place you think to go when you think of China, come winter it is a destination full of superlatives; of ski resorts, natural hot springs, and stunning ice-rimmed riverside trees.
For those travelers looking for a destination which offers an incredible winter wonderland, and lengthy period of winter snow, this is the place to be. From October to April, Jilin is transformed into a truly magical destination with mesmerising natural wonders you have to see to believe.
From a stunning, deep-blue volcanic crater lake within the country’s largest reserve, to China’s extraordinary frozen fog, the following are 7 reasons to spend this winter among the wonders of Jilin.
It’s hard not to notice the Great Mosque on a stroll of Dongguan Street, Xining. And with magnificent islamic architecture that combines together towers, a palace-like prayer hall, and a dazzling green Arabian-style dome, it’s hard not to walk past without being drawn in.
Built on a grand scale combining both Chinese traditional architectural art and Islamic architectural features, this is the biggest mosque in Qinghai Province, and one of the one of the four great mosques in Northwestern China.
A visit to Dongguan Great Mosque Xining offers a fascinating insight into Chinese Muslim culture. This is arguably the most famous Islamic Mosque in China.
Adrenaline junkies have always been faced with a problem; the next activity has to be slightly more exciting than the last, or what’s the point?
A decade or so ago, even a humble trip to Las Vegas to blow a month’s wages on the tables would have been the trip of a lifetime. Hardcore thrill-seekers now have to resort to chucking themselves off skyscrapers to scratch the adrenaline itch. Happily, for those of us who aren’t yet completely addicted to this kind of craziness, the world is full of exciting stuff that you don’t need to be clinically mad to want to try!
Here are the top 7 destinations in the world for thrill seekers!