Based in our North America office in Denver, Suzanne is one of our Asia specialists and she recently joined our popular 18 day Yangtze and Beyond small group tour through China.
Now back on home soil, we asked Suzanne for her top three experiences from China.
The Great Wall of China
1. The Great Wall of China at Mutianyu
This much lesser visited section of the wall is located about 70km northeast of Beijing, a longer drive than most tours but well worth it! I loved that the wall was also an interactive experience. We started by taking a ride in the gondola lift (aka cable car) up the mountain to the base of the wall. Once you climbed the short stairway to get to the top of the wall, the view of the surrounding hills was truly breathtaking!
The Great Wall isn’t just a place to stop by and take a quick photo, it’s a place to experience and enjoy. We spent about 2 hours leisurely walking along the wall, stopping to have a picnic and taking in the magnificent views while a few others decided to do a longer hike to a tower higher up along the wall.
"The wall is such a historical icon we’re all aware of from a young age – everyone kept having a “Wow, I’m standing on the Great Wall of China” moment!"
To get back down the mountain, half of us took the alpine slide (aka toboggan) and the other half took the chairlift down. I opted for the alpine slide and it was well-worth the fun and fast ride. The Great Wall at Mutianyu is well-recommended for escaping the crowds and enjoying this masterpiece in relative tranquility!
The kask limestone scenery of Yangshuo
2. Bike Ride in Yangshou – Guilin and Yangshou
Both are very picturesque cities in southern China, surrounded by huge limestone karsts and away from the hustle and bustle of China’s larger cities. In this region, you can take a trip to Longshen to view beautifully terraced rice fields, enjoy Guilin’s charming evening cityscape colors, explore around Yangshou’s small alleyways and cafes and take a cruise down the Li River.
My favorite memory, however, was taking a bicycle ride through the countryside in Yangshou. It was a little daunting at first to make it out of town and crossing the few busy streets, but our guides were excellent at keeping us safe and showing us how to navigate the traffic. Once we got on the path it was easy-going and beautiful! The limestone peaks jutting out in the background looked like postcards set behind flat rice and lotus fields. The countryside was quiet and the bike ride was leisurely and peaceful. We enjoyed lunch at an open-aired restaurant before finishing our ride back to town. There was no better way to enjoy the gorgeous scenery in Yangshou.
The cuisine of China
3. Chinese Food – Oh the food!
Chinese food wasn’t anything like the Chinese food I’ve had prior to my visit, of course, and the cuisine was as diverse as China itself. Peking Duck, Xian dumplings and Chongqing hot pot are popular dishes, but the spices and aroma of all the food was mouthwatering
"During the journey, our tour leader, Franck Malezieux, arranged group dinners at local restaurants and would order items off the menu so we could all try different specialties."
One of my favorite meals was in Xian where we had a 16 course dumpling dinner and each dumpling was shaped like the item that it was stuffed with. The chicken dumpling was shaped into a chicken, the vegetable dumpling was shaped into a lettuce leaf and the nut dumpling was shaped into a walnut. It was really a feast for your eyes and taste buds.
We also had lunch at a local family’s home in Beijing and the hostess presented us with an array of delicious marinated vegetables, stir-fried chicken and pork and fried noodles. The night food stalls were fun places to ‘people watch’ and maybe even try the creepier food items.
Suzanne with a Travel Indochina local guide
Suzanne started with Travel Indochina North America in early 2012. After travelling extensively throughout Asia, this was her first trip to China with Travel Indochina. If you’re interested in seeing China or you’d like more information about our Yangtze and Beyond small group tour, then contact Suzanne here.