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So, the October hols have been and gone and the sole prepackaged mooncake collecting dust on your desk is the last, lonely reminder of your Mid-Autumn Festival break (unless, of course, you were any of these guys, in which case the memories of this month's Golden Week are many and you're trying your best to forget). Here in Shanghai, fall is making its presence known with brisk mornings that melt away into mellow sunshine and blue(ish) skies that leave you wondering why on earth you thought you needed that jacket when you left the house. It's hands down the best time of year for travel in China, and despite the lack of government-endorsed vacations in the foreseeable future, we're already plotting how and where to escape to next. Thankfully, the bright sparks over at Ctrip English have come up with a bunch of new China travel products and promotions to make our lives that little bit easier and our cash go a whole lot further.
Did someone say city break?
First up are the recently relaunched weekend mini-breaks here we come!
Here are some of our picks for awesome autumn weekenders (prices are based on two sharing and include two nights' hotel accommodation, round trip flights and all taxes & fees):
Beijing-Chengdufrom RMB 1,867 per person
Love spicy food and laid-back living? Then you'll be a sucker for Sichuan. Far away from the powers that be, Chengdu has maintained its distinct local culture and language, and a few days exploring its teahouses, temples, parks and surrounding greenery is enough to defeat every case of the pandas. 'Nuff said.
More Chengdu vacation packages.Shanghai-Qingdaofrom RMB 720 per person
Best-known for its ubiquitous brew (Tsingtao), Qingdao is also famed as one of northeastern China's favorite seaside destinations. While it may not have the tropical allure of Sanya, Qingdao's lovely coastal locale means beaches just a stone's throw from the city with miles of sand to explore. Set sail on the blue seas from the 2008 Olympic Sailing Center, clamber up the granite mountains that paint a pretty backdrop to the city or gorge yourself on a host of of delicious local seafood dishes, cooked up Shandong-style!
Next up is the brand spanking new Ctrip coupons program, a way for Ctrip to give a little love back to loyal customers. Just look for the Ctrip coupon icon when booking hotels and you can earn up to RMB 200 for every night of your stay! All you have to do is write a review after completing your stay and your coupons will be credited to your Ctrip account, ready for use on your next Ctrip booking. Save 'em up and splurge or use them on every reservation, the choice is yours. (Read more about Ctrip coupons.)
Travel your way with Free & Easy tours
Speaking of choice, that's exactly what the Ctrip Activities team had in mind when they created their latest offering: Free & Easy tours. They know that group travel is not everyone's cup of cha and these new tours get back to basics, offering great prices on pre-selected hotels with airport transfers, and then it's up to you! Do as much, or as little, as you like, however you like... though there's always a help at hand, of course, with a range of day and multi-day add-on excursions to choose from.
Free & Easy tours are currently available in Shangri-La, Dali, Lijiang and Jiuzhaigou.