Every year it happens, that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach when you realize the holidays are just around the corner and you still haven't booked anywhere to go. Want to hit the sunny sands of Sanya? It'll cost you. Want to discover the magic of Shangri-La? You'll be dropping a wedge of reds.
But never fear, all is not lost. You 're not doomed to a week on the sofa and yet another brunch. Lord no. What you need is a little creative inspiration, a cheap flight and maybe an extra day or two off work (Who makes you work weekends anyway? I mean really... ). Here are a few such ideas from the ChinaTravel.net team....
While China is not known for its beer, those who've had beer in China without a doubt know Tsingtao Beer. Pronounced "Qīngdǎo Píjiǔ" (青岛啤酒), the same as the city of Qingdao (Qīngdǎo, 青岛). The confusing name gracing the beer labels comes from the Romanization of the city name by the École française d'Extrême-Orient, whose name roughly translates to "French Institute of Extremely Bad Romanization of Chinese."
There's more to Qingdao than low-alcohol-content pilsner, however. The German buildings clustering along the seaside give the city the look of a coastal European town, a point of pride for locals despite the colonial roots. The clean air and unique architecture make for a different sort of October holiday in China.
The city developed late compared to many of China's top destinations, only making it's mark after the Qing Dynasty government built a naval fort alongside the Shandong fishing village. After the killing of two German missionaries, Kaiser Willhelm tweaked his dastardly mustache and used the killings as a pretext to occupy the city in 1898 with British-style flair under a 99 year lease. Though the German's weren't able to stick around long, the buildings did and, along with the Qingdao's beaches, they provide much of the city's draw. Even the Chairman himself couldn't escape the charm, staying in the Qingdao Guest House while visiting in the city.
Qingdao's famous beer, which today remains the country's most popular export brew, fuels year-round beer events like the Qingdao International Beer Festival in August. Restaurants, particularly near the Tsingtao Brewery, sell Tsingtao at its cheapest in little plastic bags.
The brewery itself serves as a museum detailing the brewery's (and the city's) complex history: from the German foundation of the brewery to the Japanese takeover in 1914, through its eventual return to China and Japanese re-takeover in World War II and finally the city's return to China at the end of the war.
It also one of the few places where curious tipplers can find hard to find domestic varieties like Qingdao Stout and Qingdao Green Beer (made with spirulina—to your health!).
If you're looking for a different sort of drinking experience, the Old Church Lounge at the top of the Lennon Bar for food, booze and live music.
Depending on when you head and and where you're coming from, Shanghai, for example, round-trip Shanghai-Qingdao tickets go as low as RMB 850, even during the October holiday period.
Guiyang is a great escape from the October holiday crowds. You might not be the only one thinking that, so don't expect to be alone at the spectacular Huangguoshu Falls, just a few hours outside of town. But a lot of people don't realize how beautiful Guiyang itself can be.
Reports of Guiyang as a coal city covered in perpetual smog are highly suspect. Qianling Park turns the center of the city into a barely tamed wilderness covering 400 hectares (988 acres) and patrolled by a troop of poop-flinging macaques, and just ten minutes outside of town is the Guiyang Forest Park, another 500-plus hectares (1,235-plus acres) of protected wilderness sprinkled with carvings and steles and patrolled by a flock of raucous wild pheasant. Nearby Baihua Lake is also a nice getaway and the only crowds you'll be dealing with are local Guiyang residents looking to do the same thing you are—enjoy the holiday in peace.
If you're based in Shanghai then this is a definitely a goodie with many cheap round-trip Shanghai-Guiyang flight options. Wherever you're flying from, check out Guiyang flights to find your best price.
If I had the choice, I would head north to Inner Mongolia and spend a few days in and around Hohhot. I suppose a better trip would be a lone bike trip or even hitchhiking across the north, but with only a few days in Autumn, then a cheap flight to Hohhot it would be. Flights on October 1st tend to be really spendy, but if you manage to take a flight the Monday (October 2nd), then prices drop dramatically.
Why Hohhot? To hang out with Mongols, basically. Like most little American kids, I grew up fascinated with the Mongols and the khans. Now that I'm all grown up, the nomad sensibilities of the Mongol people also lure me up there. If the world goes down the drain, then we'll all be nomads again and it might be wise to see how they do.
Some things on my agenda would be visiting the two Tibetan Buddhist temples nearby, Wusutu Zhao and Xilitu Zhao symbols of the old friendship between Tibet and Mongolia, based on religion. I would also be interested in horse treks across the Inner Mongolian grasslands, or just a leisurely stroll if it turns out I can't ride....
And without question if I managed to get out onto the grasslands and the steps, I would want to visit the Great Wall in Inner Mongolia, the barrier that forms the cultural contact zone between the Mongol nomads and the Han farmers.
Ladies and gentlemen, guys and dolls, heed this call: just because you spent all that money you had saved for vacation on chicken feet and garbage bags full of socks doesn't mean you can't beat on out of Shanghai (or wherever you reside) for a few days over October break. I went ahead and did a little digging, pulled some strings, called my people, and what I have for you here is nothing short of revelatory. You can get yourself a cheap flight to Xiamen, stay for a couple of days, just long enough to really kick back and let it all out.
So you've never been to Xiamen, you say? Well, if it were me, I'd start the party off by finding aNanputuo Temple, which has been standing, in one incarnation or another, for over a thousand years (the current structure is still young and innocent, dating back perhaps a mere 200 years). I'd grab a fresh vegetarian lunch, stroll the grounds and high five a few monks (really, though, don't actually do that. It's very rude) before dusting up the proverbial trail on over to the South China Sea, where I'd take a dip and keep my core temp down. Summer is most definitely spiraling into the abyss, that's one thing I know for sure, but down in Fujian Province the water has been warming for months now, and the midday sun can still cook you if you're not careful; don't ever forget how very important it is to keep your core temp regulated on vacation.
Once regulated, I'd head on over to the Xiamen Underwater Sea World. I imagine that it's probably a pretty weird place, it being a wildlife park in China and all, and that sort of thing appeals to me. Plus, I've always wanted to feed a dolphin, and for whatever reason I think dolphins would really like my company.
After I've maxed out with a few dolphins and made some weird faces at a few fish/people, I'd go get my history on at the Huli Shan Fortress, a garrison at the southern tip of Xiamen, where you can look out onto some historically contentious islands between Taiwan and China. If I was feeling a little less curious and a little more quaint, I'd hop the quick ferry over to Gulangyu Island and spend a few hours wandering the car-less island and check out the Piano Museum, before heading back in the early evening.
For dinner I would go to Zhongshan Road (Zhōngshān Lù, 中山路) pedestrian street and do some snacking and wandering, before finding a full dinner somewhere small, preferably in a tiny local spot where everyone is yelling and smoking cigarettes.
And folks, that's just day one. I don't want to spoil the fun of discovering your vacation for you, so I won't tell you what I'd do for the next three days. It wouldn't be any fun. But I will say this: before you get on your flight to Xiamen, don't forget to stock up on chess pieces, glow sticks and argyle leotards. You wouldn't want to have a lousy vacation.