The best China travel stories from around the net

by James Weir
Posted: February 6th, 2012 | Updated: February 6th, 2012 | Comments
China travel features_china travel news_china travel blogs_china travel stories Chinese New Year_spring festival_lanterns We read a lot about travel over the course of one week and, after much sifting and sorting, we've rounded up a few of our favorites. From news and reviews to great blog posts, unusual destinations and travel stories, read on for our picks. >>> Today marks the official end to the two week long Spring Festival celebrations. Across China, lanterns light up the night sky, replacing their louder, explosive brethren as they take center stage for the 15th night of the first lunisolar month, also known as the Lantern Festival. If you haven't had any yuánxiāo (元宵) yet this year, then try some tonight and put back a bowl or three in the name of a prosperous year. Yuánxiāo is a delicious treat made from glutinous rice, which can be filled with a variety of things, often red bean or sesame paste. On the first night of Chinese New Year, I got out of the gate early and feasted on some post-dinner yuánxiāo, and let me tell you: they were delicious. But tonight is the big night for yuánxiāo consumption, so find the nearest street-side vendor and treat yourself. In keeping with the delicious nature of Chinese New Year, the first link I'm going to drop on ya'll is from Notes from Xi'an, a great blog about, obviously, Xi'an. The story focuses on some of the author's favorite dishes from around the city and his experiences returning to the world of omnivores as he leaves vegetarianism in his wake. Disclaimer: it will make you hungry. More links after the jump...
  • North Korea is one of the most mystery-shrouded countries in the world, so this story from The Times of India comes as no surprise: Dandong, in northern China's Liaoning Province, boasts a booming tourism industry simply because it's on the North Korean border. There are even illegal boat tours on the Yalu River that take you within feet of the North Korean shore. Sounds a little like tubing in Laos, except stressful and kind of scary.
  • As always, the folks at Danwei are pumping out material of the highest quality. This piece from a few weeks back about spending Year of the Dragon.
  • Though there are Tibet travel restrictions in place from 20 February to 30 March 2012, the news of more flight routes to Tibet is surely a good thing. With a stupendously large amount of beautiful places to visit, anything that eases transportation there is more than welcome in my book.
  •  Though tonight is the official date of the Lantern Festival, there will be still be plenty to see in the days to come. The Global Times has gone ahead and compiled a list of places to enjoy the Lantern Festival in Shanghai, Beijing and Xi'an. It will be colorful, to be sure.
  • There are few words more commonly associated with China than "Shaolin." Unfortunately, the world-famous Shaolin Temple has seen better days, and is currently facing an inquiry from the National Tourism Association. Though not particularly surprising, it is still disheartening to hear that the most famous Taoist temple in the world has fallen for so many run-of-the-mill tourist clichés. Here's to hoping that they get their act together and remedy the disconnect between functioning as a for-profit tourist destination and a spiritual haven at the same time.
  • On a positive note, look at all these beautiful pictures of the Lantern Festival! The Chinese truly know how to put on a show and celebrate. Let us raise our glasses to the Year of the Dragon!
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