The destination on everybody’s lips? China. A huge, intriguing land of devastatingly beautiful landscapes and sizzling hot cities. Where to start? The trick is finding the right balance: old and new, fast and slow, ying and yang. Thankfully, we think we have found just the right mix – from the skyscrapers of Hong Kong, to the 300-million-year-old limestone peaks of Guilin.
the ultimate urban playground
For a taste of 21st Century China hit Hong Kong, our favourite hedonistic hideout. Towering above down and dirty west Kowloon, the Intercontinental Hotel has the best views of this twinkling ‘Fragrant Harbour’. From here, ferry hop over to downtown Hong Kong and wind through Lan Kwai Fong, Soho and Gough Street – a frenetic place to shop for quirky designer clothes, funky interiors, Chinese antiques, art and traditional prints (trust us, there are a lot of cool shops); and stop for some vibey al fresco dining afterwards. Hong Kong is rammed with expensively hip restaurants, interspersed with cheap, delicious street food. When night falls the real fun begins: we can get you behind the velvet ropes of the best clubs and private functions.
Aaaand relax. Arriving in Guilin, the landscapes might feel a little familiar –that’s because you’ll have seen these picturesque peaks and rivers reproduced on endless silk scrolls, poems, prints and canvases.
Surrounded by mist-draped mountains, bamboo forests and ancient indigenous villages, it’s no wonder this region has been inspiring artists for centuries, but really, nothing can prepare you for the real thing. An old Chinese saying even claims this scenery is the “finest under heaven”. Stay overnight at the Sheraton to explore this genuinely charming city.
go the water way
The best way to take in the views? Take to the water with a half day cruise along the Li River to Yangshuo, and continue on by foot to a remote town to settle into Paredesa lodge for the next two nights. The neon lights of Hong Kong will seem like a distant dream. Take an early morning balloon ride, and spend days floating along the river on bamboo rafts and meandering through amazing mountain paths. End each day watching the ribbons of purple, pink and, finally, orange setting over watery rice paddies.
dragon backed mountain
Want to escape deeper into the countryside? A 3-hour drive and a breathtaking walk away is the stunning Li-An Lodge, perched on the mountaintop (Longji literally means ‘Dragon’s Backbone’). Wiggle your way through sweet osmanthus trees, walking across endless rice paddies and past traditional cormorant fisherman casting their nets over the river. Meet the ethnic people of the Zhuang and the Yao minority tribes you pass along the way, dressed in distinctive costumes. The women never cut their hair (tucking it up in traditional buns), and if you’re lucky you’ll witness their unique hair-washing ritual. Rediscover simple pleasures.
There you have it: the perfect clash of old and new. Aside from the enchanting people and landscapes, the real joy of this trip is the inner peace you’ll take home.
Available Year Round
Disclaimer: Pins in map may not be accurate if Google Maps cannot find the exact address. In this case an approximation is made.
Hong Kong, Guilin