National Geographic magazine last year had an article on Urumqi and Kashgar on the Silk Road. Located in China just across the boarder from Pakistan and Afghanistan in Western China, this area is historically famous as part of the Great Silk Road. The magazine reported about tearing down one of the Old Muslim Sections of Kashgar. There are actually 5 large Muslim neighborhoods of homes in Kashgar. Above pictured is one of them located very close to the central area which I visited this past September. Kashgar is a wonderful place to visit not only for the Great Saturday/Sunday markets which is is best known for but for the wonderful Muslim culture. We can still see much of the old mixed in with the new. Donkey carts delivering fresh produce to the neighborhoods can still be seen as well as the home factories making all kinds of wonderful hand made products. Above pictured with me is Ekber a local Muslim Guide who posses a great deal of cultural information and history of his home city. We are standing in the Square in front of the large Mosque. Yes the markets are interesting for bargains, but don’t overlook the rich cultural history of this area and the food is not to be missed as well. For more information see my web site at www.interlakechinatours.com We added two new tours between Urumqi and Kashgar to include Hotan and the Takilmahan desert.
As a China only Tour Operator, clients often ask me when are the best times to travel in China. There are several answers. For weather…probably September and October or April. Summers are hot and humid with the rainy season being June through August but a great time to visit the high mountain areas such as LiJiang,Dali and Shangrila or other mountain areas. High season for costs is April/May and September/October. Low season is November through March. If you want to go to the high mountain areas July, August & September is best as October it can snow already. For the Silk Road and desert areas the best is actually August and September. October gets cold and snow can occur at the higher elevations. There are two holiday periods of 5 days in a row in which Chinese people like to travel and that is May 1 to 5 and October 1 to 5 and a few days surrounding each period. Much is crowded and prices are higher during those periods. This year, 2010, there is the Shanghai International Expo from June through October in which hotel prices will be very high and space will be limited but just in Shanghai. If weather is not a factor for you, December is a great month as hotels are empty, prices are low and sights are not crowded at all. Of course December 25th through January 1st is a different matter with the holidays for foreign visitors. For more information on travel times to China, just send me an email at email@example.com
When planning a trip to China you should read as much as you can. China is a large country the size of the U.S. and one can not see all of the country in just one visit. So plan on going to areas in which you have the most interests in the amount of time that you have available. Two to three weeks is about average. Travel books are often outdated the day they are printed as China changes so quickly; but they give you a good idea about what to see in the country. The Lonely Planet Series on China is excellent for detailed information but again some information is out dated too. Fromers is another one. A DVD called “Wild China” by the BBC is excellent with 6 hours of beautiful scenery in the remote areas of China. Rent the tape “The Last Emperor” which will give you some great insights to the Forbidden City in Beijing before you go. Read blogs like mine here and there are many more on the internet giving you up to date information on travel in China. “Encountering the Chinese – A Guide for Americans” is another must read book. If you can not find it in the book stores, I always have copies on hand that I ship post paid for $25. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like a copy. The better prepared you are for a visit to China the more you will enjoy your trip. I went for my first visit in 1989 and have made 50+ more since then. I never fail to come home without new stories and adventures to talk about…thus my blog with now over 300 stories and tips on visiting China. Tours to China is my business; but my real passion is the culture and the country.
Tibet has become more popular in the last few years probably due to the new train that goes there or the publicity it has received. Please be aware that a special permit is needed to visit Tibet and your Chinese Visa does not cover it. The permit can be obtained while in China but it is better to apply before you leave your country. Your tour operator can apply for you in advance as part of your tour. A clear copy of your passport photo page is required along with information as to your employment. You may be denied in some cases if you are a journalist or employed by what the government feels is a sensitive position. Tibet is at 10,000 feet above sea level and most people feel the altitude since you feel it instantly after getting off a pressurized plane. A local remedy in Lhasa is a mixture of brown sugar and ginger made into a tea with hot water. Upon arrival you normally will rest for several hours to adjust to the altitude. If you are taking the train, the train is pressurized as well. For more information on Travel in and to Tibet contact us at email@example.com and visit our web site at www.interlakechinatours.com
25 YEARS EXPERIENCE OF Customized personal Tours to China and Tibet. Update: 2013
It now requires a minimum of 5 people in a group from the same country to enter Tibet with a permit. Less than 5 people will be denied a permit. (my wife and hiking buddy were denied in 2012 because there were only the tour of them. They hiked Sichuan province then were it was even better and no tourists in the mountains with Tibetan people living there.