Little Known Old Summer Palace of Beijing

Most people know about the Summer Palace in the suburbs of Beijing on Kunming Lake or at least all the group tours go there.  Few people realize that there is an Old Summer Palace quite close by that often gets overlooked.  If you are a history buff, you may want to visit the Old Summer Palace which is mostly in ruins after the 2nd Opium War.  British and French troops took home most of the artifacts that were there. What you see here is the remains of the Palace Gardens fashioned after the French Gardens of Europe. During the 18th century rebuilding of the gardens by Emperor Dowager Cixi in 1888 was accomplished.   The first palace and gardens were built in the 12th Century by Emperor Qianlong and called Yuanming Yuan but also destroyed in the first Opium War.   In 1949 after the Revolution, the site was made into a  park where the ruins were preserved as they are today.  Few foreign tourists visit it but it is very close by to the current Summer Palace and can be visited at the same time.  Check out our web site at   
        Our 25th Year Of Doing Tours to China!

Tour Meals in China

There are three main things that people usually ask about touring China.  Hotels, transportation and MEALS. There is plenty of food in China….you will not go hungry is an understatement.  Food is hospitality in China. As my Chinese friend says,  “Chinese people like to do two things  1. Eat Chinese Food   2. Talk about Eating Chinese food.  After 25 years of traveling throughout China I agree and understand why.  The variety of food is fantastic and so different in each area of the country.  Most people are on tours of one kind or another.  A budget tour gets budget meals of course.  A good tour gives you a variety of food.  Group Tours today in order to keep their prices low have gone to many Buffet restaurants to save costs.   Nothing wrong with Buffets if they are good.  Food is prepared and put on steam tables to serve the many large group tours that must stay on a schedule because other group tours may use the same restaurants.  I do Private Custom tours for my clients and insist on sit down and be served meals that are cooked individually for the customer.  Your likes, dislikes and allergies are considered by your requests.  I also must consider a budget for meals depending on the value of the tour which can range from Budget to Deluxe tours.  You see here a deluxe dinner my wife and I are having along with a typical standard lunch that we had one day.

As I said earlier, there is no lack of food or variety in China.   I also suggest to my clients that 3 large meals per day is way too much food and to plan on having some dinners on your own as part of your China experience.  I myself like to have a bowl of noodles with chicken and some dumplings at a small restaurant now and then rather than a large dinner every night.   Breakfasts at the hotels are generally very large buffets with western and Asian food with everything under the sun to choose from.   I hope this helps you with your tour plans.
          Check out our web site at:  

In our 26th year of doing Quality Tours To China and Tibet

Largest Buddha in the World

The Largest Buddha in the world pictured here is the Leshan Buddha carved into a cliff in the year 713.  The Buddha is 215 feet tall and one finger is about 6 feet tall.   Carved into a cliff it overlooks the meeting of the Dadu and Min rivers outside the city of Leshan.  Located just south of Chengdu in Sichuan province it can be visited in one day or on the way from Chengdu to Chongqing by car. As you can see there is a stairs carved into the cliff to go to the bottom or you can view the Buddha close up from the platform at the top.  There is also a boat trip that takes you on the river and passes back and forth in front of the Buddha for a great photo opportunity. Just 20 miles north of Leshan is the Thousand Buddha Cliffs with over 2,400 Buddhas carved during the Eastern Han Dynasty.  As a tour operator we usually visit the Panda Experiment station in the morning near Chengdu and then take people to Leshan to see the Buddha before returning back to Chengdu or on to Chongqing.  As we do custom tours many other sights in that area can be included such as Yellow Dragon Creek Village, WWII museum or the Thousand Buddha Carvings.

               Click on the photos for a full screen view!

Elderly Man

One of the most interesting times in China can sometimes be the most simplest.  I and a friend were walking in the countryside when we came upon the elderly man in this photo.  He was very intent on cutting strips of bamboo into lengths from a nearby forest of bamboo.  He was using a meat cleaver to cut the strips into very neat and straight strips.   Through my Chinese friend in translating for me we found that he was making strips of bamboo for his daughter and son to take to the market and sell them for making bamboo products.
Many families often have 3 generations living under the same roof and each one contributes to the welfare of the whole family.  The elderly often take care of the grandchildren or some other chore that may bring some extra money to the family.  Earlier I wrote  about the elderly lady who was selling peanuts if you check back in the blog.  After a nice conversation with him, he finally said that I was only the 2nd white person he has ever seen.  So of course I wanted to know who and when was the first.  He never looked up but said,  “A naked lady swimming in the near by river…many years ago”.    I could only laugh and told my friend that I must be a great disappointment to him.   Some of my most memorable moments in China are these encounters with the local people.  They have always been very open, friendly and hospitable often welcoming me into their simple homes for a cup of tea.  In 25 years of travel throughout China I have had many of these moments that make good memories and some lessons learned as well.
                Click on the photo for a full screen view!

Hiking in China

Many people like to combine hiking with their tour to China.  There are many places and some very convenient to fit into a China Tour.  Nothing like getting out into the countryside for a hike in the mountains, along the rivers  or just out to small villages without a lot of tourists.  There are hikes for every level of hiker from easy strolls to avid hiking and climbing.   Most hikes can be done in one day however there are others where you can stay in hostels along the way like the Tiger Leaping Gorge hike or hikes where you are out for two or three days and sleep in tents such as the 4 Sister Mountain area shown here.  There are countless day hikes in just about every area of the country for those with limited time too.  For more information on hiking in China contact us at    Click on the photos for a full screen View!