Good news! There’s been talk that China may begin to open its borders to international leisure travelers in the second quarter of 2023! International travel to China is currently only open for work or family reunion purposes. As of December 2022, entry quarantining has been shortened from 14 days to 5 days. Maybe by the time you are ready for your school trip to China, the guidelines will have been relaxed even further.
We cannot wait to show you all the things there is to see here. During this time, we have been diligently reviewing our safety protocols and creating new procedures to ensure your well-being. We need to stay healthy to have fun! It is definitely not too early to start planning your school trip to China, so we’d like to tell you about 5 trips that you should prioritize when China reopens its borders.
Trips to Prioritize When China Opens its Borders
Inside Guizhou: A Discovery of Miao, Buyi, and Dong Traditions
We partnered with Global Heritage Fund to bring you this fascinating trip. You and your students will get to experience the cultures of the Miao, Buyi, and Dong people whilst taking in the breathtaking rice terrace scenery. To begin this trip, we’ll meet you in Guiyang, check in to your hotel, and wander through Hongfu Buddhist Temple (弘福寺), Guizhou’s oldest Zen Buddhist Temple. The Buyi people are considered the first to settle in Guizhou. You’ll be visiting them on day 2 to learn about their culture, traditions, and maybe even celebrate a festival with them.
On day 3, we’ll visit the Miao people in Fan Pan Village and have a homemade lunch with them. We’ll also go to the Feiyunya Village. The Dali Dong village is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites, which you’ll get to visit on day 4. The Dong people are one of the largest ethnic groups in Guizhou. Activities there include meeting a village elder to hear about their history and learning traditional songs and dances. You can stay at the village leader’s home, enjoy a “vintage fish” banquet, and learn about the Dong dyeing technique. There’s also a DOUSA Dong Women’s Cooperative that benefits the Dong textile production.
Of course, the hillside villages cannot go unappreciated. An early morning hike will allow you to enjoy the view and atmosphere of countryside living, after which you’ll meet the Biasha Miao Villagers to learn about their unique gun customs and enjoy some leisure time in Congjiang.
Origins of the Yangtze: Trekking the Jinsha River Valley
To more athletic folks, we’ve got just the right trip for you. This trip is heavily hiking-based, set in the mountains of Lijiang and the villages of Yangtze. Throughout your trek, you’ll also gain wisdom on the colorful history of the area. This trip begins in Lijang, Yunnan (丽江, 云南), which was classified as a World Heritage Site in 1997. The city is right in the valley of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, filled with authentic, charming little spots for us to explore.
We’ll also go to the Wumu Village, known for its Dongba culture. Dongba (东巴) is the Naxi people’s term for religious beliefs, scripts, and ceremonies. You’ll meet a local Dongba heritage master who will teach you about the history and customs of the village. Day 2 is planned for a full day of hiking along the Jinsha River, which boasts views of mountains, gorges, and more rice terraces. The hike will be about 15 km, taking 7 to 8 hours. Along the way, we’ll encounter the Baoshan Stone Village (宝山石头城), where a large boulder is part of a myth of a slain dragon. Many ancient ceremonies, customs, and festivals are well-preserved in Baoshan, one of them being the Festival of Heaven Worship, aka Meng Ben (孟贲). On this day, arcane rituals are performed by a Dongba priest.
We’ll do another 14 km hike, which will take 7 hours, along the Taizi Pass, which has a whopping altitude of 8, 530 feet (2,600 meters). The views from up there will be mind-boggling. If you didn’t know, Taizi’s Pass also means Prince’s Pass. It was named after Kublai Khan, the grandson of Genghis. In the 13th century, he crossed the nearby Jinsha River which allowed the Mongol army to claim the area as part of the Chinese Empire.
This trip was crafted to explore the beautiful, southern part of Yunnan. Xishuangbanna (西双版纳) comes from the ancient Dai language and it means “ideal and magical paradise.” If you Google a picture of the city, you’ll see why. The landscape is stunning, almost like in a sci-fi fantasy movie. We want to take you there while the area is still flying under the radar as a travel location. During your trip, we’ll take you to a tropical botanical garden, a tea tree forest, and so many more cool places.
The Menglun Botanical Garden (勐仑植物园) houses over 12,000 species of flora, many of which may be strange and unfamiliar, yet unquestionably exciting. There are tree trunks entwined in such a way that it really seems like a fairytale, you might even forget where you are! The water lily pads are big enough for a person to stand on. You’d also get to taste the strangest fruit you’ve ever eaten.
The Dadugang Tea Plantation is the largest tea plantation in China. Once there, you’ll get to see, touch, and taste several varieties of tea while learning about tea growing and picking techniques from local farmers. There’s also a beautiful rainforest with even more diverse greenery waiting for you. The Sanchahe Forest Park is home to 130 wild Asian elephants. Walking on cableways, observation towers, and treehouses, you’ll get to admire these gentle giants in the jungle.
Xishuangbanna’s tea tree forest is located in Nannuo Mountain, and it has some of China’s oldest tea trees. King Tea Trees are the oldest tea trees there, having been around for 800 years. The Hani ethnic group reside here and are known for their tea harvesting and production. We’ll take a 2-hour hike here to admire the sights and smells, taking a detour in the home of a local family to learn about their culture.
Winter in the North: Harbin Ice Lanterns and Skiing
Due to its past, Harbin has a mix of Chinese and Eastern European cultures. The city was first founded in 1898 and consisted of Russian and Jewish immigrants, which can be seen in the local architecture as well as folklore. We’ll look at the massive snow sculptures at the International Snow Sculpture Art Expo, go skiing down some slopes, and see architecture that’ll make you forget you’re in China.
On Central Street (ZhōngyāngDàjiē, 中央大街), you’ll take walks while admiring Baroque and Art Deco buildings as our guides tell you about the city’s history. Harbin’s Ice and Snow World has an ice castle towering at 35 meters (115 feet), made by over 10,000 workers who procured ice from a frozen river. Another equally cold but magical place is the International Snow Sculpture Art Expo. Artists around the world come here to craft the stuff of winter wonderlands.
On Lao DaoWai, there’s a cool collision of eastern and western influences which can once again be seen in the architecture and historic districts in addition to local snacks. Next, we’ll take you skiing at Yabuli Ski Resort, the best ski resort in China. They have 17 slopes for skiers of different levels, so you don’t have to worry if you’re a beginner.
Yunnan: Yuanyang and Jianshui
These areas of Yunnan host the largest rice terraces in the world with elevations of 200 meters (656 feet) and up to 2000 meters (6562 feet)! The province is known for its landscape, culture, history, tradition, and food, which you’ll get to enjoy a lot on your trip with us. For this trip, you’ll arrive in Kunming and we’ll drive over to Yuanyang. You’ll get to experience harvesting rice stalks and catching fish in the UNESCO-listed rice terraces. From the Ailo Mountains to the Hong River, the rice stalks were developed by the Hani people over the past 1,300 years. Yes, they are indeed manmade, not natural. More rice terraces await you in Azheke village (阿者科村), where the Hani people have “mushroom houses” as a signature architectural design.
After seeing a beautiful sunrise in Duoyishu Village (多依树村), we’ll head over to the Shengcun Market and browse the stalls of local artisans and farmers. We’ll also look at the poetry and paintings at the Hani History and Culture Museum and take a traditional Hani cooking class with the locals. After a 2.5-hour drive from Yuanyang to Jianshui, we’ll visit the Jianshui Old Town, which has been dubbed the “Museum of Ancient Buildings and Residential Houses.” This town’s houses, buildings, and temples have over 1,200 years of history.
The Zhu Garden (朱家花园) and Ancient Well (古井) is a splendid ancient Chinese residency that was once closed to the public, but not anymore. We’ll stroll through the garden before we learn to make Jianshui Tofu, a local specialty.
We hope to have enticed you to start dreaming about your trip to China come 2023! Remember that our travel experts are happy to help you customize your trip and answer all your questions about the 5 trips we’ve outlined. If you have any questions regarding traveling during the pandemic, feel free to take a look at our China Travel Advisory for more details. We strive to keep it up to date on the latest developments. We are already accepting future bookings so we’d love to hear from you and assist you!
5 Trips to Prioritise When China Opens its Borders