Friday, June 26, 2009

China Recommendations

Yuangshou Culture House - Mr. Wei is wonderful host. Included with your room are three meals a day. Dinner is an amazing affair with a never ending stream of delicious dishes being brought to the table. He also teaches lessons for free - Chinese, Mahjong, Calligraphy.

Yuangshou Light Show - We try to avoid expensive touristy shows whenever possible but this one was worth every penny. Directed by Zhang Yimou (who did Hero and the 2008 Olympics opening ceremony). The perfect orchestration of 600 dances set on the water beneath the peaks. It was amazing.

Longsheng / Pingan
Countryside Inn in Pingan was a great place to stay in the Dragon's Backbone terraces. Definitely stay in the terraces (Pingan) rather than taking a day trip from Longsheng. At night and early morning, the terraces are most magical without all the masses of other tourists.

Cloudland was a great hostel in Kunming.... all the standard hostel ammenities (including a champion ping pong player who Nader beat after 3 tough rounds), and the double rooms are really nice.

Panba Courtyard Guest House in Lijiang was a really nice place to stay. Set a little outside of town, it's quiet with great rooms. They also do a communal dinner which was delicious.

Western Sichuan
This was one of our most memorable journeys all year.... we highly recommend it (if you have a high tolerance for LONG bus rides with spitting and chain smoking cowboys :). Litang is the place you're going to want to spend a few nights along the way. Portola Inn wasn't a bad place to stay, probably the best in town. In Litang, you definitely want to find Mr. Zheng -- he speaks English (kind of) and can connect you with anything you want to see in town, including the Tibetian Sky Burial.

Sims Cozy Guesthouse - Maybe the best hostel we stayed at all year.... All the standard hostel bells and whistles, with DVD players and free movies to borrow. Run by a Japanese-Singapore couple so it's squeaky clean :)
Hotpot - Can't remember the name of the place we got ours, but it was very good... Sim's recommended it. Hotpots are a local specialty so they're all over. Serious spice.

Our culinary tour through Beijing was led by local foodie friends.... So these places are all a notch above the backpacker budget, but so well worth it.

Dali Courtyard - Incredible Yunnan inspired cuisine. It's fixed price feast of dishes that just keep coming, no ordering necessary.
Liquin Roast Duck - For your requisite Beijing duck experience this is the place. The rest of the menu is astoundingly creative too so don't be afraid to add a few other dishes to your meal.
Bellagio Cafe - If you're looking for a delicious late night meal set amongst the young Chinese hipsters heading from or to the clubs, this is the place.

Yang's Stirfry Dumplings. Go here early and often. We recommend ordering at least 6 per person, 8 if you can handle it. Might be the best food we ate all year long.
Le Tour Traveler's Rest. This was a nice place to stay. In the private en suite rooms, the shower was actually in its own section which meant no wet room! (Wet rooms were a major frustration for Allison throughout China.... basically a shower head that just sits on the wall of the bathroom which means the floor, toilet, everything gets soaking wet).

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