The Top 15 Spa Hotels in Beijing & a Hot Tip for Beijing Travelers

The Top 15 Spa Hotels in Beijing & a Hot Tip for Beijing Travelers

I remember Beijing well, so many places to explore, so much walking, so many activities, and the flu. That’s Beijing, it can really wear you out simply because out because it’s one destination where there is so much to take in, and, so much to do.

So, make sure to plan for a pitstop and some time for rejuvenation.

How? Here’s my tip, book yourself in for one night, at least, at a superb hotel that offers loads of amenities then sit back and chill. Don’t let fatigue destroy your plans or distract you from getting the most out of your time in the city.

Set up a day with no plan, no buses, no crowds, no metro, no maps, just relax, Beijing style. And for that very purpose here is a list of the top spa hotels in Beijing. Get a massage, sit back in the jacuzzi, sweat it out in the sauna, fuel up in the buffet, are you with me? I’m sure you are. In most cases, it’s better value to stay at the hotel with the buffet breakfast and amenities included.

My Picks for the Top Beijing Spa Hotels

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The Ritz-Carlton Beijing

The luxurious Ritz-Carlton Beijing is located in Chaoyang Business District, adjacent to Shin Kong Place Shopping Centre. The Spa is divided into Ladies and Gentlemen resting areas. It features 10 treatment rooms that include 8 single lavish treatment rooms with an Aqua Bed and 2 Couple’s Suites. The Spa offers a comprehensive range of packages for relaxation, facial, body care, massage and their two signature offers The Jade Treatment and The Ritz Fusion.


rosewood-beijing_spa-entrance

Rosewood Beijing

An artistic masterpiece of modern and old, Rosewood Beijing is a glorious gem positioned in the central hub of Beijing. The in-house spa, A SENSE of SPA, offers a full range of treatments including body exfoliation, skin care, massage and even a gentemans spa experience package. They also offer Deluxe and Premier Spa Suites where guests can stay and enjoy the king size bed, an outdoor balcony, and an in-room massage table or oversized bath tub, plus other benefits.


stregis-iridiumspa

The St. Regis Beijing

Located in the bustling central area of Beijing, The St. Regis Beijing is 500 metres from the popular Silk Street and Jianguomen Subway Station (Line 1 and 2). The Iridium Spa at the St Regis covers 1,500 square meters offering natural hot springs rising from 1,500 meters underground flow into luxurious Jacuzzis. The spa also offers six spa and body therapy rooms include one VIP suite, one Vichy shower and king bathroom, two single rooms, and two double suites. With hot spring plunges, saunas, aroma steam rooms, and the Iridium Room, it is one of the most well feature spa’s in Beijing.


fairmont-spa

Fairmont Beijing

Chaoyang, Beijing – Metro access

Contemporary Chinese-style architecture and decor feature in the elegant Fairmont Beijing, the 5-star property was voted No.1 hotel in China on TripAdvisor in 2012. Willow Stream Spa is located on the 21st floor, spaning three levels. Services include mineral body scrubs, detox body wraps, Chinese meridian massages, manicures, pedicures and more.


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Waldorf Astoria Beijing

Waldorf Astoria Beijing artfully blends rich Chinese tradition and modern sophistication along the prestigious Jinyu Hutong in Wangfujing. The in-house spa offers a series of signature treatments along with massage, facials, body scrubs, body nourishment. They also offer eye treatments and a range of packages for men.


nuo-spa

NUO Hotel Beijing

Close to the chic hub of 798 Art District, NUO Hotel Beijing is a treasure trove of countless artworks and is positioned only 800 metres away from Jiangtai Subway Station (Line 14). The in-house Nuo Spa offers a range of signature treatments, massage, beauty and wellness treatments, that combine Chinese traditional practices with the very latest spa technologies and amenities. Luxurious ‘his-and-hers’ saunas and steam rooms are available.


fourseasons-spa

Four Seasons Hotel Beijing

Located just beside Yansha Youyi Shopping City, Four Seasons Hotel Beijing boasts a sauna and an indoor pool. ‘The Spa’ at For Seasons offers a wide range of treatments and packages for women, men, couples and kids. They also offer bridal packages. Treatments include Traditional Chinese Medicine, massage, French and Italian beauty treatments, spa ritual and tea ceremony, body care, facial and much more.


regent-spa

Regent Beijing

Dongcheng, Beijing – Metro access

A tranquil and luxurious retreat just a 3-minute walk from Wanfujing shopping street, The Regent Beijing offers 5-star facilities like a spectacular indoor pool and spa. The onsite Serenity Spa, offers 12 spa suites, a foot massage suite, steam rooms, baths, and a hair and beauty salon. On offer are holistic treatments inspired by traditional Asian and European therapies.


hilton-spa

Hilton Beijing Wangfujing

Situated in the middle of the shopping hub of Wangfujing, the spectacular Hilton Beijing Wangfujing offers a prime location. I SPA at Hilton Beijing Wangfujing is inspired by the ancient traditions of Thailand. The spa offers a very large range of packages and services including body scrubs and wraps, facials, hot stone therapy, Chinese Meridian Therapy, Siam Healing Massage and much more.


penninsula-spa

The Peninsula Beijing

Dongcheng, Beijing – Metro access

Centrally located in Wangfujing Shopping District, The Peninsula Beijing offers 5-star accommodation with city views, free Wi-Fi and a flat-screen TV. The Peninsula Spa offers spa and beauty therapy drawing on Chinese, Ayurvedic or European healing philosophies. Featuring 12 beautifully styled treatment rooms, including two private spa suites for couples. Treatments include signature cermonies, ESPA facial, Biologique Recherche facial and massage and men’s treatments.


new-world-spa

New World Beijing Hotel

Only a 10-minute walk from the Temple of Heaven and the buzzing Wangfujing Pedestrian Street, the 5-star New World Beijing Hotel features elegant guestrooms with well-equipped facilities. The Spa at New World Beijing Hotel offers aromatherapy, body massages, facial treatments, scrubs, wraps and more.


shangrila-summit-spa

Shangri-la China World Summit Wing, Beijing

Situated within Beijing’s China World Trade Centre Complex, Shangri-la’s China World Summit Wing occupies the upper floors overlooking the bustling city. CHI, The Spa, located on the 77th floor, features a selection of treatments based in Chinese traditional wellness culture, using natural botanical and herbal products.


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Park Hyatt Beijing

Chaoyang, Beijing – Metro access

As part of the prestigious Beijing Yintai Centre, Park Hyatt Beijing is centrally located in the heart of the CBD, directly opposite the China World Trade Centre and the new CCTV Tower. Tian Spa offers cutting edge beauty technologies and ancient healing therapies, with personalised experiences. On offer is massage, facials, body scrub, body wrap along with their signature services.


marriot-spa

JW Marriott Hotel Beijing Central

Offering an indoor pool, JW Marriott Hotel Beijing Central is located in Beijing. Free WiFi access is available. Each room here will provide you with a TV, air conditioning and a seating area. The in-house JingChen Spa offers a range of therapeutic treatments including body scrub and wrap, massage, facials, lic treatments, steam room and mens services.


renaissance-spa

Renaissance Beijing Wangfujing Hotel

Offering a spa and wellness centre, Renaissance Beijing Wangfujing Hotel, a Marriott Luxury & Lifestyle Hotel, is set against the backdrop of Beijing’s lively Wangfujing Street. The onsite spa offers a range of relaxing massage and beauty therapies.


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Grand Millennium Beijing

The luxurious 5-star Grand Millennium is elegantly located in Beijing Fortune Plaza, close to the new CCTV Headquarters. It boasts an indoor swimming pool, pampering spa services and 4 dining options.

See here for more about my travels around Beijing and here for a huge list of attractions and shopping in Beijing and also a guide to the new airport.

Shanghai’s Most Amazing Five Star Hotels

Shanghai’s Most Amazing Five Star Hotels

shanghai

If you’re looking for the most amazing hotels in Shanghai, then look no more. Here are the most stunning, highest rated, five-star hotels in central Shanghai.

These are my picks for the best of the best. This list is shared with GoShopShanghai.com here the top five-star hotels in Shanghai.

 

The Peninsula Shanghai
5-star hotel

Area: Downtown Shanghai, Shanghai
Located near Huangpu Park and the river of the same name it offers a fantastic position central to major attractions of the Bund, Pudong, and Nanjing Road. The hotel itself consistently recieves the highest reviews and the hotel is famous for its spectacular roo-top bar. It also features everything you’d expect in a world-class five star hotel.

 
 

Jing An Shangri-La, West Shanghai
5-star hotel

Area: Downtown Shanghai, Shanghai
Located in the heart of Jing’an District, Jing An Shangri-La, West Shanghai. It boasts a spa and wellness centre, an indoor pool and gourmet cuisines across several stylish restaurants and bars. Free Wi-Fi is provided throughout the property.

 

The Puli Hotel And Spa
5-star hotel

Area: Downtown Shanghai, Shanghai
Located in central Shanghai, It offers modern rooms with free internet and a BOSE wave music system. Its 5-star facilities include 2 dining options and a fitness center.

 

THE ONE Executive Suites Managed by Kempinski – Shanghai

 

5-star hotel

Area: Downtown Shanghai, Shanghai
Located next to West Nanjing Road and Huaihai Road. Sophisticated European Art-Deco design and free wired internet is featured throughout the building.

 

Le Royal Meridien Shanghai
5-star hotel

Area: Downtown Shanghai, Shanghai
A 3-minute walk from People抯 Square metro station. It offers spectacular views of Shanghai skyline and boasts a heated indoor pool and a hot tub.

 

Paramount Gallery Hotel
5-star hotel

Area: Downtown Shanghai, Shanghai
Located on the 12th floor of Paramount Metropolis Building, a 2-minute walk from Jing抋n Temple Station (line 2 and 7). It features boutique rooms fusing Art D閏o and modern European designs with free Wi-Fi in all areas.

 

Les Suites Orient, Bund Shanghai
5-star hotel

Area: Downtown Shanghai, Shanghai
Located in The Bund. It features boutique rooms with a fusion of Art D閏o and Oriental designs overlooking Huangpu River. Free Wi-Fi and a 24-hour gym is provided. Two restaurants are offered.

 

Hilton Shanghai
5-star hotel

Area: Downtown Shanghai, Shanghai
Towering over the former French Concession Quarters, features 8 dining options and a world-class spa. It showcases a large indoor pool, fitness center and sauna.

 

Swissotel Grand Shanghai
5-star hotel

Area: Downtown Shanghai, Shanghai
A 10 minute walk from popular Nanjing Street, offers 5-star luxury with 42-inch flat-screen TVs and iPod docks. It features a day spa, indoor pool and fitness facilities.

 

Hotel Indigo Shanghai On The Bund
5-star hotel

Area: Downtown Shanghai, Shanghai
Located along the Huangpu River, with spectacular views of Pudong. A 2-minute walk from Shiliupu Marina and Shiliupu Bus Station. It offers welcome drinks upon arrival, an indoor pool and modern air-conditioned rooms with free Wi-Fi.

 

Grand Central Hotel Shanghai
5-star hotel

Area: Downtown Shanghai, Shanghai
Located next to The Bund and East Nanjing Road Pedestrian Street. Its modern comforts include a large indoor pool, pampering spa and rooms with free internet access.

 

Fraser Residence Shanghai
5-star hotel

Area: Downtown Shanghai, Shanghai
Located one block from Middle Huaihai Road, Shanghai抯 business and entertainment centre. Offering comfort and convenience in airy apartments fusing Art D閏o and Oriental-inspired bamboo accent. It features air filter, water filter and water softener. Recreational options include a wellness centre and indoor heated pool.

 

Lanson Place Jinlin Tiandi Residence Shanghai
5-star hotel

Area: Downtown Shanghai, Shanghai
Located next to Xin Tiandi, a dining and entertainment area. Featuring serviced apartments, it provides free Wi-Fi, an outdoor pool and a gym.

 

The Langham, Shanghai, Xintiandi
5-star hotel

Area: Downtown Shanghai, Shanghai
Located adjacent to the retail utopia of Huaihai Road and a 1-minute stroll from South Huangpi Road Subway Station (Line 1). Boasting Chuan Spa, an indoor pool and gourmet cuisine across several stylish restaurants.

 

The Yangtze Boutique Shanghai
5-star hotel

Area: Downtown Shanghai, Shanghai
Located in central Shanghai, just 100 ft from People’s Square metro station (line 1, 2 and 8). Its excellent leisure facilities include a gym and a historic ballroom.

 
The Top 15 Hotels in Xi’an China

The Top 15 Hotels in Xi’an China

XI'AN

Xi’an was one of my favorite destinations and I place I highly recommend to anyone touring China. You can read more about my journey here. These are top rated hotels in Xi’an that are also convenient to all the major attractions such as the Drum and Bell Towers, the Mosque, City Wall and so on, also they are highly suitable for foreign visitors. For the Terracotta Warriors, no matter which hotel, you’ll need to organise transport, for which the concierge at these hotels will be able to assist.

The Top 15 Hotels in Xi’an China

Hilton Xi’an 5-star hotel

Area: Xincheng, Xi’an

Centrally located within the ancient city walls of Xi’an, the luxurious Hilton Xian offers an indoor pool and 4 dining options.

Sofitel Xian On Renmin Square 5-star hotel

Area: Xincheng, Xi’an

A 10-minute walk from Bell Tower & Drum Tower and Muslim Street, Sofitel Xian On Renmin Square features an indoor heated pool and luxurious spa. It has 4 restaurants and 3 bars.

Grand Soluxe International Hotel 5-star hotel

Area: Xincheng, Xi’an

218 yards from Xi’an Train Station, Grand Soluxe International Hotel features a fitness center, a sauna and karaoke facilities. All of the rooms have free wired internet. Free parking is available.

Crowne Plaza Xi’an 5-star hotel

Area: Beilin, Xi’an

The luxurious Crowne Plaza Xi’an is located within Shaanxi Xinxi Tower, one of the tallest buildings in Xi’an.

Grand Mercure Xian On Renmin Square 5-star hotel

Area: Xincheng, Xi’an

Grand Mercure Xian On Renmin Square is a luxurious 5-star hotel just a 10-minute walk from the Bell and Drum Tower. It offers massage services, a restaurant and free parking.

Grand Park Hotel Xi’an 5-star hotel

Area: Beilin, Xi’an

Grand Park Xian offers modern rooms, a gym and day-spa in the heart of historic Xian. It is a 15 minute walk from the Bell Tower and Park of Revolution.

Shangri-La Hotel Xi’an 5-star hotel

Area: Yanta, Xi’an

Shangri-La Hotel Xi’an is a luxurious 5-star hotel situated in the Gaoxin High-tech Development Zone, and a 35-minute drive from Xi’an Xianyang International Airport.

The Westin Xi’an

Area: Yanta, Xi’an

Boasting an on-site Chinese museum with over 2000 artifacts, The Westin Xian offers a luxurious getaway in one of the major ancient cities of the world – Xi’an.

Sheraton Xi’an North City Hotel 5-star hotel

Area: Lianhu, Xi’an

Neighbouring Exit B of Longshouyuan Subway Station (Line 2), the 5-star luxurious Sheraton Xi’an North City Hotel is a 5-minute walk from Daming Palace, a famous tourist spot.

Branley Hotel Xi’an 5-star hotel

Area: Yanta, Xi’an

Branley Hotel Xi’an is within a 30-minute drive of the Xi’an Railway Station and the Downtown Bell Tower. This luxurious 5-star hotel offers 3 dining options, an indoor pool and rooms with free Wi-Fi.

Tang Dynasty Art Garden Hotel

Area: Yanta, Xi’an

With distinct oriental elegance, Tang Dynasty Hotel is in a location next to Big Wild Goose Pagoda and Pedestrian Street. It features cultural displays with its music performances and tea shows.

Jianguo Hotel Xi’an 5-star hotel

Area: Beilin, Xi’an

Jianguo Hotel Xi’an offers elegant and spacious rooms near Xing Qing Park. Less than a 5 minute walk from the city’s East gate, it boasts an indoor pool, jacuzzi and gym.

Holiday Inn Xi’an Big Goose Pagoda

Area: Yanta, Xi’an

Holiday Inn Xi’an Big Goose Pagoda offers accommodations in Xi’an. Guests can enjoy the on-site restaurant. Each room includes a flat-screen TV with satellite channels.

Wyndham Grand Xian South

Area: Yanta, Xi’an

Offering a spa and wellness centre, Wyndham Grand Xian South is located in Xi’an. Free WiFi access is available. Each room here will provide you with a TV, air conditioning and a hot tub.

Sofitel Legend People’s Grand Hotel Xi’an

Area: Xincheng, Xi’an

Offering a sun terrace and garden, Sofitel Legend Peoples Xi’an offers 5-star accommodation with modern facilities and 24-hour butler service in the heart of Xi’an.

Key Travel Tips for First Time China Visitors

Key Travel Tips for First Time China Visitors

The first time in China can be an entrancing experience, put together the mysticism of Asian culture, the buzz of the staggeringly large number of people, the sheer size and scale of everything, and you’ll probably be on a starry-eyed traveler high for a while. But, undoubtedly at some point you’ll have to come back to earth, this a guide to help you to not come crashing back!

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A different kind of manners – the west and east has a different style of domestication, learn to live with it, because you’re not going to change the social norms of 1 billion+ people. There’s almost an every man for themselves attitude whilst not rocking the boat approach, for example, it’s oddly OK to push in front of someone else as long as it’s done peacefully and respectfully.  This lack of orderliness and queue jumping can really infuriate western travelers, particularly tired ones who I have often seen dish out a piece of their mind, and it’s for sure got to me on occasions. Just roll with it, or stand aside and offer the way to person in a rush, likely they probably smile back and offer you the way in return. So, golden rule, it’s every man for themselves, whilst, maintaining harmony, but as a foreigner it’s best to err on the side of graciousness and offer them the way. Although, if you are in the circle of family or friends, or you are seen as an ATM, you’ll probably be shown a very high level of courtesy.

Harmonious culture – no one ever really rocks the boat, it’s extremely rare to see public displays of emotion, anger or frustration. Most are mild mannered ( that doesn’t infer that they’re rational), perhaps bordering on shy, although within the circle of friends/family you’ll soon see their noisy and rumbustious side. ‘Face’ is a big thing in China, most seem to dance around the truth in order to avoid any kind of confrontation or to risk belittling another, western people can find this avoidance of facts frustrating, just let it go, dance with them. As an example, give the person behind the counter an earful for botching up your whatever, and they’d probably go into shock, and you’ll get nowhere, if not ignored. The approach to handling complaints is to be calm, persistent with a firm resolve but don’t at anytime make the other person loose ‘face’, in fact, try to boost it. I’ve seen kind words move mountains here. On rare occasions where I have seen screaming matches or bifo’s in public, it usually draws a crowd of amused onlookers, none willing to get involved in anyway though.

Language – it’s amazing how understanding and respectful they are to foreigners, smile and things always seem to work out. Don’t fear the language barrier. But, your experience will really be so much broader if you can speak a little Putonghua, there’s more about language tools and learning here. In the major cities it’s not to hard to find people who speak English, whether that’s in hotel receptions, coffee shops or someone who might come up and say hello simply because it’s there first chance to practice their English skills with a native English speaking person.

Crowds – choose you travel times carefully, major attractions during public holidays can be quite intolerable places even for locals, best avoided. Even during normal days it’s best to plan ahead and avoid peak hour periods when trying get transport, also try to beat the arrival of tour buses to attractions and you’ll save a long wait in the queue. More about holiday dates here.

Eating – eat and eat and eat, cooking is one thing they are really goooood at and it’s one of the key things to experience while here. There’s also a very diverse range of cuisines on offer too, so lap it up. Although, with that said, there are lots of food safety issues in China, which include the use of ‘gutter oil’, low hygiene standards, poor quality water, pork treated with chemicals and sold as beef etc etc etc. To play it safe don’t eat at food stalls unless it’s recommended by someone you trust, don’t eat salads (an exception may be Subway, Hungry Jacks etc. who follow HACCP guidelines), wash and peel fruit before eating.

Eating habits – try to get your lunch prior to 12 if you are in an office area as when everyone clocks off for lunch it can be hard to find a spare seat. Get used to the different habits here too, in fact, why not revel in them, such as slurping, eating with your mouth open, talking with a mouth full, all are A-OK! Ordering food is as easy as pointing at pictures, they are so understanding, if your relaxed and smile, they’ll work it out, if you look stressed, frustrated or angry, they’ll just go into shock and not know what to do and don’t be afraid to try the unusual, it probably turn out to be delicious.

Noise –  get used to it, there’s little escape from it. Bring earplugs as they are hard to find here. The social norms are quite different, in public places western people tend to moderate their voice level, no such thing here. They basically bang and crash and burble their way around until they fall asleep… This can be quite noticeable in cheaper hotels with thin walls, which is why you pack earphones and earplugs.

Water – don’t drink tap water, most hotels will offer free bottled water in the room, although, apparently, the bottled water standards are quite low and has been reported as being tap water, spend a little more in the hope it might be OK, it will still be cheap. Otherwise, at least boil it before drinking. Also, use bottled water for brushing teeth, in the major cities you are probably OK but better safe than sorry.

Everything is Fake – this should be your mantra. Because everything is. Authenticity is overrated here! Reduce your expectations and appreciate the value, or save your money. The worst experience is when you pay more for a copy than what the real deal would have cost, it happens and for sellers at many tourist markets it’s how they work it. Whether it’s art, shirts, jeweler or whatever, in  markets, bargain hard with this mantra in mind.

Prepare – if you have requirements for medicine, bring them with you, or research the locally available alternatives before coming. Imported health products and medicines can be quite expensive, best to bring what you need. Same goes for any make-up and skin care products as most here will be dubious quality. Most skin creams also have added whiteners, this may be something you don’t want too. You may also want to bring your own headache tablets, earplugs, Imodium tablets etc. Store a copy of your passport and visa, in case you loose them. Carry a pocket phrasebook, it can be enormously useful when you end up on a back street with a flat battery and you need to get somewhere.

Getting stared at – not so much in big cities, if at all, but travel to smaller cities and you’ll feel like you just stepped out of an intergalactic spaceship. Also in some cities, which is kinda humorous, you’ll often here cries of ‘helloooooo’ as people ride by, so return in-kind and smile and wave back or yell out ‘ni-haaaaaaaaaaaaaooooooo!’.

Money – always carry enough cash to at least get yourself back to the hotel, most banks accept foreign cards, in particular the big four banks but I have had several times where I have had to walk for ages to find one just to get some money to catch a taxi. More about money here.

Mobile Phones – get yourself an Android or iPhone and load it up with apps. Most importantly you want Google Maps and Google Translate, I use both daily. You can also download many useful city guides, and free dictionaries such as Pleco and Hanping. For a sim card, pre-paid is available everywhere, such as China Mobile or Unicom and you should be OK, China Mobile probably has the better coverage. When traveling I could spend 100 RMB per month, using the internet, maps and translate. Buy an extra battery to carry, or one of those auxiliary battery packs, a smartphone is pretty dumb when it’s battery is flat.

Always – carry your hotel address card, always carry tissues as many toilets wont have any, always carry reserve cash to get you back to the hotel, always get the receipt from the taxi, always smile as when you don’t have words this will get you further than anything else.

Taxi Guides – many hotels will have dual language local maps or maybe even a taxi card, if not it’s likely that someone will speak English at the hotel so ask them to write down the names of the places you want to visit, or circle them on the map at least. The internet will have many websites with addresses and names, I got in the habit of just taking a photo on the phone, but it’s useless when your battery goes flat.

Refunds – there is really no such thing, don’t hand your money over until you are 110% sure, in China it’s all about pre-purchase there’s no after-sales, very rarely would money ever be returned even if the product is faulty or there has been a clear error on the part of the seller. So, whenever you hand over money, be sure to be thinking ‘I will never see this money again, am i sure?’..

Taxis – at major transport hubs there’ll undoubtedly be touts offering rides, I’ve never done it, I just keep looking for a proper taxi. If a taxi tries to take you off meter, you are going to get ripped off, in some circumstances where it might be hard to get a taxi it could be wise to pay some tax, otherwise ask for the meter. In all the years I have had no big issues with taxis, so overall they are safe and affordable. Very rarely have I found a driver that would understand a direction in English, get your destination written in Chinese, point a map, or have the phone number for your destination at least.

Trains and buses – in four years I have never had any issues on trains, actually the train network here is quite impressive, particularly the new D and G trains. You’ll probably want to choose soft seat and soft sleeper options but hard sleeper is still acceptable. I have never felt unsafe on trains. In regards to overnight trains, if your’e tired and a light sleeper you may find it tough, they can be quite noisy (people) until around midnight, so pack earplugs plus headphones. Or mingle in, smile and give a ni-hao and everything will sure go swimmingly. Buses, some good and bad experiences, some intercity buses are clean and comfortable, and some are rusted out rattling pieces of mechanical rubbish, the smaller the city the more likely the latter. Public buses are cheap, but best avoided in peak times unless you like cuddling up like a sardine… same goes for subway.

Planes – mostly world class, expect delays and some airports can be busy so give yourself enough time for check in procedures. Buy tickets in advance for best savings, check out ctrip.com or elong.com which both have English websites and call centers. The cheapest tickets are usually the ones that land really early or really late, downside is that public transport is probably not operating at those times so you’ll pay more for taxis.

Lawless but law-abiding – the government you could say, sits at the head of the table, everywhere. But you’ll find the real world experience kind of lawless, examples maybe cars seem to use any part of the road they want, you’ll get on a bus somewhere that you’ll feel like it’s about to rattle itself to bits, you’ll be walking on the footpath and have a motor-scooter fly by your side etc. It’s chaotic but harmonious, it’s lawless but tightly governed, it’s China and it’s always a contradiction, enjoy it!

Manage your expectations – western cultures have extremely high standards when it comes to hygiene, you’ll need to be flexible with those expectations. Sometimes they’ll be pleasantly met other times maybe not so.  At some point you will need to learn to squat to use the toilet, you’ll walk down a street where store owners through there slops and rubbish out on to the footpath where there very customers walk, in a country that has over a billion people it’s impossible to keep everything sparkling, just deal with it, learn to rough it, it’s fun.

Politics – leave it behind. Rarely do people talk about it. Also, remember they have grown listening to one voice, they will have a one-sided view on issues to which we have had open access to information. Time is better spent learning and understanding.

Hotels – I’m all for roughing it and getting a real experience and so on, but, I also enjoy a hot shower, a clean bed and a good nights sleep. A couple of the hostels I have stayed at have been homely and warm experiences but in most cities I look for 3 star and above. 4 star and above you should expect something quite acceptable and there’ll probably be someone there who speaks English. Quite often he check in staff can seem short and dis-interested, there just overworked, most people are quite rude to them, if you smile, be friendly and they’ll warm to you and help you with anything, for example moving rooms when you find that your room is overly noisy.  If you have a complaint with a hotel, the tourist complaint line in major cities is only interested if you are staying in a 4 star and above hotel.

Also check out 6 things to do when entering China for the first time..

 

 

Macau Accommodation: Ole London Hotel

Macau Accommodation: Ole London Hotel

Initially, I’d only booked two nights at the Pousada Marina Infante Hotel and when I got around to asking to extend for another night, the price had doubled, bugger. So it was onto the online accommodation sites again and this time cTrip had the best deal.

The Ole London Hotel was the cheapest option listed and looked reasonable,  its located on the main part of Macau and very close to Macau’s Historic area.

All the taxi drivers know the place by its English name too, which is handy, and the place is right next door to the Best Western Sun Sun. The hotel is a bit of a walk to the major casinos like Lisboa, Wynn or the MGM Grand, but it’s only about 17HKD in a taxi (less than $3 aud). There’s also a bus stop nearby.

There’s nothing extravagant about the Ole London Hotel but it has the basics right, very right, they could probably teach many of the four-star places I’ve stayed at a thing or two about how to set up a bed, and how to keep a place clean!

The hotel has a really nice cozy feel to it featuring tasteful but simple decor matching the Macau heritage. The staff are very friendly, easy going and helpful with local knowledge.

The cleanliness is A1, both in the rooms and the throughout the hotel. The rooms feature a modern looking bathroom with new looking fixtures and fittings, the shower has plenty of hot water, plenty of pressure and a wonderful big shower head. The bed was nice and soft! A really hard thing to find in China! The pillows were nice and fluffy as was the bedspread/doona. So comfortable I didn’t want to get out of it!

The rooms have free wi-fi internet, which works ok at times, along with a large screen LCD with loads of channels, many English speaking, and an air-conditioner.

The mini breakfast buffet is extra but only 28 HKD, or MOP, which is pretty cheap and included freshly cooked eggs, ham, and sausage along with noodles, cereal, salad, juice and great coffee from the cappuccino machine.

Final thoughts on the Ole London Hotel: It’s basic, but would definitely stay again, it’s comfortable, relaxed, clean and quite. Friendly and helpful staff are a big bonus (English speaking too!).

For the latest rates and specials at the Ole London see here.

Check here for a map of other Macau hotels and an intro to the area.

Chinese Address

Ole London Hotel Map Location

Macau Accommodation: Pousada Marina Infante Hotel Macau

Macau Accommodation: Pousada Marina Infante Hotel Macau

Accommodation in Macau is nowhere near as cheap as the mainland, and can even be on par with western hotel prices during busy periods. After searching Hotel Club, eLong and Ctrip to find the cheapest, most reasonable hotel in Macau, at the time, Hotel Club ended up having the best deal and I stayed at the Pousada Marina Infante Hotel Macau. Accommodation in Macau is a little like Hong Kong in that you need to book in advance to get really good deals.

The hotel is located on Taipa Island so its a little way from central Macau and the casinos like the Grand Lisboa, Wynn, Sands or MGM, but it’s close to the Venetian, The Plaza and the City of Dreams or what’s often referred to as the Cotai Strip.

The hotel provides a regular free shuttle service to the Cotai Strip casinos and the Macau Maritime Terminal. Taxis are easy to get from the hotel and it doesn’t cost much to get to central Macau. There’s also a bus stop just a short walk away, and it’s only a short 2-minute walk to the Grand Waldo Hotel and Casino.

The Pousada Marina Infante features a gymnasium with pool and steam rooms, a 24-hour restaurant, concierge service and a casino but this was closed at the time of writing.  

The hotel is pretty clean and while it’s not new by any means it’s in quite good shape. The room I had was clean and even featured a good sized bathroom with shower and even a small bath. The rooms have broadband internet access but unfortunately, it costs extra, you have to buy at CTM prepaid broadband card and it’s extremely overpriced at 180HKD ($26) for 24hrs access.

When I picked up a mobile phone sim card in Macau, I’m sure I read somewhere in the brochure about a reasonably priced wi-fi service.

The room had a tv, fridge, and mini-bar with reasonable prices. The room is nice and quite too, sometimes cheaper hotels can be quite noisy but here the walls and doors are nice and solid, allowing for a peaceful nights sleep. There’s no high-traffic roads, bars or clubs nearby so in general the place is pretty quite. 

Free buffet breakfast for two was included in the deal and it was quite ok featuring western and Chinese dishes.

The staff are friendly and helpful with local knowledge and the concierge has plenty of useful maps.

I stayed for two nights and would have liked to stay here longer but when I asked to extend my stay the rates had gone from 800HKD for two nights to 800HKD for one night. Quite oddly they suggested booking via an online hotel booking site for a better deal which I found bizarre. Why they wouldn’t match an online hotel booking sites price for their own hotel and save the commission payable to the site I’ll never understand, but, it’s not the first hotel I’ve struck like this.

I’d happily stay at this hotel again, and once the new Galaxy Macau site across the road opens it will be a comfortable but fairly priced place to stay while in Macau.

For current specials and discount rates check here, check here for a map of Macau hotels and also see a list of hand picked list of hotels in Macau here.

Address

Avenida Marginal Flor de Lotus, Taipa, Macau

Pousada Marina Infante Hotel Location Map

Hong Kong Accommodation: Dorsett Kowloon Hotel

Hong Kong Accommodation: Dorsett Kowloon Hotel

Formerly known as the Dorsett Olympic Hotel, the place has 141 rooms and is located on Anchor St at the northern end of Kowloon in the area known as Tai Kok Tsui. It’s well back from the main attraction of the Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour but close to Mong Kok which will please shoppers.

To their credit, they run a free shuttle bus at regular intervals from morning through into the night. The shuttle bus is a modern 21 seater that stops off at the nearby MTR station, it also runs through to the Dorsett Seaview Hotel and to the airport.

Being located close to Mong Kok made it easy to visit all the nearby markets such as Temple st Market, the Mong Kok Computer Center for electronics, the Ladies Market and more. Plus it’s only a short trip in the taxi the harbor, or use the free shuttle bus and Hong Kongs excellent subway. The bonus from being a little way away from the action is that it’s not so noisy.

The staff at the front desk speak some English, and I booked via Hotel Club to get decent rates for my two-night stay. They were very good rates as it turns out, the reception desk staff seemed almost a little shocked at the price, they definitely didn’t want to extend my stay later on at those rates!

It pays to book in advance where possible for accommodation in Hong Kong, as rates fluctuate continually, and can go up dramatically on weekends or if there’s a sudden influx of visitors and demand becomes high.

It’s also worth remembering that accommodation in Hong Kong, barring slack periods, can be comparable in price to western rates and it’s impossible to find the same extraordinary value that can be found in mainland China.

Hotel rooms in Hong Kong could be defined as spacious cubicles…

The Dorsett Kowloon Hotel is very clean and reasonably modern, the room was small but acceptable as most rooms in Hong Kong are tiny. It had air conditioning, small flat screen TV (only two channels were watchable), a comfortable bed (note: Chinese like their mattresses hard, I’m starting to get used to it!), broadband internet (you have to pay extra), shower, wash basin and toilet. There was also a closet with a small safe.

The hotel has a small cafe which serves a reasonably priced breakfast featuring a small buffet with the usual toast, coffee, tea, cereal and some hot foods including dim sum, baked beans and bacon.

Nearby to the hotel is a McDonalds, a small local shopping complex with a seven eleven, a supermarket and some small retailers.

SEE: latest rates for the Dorsett Mong Kok and here for latest rates and specials for Hong Kong hotels . For more, see the list of hand-picked hotels in Mong Kok and the top 5 luxury hotels in Mong Kok

Chinese Address for the Dorsett Hotel Kowloon

Location Map – Dorsett Hotel Kowloon

Shenzhen Accommodation: The Orient Sunseed Hotel

Shenzhen Accommodation: The Orient Sunseed Hotel

I found and booked this place via the cTrip website and it seemed to be a reasonable compromise between price and comfort at just under 200RMB ($31AUD) and still in the Nanshan District of Shenzhen. I stayed here just before heading over to Hong Kong.

The place isn’t really close to anything, but at the same time it’s not too expensive to get a taxi to anywhere you need to go. If you after reasonable budget accommodation in Nanshan it’s probably worth checking the rates.

The place is starting to show its age but for a budget price it passes ok. The rooms are kept clean, but the carpets in the room I had graced a few stains. Otherwise everything works, the shower is clean, plenty of pressure and hot water and free toiletries included (toothbrush, soap, comb, etc.).

The building also has a KTV (like a karaoke bar) on 4th floor if I remember rightly, and it gets noisy, particularly on a Saturday night. Get a room on the highest floor possible!

The free breakfast buffet is acceptable and I even found some english magazines to read there while munching my way through the toast and small selection of dim sum. The restaurant serves both western and chinese dishes.

The staff are friendly, helpful, some speak english and they also held my luggage for several days while I was in Hong Kong for no extra charge. The service made the hotel a good experience.

Chinese address for the Orient Sunseed Hotel

Map Location of the Orient Sunseed Hotel

Holiday Inn Nanshan, Shenzhen China

Holiday Inn Nanshan, Shenzhen China

The Holiday Inn is an American hotel chain, so, it’s guaranteed that the prices are going to be higher than your run of the mill Chinese hotel. But what do you get for the extra cost?

For a start, the Holiday Inn Donghua in Nanshan District is clean, like, western style clean and has western style service with attention to detail, and all the staff seemed to speak some level of English. Don’t get me wrong, I love roughing it in China, but sometimes the sense of familiarity is comforting.

Photo: Lobby at the Shenzhen Holiday Inn

There is two things that stand out about the difference between a western managed hotel and localy managed one, the attention to the small things. First of those is the cleanliness, every nook and cranny of the room I stayed in at the Holiday inn was clean. Many Chinese hotels I’ve stayed are only clean on the surface, look around and you’ll find stains, dirt around fittings and fixtures, and beds that have never had the vacuum cleaner under them or even near them for that matter. This place was clean, the room had a crisp, clean fresh feel which was a refreshing change.

The next noticeable difference is the beds, the Chinese love a bed that’s as soft as concrete floor but this was different. Here the beds are soft, the doona is plush and the bed has two pillows on each side. The pillows are full of life, as if they where new, when you are arrive the pillows are also labelled ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ so you can choose the most comfortable pillow for you. Again a refreshing change and a surprising attention to detail.

Inside the room.

The hotel has a large lobby bar and restaurant, upstairs there is also another bar done in a American sports bar style featuring large video screen and a constant feed of live sport and another restaurant. There’s also a Japanese bar and restaurant. I never ate at the resturants but Im told they are good. There’s often a happy hour for drinks at the sports bar which is good value.

Something I found frustrating about this place was the trouble the staff had with operating the cash register, whether it was a snack at the lobby bar or a drink at the sports bar, it seemed to take an eternity just to get your change and go. I started asking for the bill as soon as I ordered…but, small things I guess..

The hotel is walking distance to the new Coastal City Shopping Centre and Haiya Supermarket where you can find McDonalds, KFC, Starbucks, Cafe De Coral, supermarkets, cinema, theatre, multi level shopping mall and a small night market. There’s also a health spa/sauna in near the gym and in the surrounding streets there’s several small Japanese bars.

The hotel also features a gymnasium which is well equipped, a large indoor pool, steam room and sauna which were all free to use. The staff at the health club are friendly, helpful and speak English.

I hadn’t watched TV for a while apart from CCTV 9 which is a English news channel operated by the China Central Television Station. This place had satellite TV with many foreign channels including sports, BBC news, CNN news and movie channels. The room also had free broadband internet.

See the latest deals and specials at Holiday Inn SHENZHEN DONGHUA

Address: 2307 Donghua Park, Nanhai Road, Nanshan, Shenzhen

Chinese Address for Holiday Inn Nanshan, Shenzhen

Holiday Inn Shenzhen Map

Welcome to Shenzhen, China [inc Top 40 Attractions and Top Places to Stay]

Welcome to Shenzhen, China [inc Top 40 Attractions and Top Places to Stay]

Shenzhen is an interesting city as it is another city that tells a story about the Chinas economic transformation. Shenzhen was not much more than a fishing village until about thirty years ago when a man named Deng Xiaoping had taken the reins as China’s leader from Mao Zedong in 1978.

Deng Xiaoping had a very different view of macroeconomics from his predecessor and introduced the concepts of free market theory and capitalism, gathered from his visits to the west, that is the foundation of Chinas current success.

Shenzhen Government Building and Futian CBD

Shenzhen was one of the first cities to be declared a ‘Special Economic Zone’ which were operated under a different set of rules, favoring the market, as opposed to a state-run economy. The city boomed. In a mere 30 years, it has transformed from a sleepy coastal village to a modern metropolis and one of Chinas most livable cities for lifestyle and opportunity.

Shenzhen is a large spread out city running longways along the coastline and featuring three major districts being Nanshan, Futian, and Luohu, the outer districts are Yantian, Bao’an, Longgang, Longhua, Guangming, Dapeng and Pingshan. Qianhai is a new district on the coast and home to massive new business investment and development. The city is home to over 14 million people with an area of over 2000 square kilometers.

Shenzhen Districts

 

The city has a gross domestic product of US$302 billion (2017) overtaking Guangzhou and it continues to be one of Chinas fastest growing cities.

The city has a modern transport system featuring a mix of rail, bus, underground subway and ferry services linking to nearby coastal cities. Taxis are cheap and all the ones I’ve used have been friendly and honest, occasionally I meet an English speaking driver.

Nanshan District is a particularly modern area, featuring clean, tree-lined streets and even the bike-friendly walkways are flower lined. It’s a pretty area, also having many huge, glitzy new shopping malls. Nanshan is also home to the Hi-Tech Industry Park which features bases for many of the big name global tech companies including Microsoft, Lenovo, IBM and more. Shenzhen University is also nearby.

Coastal City shopping mall at Nanshan

Luohu District of Shenzhen is one of the major gateways to Hong Kong wherein the Cantonese language its referred to as Lo Wu. There are loads of stores in the Louhu Commercial Center featuring loads of knock-off and copy goods like handbags, watches, jewellery, clothes, shoes and some electrical/digital products. A short walk away from the rail station is the hugely popular Dongmen Market Pedestrian which is basically one big street packed, I mean packed with shops, market stalls and more.

MixC Mall in Luohu

The city is home to numerous large modern shopping malls which include MixC (Luohu), Coco Park (Futian), Coastal City (Nanshan), Holiday Plaza (Nanshan), and Haiya Mega Mall (Bao’an) to name the major ones.

Window of the World theme park at Nanshan

Dapeng Peninsula is an area not to be missed, it’s one of Shenzhen’s best secrets but perhaps not for long as it set to become a major area for tourism investment and it’s easy to see why. Dapeng Peninsula is home to the numerous beaches including Dongchong and Xichong, natural attractions, as well as an ancient village and the Dapeng Fortress. In Yantian District, which is on the way to Dapeng, you will find Shenzhen’s most popular beaches, Dameisha and Xiameisha.

Xichong Beach

The city is also popular for its theme parks which include OCT East (the largest), Happy Valley (thrill rides), Splendid China (Chinese culture), Window of the World (miniature recreations of world wonders), Xiameisha Sea World (marine park), and Safari Park (zoo). 

The city features a modern transport system which at its heart is the Metro which covers most of the city and makes getting anywhere quite efficient. 

 

The Top 40 Attractions in Shenzhen 

OCT East 东部华侨城
Located in Dameisha, Shenzhen, China, OCT East is the first large-scale comprehensive national ecotourism demonstration zone in China that integrates the theme of leisure and vacation, sightseeing, outdoor sports, popular science education and ecological exploration.

OCT Tea Valley 东部华侨城茶溪谷
OCT Tea Creek Valley Holiday Park, showing a garden, Chinese and Western cultural collision and the world of leisure and vacation.

Window of the World 世界之窗
Window of the World is one of the most famous tourist attractions in Shenzhen. It is a man-made theme park that combines wonders of the world, historic sites, ancient and modern places of interest, folk song and dance performances, displaying more than 100 world-famous cultural landscapes and architectural wonders.

Splendid China 锦绣中华民俗村
One day trip to China 5,000 years of culture, 9.6 million square feet of mountains and rivers and 81 miniature scenic spots.

Shenzhen Safari Park 深圳野生动物园
Shenzhen’s zoo featuring many international and local critters.

Happy Valley 深圳欢乐谷
Thrill rides and adventure park.

Xiaomeisha Sea World 小梅沙海洋世界
Near Dameisha, Sea World features live aquatic performances and marine creature displays, whilst dated it’s still a worthwhile visit if you’re in the area.

Dapeng Peninsula 较场尾
Dapeng Peninsula is a secret gem of Shenzhen, a beautiful coastal and naturally scenic area featuring several beaches and coastal villages.

Dapeng Fortress 大鹏所城
Pengcheng Village, Dapeng Town, Shenzhen. Shenzhen’s only real piece of ancient traditional China. There are three main streets in the city, namely Dongmen Street, Nanmen Street and Zhengjie Street. The main buildings include Zuoying Department, Zhao Gong Temple, and Tianhou Temple.

Da Mei Sha Park 大梅沙
Dameisha Beach Park has the longest beach in Shenzhen, the sea is clear, the beach is vast, sandy soft, is a set of leisure, tourism, sports, and entertainment as one of the tourist destination.

Dutch floral town 荷兰花卉小镇
It is a theme park integrating recreation, popular science, exhibitions, and commerce.

Mangrove Nature Reserve 红树林自然保护区
Mangrove Nature Reserve flat, open, with marsh, shallow water and trees and other natural landscape, where you can watch the sunset and enjoy nature.

Sino-British Street 中英街
Historic remnants of the British adventures in China.

OCT LOFT Creative Culture Park 华侨城创意文化园
OCT Creative Cultural Park is located in the eastern part of Shenzhen OCT Industrial Park, is transformed from the old factory into a creative industry studio.

Guanyuan Jiulongshan Flower Fairy Valley 观澜九龙山花仙谷
Jiulongshan Flower Fairy Valley original flower theme park is located in Shenzhen, “the city center, paradise.” The original beautiful ecological environment, rich forest cover, gully streams, streams, lakes.

Mission Hills landscape tourism park culture 观澜山水田园旅游文化园
Mission Hills Pastoral Tourism and Culture Park Adjacent to the world famous Mission Hills Golf Club, is a modern urban paradise. Including luxury accommodation, hot springs, sports and entertainment in one eco-tourism area.

Shiyan Lake Spa Resort 石岩湖温泉度假村
The outdoor activities here are numerous, mainly hot spring and also horseback riding, bumper cars, and so on.

Diwan Building – 地王大厦
Take an elevator to the top and enjoy the view.

Evergreen Resort 青青世界
Nature, walks, murals in Nanshan.

Fairy Lake Botanical Garden and Hongfa Temple 仙湖植物园
Shenzhen Fairy Lake Botanical Garden is located in the northeastern suburbs of Shenzhen City, east of Shenzhen, the first peak Wutong Mountain, is a research, science, tourism as one of the famous botanical gardens and scenic spots. Hongfa Temple is the city’s number one Buddhist temple.

Bright farm 光明农场
Little pig in the sound of the gongs, scrambling to jump elegantly from the platform, the fun of everyone

Dongchong and Xichong 东冲海滩
Sandy shore, gravel beach, islands, reefs, sea rocks, holes, bridges, columns and other sea eroded landform development is complete, give you great sea views. Xichong Beach is one of the “Eight Most Beautiful Beaches in China” by World Geographic magazine.

Lotus Hill Park 莲花山公园
Park green, environmental protection, nature, harmony as the keynote, in a dignified and rustic style to attract the general public and tourists, is a scenic, pleasant environment and leisure resort.

Dafen oil painting village 大芬油画村
Dafen Oil Painting Village, Buji Town, Longgang District, Shenzhen Buji Village Committee under the jurisdiction of a village group, due to the development of the oil painting industry has begun to take shape.

Yangmei pit 杨梅坑
Located in Daya Bay, Yang Mei Hang is a beautiful paradise for wedding photography and is said to be the most beautiful valley in Shenzhen.

Gan Hang Hakka town 甘坑客家小镇
Gan Hang Hakka town, located in Buji Street, Longgang District, Shenzhen Gan community, by the Peking University Institute for master planning.

Jiulongshan Scenic Area 九龙山风景区
Jiulongshan is located in Jiulongshan Scenic Spot, Zhongling Yuxiu, Guanlan Town, Shenzhen City. It boasts a total golf course of 6939 yards with an 18-hole par 72 international standard golf course, driving range, agricultural sightseeing area and complete leisure and entertainment facilities.

Wutong Mountain 梧桐山
Wutong Mountain peak for the first peak in Shenzhen, Wutongshan is the coastal, mountainous and natural vegetation as the main urban landscape of the natural scenic area, the national scenic area.

Shenzhen Bay Park 深圳湾公园
Shenzhen Bay Park is located on the southwest coast of Shenzhen City, east of Futian Mangrove Birds Nature Reserve, south of Shenzhen Bay, across the sea overlooking the Hong Kong Mai Po Nature Reserve. About 11 km along the coastline, Shenzhen is the only intensive coastal leisure belt.

Qiangiang Hill 七娘山
Located on the Dapeng Peninsula in Longgang District, Qiangiang Mountain is the second highest mountain next to Wutong Mountain in Shenzhen. It has seven peaks, the main peak altitude of 867 meters. Legend has it that seven fairy descendants to play in the mountains named. During the period of the Anti-Japanese War, the Dongjiang Column held an arsenal in the village of Zhaogongbark, a mountainous province, and planted grain at the foot of the hill. Qiangiang mountains lush vegetation, beautiful scenery …

Shenzhen Museum 深圳博物馆
Although Shenzhen is a relatively young city, its history is equally respectable and retrospective and has a significant weight. Shenzhen Museum was established in 1981, opened in November 1988. Shenzhen Museum is a geo-based integrated museum, are the cultural relics collection and historical research center in Shenzhen. The main goal is to become a “domestic first-class, international knowledge …

Nanao Island 南澳
Nanao Island is located in the Fujian, Guangdong and Taiwan provinces at the junction of the sea, the geographical position is extremely advantageous, as early as the Ming Dynasty has been “maritime market” title. Has unique tourist resources, port resources, and aquatic resources.

Tin Hau Temple 天后宫
Traditional Chinese temple dedicated to the sea goddess.

Lychee Park 荔枝公园
Litchi Park to “elegant, quiet, quiet” as the guiding theme of the park, focusing on the natural landscape-based, plant landscaping as the focus.

Phoenix Mountain 凤凰山
Fenghuang Mountain is honored as the first mountain of Baoan, located in the east of Fenghuang Village, Fuyong Town, Bao’an District, at an elevation of 678 meters and a radius of 1.2 kilometers.

Xin’an Old City 新安故城
Shenzhen Xin’an Gucheng is located at Nantou Flyover North of Nanshan District, Shenzhen, covering an area of about 70,000 square meters. Also known as the ancient city of Nantou, with a long history of 1730 years. According to historical records, Xin’an County was set up in the first year of the Ming Dynasty (1573) T.

Nanshan Mountain 大南山
Starting at Shekou it’s a nice half day walk up and down the mountain enjoying the scenery and views.

F518 fashion creative garden F518时尚创意园
Bao’an District, the upgrading of the old industrial park demonstration project into a relaxing cafe area and creative park.

Dongmen Pedestrian Street 东门步行街
Shopping mega area. Mostly fashion and loads of wholesale fashion stores with some new retail additions.

Zhongshan Park 中山公园
Zhongshan Park is the oldest park in Shenzhen, constructing 14 scenic spots and becoming a comprehensive public recreational park with the historical, cultural and educational significance as well as the modern atmosphere and traditional colors.

Alps Snow World 阿尔卑斯冰雪世界
China’s largest indoor snow paradise — the Alps snow world, includes ice slide, ice castle and more.

 

Alps Snow World

 

The Top 40 Attraction Map and my picks for the top hotels in Shenzhen

 

 

 

For even more about Shenzhen visit Shenzhen Shopper which has transport guides, current Shenzhen weather reports, a guide to Hotels in Shenzhen, attractions, and of course guides to shopping in Shenzhen.

 

 Get the Book – Essential Shenzhen – Essential Shenzhen is the must-have travel companion for visiting and living in Shenzhen, China. Packed with key facts on transport, how to travel in and out of the city by China’s new High-Speed Rail services plus detailed info on the top shopping malls, wholesale markets, entertainment options and unique spots in the city known only to locals.

New Asia Hotel Shanghai

New Asia Hotel Shanghai

I booked the New Asia Hotel through HotelClub and at the time it was pretty cheap, and for the location, it was far cheaper than anything that was close to the Bund, Nanjing Rd and so on.

So I wasn’t expecting much, not for the price, but I was surprised to find that this was a quality hotel, it’s not new by any means, but it has English speaking staff, it’s clean and tasteful.

The hotel also features a bar and a restaurant on the ground floor and another restaurant which serves a buffet breakfast. I ate at the ground floor restaurant twice and enjoyed a tasty meal of fried eel and dumpling soup, on another occasion I ate a simple fried rice, both were good. The buffet breakfast is great value and comes with some real friendly and welcoming staff.

The room was clean and comfortable featuring a desk, flat screen TV, double bed, modern and clean bathroom with a bath and western style toilet.

Room at the New Asia Hotel
the bathroom

A big downside of the hotel is the fact they charge extra to use the internet, what’s even worse is that they advertise a ‘pay for what you use’ system with a maximum charge of 60RMB, no matter what you do, you will be charged the full rate of 60RMB.

The hotel is located only 10 minutes walk from the Bund and Nanjing Road, there are bus stops nearby also. Taxis often wait out the front of the hotel but its best to ask for the concierge to get one for you..

[update: it’s now called the Golden Tulip Bund New Asia!]

For the latest rates, deals and more info see Golden Tulip New Asia Hotel Shanghai. And even more Hotels in Shanghai. Also, check out GoShopShanghai which has hand-selected lists of the top hotels near the Bund.

Chinese address for Golden Tulip New Asia Hotel Shanghai

New Asia Hotel Map

Beijing Accommodation: The Redwall Hotel

Beijing Accommodation: The Redwall Hotel

The first thing that struck me about the Redwall Hotel was the incredible service provided by the concierge team. As soon as I put my foot on the steps of the hotel there was someone bounding out the front door to help with my luggage and escort me to the reception to check in.

Oddly, and to my benefit, the concierge even helped out in securing the best rate possible and matching the Ctrip price which initially the reception desk was unable to do.

The hotel is starting to show some age, the rooms are kept very clean and are well maintained with everything working as it should. Unfortunately, the same cant be said about the restaurant, it’s rubbish, the food is average and the place looks like it hasn’t had a decent clean in years, it really lets the rest of the hotel down. The breakfast is acceptable though, and reasonably priced by Beijing standards, but I’m sure better could be found if you were prepared to travel away from the hotel.

The Forbidden City, Jinsheng Park, Behei Park and Wangfujing St are all within walking distance of the Redwall Hotel. So is Tiananmen Square, if you enjoy walking, but taxis are pretty easy to get also.

The streets immediately surrounding the hotel are not exactly modern touristy streets, they’re far from it. That doesn’t mean they are not interesting, I enjoyed wandering around these streets to see the way many in Beijing really live and seeing a small section of local life in this big city.

One nearby street (in the photo below), is quite handy featuring fruit sellers, people on the street selling their wares out of bicycle trailers, laundry services and there is even a supermarket. The people are friendly although no one speaks English, they are happy to help you, I even managed to get a well-needed hair cut in one of the local shops, without a word of English spoken!

If you are after more modern shops, don’t fear, the very popular Wangfujing St is only a ten-minute walk away where you’ll find mega-modern shopping complexes and eateries galore.

The major redeeming factors of this hotel are its closeness to the Forbidden City, the great price (by Beijing standards) and the great service from the concierge team. The concierge is extremely helpful, they have free maps and can help with choosing the best sights to see and places to visit.

They also have a tour desk which can book plane and train tickets, I booked a train ticket with them and had no concerns, although, I booked a trip to Badling section of the Great Wall and it turned out to be a sales tour stopping at Jade salesrooms, and various other crap places rather than spending time at the wall. Admittedly the tour wasn’t expensive, and after expressing my dissatisfaction they did offer my money back. Ask plenty of questions about any tour you book.

The hotel also has a hair salon in the building, a small shop selling bags and souvenirs, and a massage service.  But for a massage you’d be crazy not to experience Dragonfly which is not too far away or try Massage Town at 77 Wangfujing St.

Final thoughts on the Redwall Hotel – If you’re looking for accommodation close to the Forbidden City, for a fair price, then this is probably hard to beat. Skip the restaurant except for the bacon, eggs, and toast at the breakfast buffet. Ask for Mark who is on the concierge team, he’ll help with any concerns.

For latest online specials and more info see Red Wall Hotel Forbidden City and, also see my picks for the top 15 spa hotels in Beijing

Redwall Hotel address in Chinese

Redwall Hotel Map

The Melody Hotel and Where to Stay in Xian

The Melody Hotel and Where to Stay in Xian

Stupidly, I hadn’t booked a hotel when I went to Xi’an and by the time I got on the bus from the airport I was starting to get a little nervous. Fortunately, as I got off the bus in the center of Xi’an it stops right out the front of the Melody Hotel. I walked straight in and booked a room, probably paying twice what I would have had I booked via the net….

The hotel is quite conveniently located right in the center of the city and it’s straight across the road from the Drum Tower, walking distance to the Mosque and the markets, walking distance to the Bell Tower and much more. Whilst it’s not sparkling new by any means, the rooms are comfortable, clean and many have great views towards the Drum Tower.

I’m kinda glad I had a hotel that was quite central within the city walls, only for the sake of making it easy to see some of the key attractions.

Melody Hotel Address: 86 West Street, Xi’an

Check out the latest deals for the Melody Hotel Xi’an. Being a major tourist spot there is a lot of hotels and hostels in the city, see here for my personal picks of the top 15 places to stay in Xi’an

 

Also see my Intro to Xi’an and the top ten attractions

 

Melody Hotel Xi’an Map

The Traffic Hotel Chengdu

The Traffic Hotel Chengdu

The Traffic Hotel is located south of central Chengdu alongside the Nanhe River. Right next door to the hotel is the Xinnanmen Bus Station (Tourism Passenger Transport Centre) which is the Chengdu’s main bus station with services to many long distance destinations like Emei, Leshan, Jiuzhaigou and many more places in Sichuan Province.

The Traffic Hotel/Inn (previously the Communications Hotel?) sits somewhere between being a hotel and a backpackers hostel. Some rooms feature shower and toilet and other rooms just have a toilet. Common use showers are available on each floor. The rooms are basic but clean.

What makes this hotel great is three things, the caring service from the staff at the front desk with one senior staff member speaking great English providing me with endless assistance in booking tours and flights, secondly the wonderful food from the hotels restaurant, and thirdly the ability to easily book tours whether heading to Tibet, Emei Shan, Leshan or just to local Chengdu attractions. 

The hotel also has a laundry room and a secure area for leaving your extra luggage while out on tour. A major downside is a non-existent wi-fi, although on the second floor there where some cables at a central desk where you could plug in your laptop.

At the front of the hotel is a bar and a Thai restaurant, but the bar never seemed to really get going, and the service at the Thai Restaurant was that bad I walked out…but, looking back, I wasn’t having the best day that day, perhaps I was a little rash!

The restaurants own hotel is a great place to eat, the staff was friendly and considerate towards my inability to speak Mandarin. And the food was great value. Pictured below are a sizzling beef stir-fry and pork dumplings:

 

View their latest rates and discounts: Traffic Inn, Chengdu

 

Also see my Intro to Chengdu, inc the top attractions and places to stay

 

Traffic Hotel address in Chinese

 

Traffic Hotel Map

The Shudu Mansion Hotel Chengdu

The Shudu Mansion Hotel Chengdu

Booking over the phone with Ctrip
I hadn’t sighted the hotel prior to booking but at the time there wasn’t much choice as there was a major conference on in town and accommodation was hard to find. That’s where Ctrip, the China-based travel booking service, saved the day once again.

You can book accommodation, flights and more travel services with Ctrip either via the Internet or via phone. As I found out later they do have an English booking service over the phone too, but in this case, my kind new friend Ran had done the hard work and saved the day by arranging a place to stay.

The Ctrip service is quite reassuring too, after booking over the phone you’ll then get a series of text messages to your mobile confirming the booking and providing hotel address, price and room type confirmation and a contact number you can call if you need someone who speaks Chinese to give the hotel address to a taxi driver etc.

I’ve now used Ctrip many times and the rates have always been better than booking direct, how that works I’m not sure but I’ll take it.

The Shudu Mansion Hotel in Chengdu
When it was new I could imagine this would have been a very classy hotel but the place is starting to show its age although still presentable. By Chinese standards, it’s kept extremely clean.

When I checked in it was quite busy so its hard to place judgment on the staff, and I think only a couple may speak some English.

The hotel is in a great location, close to the major shopping area and very central. There are plenty of eateries nearby including many of the big name western fast food outlets. The hotel also has its own revolving restaurant which provides a wonderful view over central Chengdu. I didn’t try dinner but their breakfast, included in the room rate, was a Chinese/western buffet and very enjoyable.

The room was large, the bed was comfortable (albeit hard like all Chinese beds), and it was clean. The bathroom was clean with shower and western toilet.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t get the Internet to work and was too tired to be worried about it. The TV worked fine but I couldn’t find any English stations at the time.

I only stayed here one night as that was the only night they had available, but I would be happy to stay again.

View the latest specials and room rates at Shudu Mansion Hotel Chengdu

Also see my Intro to Chengdu, inc the top attractions and places to stay

Map

 

The Tibet Hotel Chengdu

The Tibet Hotel Chengdu

When I came to Chengdu it really was a blessing to find this place. Let alone being my first time in Chengdu, it was my first time in China too. So I was really keen to find somewhere safe, friendly and hopefully with someone who speaks English to help this dumb foreigner!

When I made it there and walked up towards the door for the first time the concierge lept forward from inside swinging the doors open and greeting me with a big ‘hello, sir’, which was kinda comforting, as I walked through the door I thought, wow, this place is pretty neat. The lobby floor looks like polished marble, the timber work is exquisite and there is a massive piece of what looks like hand-sewn artwork behind the reception desk.

As I am walking to the reception desk looking at the four female staff, all immaculately dressed in airline stewardess standard outfits, I wondered, was this really $49 a night? I had to adjust to the different rates and the value that can be found.

I’m greeted by another welcoming ‘hello’ by not one, but two of the reception staff who as it turns out to have almost conversational English skills, and I explained that I had checked the place out via HotelClub and that maybe my booking hadn’t come through as I was having some Internet issues but your offering a room for $49 US right?

After some discussion between the staff, some work on the calculator and then some more discussion they came back and matched the price. I paid a deposit and was shown up to the room.

The room is not huge but its designed for 1 person featuring only a single bed, a relaxing chair, desk, TV and small fridge. The bathroom is a good size with shower and basin. The hotel must be relatively new, at least everything so far seems in as new condition and it’s very clean.

The room also has broadband internet included and on the TV I found at least two English speaking stations!

I was pretty worn out at this time so, to bed I went. Oh yeah, the Chinese like their beds to be like a plank of wood with a sheet over the top, after a while it’s actually not so bad…

The next day it was off to breakfast which was included, and it was a full buffet featuring an impressive mix of Chinese dishes and western food. This was served up in their ‘coffee bar’, which strangely doesn’t have coffee on the menu. It also features an amazing piece of art as per the photo below.

The coffee shop serves western food 24hrs a day and the hotel also features four other restaurants, a bar in the lobby and a Tibetan tea house.

Bored, well, the hotel also has a bowling alley, a KTV club/bar (like karaoke), a spa/sauna and beauty salon. Being out and about on the sightseeing trails I didn’t get to fully explore all of these options but I’m thinking you could easily spend several days here and not need to walk outside the front doors!

As you can guess by the name, the hotel has a Tibetan theme and there is also an impressive little art gallery in the hotel featuring various artworks from Tibet.

The concierge speaks some English, actually, one speaks quite good English and is incredibly helpful with arranging taxis, tours or just helping with directions.  

Finding the Tibet Hotel Chengdu

It took me hours to find this hotel, mostly due to my disorganisation (as per earlier posts) but also perhaps due to the English translations of street names. Renmin Road, as it turns out is a major arterial which runs through the city from north to south.

Unlike me, if you book in advance I’m sure they will arrange a car to pick you up at the airport!

For their latest rates and deals see Tibet Hotel Chengdu.

Tibet Hotel Chengdu address in Chinese:  

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking for Chengdu accommodation it’s hard to go past the Tibet Hotel,  for me it was a five-star experience with a 2-star price tag. Downside: Its a little north of the center of the city so you’ll be getting a taxi most of the time. Although the excellent Wenshu Temple is within walking distance and it’s not far from Hehuachi Market.

I really loved this place, it was just what I needed, somewhere safe and comfortable where I could get orientated. The added luxury and great price was all a welcome bonus!

Tibet Hotel Chengdu Map Location