Beijing: a mix of traditional and avant-garde
Sprawling Beijing opens the doors to the most populous country in the world. Head to Sanlitun, the epicentre of Beijing's latest trends. Your hotel is nestled in a huge emerald green glass cube: The Opposite House. Inside, you will fall for the spectacular design, a subtle blend of contemporary and traditional Chinese styles, by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma. A little tired by your journey, you will rest in the refined atmosphere of your room.
Set off to explore old Beijing, which breathes the charm of yesteryear along its hutong, alleyways inherited from the Ming or Qing dynasties. Among Beijing families, lose yourself in the intertwining lanes around Dongcheng's traditional courtyard houses. Then stroll through the small open-air markets of Guozijian Street, before entering the elegant Liu Xian Guan teahouse, where time seems to stand still.
A few kilometers further, the feeling of yesteryear intensifies as you reach the large palatial complex of the Forbidden City, where you must spend at least half a day. Impressed by its harmonious feng shui design, you will leave wanting to continue savouring the delights of the city. Away from the hustle and bustle of Tian'Anmen Square, go and sample Yunnan specialities at Lost Heaven. The slices of braised pork served on banana leaves will make you melt with pleasure.
Beijing is not just an emblematic place with a several thousand-year history. This modern and trendy capital will whet your curiosity for the arts at 798 Art District. In this former military factory converted into an open-air exhibition centre, you will be struck by new Chinese artistic trends, which are profoundly influenced by political and environmental concerns.
Upon your return to the hotel, don't miss out on the duck roasted to perfection at Jing Yaa Tang, the restaurant of Alan Yau, prince of Chinese gastronomy. The next morning, get up early to pick up some curiosities at Panjiayuan Antique Market. Beijing keeps on surprising you with its endless contrasts!
The Opposite House
Building 1 No. 11 Sanlitun Road
+86 10 6536 0601
17 Yan'an East Road
+86 10 8403 5465
798 Art District
2 Jiuxianqiao Road, Chaoyang Qu
+86 10 5978 9798
Jing Yaa Tang
The Opposite House
Route No. 11 Sanlitun, Chaoyang
+ 86 10 6410 5230
Spectacular Zhangjiajie National Park
Take an awe-inspiring journey through the air, into the wild from the city of Zhangjiajie, around 1200 km west of Beijing. You have arrived at the gates of Hunan, a mythical region listed as a world heritage site for the beauty of its landscapes. Once you have dropped off your luggage at the charming Zhangjiajie South Mountain Hotel, you have a clear plan: to explore the nearby Zhangjiajie Forest Park, which has been your dream ever since you saw Avatar. Its forest of karst peaks inspired the creation of planet Pandora, the dreamlike setting of the film. Tip: prepare your visit well the day before, because the site visit is only in Chinese. You will need to set off early in the morning to reach the main entrance of the park, which is a thirty-minute drive (accessible by shuttle) from your hotel. A little further on, you will fly over a breathtakingly beautiful landscape on the longest cable car ride in the world, at Tianzi Mountain.
The adventure continues on a winding path through a forest of stones suspended between heaven and earth. You finally reach the fantastical mountain, renamed "Hallelujah Mountain". You are overwhelmed with emotion. This surrealist work of nature bathes in the warm, orange tones of autumn. The area is dotted with fir and spruce trees, rhododendrons, ferns and the emblematic tree of the region: ginkgo biloba. You won't want to leave! On the return trip, an exciting experience awaits you in the Bailong Panoramic Elevator, which descends at lightning speed along a cliff that hugs the mountain backdrop.
The next day, a new excursion takes you to Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon. The site has become extremely popular since the 400-metre long glass bridge was built across it. Pluck up your courage before setting off! You will be astonished by the view of this verdant valley, stretching 360 metres below you. After taking in this stunning panorama, you decide to hike at the bottom of the canyon crossed by a quiet stream, to enjoy a different aspect of this landscape. At one with this mineral scenery, you feel touched by Asian wisdom.
Zhangjiajie South Mountain Boutique Hotel
149-15, Ziyuan Road, Wu Lingyuan
+86 132 9744 5554
The timeless Guilin countryside
An old proverb claims that Guilin's landscapes are the most beautiful in China. This revelation awaits you after a five-hour journey from Zhangjiajie. To gain access to Guangxi Province in the south of the country if you don't have a vehicle, board a bus to Changsha, a half-hour drive away. A taxi will then take you to the station, where an express train soon departs for Guilin.
Rather than staying in town, we recommend that you stay in the surrounding countryside, known for its sublime landscapes. An hour's drive later, you will arrive at China's paradise. Outside of Yangshuo commercial town, you will receive a warm family welcome at Yangshuo Village Inn. Let yourself unwind in this timeless refuge, nestled in the heart of a traditional village. This idyllic backdrop is surrounded by mountains and rivers. In your room, works by local artists merge with the Han style. At the hotel's rooftop restaurant, enjoy a duck infused with ginger while gazing at Moon Hill. The waiter explains how to reach the top of this spectacular mountain overlooking a bamboo forest.
The next day, you will cycle along the banks of the Yulong River, taking in scenes of farm life and water buffaloes. Then let yourself be swept away on an incredible adventure: float downstream on a bamboo raft, amid the karst peaks that have been such a great inspiration for Chinese painting. Later on, you will learn how to prepare local recipes at Yangshuo Cooking School. As night falls, you will be amazed by the Impression Liu Sanjie sound and light show, with its hundreds of participants performing on a water stage, twice per night. Rivers and hills become fully-fledged characters in this fantastic mobile story about the customs of Guangxi's traditional communities.
Only the natural green beauty of the terraced rice fields in Longsheng, located three hours north-west of Guilin, will make you want to leave this stunning region, with its countless charms. You stay in the small village of Ping'ancun, nestled among this mesmerising vegetation. To reach Li'An Lodge, you will need to take a walking trail. If you have luggage, the hotel staff will help you carry your suitcases to your exceptional room, with light wood decor and traditional calligraphic ornaments. Here, to your delight, the rice fields extend under your feet, with their meandering green geometric patterns.
Yangshuo Village Inn
Xian de Yangshuo
Yangshuo Cooking School
Chao Long village
+86 137 88 437 286
Impression Liu Sanjie
1, Tianyuan Road
Energetic and Gastronomical Shanghai
Your trip around China ends in Shanghai. After the timeless landscapes of the south, this cosmopolitan megalopolis will reveal to you the most avant-garde side of a country of such crazy contrasts. Head for the Bund, the main artery of Shanghai, near where your hotel is located. As you climb the floors of the twin towers of the Hyatt on the Bund, the benefits of this location become clear. On the left are the futuristic buildings of Pudong, the business district. Opt for a room overlooking the river to contemplate this hypnotic skyline. Feeling peckish, you head to Xindalu China Kitchen, the hotel's famous restaurant, where you are served a succulent beggar's chicken.
And to satisfy your artistic cravings, go and discover arty Shanghai at 50 Moganshan Road or M50. A true city within the city devoted to Chinese contemporary art, this former industrial site seduces you with its monumental galleries, design shops and hipster cafes. To discover young emerging talent, head for Gallery 55. If you are more partial to photography, go visit the Ofoto gallery. Before leaving, don't forget to take a look at the huge wall covered with street art.
You can't leave Shanghai without strolling around the French Concession. Immerse yourself in the legacy of Shanghai's colonial past, in its streets lined with plane trees and European-style Art Deco villas. Inspired by the charm of the place, you wander from local fashion boutiques to designer workshops. Among the culinary temptations of the area, you can set your sights on Fu 1088. This plush 1930s villa is the renowned restaurant of Tony Lu, the undisputed star of Shanghainese cuisine. Among the wood panelling and antiques, a gloved waiter will recommend braised pork with soy, a revisited Shanghai classic. You now feel like you know China's "window city" from the inside.
Hyatt on the Bund
199 Huangpu Road
+86 21 6393 1234
M50 Art District
50 Moganshan Road, Putuo Qu
+86 21 6266 7125
50 Moganshan Road, Putuo Qu
50 Mogansshan Road, Putuo Qu
+86 21 6266 4108
375 Zhenning Road, Changning Qu
+86 21 5239 7878