Today marks Chinese New Year and to celebrate, we’ve selected some of Rickshaw Travel’s best trips which truly celebrate the essence of Chinese culture as well as being some of the best destinations to see the New Year in. With this year being the year of the monkey, we’ve also picked out some prime-ate trips in other destinations which will make you go bananas.
Experience first hand the fascinating streets in the walled town of Pingyao, with its atmospheric cobbled alleyways and exceptionally friendly locals. Stumbling through this curious maze of traditional courtyards, small teahouses and Buddhist temples will be a day dreamy step into bygone centuries and will be somewhere to soak up the spirit of ancient China.
At this time of year, the streets will be lined with beautiful decorations which are essential elements for welcoming in the New Year. You’ll notice that many of the decorations will be red since, in China, this striking colour is considered to be auspicious, bringing joy, happiness and good fortune.
Classic Cuisine in Dali
The New Year’s Eve dinner is the most important one for the Chinese as it brings the family together. Normally fish and dumplings will be served since these two dishes signify prosperity. With Rickshaw Travel, you can whip up authentic Chinese dishes during a cooking class in bohemian Dali, a picturesque old town with a laid-back vibe. Home of the minority Bai tribe, it’s caught between the mountains and Erlai Lake, a gorgeous backdrop for a culinary break. You can spend two nights in Dali, staying in the heart of the old quarter with its relaxed Tibetan atmosphere and hit the kitchen to rustle up a range of classic Chinese dishes.
We all know China has the best fireworks, especially at New Year, so make sure you get the best view of these epic displays from the tallest silver sky-scrapers and see the whole city at it’s best from Victoria Peak.
As well as being pretty rays of light, fireworks are believed to drive the evil out of China and the person who launches the first firework of the New Year will obtain good luck!
After ooing and aahing at the fireworks and taking photos that don’t quite capture the magic, you can wander around the mind boggling bird markets, try delicious Dim Sum and embark on a true shopping mission amongst the hustle and bustle of the many high streets. These are particularly thriving during the New Year season with people buying gifts for one another.
The way in which tea is served is very significant in China – they even have a word for it: ‘Chayi’ (the art of drinking tea). When families gather for Chinese New Year, drinking tea together is seen as an opportunity to re-establish ties. What better way to experience a traditional Chinese teahouse than with the pandas of laid-back Chengdu. With mouth-watering food, a lively scene and a bunch of friendly locals, it’s a winner. Spending two nights in Chengdu, ambling amongst the old Chinese shop fronts, sampling traditional Sichuan dishes and slowing into the relaxed pace of life. During the stay, there’s the chance to visit the giant pandas that have roamed these parts for over two million years. The pandas are now residents of the ethically run Panda Breeding Research Centre and you’ll be positively bowled over by their quiet beauty and sheer size (not so ‘teddy bear’ after all!)
Cobbled Streets and Temple Caves
In China, family ties are particularly important and cherished. In light of this, it is especially important during Chinese New Year to visit temples and worship deceased ancestors, allowing the spirits to look after the family for the new year ahead. Rickshaw Travel can provide a tour that takes you off the beaten track with a visit to the ancient Tea-Horse Road, an important trade route between China and India through the foothills of Tibet. This is an opportunity to see some beautiful ancient temple caves. The village of Shaxi, located halfway between Dali and Lijiang, offers a relaxed vibe, and a fully preserved market on the route to explore. Take a little time to dive back in to China’s past and soak up the tranquil atmosphere.
In Chinese culture, monkeys represent intelligence, and many Chinese try to give birth in a year of the Monkey because they believe that this will make their babies that bit cleverer. Here are some fun trips that will allow you to see this oh-so-intelligent apes:
Go Bananas in Wild Thailand
This Thailand adventure trip will take travellers deep into wildest Thailand to explore enchanting rainforests, swim in sparkling natural lakes and be entertained with the amusing sounds of monkeys chattering in the trees. Sleep in the Anurak Community Lodge in Khao Sok National Park and then floating in a raft house on a shimmering lake where you’ll will be totally in awe of the surroundings.
From Monkey Beach to the Forest Floor
The Manuel Antonio park in Costa Rica can be busy around the entrance but if you walk half an hour into the rainforest you’ll feel like you have the whole place to yourself. The bays that back onto the park are crescent-shaped, sandy beaches. Expect to be joined on the sand by the local inhabitants – howler, capuchin and squirrel monkeys, and even iguanas!
King Louis’ Jungle Boat Cruise
Visit the world famous Sepilok Orang-utan Rehabilitation Centre and come face-to-face with adorable young primates where you’ll meet King Louis and his pals. No other spot on Borneo features such a wide variety of wild animals: monkeys (Proboscis, Gibbons, Orang-utan, and Macaques), monitor lizards, crocodiles, hundreds of species of tropical birds and if you’re lucky you may even see wild elephants! Hard-core travellers will have the time of their lives when they spend the night deep in the heart of the jungle after watching the sun set, surrounded by the Sabah wilderness.
(Happy New Year)
For further information on the bite sized trips, please visit: www.rickshawtravel.co.uk