Where to go this Spring Festival

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

Wondering where to go this Chinese New Year? Here’s Backroads of China’s top 4 destinations:

1. Nujiang River Gorge: This 316-kilometer-long Gorge in the west of Yunnan Province is an area characterized by steep, oddly-shaped mountains, pristine river scenery and rich minority culture. It’s a great place to visit year round, but February is perhaps the best time with clear, blue skies, warm weather and rapeseed and ceiba flowers dotting the hillsides.  Highlights of this area are hiking the Drung villages around Bingzhonglou, catapulting from one side of the river to the other on the local flying foxes, or braving the 100 year old chain or vine bridges. The starting point for the Nujiang is Liuku, which can be reached via plane from Kunming to Baoshan (followed by a 3 hour bus ride to Liuku) or a 6 hour bus ride from Dali to Liuku.

2. Chengyang Dong Village: If you’re looking for a culturally rich experience this Spring Festival, then Chengyang Dong Village in the north-west of Guangxi province will give you just that. The Dong minority in this area have a special custom- that everyone who wishes to marry in a particular year gets married at the same time- during the lunar new year (Spring Festival). The wedding festival lasts for five days, with about 50-60 weddings being celebrated every year. It is a very colourful and festive time for the village with many large-scale, boisterous parties, particularly on the third and fourth days of the festival.
Chengyang Dong Village is located 4 hours to the north-west of Guilin and can be reached by bus to Sanjiang, followed by half-hour local van ride.

3. Yuanyang Rice Terraces: Yuanyang, in the far south of Yunnan province, is famous for its unique scenery of vast terraced paddy fields, cultivated by the Hani people for centuries. From mid-December through til February, the fields are at their most stunning, with the combination of mist, low-lying clouds and water-filled terraces producing an awe-inspiring scene. Spring Festival is the most popular time to visit, so make sure you book your accommodation well in advance and choose a guesthouse within the terraces for more relaxed sunrise viewing. A trip to one of the areas 22 lively markets  is also strongly recommended.
Yuanyang is a 7 hour drive from Kunming, and can be reached by local bus or chartered van.

4. Tiger Leaping Gorge: Tiger Leaping Gorge is one of those hikes that has it all: stunning views, welcoming, locally-run guesthouses and delicious, home-cooked meals. The whole way you feel like you’re walking through a postcard with the snow-covered peaks of Haba and Jade Dragon Mountains towering over you and the rushing waters of the Jinsha River pounding through the Gorge hundreds of metres below. Unlike many other parts of China, late winter/early spring is one of the best times to visit the Gorge with cool temperatures, clear, blue skies, lots of snow on the peaks and relative tranquility.
Tiger Leaping Gorge is a two hour drive from Lijiang, and takes 1-3 days to hike depending on your fitness level and desired pace.