Good hotel in the heart of Lhasa. Comfortable rooms which are clean and which sometimes have working heating. Great restaurant downstairs - try a yak burger for novelty, momos for pleasure and yak butter tea for punishment. Great place to stay. If you're starting off in Lhasa, it's a gentle introduction to Tibet. If you've crossed Lhasa to get here it will seem like the most luxurious hotel in the world. Reasonably priced.
Central Lhasa the address is:-
100 Beijing Dong Lu, Lhasa, Tibet, PRC
Tel: +86 891 6323496 ext.0 / 6364078
Fax: +86 891 6336845
Four-star, central, very clean, business rooms (£40) have free internet access. Restaurant does weird western food if you can't face Chinese for the 17th night in a row. I had fish fingers and chips with a blob of jam and my partner had mushrooms on toast with a little pool of lemon curd. Gorgeous.
No.55, Section 2, Ren Min Nan Ave, Chengdu, Sichuan 610016.
In Dalian, by the sea, the terrible sight of two polar bears in a tiny, tiny tank, obviously going insane with desperation. It's on a par with the handicapped baby beggars for misery. Chinese people thought it highly entertaining, mistaking the repetitive movements for some kind of dance. Really horrible.
I found this pretty machine in one Chengdu cafe bar named Feeling4seasons Cafe. They provide very very nice espresso, cappuccino and latte with Italian Lavazza. Very nice service and price. I love it.
They provide free wireless internet service, you can check your mail or web, and f you have a notebook you can use wireless easily, if your notebook doesn't support WiFi, don't worry about it, they can provide you with a wireless card to use free.
Enjoy your cafe travel in chengdu....
Orient Times Mall 2F, Xia Dongda Street, Chengdu.
Tel: 028 6620 8848
Get out of Shanghai for a change of scene. Suzhou is a breath of fresh air from the high-energy city. An overnight stay is best as it gives you time to see parts of the old city as Marco Polo saw it... such as Ping Jiang Lu (parallel and east of the main North-South Lin Dun Lu) and at least one of the famous gardens (one garden is enough).
From the Railway Station, take a taxi from the taxi rank to the Kai Lai Da Ju Dian (Chinese for Gloria Hotel) on Gan Jiang Lu near Lin Dun Lu (10 yuan), which is a good base to catch your breath. The south end of Ping Jiang Lu is almost directly opposite the west side of the hotel; cross Gan Jiang Lu and walk north up Ping Jiang Lu alongside the canal to the second bridge where you will see the Ping Jiang Lodge, a very nicely preserved local-style inn where you can stay in historic surroundings for less than US$100 (I know - not so cheap). If you continue north on Ping Jiang Lu to the 5th bridge and turn right for 20m, you will see an equally ancient and interesting Tea House that’s well worth the visit.
If you want a cheap clean room, go over to Lin Dun Lu and walk north 500m to the China Mobile 'M-Zone' store - you will find a small hotel on the other side of the street in the small east-west side street (next to the hair salon on the corner) where you can get a room for US$30. Near here you can find Harry's Bar (150m south on Lin Dun - West side) where English speaking staff can help you! Also a great place to return to in the evening for music and good bar conversation with local expats.
Fast trains (train number beginning with 'T') run from Shanghai railway Station to Suzhou frequently and take from 40 to 50 minutes;
Almost all of my expat friends say that the tree will be the first choice if they want to have some tasty pizza. Also they have a impressive collection of Belgian beers.
43 Bei Sanlitun Nan,Chaoyang district (100 metres West of Sanlitun North Bar street, Yo Yi Youth Hostel, behind Poachers Inn)
Tel: 010 6415 1954
Many of these are not noted for their singing quartets, or even any evidence of a pair of scissors. Worth knowing that plenty of them have back rooms for a little more (less?) than your average 'short, back and sides'.
If you go to a hairdresser's that actually does cut your hair, chances are you will get your hair washed, your scalp massaged very nicely and a decent haircut. If it's 30 rmb for a bloke's haircut and wash, all in, then that's pricy. It's a bit of luxury, but allow about an hour. Otherwise, pay 3 to 5 rmb at a cheap (genuine barber) place on the street, and it will be much quicker.
All over town
Not quite the reason to go to Chengdu, but should be useful. Nearly all toilets are 'squatties' so be prepared for some calf-stretching stability exercises. Slightly pricier restaurants have neat packets of tissue paper which you should nab whenever you eat there. Even cheaper restaurants have toilet paper available, so grab a bit if you are out. You never know when a touch of the Chengdu-doo-doo will hit you and you will be glad of your forethought.
For public loos (plenty of these on streets, by the river) you normally pay 2 jiao (0.2 rmb) to use them. Some are good, many are less than fragrant. Be prepared for them to be more public than you might be used to. Mens' and womens' are usually marked with picture symbols.
All over town - Chengdu is well endowed with toilets.
A couple of RMB/yuan for entrance to the gallery up the stairs. Art book shop downstairs, and art supplies on sale in the lobby. Occasional visits from international artists/exhibitors.
From TianFu Square, standing at the base of the Mao statue, facing Mao, turn left (west) and after a stroll of just over 500 metres, you will see the gallery on your right.
'Stone ground' doufu/tofu restaurant. Recently expanded and is now an integral part of the Yulin Hotel. The finger-length deep-fried doufu with vanilla/custardy sauce is a delight. Cannot remember the name, but there is a picture menu. Loads of other types of tofu/beancurd, good veg (broccoli=xilanhua), although some meat dishes can be greasier than other Sichuan restaurants.
50 metres west of the junction with RenMinNanLu and 1st Ring Road (YiHuanLu).
Not that many places have pavements you would eat your dinner off, but Chengdu's public walkways still have their unfair share of phlegm, dirt etc, plus the results of cute kiddies, held in the air by their parents, having a pee on the street - public toilets cost money. No big deal really, just could be worth remembering.
Chengdu has thousands of these, from the shabby, almost slum-like backstreet establishments, some of which show DVDs to entertain clients, to the ultra-posh teahouses, where BMW keys and smart rectangular-lensed specs are de rigeur.
Hang out where locals chill. In most of them, it's unlikely you'll be left alone if you don't want to be.
All over Chengdu. Da Ci Temple has a nice teahouse. www.randomstuff.biz has a description and map.
Dessert houses are small shops spread across the main city areas of Causeway Bay, Mong Kok and Tsim Sha Tsui, serving desserts of all types. Most of them are offered chilled, with the main ingredients been exotic fruit and pudding. Desserts are very popular amongst the locals and also ideal for anyone looking for sweet refreshment after an exhausting walk under the hot sun. Prices are very reasonable as well.
Classic Sichuan (and Chongqing, where hot pot is even spicier) food. Large bowl of soup/sauce in the middle of the table, perched on a gas hob/burner. Most often the metal bowl has a barrier vertically across the middle, so that a red, spicier soup is in one half, and a white, less spicy soup is in the other. Fans of the spicy half and the less spicy half can dine together, and of course you can mix and match.
Your group orders food, which is brought to you so you can decide what to put into the bubbling soup. Sliced pork and beef, vegetables, doufu, and mushrooms are all standard fare, and you can also get kidneys, liver and many other body parts for the soup. A very sociable way of eating.
Some places do a 'buffet' deal where you pay one price per person (rather than paying for the food you order), and you stroll up to the buffet table to get the food bits - good for your first hot pot, and this overcomes ordering problems. The buffet deals are pricier, but usually include beer and red wine and soft drinks.
Hot pot (huo guo) restaurants are on almost every vaguely lively street. One town we were in had seven hot pot restaurants.
More detailed guide on www.randomstuff.biz in the Eat section of Chengdu.
This is a great place. The bedrooms are spartan but clean. The place has a rather wide-open feel to it, unlike most clautrophobic hostels. The best part is the food: Sim's has the best food of any hostel I've been to, and it's cheap (8-15 yuan) with big portions. Also, there is often cheap barbecued food on the street outside.
No.42 Xizhushi st. Chengdu - in the northern part of Chengdu, next to Wenshu Yuan Buddhist Temple (which I also recommend). By taxi it's about 8-10 minutes away from the Chairman Mao statue/city centre;
tel: +86 288 691 4422;
Here’s a tip for those travelling in groups: abandon mutual chopstick dipping into various dishes served traditionally on revolving tables. We did this after eight of our 14 succumbed to stomach ailments. Unfortunately, it was in Shanghai that we were served the most commercial and unappetising meal of our seven-city visit.
Recently restored, the temple of mercy/compassion is little visited by tourists, despite being in the centre of Chengdu. Aside from its main purpose, this temple has a very lively yet relaxing teahouse (various teas, average price 5-8 Rb) and there’s a folklore museum. Some outstanding statues/carvings. 3 Rmb to get in. Open 9am to 6pm.
Da Ci Si Lu 23 hao (10-15 mins walk from Crowne Plaza/Holiday Inn);
They call them 'chopsticks' for a reason - it's because they're from chopped-down trees. Vast tracts of forests are thoughtlessly used and thrown away every year.
Commendably, the PRC government is now beginning to crack down on this, and Japan for example has begun to tax imported chopsticks heavily. So to help this process along - anywhere in Asia for that matter - when dining in restaurants ask for (or bring along your own) plastic chopsticks. Wipe them with a tissue if you're worried about hygiene, it's not hard. And if you really can't handle the chopstick issue, bring a fork.
Yu Yuan Gardens (see www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/tips/1036) is a nice place to buy souvenir choppies - try the Shanghai Chopsticks Store, 31 Yuyuan Lao Lu
Some airlines offer a free trip into Chengdu with their minibuses, if you have flown with their airline. Sichuan Airlines is one. If you have paid more than 500 rmb for your ticket, they offer the free minibus service. Worth asking the airline, or ask the air crew. If you are in a hurry, though, just take a taxi.
www.randomstuff.biz has some more details about taxis and buses from Chengdu airport into the city.
A great hotel with an outdoor swimming pool on the 7th floor and great views over the harbour. It’s on Hong Kong Island and above the amazing Pacific Place shopping mall. Really central and the staff were really helpful.
Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Hong Kong Island;
tel: 852 2810 8366;
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