BANGKOK — As China continues its ascent to the top of the world’s economic rankings, one travel company is lifting the lid on some of the country’s richest tourism assets.
Backyard Travel’s five newest tours delve beyond the familiar Forbidden City and Great Wall and into such little-known treasures as the ancient village of Hongcun and the mystical limestone karsts of Yangshuo.
“China is fast becoming an essential stop for anyone who wants to peer deep into the 21st Century,” said Maeve Nolan, Backyard Travel’s general manager. “There’s incredible depth, and a wealth of wonders just waiting to be discovered.”
Launched earlier this year, Backyard Travel has fashioned a niche in the industry for itself by providing travelers with direct access to people who actually live in Asia full-time and are trained to handle all aspects of an itinerary’s development.
In eight destinations, Backyard Travel staffs offices with on-the-ground travel specialists ready to provide up-to-date information and insider knowledge.
Backyard Travel’s signature tour to the world’s fourth largest country is ‘Epic China,’ a comprehensive, 19-day excursion that includes visits to five UNESCO World Heritage sites and the chance to learn about ancient Chinese arts such as feng shui, acupuncture and qigong.
The trip, which begins in Beijing and ends in Shanghai, also calls for an overnight sleeper train experience, expeditions into China’s heartland to meet and interact with local hill tribes and a peaceful picnic on a less-visited section of the Great Wall.
“As with all of our tours, the object is to help travelers get in deep,” said Nolan. “To do that, you’ve got to know the ins and outs of a destination, and how to get behind the scenes. Our travel specialists can and do, because they live and breathe their territory every day.”
Other ‘Epic China’ stops include Jade Dragon Snow Mountain near Lijiang — whose tallest peak, Shanzidou, has been climbed only once — and the architecturally perplexing Suspended Temple near Datong.
For those with less time on their hands, Backyard Travel has devised four alternatives, all of which can be customized to meet a traveler’s needs and preferences.
‘Essential China’ spans 11 days and aims to provide a taste of both the country’s major metropolises and most compelling rural sites.
‘Explore Ancient Yunnan’ lasts five days and focuses on China’s southwest corner, where daily life has remained consistent for thousands of years.
‘UNESCO Wonders of Shanxi’ is a four-day jaunt through China’s north, which is home to a perfect example of a preserved medieval city.
‘Ancient Water Towns of China’ measures three days and emphasizes picturesque Suzhou, Wuzhen and Hangzhou, which Marco Polo called “the city of heaven” for its resort-like qualities.
For more information about Backyard Travel and its tours to China and other Asian destinations, visit backyardtravel.com.
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