Hotter temperatures. Longer days. Summer is coming. And travel plans are being made. It’s a chance to step away from busy urban life, a time to recharge and reconnect with ourselves and each other, and why not do it somewhere stunning.
With a cold winter behind us, we’re looking forward to a sunny summer away from the crowds. So, we’ve handpicked our top destinations for this summer, and have come away with a little something for everyone – for the adventurous, the laid-back, the cultured, and always, the curious traveler.
The mighty Yellow River traverses dusty plains, deserts, and mountain ranges in one of China’s most isolated regions, once a key stop along the ancient Silk Road. This northern frontier was long fought over by ancient civilizations, including the Mongolian and Han empires, leaving behind a legacy survived by grand Buddhist and Islamic structures, royal tombs, and ancient caverns.
Ningxia in recent years, has become the heart of winemaking in China, and is now nicknamed China’s ‘Napa Valley.’ Get whisked away into wine country as you sip award-winning grapes and take in the breathtaking scenery of rolling vineyards just outside Yinchuan, the region’s capital.
Perfect for travelers interested in: History, culture, wine and food
What we love:
- Exploring a varied selection of wineries and meeting the people behind Ningxia’s viticultural reinvention
- Discovering authentic regional cuisine, including a barbecue at Silver Heights Vineyard and a five-course wine dinner
- Gaining an in-depth understanding of the region’s history on a curator-led tour of the Western Xia Imperial Tombs
With news of the Tibetan Autonomous Region reopening travel to foreign nationals, it’s no wonder many are eager to pack their bags to explore this spiritual, remote land. Untouched landscapes, gilded temples and monasteries, and snowcapped Himalayan peaks are the sights that await you in the ‘Roof of the World.’ Beyond that, travelers can immerse in Tibetan culture, life, and Buddhism along the Plateau, with experiences like sipping yak butter tea in a local tea house or watching monks meditate in an ancient hermit cave.
Perfect for travelers interested in: History, culture, spirituality, architecture, nature and relaxation
What we love:
- Experiencing monks debating Tibetan Buddhist philosophy in the open courtyard of Sera Monastery
- Learning about meditation in a hermit cave, claimed to be one of the earliest known meditation sites
- Getting an up-close-and-personal perspective of Tibetan culture and modern-day life through the eyes of a local farmer on a visit to his family home
Guizhou province has a winning combination of diverse minority culture and outstanding natural beauty. This southwestern province is home to several minorities, including the Miao, Buyi, and Dong, each with their own distinct clothing, customs, and language. Guizhou’s natural offerings range from jutting karst peaks and gushing waterfalls to river gorges and azalea gardens. A journey here will leave you inspired and have you understanding why we’ve listed Guizhou as our top travel destination for 2021.
Perfect for travelers interested in: Culture, food, nature & relaxation
What we love:
- Meeting a Dali Dong village elder to understand the customs and history of the Dong people, among the largest ethnic groups in Guizhou
- Learning how to create and play the bamboo lusheng instrument, used by the Miao people during celebrations
- Exploring the traditions of the Baisha Miao, including their age-old technique for making gunpowder using only the natural elements found around their village
Dramatic karst peaks, the sun-dappled river Li, jade-green rice paddies – the scenes of Yangshuo have for centuries inspired legions of artists, not to mention countless travelers. The best way to take in Yangshuo’s stunning beauty is by foot – hiking through paddy fields and climbing up peaks set against an endlessly inspiring karst backdrop. To get the real essence of this region, the rural regions of the karst backwoods have some wonderful local hike offerings, you just need to know where to find them.
Perfect for travelers interested in: Culture, food, nature and relaxation
- Hiking along two trails against the dream-like karst landscape of Guangxi
- Enjoying an outdoor master-led taichi lesson to gather the full spirituality of the misty mountains
- Discovering the culinary traditions of Guangxi with a private cooking class, set in a traditional courtyard home
Yunnan’s breadth of diversity – in landscape, food, and culture – provides allure for travelers of all interests and backgrounds. Lush green valleys, turquoise waters, rice terraces, and snowcapped peaks are among the many natural wonders found here. Cultural exploration is equally abundant, with various ethnic groups sharing their customs and traditions as you travel through rustic villages and towns – remnants of China’s old trade route, the Ancient Tea Horse Road.
Perfect for travelers interested in: History, culture, nature & relaxation
What we love:
- Immersing in the customs and traditions of ethnic groups along the Tea Horse Road, including a Naxi dinner party, Shaxi cheesemaking, and Bai tea ceremony
- Meeting a village shaman to learn about the history and culture of the Yi people in Lijiang
- Strolling the wetlands of Napahai Lake while gazing out at the yak, sheep, horses, and local birds who call this place home