2 weeks The Southeasterner

 

Get your quick fix of China’s Southeast and Taiwan on this short trip. You will cross ancient villages, dig your toes deep into pristine sandy beaches and indulge in fresh seafood straight from the ocean. It’s perfect for those who have seen the best of the Mainland and are looking for a new face of China. If there are a few extra days left on your visa, try starting in Shanghai and passing through Suzhou, or spend extra time on Taiwan’s aboriginal east coast to round out the end.

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Get your quick fix of China’s Southeast and Taiwan on this short trip. You will cross ancient villages, dig your toes deep into pristine sandy beaches and indulge in fresh seafood straight from the ocean. It’s perfect for those who have seen the best of the Mainland and are looking for a new face of China. If there are a few extra days left on your visa, try starting in Shanghai and passing through Suzhou, or spend extra time on Taiwan’s aboriginal east coast to round out the end.

Hangzhou, Zhejiang (2 days)

Fly into Hangzhou or take the three-hour bus ride straight from Shanghai’s Pudong aairport. Hangzhou is often referred to as the Hamptons of China since many of Shanghai’s wealthy elite have houses here, but apart from the Ferrari shops, Hangzhou’s UNESCO-awarded West Lke is not only a national icon, but is straight up gorgeous. You can easily spend several days at West Lake with all the temples, pagodas, walking trails, boat cruises, ancient streets and thriving nightlife, but two days will suffice for those on the clock.

Wuyuan, Jiangxi (2 -3 days)

Take the three-and-a-half-hour bus from Hangzhou early in the morning and get to the charming villages around Wuyuan in Jiangxi Province by around noon. These traditional villages are dotted with Qing-era courtyard houses and cobbled stone streets lined with glowing red lanterns, and sliced by a quiet river running through it all. The best villages are Sixi, Yancun, Xiaoqi, Da Likeng, Xiao Likeng, Guangkeng, Changxi, Qingyuan and Lingjiao. If you have time, visit them all, but if not choose a few and you’ll be plenty satisfyied.

Mt Sanqing, Jiangxi (2 days)

Take the short bus ride to Sanqing Shan and meander around one of the most stunning parks on this side of the Yangtze. Depart to Wuyuan early on the bus to give yourself the afternoon to explore the impressive granite peaks, and be prepared to be amazed. On day 2, take a bus or train to the capital city of Nanchang to connect with an overnight train to the beach town of Xiamen in Fujian Province.

Xiamen, Fujian (2 days)

Unwind on the sandy shores after a long night of train travel and soak up the rays at one of China’s most popular beach towns. Xiamen is best known for its leisurely holiday attitude rather than its millennium-old temples, so become a beach bum while enjoying fresh seafood straight off the boat. Be sure to venture to pleasant Gulangyu Island for old colonial architecture before crossing the Taiwan Strait. Also give yourself some time to check out the Hakka round houses in the area, as they’re pretty cool and a great way to interact with the Hakka locals and learn more about their interesting culture.

There are several ferries from Xiamen to Taiwan: Option A will bring you to Kaohsiung, and Option B will lead you to Taichung. From either one of these destinations you can easily reach Taipei. Another option is to take a ferry directly to Keelung (the port town of Taipei), which is in striking distance of the capital city. Ferries to these listed destinations only depart once a week, so if you miss them you will have to take a flight to Taiwan.

Option A – Kaohsiung & Kenting, Taiwan (2-3 days)

Take the overnight ferry to Taiwan’s second largest city of Kaohsiung. Walk around the Cijin District and take a seat with the locals at one of the many outdoor seafood restaurants, and get your daily dose of culture at Tian Hou Temple, the city’s oldest. The following day, take the two hour bus for more fun in the sun at Taiwan’s premier beach town of Kenting. Similar to Xiamen, Kenting is known more for its laid back beach vibe than its history, but if you’re looking for a carefree vacation, Kenting is the place to be. On your last day, take the bus back to Kaohsiung and catch the fast train to Taipei or, if you have extra time, leave a few days for village hopping along the aboriginal east coast of the island (we recommend the city of Hualien).

Option B – Taichung & Sun Moon Lake, Taiwan (2-3 days)

Another overnight ferry departs from Xiamen to Taichung. Don’t spend too much time in Taichung, though, since there’s not much going on. Rather, take the next bus out to Sun Moon Lake up in the rocky interior of the island. This spectacular lake nestled in the heart of Taiwan is surrounded by giant mountains and peppered with enthralling Taoist temples and shrines, and many of Taiwan’s native peoples – who spice things up with their fascinating culture – reside in the neighborhood as well. From Sun Moon Lake, take the bus straight to Taipei to end your trip, or journey to the opposite side of the island to the immaculate east coast.

Taipei, Taiwan (3-4 days)

All roads lead to Taipei. The capital is conveniently connected with the rest of the island by high speed rail and/or buses, and its international airport is useful for getting you back home. Spend several days in this wonderful city and visit the spectacular National Palace Museum to see some of China’s most famous artistic masterpieces. Also go to the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, Taipei 101 (one of the tallest buildings in the world), and Elephant Mountain for an unparalleled view of the city. Be sure as well to enjoy the nightlife and night markets. If you have a day or two to spare, head to the picturesque, old gold mining town of Jiufen for a sample of small town Taiwanese life.

If you’re in Taipei and aren’t ready to call it quits, consider taking a flight to Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou or Hong Kong to combine this itinerary with the Long March, Beaches & Beer, or Nomad Lands (but make sure you get a new China visa, it will not be valid for a return trip to Mainland China unless you have a multi-entry one). If you start in Taipei and finish in Hangzhou, consider moving forward with the Imperial Tour.

 
 

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