In the last two weeks of July, I desperately needed to venture out of Shanghai to breathe some new air and seek a little nature. After some research, I chose to visit Yangshuo, Zhangjiajie and Inner Mongolia over a span of two weeks.
I was travelling solo, so a little apprehensive of the procedures due to the virus and my incredibly pathetic knowledge of Chinese. I am happy to say I had nothing but positive experiences!
I pre-booked all of my accommodation on booking.com and messaged every place beforehand to ask if they accepted foreigners. All places I messaged accepted foreigners if you had your green QR code, and every person I spoke to was incredibly friendly, going above and beyond answering any and all of my ridiculous questions.
One of the hotels in Zhangjiajie advised me to get the nucleic acid test, which I did a few days before my first flight. Luckily there are plenty of hospitals to choose from in Shanghai, and now apparently only costs 120RMB (down from the 240RMB I originally paid).
How I got my Nucleic Acid Test:
I went to Pudong Gongli Hospital with my passport and was in and out in 20 minutes. There were plenty of staff around when I got there, so showed them the Chinese for Nucleic Acid Test – 核酸测试. I was directed to a desk to fill out a form, then pointed to a series of outdoor tents where they took my nose and throat swab. Not too unpleasant overall. The results were ready in 24 hours. They give you a card and receipt and you return the next day to collect your results – just ask a staff member where!
However, I did not actually need it at all on my trip; my QR code was enough. As I landed in each airport, I probably only spent an extra 5 or 10 minutes than I usually would before leaving freely. Everywhere had people who would help you or it was easy enough to figure it out for yourself – hooray!
Once free from the airport, every place I went to was great! So I’m going to tell you more about them…
Where I stayed: Yangshuo Sudder Street Guesthouse
Yangshuo is just a shuttle bus ride away from Guilin airport, taking about an hour and thirty minutes. You can buy tickets in the airport arrivals hall for about 50RMB and you’ll be pointed to where you need to go.
With Yangshuo itself, I loved it. I think I was incredibly lucky with the weather and it felt like there was a general lack of tourists. If you love nature, hiking, boat trips, rivers, rock climbing, caves… then this is the place for you. The natural beauty is incredible and kind of reminded me of Halong Bay in Vietnam, but a million times better.
I recommend: Yulong River Scenic Area, Laozhai Mountain and Moon Hill
Where I stayed: Whispering Mountains Boutique Hotel
Zhangjiajie is an incredibly easy National Park to navigate, and again for nature lovers. It’s incredibly busy so be prepared for this, but I also found a couple of hikes where I wouldn’t see anyone for a couple of hours at a time. The park looks beautiful in all weather. Photos will never do it justice, you have to see it for yourself.
I recommend: Any of the Cable Cars & the Avatar Mountains
Where I stayed: Anda Guesthouse
Through the incredibly helpful Anda Guesthouse, I booked a trip to the grasslands, staying two nights in a Yurt. If you want to see stars, reset your mind, eat amazing home cooked food and try riding a horse, then this is for you! I was the only one booked onto my trip, had a great tour guide and saw no other tourists while I was there. I watched the sunrise, did some archery and helped cook dinner. The couple who hosted were fantastic and had a great sense of humour. All in all, I had a blast!
I recommend: Anda Guesthouse, trip to the grasslands
Basically, the moral of the story is – don’t hesitate to travel around China at this really confusing time (job permitting – obviously). This is a great time to take advantage and see the beautiful things this mysterious country has to offer, so go forth and enjoy!
Written by Georgina – Head of Marketing