Zhangye: exploring the colourful mountains of Danxia and ancient grottoes of Mati Temple

Zhangye is a lively yet laidback city located in the centre of the Hexi Corridor, a strategically important corridor on the ancient Silk Road. Squashed between the dramatic peaks of the Qilian Mountains to the south and endless desert to the north, the narrow strip of land that makes up the Hexi Corridor offered the only feasible option to enter and exit China to the west for those journeying on the Silk Road. Historically, Zhangye was one of China’s frontier cities, and an important stopover between the Chinese empire and Central Asia. Marco Polo reportedly spent a year living in Zhangye around 1274. 

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Tagong and the ancient region of Kham, Tibet

Tagong, or Lhagang ལྷ་སྒང་། in Tibetan, is a small town on the Tibetan plateau in western Sichuan province. Visiting Tagong allows you to explore numerous monasteries, expansive grasslands on horseback or on foot and dramatic snow mountains, and to learn about Tibetan Buddhism and culture. At an altitude of more than 3,700 meters, Tagong is one of the highest towns in the world. The town has a remote, wild west feel, its remoteness insulating it from the mass tourism and development seen elsewhere in China, so far. Rumor is that Tagong will soon be connected by a larger highway and even high-speed rail, which will likely change the quiet nature of the town. 

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Hiking Yubeng

Yubeng Village is nestled within pine forests and dramatic snowy mountains, including the 6,740m Meili Snow Mountain. The tallest peak of Meili Snow Mountain is called Kawagarbo in Tibetan, and is considered sacred in Tibetan Buddhism. Many thousands of Tibetan pilgrims circumambulate Kawagarbo each year. Kawagarbo sits on the border between Yunnan and Tibet.

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A Quick Guide to Hiking Tiger Leaping Gorge

Tiger Leaping Gorge (TLG) is one of China’s most famous multi-day hikes, which takes you through one of the world’s deepest gorges and past Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. We did TLG at a leisurely pace over three days, however you could do this in two days (by combining days one and two). We were expecting TLG to be crowded, however we often had the trailand stunning views to ourselves.

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Shaxi, A Relic of the Ancient Tea Horse Road

Shaxi is an ancient town of the old Tea Horse Road, a collection of old houses and cobblestone streets. Shaxi has retained much of its historic charm and character compared to Yunnan’s other ancient towns. The Tea Horse Road refers to an ancient network of paths connecting Yunnan, Sichuan and Tibet to South Asia. It was an important trading route for tea, and for the spread of Buddhism across the region. It is sometimes referred to as the Southern Silk Road.

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Exploring the Hakka tulou

The Fujian tulou, meaning “earthen structure” in Mandarin, are nestled in the forested hills of southeastern Fujian province. They were built by the Hakka people between the 14th and 20th centuries. The tulous are made from “rammed earth” – a mixture of clay, sand and limestone. At one point, U.S. officials reportedly mistook the tulous for missile silos from satellite images, due to their circular shape.

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Best food in Kota Kinabalu that’s walking distance from your hostel (probably)

KK has an incredible range of delicious food walking distance from most hostels (on Gaya Street or in Kampung Air). Here we bring you our favourite food spots on a backpacker’s budget, which are (probably) walking distance from your hostel.
A quick note: single-use plastics are used excessively at KK’s market stalls. Every time we went to the markets, we brought our own takeaway containers and metal straws. We got a few funny looks from stallholders, but it was worth it to know that my straw wouldn’t end up in the sea. You can buy metal tupperware at the Sunday Gaya Street markets or regular plastic containers from any supermarket, and metal straws from Biru Biru or Nook Cafe.

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