Manchester to Beijing
With daily, direct flights from Manchester taking around only 10 hours to land, it couldn’t be easier to visit the nation’s capital.
The Summer Palace (an ancient royal chambers on a picturesque lake) and the Forbidden City (famous collection of museums and stunning views of Beijing from Jingshan Park north of the Forbidden City) are not to be missed from any itinerary. But don’t forget to explore the intriguing old town, wander the contemporary 789 Art Zone or enjoy a night out in Soho.
Being out of the city, allow for a full day trip to see The Great Wall, the section you go to varying depending on what you want out of the experience. For the safest and most restored section that always has enough tourists to ask a passer-by to take a picture for you, take one of the many coached organized by your hotel to Mutianyu. For a popular hiking rout with amazing views start at Jiankou point and, though it requires self navigation, to see a wild and untouched Great Wall work your way to Jiankou. If your travelling in May, check out the Great Wall Festival, which has a line up of internationally acclaimed dance artists for an unbelievable weekend.
With air pollution sometimes an issue, consider investing in a face mask and if you’re an asthma sufferer take extra provisions. The iPhone weather app tracks air quality everyday, so check every day when deciding whether physically strenuous activities are on the itinerary.
Flights approx £600 return with Hainan Airlines
Manchester to Hong Kong
Although not mainland China, Hong Kong is a charming island where East meets West. For only an 11 and a half hour flight, you can swap English breakfast for dim sum and breakfast tea for bubble tea, all with the comfort of the English language being widely spoken.
Haggle your way through amazing bargains at the Ladies’ Market, hike up to Victoria Peak for views of the city, and be persuaded into doing too many shots on Lan Kuai Fong (a strip of bars that rivals Magaluf). For a magical start to the evening, catch the StarFerry from Tsim Sha Sui to Central and watch the city light up as the sun sets behind the horizon – the darker it gets, the more the famous skyline sparkles.
Though the cable car up to, and the views from, the Hong Kong Big Buddha are completely worth the trip, less known is the small fishing village on the same island. After the signature pictures with the Buddha, take the bus to Tai O fishing village. Wander through the quaint and sleepy streets and take some dinner at one of the restaurants balancing on stilts, in this picturesque escape from the city.
For a refundable deposit of just $50 HKD, the ‘On-Loan Octopus’ card turns the stressful problem of needing cash into a dream of ease and convenience. Load it up like a debit card, not only to save yourself from scrambling for change to pay for transport, but also to buy your beers and snacks at 7-eleven and even a cheeky McDonalds!
Flights approx 500 return with Cathay Pacific