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Discovering China: An Unforgettable Familiarisation Trip

I recently had the privilege to join travel industry colleagues from around the world to experience all that’s wonderful about Wendy Wu Tours & Hunan Province, China.

Great First Day in China

After a wonderful direct flight with Hainan Airlines, we arrived late afternoon in Changsha, China to a lovely welcome at the fantastic Meixi Lake Hotel.

Following dinner and a meet up with colleagues from Australia and New Zealand, we took a stroll to a nearby night food market (although could not be tempted by frogs on sticks!) and a wonderfully air-conditioned local shopping mall.

I then settled into my super-super king-size bed for a well-needed sleep before the following days adventures.

Wendy Wu Crew Adventures in Changsha.

Our first full day in Changsha began with the ‘Ni Hao Changsha’ Tourism event – a wonderful presentation of all that Changsha & Hunan Province has to offer to travellers & an insight into what delights we would experience during our stay.

The afternoon brought VIP treatment with a police escort stopping traffic for our coaches as we toured the city. Our first stop was the Hunan Museum, home to the perfectly preserved ‘Xin Zhui’, a 2,000-year-old mummy discovered in the 1970s. We then dined at the quirky 80s-style restaurant ‘Wenheyou LaoZhang Sha LongXia Guan’ – with enough food to feed the city!

The evening was capped off with an amazing river cruise, showcasing a vibrant light show on all the high-rise buildings and then a visit to Orange Island to see the 32-metre statue of Chairman Mao.

A surprise foot massage ended our fabulous day, leaving us relaxed and ready for more.

Yuelu Academy and Pozi Street – Changsha

Monday brought us to the serene Yuelu Academy – at over 1000 years old it’s the third-oldest university in the world & has the beautiful scenic backdrop of Yue Lu Mountain.

Lunch was at Fire Palace on Pozi Street, a 1,200-year-old pedestrian street famous for its Pozi Street Archway and unique food delicacies.

After a quick tour of the city museum, we later boarded the bullet train – just as impressive & speedy as the ones in Japan – to Zhangjiajie & our adrenaline filled activities!

Zhangjiajie National Park: Avatar’s Hallelujah Mountain

Zhangjiajie National Park was a series of WOW moments!
From Hallelujah Mountain, the backdrop for the film Avatar, to monkeys frolicking around, the scenery was truly stunning.
The Bailong glass elevator – Guiness World Record holder for 326m height ascended in just 66 seconds – provided breathtaking views, & the cable car ride down was exhilarating.

Later we visited the Junsheng Art Gallery, where many couldn’t resist purchasing sandstone paintings & the day ended with dinner & the Charming Xiangxi show, a captivating story of romance and love.

Baofeng Lake and Tianmen Mountain Adventures, Zhangjiajie

On day 6 we enjoyed a serene trip around Baofeng Lake & its waterfall before heading to Tianmen Mountain.

We accessed the mountain via the world’s longest cable car ride (7455 metres in its entirety!), leading to breathtaking cliffside glass pathways, which required red velvet slippers, presumably to clean the glass & to avoid scratches for better views!

After braving our fear of heights & witnessing the stunning views of Hairpin Drive, we descended seven escalators to reach the huge Tianmen cave, then either walked down the famous 999 steps or took five more escalators – as I would be unlikely to return to this attraction I thought ‘go on – you can do this’ and descended the steps, one by one, until my legs were pure jelly at the bottom!

Exhausted but exhilarated, we ended the day with a random yet delightful evening at the 72 Quilo – a cultural landmark in Zhangjiajie and home to the highest Tujia ethnic style stilted building in the world, along with the integration of tourism, shopping, dining and cultural experiences.


Thrills at Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon

Our last day in Zhangjiajie was filled with adventure.
We crossed the remarkable skywalk glass bridge – when it opened in 2016, it held the title of the longest & tallest glass-bottomed bridge in the world, we ziplined across mountains, & navigated mountainside slides.

Other activities in the Grand Canyon included a glass elevator, glass walkways, VR hot air balloon rides, & watching bungee jumps – a few of our group even volunteered and took the daredevil dive, 260m towards the canyon below.

After lunch we had a presentation from Zhangjiajie & China tourism, followed by a superb banquet & then headed back to the mountains for the breathtaking Fox Tale show. This performance, set against a backdrop of the beautiful mountain ranges and towering peaks of the canyon, is directed by Zhang Yimou, the renowned art director of the 2008 Beijing the Olympics. It truly was an unforgettable experience.

Bright Lights of Beijing

The larger group now dispersed & a small group of us headed to Beijing.

We started with a bucket-list experience: walking the Great Wall of China – over 21000 km in length & originally built to protect the empire – this amazing structure now holds its title as one of the 7 wonders of the world.

After lunch, we visited the Summer Palace, with the Imperial gardens & Kunming Lake covering over three-quarters of its area.
An evening boat trip on the Liangma River showcased a spectacular light and imagery show.


Final Day: Tiananmen Square and Forbidden City

Our final day began at Tiananmen Square, a site of great historical & cultural significance & also the site of the 1989 student protests.

We then toured the massive Forbidden City – the palace complex of the ancient Chinese Emperors .

After lunch, we enjoyed a cycle rickshaw ride around Beijing’s Hutong area, visiting a family home to see how extended families live together.

Our trip concluded with a visit to the Temple of Heaven, a Tai Chi lesson, a gymnastic show, and a Hot Pot self-cook dinner.

Reflecting on an Amazing Journey

Thank you to Wendy Wu and the entire Wu Crew for this amazing opportunity. This trip has completely transformed my view of China. With direct flights from the UK, Changsha and the surrounding areas should be on everyone’s travel list. The welcoming people, rich history, and breathtaking scenery make it a truly happy place to visit. I hope my posts inspire others to explore this fantastic province of Hunan and beyond.


Want to follow in Zoe’s footsteps? Discover China on two of Wendy Wu’s brand new tours, Gems of China & Natural Treasures of China

Travel Club Elite is one of the top agents in the world, representing Wendy Wu Tours.
If you would like to share our personal insights and for advice, tips & booking, please call free on 0800 707 6229, or enquire
Zoe Franklin
Sales Manager.

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