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Holidays & Vacation

The Top 4 Scenic Train Rides Through Switzerland

The easiest way to see most of the beauty of the alpine country of Switzerland is by train. Most railways are known for their incredible customer service as well as their impressive ability to run on time, but it’s the scenery outside the windows that draw tourists to Switzerland train routes. Here are four of the most beautiful train rides you should book on your trip to Europe’s mountain playground.

Gotthard Panorama Express

This route is a great option for tourists who want a taste of panoramic rail without devoting a lot of their time. The route goes from Lugano to Lucerne and comes in at just under three hours. It also includes a short boat journey, giving you several perspectives from which to enjoy the landscape.

The Bernina Express

This Switzerland train experience may be the most popular, both for its route and its value. The full trip takes approximately four hours or so and goes from medieval Chur in the snowy Alps to the Mediterranean landscapes of Tirano, Italy. You should book a reservation, as the Bernina Express is a popular train ride can be busy during the tourist season.

The Golden Pass

If you are looking for classic luxury reminiscent of The Orient Express, then the Golden Pass route is the one for you. This rail trip may not feature the large panoramic windows of more modern trains, but the glamour of the Belle Epoque cars’ interiors makes it worth the ride. Plan to devote about five and a half hours to this route that goes from Lucerne to Montreux. Be sure to reserve your space on the Classic pass for a taste of what extravagant travel may have been like in the past.

The Glacier Express

Devote a day to this Switzerland train route because the 8-hour trip is anything but express. No matter, though, because the views from the ski resorts of St. Moritz to Zermatt, at the base of the Matterhorn, make up for the slow pace. The giant panoramic windows and luxurious comfort are just a couple of reasons why this ride is so well-known. You can even dine at your seat, so you don’t miss any of the spectacular scenery.

Book Your Trip

Whichever route you decide to take, you should make reservations and get ready to travel in style. Several of these scenic areas are served by more than one rail service, so if you prefer a less touristy option, do a little research to find the trip that takes you where you want to go without the crowds. Any Switzerland train ride is such to be a memorable experience, thanks to the gorgeous landscape that can be seen around the country.

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Holidays & Vacation

How to make travelling to London an affordable and luxurious experience

Travelling has become a pleasure that is becoming increasingly affordable to many. However, comfort and luxury are many times overlooked to make travelling a possibility. Travelling on a budget is common if you’re trying to discover more places and countries, leaving luxury as a possibility that only a few can afford to enjoy.

Nevertheless, several hacks will make travelling in luxury a possibility, even if you’re on a tight budget.

Short-term vacation rental

Forget about staying at a five-star hotel, they might seem like the most luxurious option you can go for, but there are great short term vacation rentals in London that can provide an even more comfortable experience and at a lower cost.

They’re centrally located and they are a home away from home.

Choose the perfect season

Autumn is the perfect season to find low-cost plane tickets and low prices in short-term vacation rentals. The high season, which is summer, is over, which makes this expensive city a lot more affordable and less crowded.

September, in particular, is probably the best month to visit London, the weather is fabulous and the crowds are gone.

Have breakfast at your vacation rental and dinner at a fancy restaurant

Something that can be bothersome when travelling is eating out for every meal, it can also add up the costs of your trip. Another benefit of staying at a vacation rental is that you can do groceries and cook delicious breakfast at your vacation rental, and instead splurge at a fancy dinner in one of the multiple upscale restaurants that London has to offer.

Museums are free

Most museums in London are free, which makes them accessible to all budgets. They’re a great way of knowing history, art and more by keeping expenses low. Leaving extra money for treats and outings.

Ride the tube

It might seem like moving around the city in the tube is for commoners, but it’s the most practical way of getting around.

Traffic jams can steal a lot of time, and it can be quite expensive when you’re spending your days moving from one place to another.

The London underground system is one of the best in the world, it will cost you a lot less than travelling by taxi or Uber and it will also save you a lot of time that would otherwise be wasted stuck in traffic.

Splurge on experiences, not things

Part of making a trip a luxurious experience is being able to splurge on experiences that can be expensive. Material things lose their value quickly, but experiences are events that ignite emotions within you and they create memories that you can hold on to for a lifetime.

Don’t cut back when it comes to having drinks out in a nice bar, having a romantic dinner in a nice restaurant and other experiences that hold a higher emotional value than riding a taxi instead of taking the tube or staying in a hotel instead than a short-term vacation rental.

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Holidays & Vacation

Vacations at the Beach Offer Much More Than Just Swimming

Taking a beach vacation is often considered the ultimate vacation, in part because locations close to the beach usually come with other water sports, including fishing, snorkeling, kayaking, and diving, not to mention beach volleyball and various excursions on a boat. If you’re at a beach that has crystal-clear water, the trip can be even better because you’ll be able to enjoy all of the fish and other creatures that live below the water, presenting you with a beautiful view of this natural habitat.

Beautiful beaches can be found all over the world, including areas of Thailand such as the Phi Phi Islands. The beaches located here can be accessed with speedboats or long-tail boats, and they offer clear water, white sand, and some of the most beautiful scenery you’ve ever seen. Indeed, beaches such as those in Phi Phi’s Laem Tong area are some of the most remote areas in the world, even being designed without roads, which is one of the many reasons people love vacationing there.

Many Areas Offer Beautiful Beaches

Choosing the right hotel in Laem Tong is easy because the area has some of the most luxurious hotels you’ll ever find. Regardless of where you are staying, the hotels found in areas like the Laem Tong Beach in Phi Phi, will make you glad you stayed there, because the accommodations are usually just as luxurious as the beaches themselves. In fact, each hotel offers its own special perks, and some of these perks include exquisite dining facilities, fun bars and lounges for the times you simply want to relax, and concierges that can help youfind the most exciting places to visit in the area, enabling you to enjoy your vacation without missing anything important.

Vacations Should Filled with Fun Activities

To make the most out of your vacation, you need to make sure you are familiar with everything the area has to offer, which you can do even after you arrive at your hotel. There are also a lot of websites that provide not only detailed information on these locations, but also beautiful full-color photographs to whet your appetite and make you look forward to being there even more. With clean and spacious rooms, elegant dining rooms, swimming pools of all sizes and types, and even meeting rooms and gyms, these hotels are great for both individuals and businesspeople, and they also make a great place to hold a wedding or other special event.

When you’re scheduling your next beach vacation to Laem Tong Beach, going to the Internet first is always a great idea. You can get ideas on what you’d like to do once you get to your destination, which adds to the entire experience, and you can even book a reservation online if you like. There are dozens of reasons for going online before you schedule your next vacation, but perhaps the most important reason is that you’ll know what to expect once you get there, and that can enable you to look forward to even more things that you’ll enjoy once you arrive.

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Holidays & Vacation

Win Your Dream Vacation! Blogger Caroline Berg offers up some China travel inspiration

Caroline Berg to get some more ideas of what to see and do in China when the possibilities are just endless. Check out more of Caroline’s China tales on her blog, The Great Wall is an obvious must. I recommend spending a day on the Beijing border in Hebei Province. I have been twice and both times our small group had the entire wall to ourselves. The air is also fantastic, which is a huge gift if you spend most of your time living in Beijing. What’s more, when the hike is completed and everyone is exhausted, Mr. Chen and his wife throw together a fresh feast straight from their garden. It’s heaven. China Travel: Are there any particular hotels you would like to stay at, and why? Caroline: Well, I’ve already stayed here, but I would absolutely love to go back to the Xizhou Town, Yunnan Province. The four-courtyard mansion is simply elegant and the Linden family is so friendly and laid back. The area, a Bai minority village, is also fascinating. The Lindens have integrated themselves very nicely into the community and provide an array of activities for tourists to immerse themselves in authentic local life. China Travel: In your opinion, what is the least-known “must see” tourist destination/attraction in China? Caroline: Well, apparently there’s a mystical island on Qinghai Lake that is home to a community of female Buddhist monks that even locals don’t know very much about. That’s pretty much all I know about that, if anyone wants to go explore… Also, I get the sense that most foreign travelers go to the Guilin/Yangshuo areas, but not into the rice paddy terraces of Longsheng. There’s an isolated lodge about an hour’s hike up in the hills above Ping’an Village, which provides a breathtaking panorama of the terraces and also spectacular sunrises. It’s a great place to go for a slice of peace. China Travel: What is your top “must-try” food experience? Caroline: Grazing in the Muslim Quarter of Xi’an. Make sure to go to a local sweets shop! There’s one treat I’ve tried in that Quarter that I’ve never managed to find anywhere else and I’m still dreaming about it. It was some nut-based bar with a generous layer of yellow-dyed sugar on top… savory and sweet—the most beautiful marriage of flavors. China Travel: Where is the most beautiful city in China, and why? Caroline: Tough question. I’m more a fan of China’s smaller and natural locales. There are also a great number of Chinese cities I’ve never been to that are probably very beautiful. I imagine Lhasa is quite nice. In terms of cities I’ve been to, however, I’m going to nominate Shenzhen, as crazy as that might sound. I was very pleasantly surprised when I went to visit last March. There are tons of fragrant, tropical parks in the city (Lotus Hill Park— is a favorite, as well as the parks inside the Overseas Chinese Town—neighborhood); the air quality is pretty good (I could go running outside without getting a headache or heavy lungs); I met so many friendly people (yes, there are nice people in Shenzhen and old people, too); and Dapeng Peninsula (has some fantastic beaches (don’t get me started on the succulent seafood). Moreover, Shenzhen is a short hop from Hong Kong—perfect for weekend trips. Feeling inspired yet? Be sure to complete and submit your submission by Friday September 9th for the chance to win your personally designed tour of China. Put together a video entry on YouTube and you could also win one of three Lomography cameras to document your travels in retro style!

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Holidays & Vacation

3 Essential Shanghai Weekend Getaways

China’s a big country. Given its scale and scope, even if you’ve lived here for five-plus years, there’s no way you would be able to see every worthwhile sight and city in the country. For those of you in Shanghai that are stuck in your metropolitan bubble, train travel is the answer to see the many worthwhile sights nearby and expand your China experience. Train travel is an experience in of itself, but is often intimidating for many expats who can’t speak Mandarin because they are afraid their bumbling at the train station will result in a long line of impatient people yelling at them and a ticket to the wrong place.

China’s a big country. Given its scale and scope, even if you’ve lived here for five-plus years, there’s no way you would be able to see every worthwhile sight and city in the country. For those of you in Shanghai that are stuck in your metropolitan bubble, train travel is the answer to see the many worthwhile sights nearby and expand your China experience. Train travel is an experience in of itself, but is often intimidating for many expats who can’t speak Mandarin because they are afraid their bumbling at the train station will result in a long line of impatient people yelling at them and a ticket to the wrong place.

Our parent company, Ctrip, now has a new feature worth schilling to the masses, a comprehensive booking system with train schedules, all in English, and the tickets are the same price they would be at the station. (It’s illegal to make money off of train sales in China, so no mark-up.)

Without further ado, here are some of the essential weekend getaways from Shanghai, the ones you should do first before checking out the lesser-known cities near Shanghai.

Suzhou

Suggested Train:

G7078 leaves from Shanghai Railway Station (7:28pm) to Suzhou (8pm).

Price:

First class: RMB 59.50
Second class seat: RMB 39.50

Time:

32 minutes*

Why Visit?

Constantly referred to as the “Venice of the East,” Suzhou is most famous for its UNESCO World Heritage-listed classical gardens, ancient canals and stone bridges. While you shouldn’t expect a carbon copy of Venice, it’s one of the major tourist destinations close to Shanghai. You can still admire the picturesque waterways or stroll through its famous gardens including the Garden of the Master of Nets and the Lion Grove Garden. Alternatively, take a wander around the park surrounding Jinji Lake and do some people watching. It’s full of interesting statues which have become magnets for Chinese holiday snappers.

You might also like to check out Suzhou’s Gate to the East (Dōngfāng Zhīmén, 东方之门), also called the Weekend Getaways, on the east side of the lake near the Weekend Getaways. Intended to resemble a gateway, some say this large skyscraper looks more like a pair of pants. Trains between Shanghai and Suzhou depart from both Shanghai Railway Station and Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station and take between 23 and 45 minutes. Numerous trains run in both directions throughout the day and prices may vary slightly from those mentioned above depending on the train. To make the most of the weekend, we suggest choosing one departing Friday evening or early Saturday morning.

Choose this city if…

  • You’d like to pick up some decent quality silk handicrafts
  • You’re looking for an interesting and quick getaway not too far out of Shanghai
  • You enjoy classical gardens and can handle the weekend crowds

Nanjing

Suggested train:

G7104 from Shanghai Hongqiao (7pm) to Nanjing (8:39pm).

Price:

First class: RMB 219.50
Second class: RMB 139.50

Time:

1 hour, 39 minutes

Why visit Nanjing?

While it’s not at the top of everyone’s must-see-destinations in China, Nanjing certainly deserves a spot. The former Ming Dynasty and Republic of China capital is still surrounded by the remains of the Nanjing City Wall (some of the oldest and longest in the world) and offers other impressive historic monuments including the Mausoleum of Sun Yat-sen, the father of modern China, and the Ming Dynasty Tombs. The Memorial Hall of the Nanjing Massacre explores the “Rape of Nanking,” Zijin Shan (Purple Gold Mountain) looms up beside former imperial playground Xuanwu Lake next to the city center, meaning a natural getaway is just 15-30 minutes away. Stay near Gulou District (near the Drum Tower and Nanjing Metro Line 1 Gulou Station) for easy access to the best of the city.

Choose this city if….

  • You’re interested in Chinese history
  • You like relaxing in hot springs
  • You enjoy the city and the outdoors

Hangzhou

Suggested Train:

G7104 leaves from Shanghai Hongqiao (7pm) to Hangzhou (8:03pm).

Price:

First class seat: RMB 77.50
Second class seat: RMB 123.50

Time:

1 hour, 2 minutes

Why Visit?

“Hangzhou, the most beautiful and splendid city of the world.” That’s the standard Marco Polo quote people throw at you to convince you it’s a special place. There are several others I could reference that paint an equally flattering picture, but there are scholars who believe that the Venetian merchant/trader may not have even been to China. We’ve been to Hangzhou however, and can definitively tell you, “Hey, it’s not bad!”

Regardless of the hype, Hangzhou is a very relaxing place to spend a weekend; it’s definitely worth visiting at least once. It’s a tranquil and clean city, partly because motorbikes are banned from the downtown area. West Lake offers so many picturesque spots for capturing a single moment in time to share with friends and family back home who want to see somewhere that looks “Chinese.” You can also make your way to Lingyin Temple, or get some exercise climbing Baoshi Shan (Baoshi Hill) so you can see the Baochu Pagoda.

However the most enjoyable thing you can do is rent a bike around West Lake and simply take a casual ride around the lake, passing through Bai Causeway, and seeing it from every angle. Stop whenever there’s a sight worth savoring, a snack worth trying or if you just want to confirm the other quote about Hangzhou concerning beautiful women.

Choose this city if….

  • You don’t want to spend too much time on a train: It’s only a 1 hour trip!
  • You want to bike around a beautiful lake and appreciate the coming spring scenery
  • You just want to go somewhere quiet so you can think about the mysteries of life

Enjoy Your Shanghai Weekend Getaway!

So there you have it. Each city has something special about it to entice you to leave your comfort zone and see another aspect of China. While some expats in second and third tier cities will play their hipster card when declaring that Shanghai isn’t “real China”—a naïve concept about what constitutes typical China—beat them at their own game and use your weekends and Shanghai’s convenient location to see more of this country. Chances are, you might find a new weekend getaway to escape to when your office or classroom duties in Shanghai become too much. And at the very least, it can serve as a reminder why you chose to live in your Shanghai ivory tower in the first place.

If any of that sounds remotely intriguing, then check out the Ctrip trains page to plan your trip.

*Train times vary. For example, train G7418 from Shanghai to Nanjing (7:30pm) takes 1 hour and 15 minutes while train G7092 (7:50pm) takes 2 hours and 9 minutes. Back to top.

Our parent company, Ctrip, now has a new feature worth schilling to the masses, a comprehensive booking system with train schedules, all in English, and the tickets are the same price they would be at the station. (It’s illegal to make money off of train sales in China, so no mark-up.)

Without further ado, here are some of the essential weekend getaways from Shanghai, the ones you should do first before checking out the lesser-known cities near Shanghai.

Why Visit?

Constantly referred to as the “Venice of the East,” Suzhou is most famous for its UNESCO World Heritage-listed classical gardens, ancient canals and stone bridges. While you shouldn’t expect a carbon copy of Venice, it’s one of the major tourist destinations close to Shanghai. You can still admire the picturesque waterways or stroll through its famous gardens including the Garden of the Master of Nets and the Lion Grove Garden. Alternatively, take a wander around the park surrounding Jinji Lake and do some people watching. It’s full of interesting statues which have become magnets for Chinese holiday snappers.

You might also like to check out Suzhou’s Gate to the East (Dōngfāng Zhīmén, also called the Gate of the Orient, on the east side of the lake near the SRT Line 1 Dongfangzhimen Station. Intended to resemble a gateway, some say this large skyscraper looks more like a pair of pants. Trains between Shanghai and Suzhou depart from both Shanghai Railway Station and Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station and take between 23 and 45 minutes. Numerous trains run in both directions throughout the day and prices may vary slightly from those mentioned above depending on the train. To make the most of the weekend, we suggest choosing one departing Friday evening or early Saturday morning.

Choose this city if…

  • You’d like to pick up some decent quality silk handicrafts
  • You’re looking for an interesting and quick getaway not too far out of Shanghai
  • You enjoy classical gardens and can handle the weekend crowds

Nanjing

Why visit Nanjing?

While it’s not at the top of everyone’s must-see-destinations in China, Nanjing certainly deserves a spot. The former Ming Dynasty and Republic of China capital is still surrounded by the remains of the Nanjing City Wall (some of the oldest and longest in the world) and offers other impressive historic monuments including the Mausoleum of Sun Yat-sen, the father of modern China, and the Ming Dynasty Tombs. The Memorial Hall of the Nanjing Massacre explores the “Rape of Nanking,” Zijin Shan (Purple Gold Mountain) looms up beside former imperial playground Xuanwu Lake next to the city center, meaning a natural getaway is just 15-30 minutes away. Stay near Gulou District (near the Drum Tower and Nanjing Metro Line 1 Gulou Station) for easy access to the best of the city.

Choose this city if….

  • You’re interested in Chinese history
  • You like relaxing in hot springs
  • You enjoy the city and the outdoors

Hangzho

Why Visit?

“Hangzhou, the most beautiful and splendid city of the world.” That’s the standard Marco Polo quote people throw at you to convince you it’s a special place. There are several others I could reference that paint an equally flattering picture, but there are scholars who believe that the Venetian merchant/trader may not have even been to China. We’ve been to Hangzhou however, and can definitively tell you, “Hey, it’s not bad!”

Regardless of the hype, Hangzhou is a very relaxing place to spend a weekend; it’s definitely worth visiting at least once. It’s a tranquil and clean city, partly because motorbikes are banned from the downtown area. West Lake offers so many picturesque spots for capturing a single moment in time to share with friends and family back home who want to see somewhere that looks “Chinese.” You can also make your way to Lingyin Temple, or get some exercise climbing Baoshi Shan (Baoshi Hill) so you can see the Baochu Pagoda.

However the most enjoyable thing you can do is rent a bike around West Lake and simply take a casual ride around the lake, passing through Bai Causeway, and seeing it from every angle. Stop whenever there’s a sight worth savoring, a snack worth trying or if you just want to confirm the other quote about Hangzhou concerning beautiful women.

Choose this city if….

  • You don’t want to spend too much time on a train: It’s only a 1 hour trip!
  • You want to bike around a beautiful lake and appreciate the coming spring scenery
  • You just want to go somewhere quiet so you can think about the mysteries of life

Enjoy Your Shanghai Weekend Getaway!

So there you have it. Each city has something special about it to entice you to leave your comfort zone and see another aspect of China. While some expats in second and third tier cities will play their hipster card when declaring that Shanghai isn’t “real China”—a naïve concept about what constitutes typical China—beat them at their own game and use your weekends and Shanghai’s convenient location to see more of this country. Chances are, you might find a new weekend getaway to escape to when your office or classroom duties in Shanghai become too much. And at the very least, it can serve as a reminder why you chose to live in your Shanghai ivory tower in the first place.

If any of that sounds remotely intriguing, then check out the Ctrip trains page to plan your trip.

*Train times vary. For example, train G7418 from Shanghai to Nanjing (7:30pm) takes 1 hour and 15 minutes while train G7092 (7:50pm) takes 2 hours and 9 minutes. Back to top.