Yangshuo, China

The picturesque city of Yangshuo sits along the Li and Yulong Rivers.  It’s a 2.5hr flight Southwest of Beijing and 1.5 hours due west of Hong Kong, in the mountains of the Guangxi province.  To get to Yangshuo, travelers fly through Guilin airport and then it is about an hour and a half drive to any resort.

Words can’t really describe how stunning this area is;  The juxtaposition of the river and the very dramatic skinny and tall mountains is really extraordinary.  Yangshuo felt like “true China” —  It was difficult to converse with anyone (even those working in the hotels) and poverty and the restrictions of the Chinese government were very apparent.  It also felt very much like a “mountain vacation” within the trip, which was really refreshing.

We stayed at The Banyan Tree Yangshuo, a mountain resort with multi-bedroom villas as well as hotel rooms.  The rooms are large and well very appointed, and I loved the centerpiece of the room– the oversized soaking tub.  This resort has lots of activities to keep a family busy without ever having to leave the property; bicycles, a kids center, gym, Bamboo River Rafts, yoga classes, two restaurants (and the best buffet breakfast of our trip), two bars, a large infinity pool overlooking the Li River, specially scheduled activities such as fan painting, and my daughter’s personal favorite– lots of fish to feed in the resort ponds!

The resort was amazing, but venturing out into the city proved to be one of our most favorite days on the trip.  We left the resort that morning for a short drive to the local primary school.  Here, my daughter was able to see children her age and during our short visit she taught them a little English and they taught her a little Mandarin.  We were the first Americans to ever visit this school and the children were very curious about my daughter’s blond hair and blue eyes!

After the visit to the school, we headed on to a farm house where we met a local farmer and saw his gardens.  We were able to pick fresh fruits and vegetables, wash them with water from the well, and then watch him cook in his home for us.  We spent the next few hours dining with him, drinking his homemade Rice Wine (not sure if I recommend this!), and eating the most delicious Chinese food I think I have ever had.  The farmer spoke absolutely not a word of English, but the connection and memories transcended the language barrier!

We left Yangshuo after two quick nights and it was truly a great experience.  I can’t stress the stay at Banyan Tree enough though, with the difficulty of conversing and rural nature of Yangshuo, having the Banyan Tree as a home base made this stop on the trip extra special.


Starting the trip- Beijing!

Now that I am finally clearing out of Jet Lag, I wanted to start my series of posts on our trip to Asia last month.

This trip was in the works for over a year, after being rescheduled from its original dates in September 2017, we finally embarked on our journey March 8th; flying directly from Dallas to Beijing on American Airlines.  After having traveled with my daughter since birth, I was eager to take her on an international trip before she began Kindergarten.  Which I’m not sure if that makes me a cool mom or completely insane?

Between securing visas, booking the 6 flight segments, 2 ferry tickets, and 7 hotels, I’m so glad I had the guidance and help of Remote Lands, a destination management company for all of Asia.  Remote Lands secured all of our amazing private tours for us during our trip and also gave recommendations for all of the “pieces of the puzzle” to this journey.

Flying directly to Beijing from Dallas is about a 14 hour flight with a 14 hour time difference, and this flight departs daily.  We departed at 2:20PM on the 8th and arrived in Beijing at 4:20PM on the 9th.  Once we arrived, cleared customs and immigration, a BMW Sedan from the Peninsula Hotel was waiting for us with water, warm towels, and assistance with our luggage.

Downtown Beijing is slightly less than an hour drive from the airport.  Upon arrival at the Peninsula, we were warmly greeted by the staff carrying gifts for my daughter and inviting us to take a welcome photo at their Grand Staircase.  I loved how they had all of the details ready to take us directly to our room, bypassing check in (and after a long flight and a car ride, we were certainly ready to just relax).

Once in our room, honestly you don’t really want to leave the Peninsula.  The room is so well appointed, the staff is so friendly– it was the perfect start to this amazing trip!

When walking into the 700 square foot Deluxe King Suite (this is just above the lead in category for this all-suite hotel), directly to your right is a large walk-in closet/dressing area, with Makeup lighting and a small stool.  Past the dressing room/closet is the living area/work station.  The living area is quite large and has a pull out sofa and small dining table.  The work station comes completely stocked with everything you might need, from paperclips and post-it notes to a fax machine and printer.

Two hideaway doors separate the living area from the Master Bedroom where you will find a king bed with luxury linens and a gorgeous bathroom, complete with a large soaking tub, separate shower, two vanities, and a very “zen” vibe.  My favorite things about this room?  All of the details.  From the amazing high-tech features (the volume of the TVs turn down when the phone rings!) to the Valet Box that guests can fill with items that need laundering or shoes that need shining, press a button, and voila!– the items leave and return without disturbing the guest.

On to the city of Beijing- in our short two nights in the city we unfortunately did not do a lot of exploring on our own, however, we did see the highlights: The Great Wall, the Forbidden City, and, of course, trying the famous Peking Duck.  We chose to take a “Chair Lift” to the top of the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall and then bobsled down- super fun, but I will say it didn’t seem like the safest bobsled I’ve ever encountered (I will be honest, I haven’t encountered many!).

After our tour (the Mutianyu section of the great wall is about 1.5 hours from Beijing, so it was about a 6 hour excursion with lunch), we had dinner at 1949- a restaurant in Beijing famous for Peking Duck.  Chinese food in this area is very heavy, lots of oils incorporated into their cooking so it wasn’t my favorite place we dined at during our trip, but it seemed like the thing to do.

While we were at dinner, I think my daughter was the one who had the real fun- the Peninsula set up a movie night for her in their Beijing Suite (which has a private movie theater built in).  Truly, they went all out with the decor, snacks, and more to make her feel so welcome.   I could go on and on about how amazing this hotel is– but I hope you will see for yourself!

The Forbidden City was fascinating and an easy tour before our internal flight to Yangshuo.  I love how our guide, Crystal, was able to point out details about the architecture and history that we would likely have never learned on a group tour.  The Forbidden City was about a 10 minute drive from our hotel, we did about a 1 hour tour, then on to the airport for a 12:30PM flight.

Next up: Yangshuo, China!