Recommended destinations for January

Writer: Chen Xiaochun  |  Editor: Stephanie Yang  |  From: Shenzhen Daily 

The first calendar month means the year's first extended vacation for most people living on the Chinese mainland with the coming of the Chinese Lunar New Year and the Spring Festival. If you are thinking about marking these holidays with a good trip but haven’t figured out where to go yet, here are some recommended domestic destinations.

Longyan, Fujian

Fujian Province is most widely known for the island city of Xiamen, coastal county of Xiapu and the scenic Wuyi Mountain, but it still possesses another understated destination of idyllic charm and small crowds perfect for visiting in January. It’s the low-key-yet-expansive cherry blossom fields of the small town of Yongfu in Longyan City, which is nicknamed Fujian’s backyard.

Every year around January and March, the cherry blossoms open one after another. And the good news is that you don’t need to buy a ticket to enjoy this picturesque scenery; entry is free for all.

At a comparable site at Wuhan University in Hubei Province, there are nearly 1,000 cherry trees of dozens of species. Fujian’s Yongfu Cherry Garden outdoes this with 100,000 cherry trees of 42 species. Another feature of Yongfu Cherry Garden is that it’s home to over 33 square kilometers of tea plantations with over 100 cherry trees lining the paths leading into the fields of fragrant tealeaf crops.

There’s always something in-bloom here thanks to the different varieties of cherry blossoms. The blooming of the first blossoms comes in January, and the last of the blossoms will remain till the end of March. To experience the embrace of a mountain of cherry blossoms, don’t forget Yongfu.

Apart from cherry blossoms, Longyan is home to the world renowned Yongding Tulou, which was listed as a World Heritage Site in 2008 and was featured in the animated film “Big Fish and Begonia.” Tulou are large, circular residential estates of traditional Hakka culture.

Chongqing

Chongqing hotpot has established its global allure in recent years, attracting many tourists to get a taste of its unique spiciness. In addition to this famous favored dish, the mountainous city on the Yangtze River in Southwest China has still more to offer.

Evening scenes in Chongqing are resplendent with urban and natural beauty. The city’s unique geography has made it famous in China and overseas. The city was built on the side of Xiaobashan Mountain with two rivers converging at its foot. From the top of the mountain, you can not only enjoy the charming natural atmosphere by day but also the wonderful city lights by night.

Hongya Cave is another nice vantage point where you can enjoy a view of the two rivers and taste local delicacies. Once a military fortress from the ancient Ba State (1046-256B.C.) to the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties, Hongya Cave was also the site of the earliest and most-developed pier in ancient China. Housing a large-scale stilt complex built alongside a steep cliff on the bank of Jialing River, it has become a popular destination for experiencing Bayu culture.

Once a common way for residents to get around in the mountainous city, the nearby Yangtze River Cableway has also developed into a must-visit attraction for tourists to Chongqing.

Lugu Lake, Yunnan

“A pure land” and “an idyllic land of peace” are all impressions left by Lugu Lake upon the people who have been lucky enough to visit here.

Lugu Lake, located at the boundary of Southwest China’s Sichuan Province and Yunnan Province, is called a women’s land. It carries on the “walking marriage” tradition that makes this community marketable as a lakeside love haven. The Mosuo tradition allows very loose marital bonds based on mutual affection, in which partners can live separately and the mother or the mother’s family take care of the children.

The lake is thought to have formed when a geological fault occurred during the Late Cenozoic Era 66 million years ago. The lake is surrounded by mountains and has five islands, four peninsulas, 14 bays and 17 beaches.

The third-deepest freshwater lake in China, Lugu Lake is shaped like a horse’s hoof — long from north to south and narrow from east to west. The vista of the lake changes constantly throughout the day. The morning mist mixed with the light of the rising sun gives it an orange glow at daybreak. Later in the day, when the sunlight causes the hills to throw their shadows onto the water, Lugu Lake takes on a jade-green tint.

Macao

The climate of Macao is subtropical with very mild winters and hot, rainy, muggy summers. Winter in Macao lasts from December to February. January is the coldest month for the special administrative region with an average temperature of 14.6 degrees Celsius, warm enough for most people from North China.

Macao consists of three parts: the Macao Peninsula, the island of Taipa and Coloane. Sai Van Bridge, Aodang Bridge and the Bridge of Friendship connect the historic and modern charms residing at the different parts of this unique city.

On the Macao Peninsula you will encounter different cultural and historic sites including the Ruins of St. Paul’s Cathedral, Fortaleza do Monte and Macao Rose Hall.

Taipa on the other hand, presents a totally different look. On this island sit different luxurious hotels including the well-known Venetian Macao. The all-night-lighting casinos and the resplendent and magnificent hotel halls together with the super modern shopping malls interpret another side to Macao for visitors.