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September 27, 2011

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Where to trip out for National Day

THE National Day holiday is the golden week for travel in the still-warm autumn, the last chance to get away before cold weather closes in. Many spots are especially beautiful in the fall. Chen Ye suggests a few.

Crowds will be leaving the city over the National Day holiday, and it's hard to get away from the crowds wherever you go.

Still, there are lovely escapes, both near and far.

Piaomiao Peak Scenic Zone

Suzhou, Jiangsu Province

Piaomiao Peak on West Hill near Tai Lake is a famous tourist destination, with unspoiled forests and meandering streams.

The peak, just 336 meters above sea level, is cloaked in swirling mists all year, hence its name - piaomiao means misty and dim. It has a fantasy land look and is the highest of many mountains near the lake.

There are many scenic spots and places to hike and climb. The Tai Lake West Hill National Geological Park offers a 10-kilometer-long path around the mountain and a 5-kilometer-long hiking and climbing route.

Both are excellent for exercise and sightseeing. Around 20 scenic spots include the famous Water Moon Guanyin (Bodhisattva), Shuiyue Buddhism Temple, Lucky Vow Pool, Wu'ai Spring, Ziqing Temple and Tablet Gallery.

The watch-station at the summit offers spectacular panoramic views and is considered the best place to appreciate Tai Lake itself.

The area offers accommodation, entertainment, dining, cultural and educational activities.

Location: Piaomiao Peak Scenic Zone, Tai Lake West Hill National Geological Park, Suzhou

Admission: 80 yuan

How to get there: Take a fast-speed train from Shanghai to Suzhou, then transfer to buses No. 58 or No. 69 near the railway station.

White Dragon Pond

Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province

The area is more than 95 percent forest and is a natural "oxygen bar" in the Hangzhou, capital city of Zhejiang Province.

There are waterfalls, deep pools, streams, soaring cliffs and gigantic rocks.

White Dragon Pond actually refers to the waterfall that pours into the pond - it's the highest waterfall in Hangzhou and the foaming water rushing down from cliffs looks like a white dragon.

Folk tales about dragons abound and there are also a dragon gate, dragon fountain and all things dragon.

It is a famous spot for Buddhists who go there to make a wish; some say it's a lucky spot.

It's also the place to purchase excellent quality Dragon Well (Longjing) tea at a comparatively lower price than is charged elsewhere in the area, which is famous for tea.

Location: 15km from Hangzhou downtown in the West Lake Longwu Scenic Zone

Admission: 60 yuan

How to get there: Take a high-speed train or expressway bus from Shanghai to Hangzhou, then take buses K504 or No. 308 near the train station.


Zhejiang Province

Quzhou is the famous "gateway" among Zhejiang, Jiangxi, Fujian and Anhui provinces. The city has abundant tourist facilities.

It contains the imposing Ancestral Temple of the Southern Confucius Clan, Lanke Mountain, Dragon Gate and other features.

Quzhou is said to be the birthplace of Chinese chess, known as go (weiqi).

Lanke Mountain, 10km southeast to Quzhou, is said to be the exact place it was invented.The 164-meter-high mountain, also known as Shishi Mountain, 10 kilometers southeast of Quzhou City, is known as "weiqi fairyland." From a distance, the mountain looks like a giant stone bridge.

A ropeway is situated between two peaks. It's 800 meters long and 1,000 meters above sea level. It's a great place for a view.

In a special area tourists can also get close to wild monkeys, take photos and feed them.

Location: Quzhou, Zhejiang Province

Admission to Lanke Mountain: 20 yuan (10 yuan for kids)

How to get there: Take Huhang (Shanghai-Hangzhou) Expressway and exit at the Quzhou East.

Lugu Lake

Lijiang, Yunnan Province

Beautiful Lugu Lake is nestled high in the Himalayas at 2,690 meters above sea level and straddles Yunnan and Sichuan provinces. The border runs through the middle of the lake surrounded by cliffs and mountains.

Leaves are now turning brilliant amber, orange and red, while evergreens are vividly green. The lake and sky are intensely blue. The mountains are snow-capped.

A hike around the 48-square-kilometer lake usually takes three days and the scenery is spectacular. A bus trip around the lake takes six to eight hours.

The villagers nearby are Mosuo and Naxi minority people who go about their daily work clad in colorful ethnic clothes. The Muo have a matriarchal marriage system, called zou hun or "walking marriage."

A visit to a Mosuo village is recommended. The Mosuo people are considered mysterious because they are usually shunned from the public attention and their traditions and customs are very ethnic and exotic.

Location: Between Yanyuan County of Sichuan Province's Liangshan Yi Ethnic Prefecture and Ninglang Yi Ethnic Prefecture County of Yunnan Province's Lijiang City.

Admission: 80 yuan (40 yuan for people aged over 60 years and students; free for kids under 1.3 meters)

How to get there: Take a flight from Shanghai to Lijiang and Lugu Lake is 280km from the city.


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