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Capital of China, as well as its political and cultural center, Beijing was the seat of the Ming and Qing Dynasties until the formation of the republic in 1911. This bustling city is known for its many famous landmarks and attractions, including Tian'anmen Square, the world's largest public square; "Bird's Nest" stadium, the symbol of the city's 2008 Summer Olympics; the Forbidden City's Imperial Palace; the Summer Palace; Sacred Way of the Ming Tombs; Peking Opera; and the nearby iconic Great Wall.
Monograms provides travelers access to a Local Host®, so you will have someone on hand to answer those vacation questions pertaining to Beijing. No waiting in line at the concierge desk or trying to ask your waitress at breakfast directions to the shopping district. Simply ask your Local Host about Beijing and you'll be on your way in no time. Plus, your Local Host will share local Beijing insights and share suggestions for getting off the beaten path, leaving you more time to create lasting vacation memories that are yours alone.
My name is Snow, but I am always warm-hearted and have a very pleasant personality.
Don’t let the graffiti-lined alleys dissuade you; you’ll want to try succulent Peking duck in Beijing, and Li Qun is the place to do it. This family-run eatery is authentic, casual, and less expensive than many other recommended Peking duck sites. And you’ll find yourself immersed in Beijing as you head through its back streets on the way to dinner.
Whether you want to find designer clothing knock-offs or you just want an entertaining afternoon, a visit to this market is recommended. The bustle and searching is part of the fun, as is the bargaining. In fact, you’re expected to haggle and should never take the first (and probably second, and third…) price offered.
For a locally inspired shopping experience, visit this market near Guang Hui Bridge. Don Jiao’s has everything from Chinese porcelain, produce, and flowers to electronics and home furnishings. If you walk past a big red gate, peek inside for more shopping. This is a very local experience, one that tourists usually miss. Only cash is accepted.
Despite its name, this bar has nothing to do with “Star Wars.” Instead, it’s a replica of the lively 1930s Shanghai bar from “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.” The first floor boasts several red sofas and large, square, black and white tables, while the second floor is a café/bar indoor lounge. There’s also a rooftop deck. On Thursdays, the chef serves a 3-course menu tied to the theme of the movie playing that night. Club Obiwan is cash-only.
Make sure you experience a traditional tea ceremony before you leave Beijing. It’s an opportunity to soak in centuries of history at the same time you relax with a soothing cup. Zhang Yiyuan has earned a reputation over many decades as a purveyor of quality teas, and the building is made up of seven private rooms, offering diverse environs.
Very popular among locals, D-22 showcases local punk and experimental music groups and artists. Expand your horizons with some true local sounds. D-22 is closed Mondays, and they only accept cash.
Located in the northeastern part of Beijing, Yong He Lama Temple is one of the largest Lamasery temples outside Tibet. Besides the magnificent buildings with both Chinese and Tibetan styles, the temple also had a number of priceless collections of Buddhist treasures, including a standing 26-meter high statue of Buddha Sakyamuni carved out of a single sandalwood tree.
If you are interested in trying the local cuisine of Beijing, Li Family Restaurant is one of the best choices. The restaurant used to serve only one table of customers every day, but things have changed due to the expansion of the restaurant. However, they still only cook for 50 or so customers with dinner reservations each day.
One of China's most beautiful areas, Guilin is famous for its surrounding limestone mountains rising from the green plains up into the mist. Leisurely cruises along the Li River showcase the mystical atmosphere, revealing rice paddies, grazing water buffalo, and local fishermen using trained cormorants as a traditional fishing method. Popular activities include a stop at a local tea farm to sample tea and see a tea-making demonstration, and a visit to Reed Flute Cave with its mesmerizing stalactite and stalagmite formations.
Monograms provides travelers access to a Local Host®, so you will have someone on hand to answer those vacation questions pertaining to Guilin. No waiting in line at the concierge desk or trying to ask your waitress at breakfast directions to the shopping district. Simply ask your Local Host® about Guilin and you'll be on your way in no time. Plus, your Local Host® will share local Guilin insights and share suggestions for getting off the beaten path, leaving you more time to create lasting vacation memories that are yours alone.
As a young girl in the picturesque city of Guilin, I graduated from the Guilin Tourism Institute and have worked as a tour guide ever since. With my kindness, honesty, and easy-going personality, I have brought wonderful experiences to my guests. Relax in Guilin and enjoy the spectacular scenery on the Li River. My tours will definitely make your stay a more pleasant one.
Situated on the eastern side of the Li River this is the largest park in Guilin and is named for its seven peaks which resemble the Big Dipper constellation. Take some time to walk through this tranquil space with its crystal water, caves and beautiful rock formations.
Located steps from the Sheraton Guilin this pedestrian is a great place to mix with the locals. Here you will find a wide range of restaurants, tea houses, and shops. The area really comes alive at night so it makes a great place to enjoy dinner.
Excuse the name, the only thing that they have in common is that this restaurant is also very popular and usually crowded. It specializes in food from the northern areas of China where wheat noodles and dumplings are served more often than rice. The relaxed environment and service have helped it become one of the most well-known restaurants in Guilin.
Situated on the southeast coastline of China, vibrant Hong Kong is an important East Asia hub and one of the country's most exciting multicultural cities. Known for its dynamic skyline, no visit to Hong Kong is complete without riding a cable car up Victoria Peak for incredible panoramic views. Other memorable attractions: a sampan ride on the harbor at the Aberdeen fishing village; beautiful Lantau Island's Giant Buddha, the world's tallest outdoor seated bronze Buddha; stops at Stanley Market and the ancient Bird Market; and Man Mo Temple, the oldest Taoist temple in the city.
Monograms provides travelers access to a Local Host®, so you will have someone on hand to answer those vacation questions pertaining to Hong Kong. No waiting in line at the concierge desk or trying to ask your waitress at breakfast directions to the shopping district. Simply ask your Local Host® about Hong Kong and you'll be on your way in no time. Plus, your Local Host® will share local Hong Kong insights and share suggestions for getting off the beaten path, leaving you more time to create lasting vacation memories that are yours alone.
The name isn’t entirely accurate—there are closer to 13,000 Buddha statues in the temple, as well as countless, larger ones lining the steps to the temple. They come in all shapes, sizes, and sorts—with one even riding a giant blue dog. There’s also a lovely 9-story pagoda beside the temple.
A dim sum restaurant serves a wide variety—often dozens—of small dishes and Luk Yu Tea House is perhaps the best place to dive in. Dumplings of all sorts are a typical dim sum offering, as are rice rolls, steamed meatballs and vegetables, spring rolls, and sweets. Try as many types as your appetite will allow, including something unusual.
The largest museum in the city, this is a wonderful place to learn about the cultural history of China. Visitor favorites include the colorful costumes of the Cantonese Opera Heritage Hall and the sculptures and early art of the T. T. Tsui Gallery.
You can make a quick escape from the city to this open-air restaurant, which floats in Jumbo Harbor. The menu is international, though mainly Eastern in focus. The ferry to get there is free, and the atmosphere is refreshing.
The gathering place for all things bird, you don’t have to be an ornithologist to enjoy a look around the Yuen Po Street Bird Garden. There are dozens of markets selling birds, cages of mahogany and teak, and bird feed. You can watch as purveyors use chopsticks to feed crickets and nectar to their birds. Or sit back and listen to the songs from the birds brought by the proud owners who are there just to hang out.
Immerse yourself in this park to get a piece of history and a taste of modern life at the same time. Once an imperial walled city, Kowloon contains many relics from those days as well as attractive gardens and pavilions in its eight sections. Rise early and you might get to see city elders practicing tai chi here.
There are numerous museums in the district, as well as Hong Kong’s famous Clock Tower, but the real reason to venture here is to see the city skyline. The lights and skyscrapers are on full display from Tsim Sha Tsui. As a bonus, the city puts on a laser-light show each night at 8 pm.
You may not want to step on stage, but you can have fun listening to the younger crowd getting their karaoke fix. You’ll hear hip hop in the front room when you enter, so step into the back for the karaoke. This is a popular spot for locals.
With dozens of beers on tap, you can sample a couple of local brews or perhaps find an old favorite from home or around the world. You’ll also find Wi-Fi access and American cuisine—in case you’re feeling a little homesick.
The name is a bit misleading, as people may no longer throw their “wish-paper” streamers into the tree. However, the home of the Lam Tsuen tree is still popular due to its history of inspiring people to literally lay out their dreams. You can now buy wish papers from vendors, write on them, and tie them to a rack at the site. There are also fortune-tellers nearby.
This bustling night market is open from 4 pm to midnight daily. Here you can find all types of bargains including casual clothes and curios. You'll also often see fortune-tellers and professional Chinese chess players. The market really picks up after 7 pm.
Over 1,300 years old, Lhasa is the capital of the Tibet autonomous region in China and Tibet's cultural, political, and religious center. Situated at 12,000 ft. above sea level, it lies next to the Lhasa River and offers beautiful scenery as well as historical monuments, religious sites, and shopping opportunities. Popular attractions include Potala Palace, the highest palace in the world, which was once the winter residence of the Dalai Lamas and the center of political and religious activities. Today, it houses sacred Buddhist items. The Jokhang Temple, built in the 7th century, is one of Tibet's most visited pilgrim spots. Also enjoy bargaining with the vendors on Bakhor Street.
A celebrated international metropolis and China's largest city, the "Paris of the East" is situated where the Yangtze empties into the East China Sea, and is a wonderful blend of old and new. British, French, American, German, and Russian influences left a permanent architectural mark on Shanghai and can be experienced along the Bund, the city's riverfront boulevard lined with historic buildings of varying architectural styles. Other major points of interest include tranquil Yu Yuan Gardens, a 400-year-old, quintessential Chinese garden; Jade Buddha Temple with its unique white jade carvings; the Oriental Pearl Tower, the highest observation decks in Asia; a Chinese acrobat show; and the world-famous Shanghai Museum.
Monograms provides travelers access to a Local Host®, so you will have someone on hand to answer those vacation questions pertaining to Shanghai. No waiting in line at the concierge desk or trying to ask your waitress at breakfast directions to the shopping district. Simply ask your Local Host® about Shanghai and you'll be on your way in no time. Plus, your Local Host® will share local Shanghai insights and share suggestions for getting off the beaten path, leaving you more time to create lasting vacation memories that are yours alone.
Located in the western part of Shanghai the famous Jade Buddha Temple makes for an interesting visit. Here you can see two stunning jade Buddha statues that were brought from Burma in 1882 by a monk named Huigen.
This huge space features a multitude of food and beverage, retail, entertainment, recreational, and residential facilities in restored “shikumen” houses, a form of traditional and unique architecture only found in Shanghai. It is a nice place to wander around for a bit.
Nanjing road was one of the first commercial streets that appeared in Shanghai after the city opened as a port to foreign trade about 150 years ago. For decades, it was one of the country’s largest commercial hubs. In the 1930s, Nanjing road claimed the reputation as the retail center in China, gathering almost all the most famous shops, many of which were established in the Qing Dynasty. Today, these century-old businesses continue to draw throngs of customers and despite the ups and downs in Shanghai’s history, Nanjing Road has not lost the reputation as China’s most bustling shopping street.
Established in 1849, this foreign concession was progressively expanded in the late 19th and early 20th centuries but ended in 1943. For much of the 20th century, this was the premier residential and retail district of Shanghai and despite rampant re-development over the last few decades, the area retains a distinct character, and is worth a visit.
This unpretentious Mediterranean restaurant on the ground floor overlooking West Nanjing Road features a low-lit bar area, coffee tables and a spacious dining area broken up into smaller, more intimate areas on the second floor. The menu focuses mainly on standard Italian and Greek dishes like pasta, pizzas, meat, seafood and desserts. Prices are on the higher side with appetizers ranging from 40 to 70 RMB but it is well worth it.
Ever wonder what Mexican food tastes like in China? Well, if so here is your chance! Located inside a three-story colonial building that dates from the '20s in the heart of the French Concession, Mi Tierra prides itself in serving the most authentic Mexican food in town. From the molcajete, costilla de lechon en mole verde, enchiladas and flautas, Chef Gabriela Fernandez takes extra care to make each dish her own.
Feast your eyes and stomach at this French restaurant opened by Paul Pairet. It is sure to satisfy even picky eaters with a menu of 250 French classics, while the location opposite the Oriental Pearl Tower offers guests a panoramic view of the Huangpu River. Try the foie gras and other beautifully presented dishes like short ribs, veal or potato gratin and enjoy yourself at one of the most chic places in town.
Known as "Old City God's Temple Market" to many you can spend some time strolling through the narrow lanes dotted with over 100 shops, restaurants, and China's Oldest Teahouse. This is a great place to people watch, grab a bite to eat, or do some shopping.
An old Chinese adage says, "Go to Shanghai to find a 100-year-old China; go to Beijing to find a 1000-year-old China; go to Xi'an and you will find a 3000-year-old China." Considered the "Cradle of China," Xi'an is among the four major ancient civilization capitals of the world (the others being Athens, Cairo, and Rome). Among the city's treasures: the world-famous legion of 2,000-year-old Terracotta Warriors; the ancient City Wall, dating back to the 14th century and the most complete city wall in the country; the opulent Bell and Drum Towers; and Big Goose Pagoda, one of the oldest structures in China.
Monograms provides travelers access to a Local Host®, so you will have someone on hand to answer those vacation questions pertaining to Xi'an. No waiting in line at the concierge desk or trying to ask your waitress at breakfast directions to the shopping district. Simply ask your Local Host® about Xi'an and you'll be on your way in no time. Plus, your Local Host® will share local Xi'an insights and share suggestions for getting off the beaten path, leaving you more time to create lasting vacation memories that are yours alone.
Hello, I am Cici Lee. I am called Li Qian in Chinese—meaning a pretty girl named Li. I was born in 1980 and graduated from Xi'an Foreign Language University. I majored in tourism and history and passed the highest level of the National English Test. I not only have a good command of English, but I also can express myself well enough in Japanese. By working hard and studying, I earned my Senior Grade Qualification Certificate as an English tour guide. Since graduating from college, I have been working in this industry, either as a Local Guide in Xi’an or as a National Guide in China. I have received a number of good comments from my guests from various English-speaking countries.
My guiding experience includes many groups from the US, and I also worked for some special guests. For example, I worked as the local guide for President Song Chuyu of the Democratic Party from Taiwan and as a National Guide for the Group of Global Young Leaders Summit in China. I enjoy working to make my guests’ stay in Xi'an a pleasant and memorable one with my friendliness, sense of humor, and knowledge on my hometown—Xi’an and China.
Located a couple of miles south of the city, the Big Wild Goose Pagoda is the emblem of Xi’an and was built to house Buddhist scriptures that were brought back from India. Part of the larger Da’Cien Temple complex this pavilion-like pagoda with arched portals on each floor is a masterpiece of Buddhist architecture with a distinct Chinese style. Two stele (stone slabs) with "the preface to the Sacred Religion" written by the famous Tang calligrapher Chu Suiliang are set into the walls on the either side of the south door of the pagoda. The pagoda was also the site where many Confucius intellectuals who had passed the imperial examinations put down their poems.
The Forest of Stele has a fantastic collection of carved stele (stone or wooden slabs). Founded in 1090 AD during the Song Dynasty the museum now displays over 2,000 carved stele in seven different exhibition halls. There are so many in fact that the word “forest” was added to the museums name! Here you can see magnificent works from dynasties spanning the last 900 years. The museum is located near the south gate of the Xi’an City Wall.
This huge restaurant offers traditional Dumpling Banquets which Xi’an is so well known for. Each banquet features nearly 20 different dumplings stuffed and cooked using a delicious assortment of vegetables, meats, and seafood. All the dumplings are handmade so each and every one is different. The restaurant consists of four floors. For less intimate dining enjoy fast food style dumplings on the 1st floor or take a seat in the huge dining hall on the 2nd floor. For a more personal experience dine in one of the private rooms on the 3rd and 4th floors.
Located close to Confucius Temple in old Xi’an this market focuses on the “Four Treasures of Study” which consist of the brush, ink, paper, and ink stone. Here you will find a variety of arts and crafts ranging from paintings to calligraphy. This is a great place to pick up a few souvenirs of your journey.
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