Lyn Tan talks family holidays in China with Lin Kuang, Director of China National Tourist Organisation.
My ideal family holiday is… relaxing on Hainan Island with my wife and baby boy. Hainan is a beautiful island with white sandy beaches and we enjoy watersports including swimming, rowing and speed boat tours. We also enjoy walking through the island’s amazing tropical rainforest and visiting islanders’ homes which feature unique ethnic characteristics not found on the mainland.
My fondest family holiday memory in China is… a journey to West Lake, Hangzhou, Zhejiang, in July 2002. We rented two bicycles, rode in the twilight, stopped at various spots to take in the breathtaking views. I would say that to witness the beauty of West Lake is most of the Chinese people’s dream.
My favourite Chinese dishes are… Well, I don’t have one in particular – I like all of them! Chinese food has a long history behind it. There are many different styles of Chinese food and they all have their own unique flavours, which I enjoy. Every city throughout China has its own specialty dishes, be it hot and spicy Sichuan dishes, tasty Beijing roast duck or light and delicate dishes from southeast of China. They are all amazing and I encourage travellers to try as much of it as possible.
Most travellers to China are not aware of … the uniqueness of the hutongs (narrow alleys) in Beijing – it is truly a special feature that is unique to Beijing. From the ever-bending hutongs, one has the opportunity to gain many insights into the traditional and well-preserved oriental cultures of the locals, and learn about the real and ordinary lives of the people of Beijing.
Every visitor to China should experience… winter in northeast China (comprised of the provinces of Lianing, Jilin and Heilongjiang). Once home to several nomadic tribes including the Manchus, today it boasts great ski slopes and the annual Ice and Snow Festival where families can see intricately carved out ice sculptures.
My top tip travelling with kids in China… especially first timers travelling with kids between ten to 16, is to interact with the locals as much as possible to fully understand the local way of life. China is a country with a long history of civilization. When planning your China holiday, consider visiting some middle schools in different cities to allow the children to mingle. There are also home-stay arrangements that give visitors the opportunity to experience the daily lives of the local Chinese people.