Stories about leisure travel in Hong Kong, China, Asia, and around the world.

How ‘China’s Hawaii’ thrived without international tourists
China has long had high hopes for international tourism in Hainan. In 2009, plans to transform the tropical island province into a desirable overseas destination by 2020 were announced. “But 2020 has arrived and failure to fulfill the island’s potential has not been for want of Beijing’s support,” reported the South China Morning Post in October. Not that Hainan has lacked in visitors. According to the Chinese tabloid the Global Times, “More than 83 million tourists from home and abroad visited southern China’s tropical island province of Hainan in 2019, up 9% year on year.” Tourism revenue also increased, rising 11% to US$16.2 billion, although noticeably absent from the article was the br
Pandemic fuels an RV boom in China
2020 is the year many Chinese people rediscovered the plethora of travel opportunities within their borders.  The global coronavirus pandemic created strict border controls in China, but the ability of the country to contain the virus has allowed people within China to live a reasonably normal life for the past six months.  And as Chinese people look toward domestic tourism to scratch that travel fix, a small but growing number has been taking the road less traveled, and RVs are suddenly a popular transportation mode. “We took in the Great Wall, Miaofeng Mountain and the Fragrant Hills,” says Zhou Ziyan who, for around US$140 a day, booked an RV in October. The Beijinger and her boyfriend s
Kyoto is not necessarily clamoring for the return of Chinese tourists
The coronavirus might have curtailed international travel from China, but it hasn’t stopped what the United Nations World Tourism Organization identified as “the leading tourism outbound market in the world both in departure numbers as well as total expenditure” from wanting to explore beyond the nation’s borders.  In lieu of real-life expeditions, they have been making do with tours of popular destinations, including the Palace of Versailles, in France, and London’s British Museum, live-streamed by travel companies. On November 9, Alibaba’s travel platform Fliggy joined forces with the West Japan Railway Company (JR West) to “bring popular tourist attractions in Kyoto online to Chinese neti
What you need to know before you grab that bargain travel deal
Is it time to plan for when the world will be open for travel again? The global Covid-19 pandemic has effectively put the aviation industry into hibernation, with travel restrictions and quarantine requirements around the world.  Eager for crucial cash flow, airlines are producing some very tempting deals for anyone who has got the stomach to book ahead. Here’s what you need to know. How low will prices go? For the rest of 2020, demand for flights is impossible to predict. When, where and how travel restrictions will be lifted in the short term is anyone’s guess. But for those happy to make plans slightly further into the future, there are already some very low prices being offered for long
Tourism is coming back in China, but not all destinations are equal
The Labor Day holiday in China provided a short but appreciated rebound for the tourism and travel industry in the country.  The five-day holiday period had been anticipated as a barometer of consumer confidence, with the authorities pinning their hopes on the festivities to unleash people’s purchasing power and help reignite an economy in the doldrums. Although far lower than a year ago, domestic tourism revenue from this year’s holiday (May 1 to May 5) almost quadrupled from the previous public holiday, which was the Ching Ming Festival from April 4 to April 6. People who had been cooped up at home because of measures to contain the coronavirus leapt at the opportunity to get away for a fe
‘Kingdoms of women’: how modernity threatens Asia’s female-centric societies
While women’s rights may have become a major topic of discussion around the world in recent years, there are female-centric communities that for centuries have distinguished themselves by carving out their own feminist traditions in places such as China, India and Indonesia. But many of these matriarchal and matrilineal societies are now struggling to survive, amid threats posed by the modern world such as mass tourism, technology and the infiltration of ideas from mainstream patriarchal society. In China, for instance, there is a small Mosuo tribe known as the “kingdom of women.”. “Key to the Mosuo culture is their matrilineal family structure, with a basic building block of only members sh
Here are some tips to find China’s hidden travel gems
The United States sends the most tourists to China, and almost all of them go to Beijing. Tibet is high on many bucket lists, but few Western tourists ever actually visit. China virtually empties of Western tourists during November, December and January. These are some of the takeaways from the third annual report on popular travel destinations in China by The China Guide, a travel agency in Beijing that develops customized tours for travelers from the US, Germany, France, Spain, Britain, Canada, Australia and elsewhere. What immediately stands out from the report – compiled from surveys of 2,300 travelers from across the globe – is that Beijing dominates almost every foreign traveler’s iti
Will tourists in China wake up to mobile payments?
Last week, China’s main payment apps, Tencent’s WeChat Pay and Ant Financial’s Alipay, opened their mobile payment systems to a demographic that had previously been left out: international tourists.  In China, mobile payments are used to pay for almost everything from $0.25 steamed buns at a takeout joint to sending prisoners money, highlighting the huge gap that exists between this system and the payment habits of 140 million annual tourists from overseas, who may be more used to cash or credit cards. Inkstone is owned by Alibaba, whose affiliate Ant Financial operates Alipay.  But will providing access be enough to convert tourists to start scanning QR codes?  How does mobile payments work