Tourists hit the road
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China's travel market continues to develop at a rapid rate, with more hotels and tour operators offering novel ways to explore the mainland's natural and manmade wonders. The niche trips aim to tap the growing global trend for bespoke travel experiences at all budget levels.
The Opposite House in Beijing (www.theoppositehouse.com) has teamed up with travel company Beijing Sideways (www.beijingsideways.com) to launch its Beijing Sidecar Package in which guests explore the capital from the vantage point of a motorbike sidecar. Single guests can opt for a one-night stay, breakfast and a four-hour customised sidecar ride for 2,900 yuan (HK$3,500), while two guests can partake of the same package for 3,700 yuan, one of the guests sitting behind the driver.
Lien Enwei, manager of The Opposite House Hotel, says he hopes the package will be a unique experience and create memories for his guests. 'The motorbike stops easily whenever necessary, and allows guests to get close to the city,' he says.
'Guests can make the most of their time off without getting stuck in traffic. Plus it's super fun.'
Of course there are difficulties with this mode of sightseeing, such as the weather and roadside pollution, but on good days the customised trips mean guests can see hidden sides of the city.
'If the guests are foodies, we could take them to the hutongs to try traditional food or take part in a cooking class or wine tasting,' Lien says. 'If the guests are into culture and history, we would suggest a cruise around Houhai, Gulou, Nanluo Guxiang and the Opera House, then have a magical stop at the Forbidden City Gate, opening a chilled bottle of Champagne.'
For travellers wanting to get even closer to the ground, Bike China Adventures (http://bikechina.com) offers a 2,400-kilometre cycling trip across the Tibetan Plateau, plus a range of other scheduled itineraries or the option of a fully customised adventure.
There are also options for tourists who prefer the comfort of a fully closed vehicle.
On the Road in China (www.ontheroadinchina.com), which is based in Hong Kong and run by former racing driver Peter Schindler, has a number of trips for individuals or small groups that have a sense of adventure but also enjoy a degree of luxury. Drivers can be arranged or travellers can self-drive the 4x4 vehicles.