Launch pad Overshadowed on the tourist itinerary by Sanya and even Haikou, the city of Wenchang is known (at least locally) as the cultural capital of Hainan Island. It is also notable for being home to China’s latest and most advanced rocket-launching facility, which is expected to be the take-off site for the nation’s much-anticipated lunar exploration programme. When or how often rockets will be going up is unclear, but the new and nearby 439-room Hilton Wenchang (above) – the city’s first international hotel – is promising that guests will have “great visibility of the rocket launches” when they do. Most of a handful of opening offers are aimed at only Hilton HHonors members, who will receive double points for stays from now until February 28. You can get to the hotel’s website via hilton.com, or, more quickly, Google. This is the fifth Hilton property to open on Hainan Island, and is best reached from Haikou Airport, rather than from Sanya. With five restaurants and bars, outdoor pools and beaches nearby, it should be a good base for an unusual short break if you have already done the “Hawaii of the East” thing over in Sanya. Note, though, that the Kids’ Club and Spa will not be open until early December. Hong Kong Airlines and Dragonair both fly to Haikou daily.
One for the road Guidebook publisher Trailblazer has just released The Cyclist’s Anthology, which contains the work of a wide range of literary figures and cycling personalities. From 19th-century America to 21st-century Asia, readers are encouraged and inspired to take to the road on two wheels by the likes of Mark Twain, Eric Newby, Ernest Hemingway, E.M. Forster, J.G. Ballard and Bradley Wiggins. As noted in the introduction, the bicycle has long been one of the best modes of transport for immersing oneself in foreign cultures, and “a self-sufficient method of carrying our own little world wherever we wish to explore, to bond with companions or meet new friends”. The Cyclist’s Anthology is available from trailblazer-guides.com or amazon.co.uk.
Deal of the week Tiglion Travel is selling a two-night package to Chiang Mai, in northern Thailand, which offers a free third night at selected hotels, including the Mercure Chiang Mai (from HK$3,390), 137 Pillars House (above; from HK$5,590) and Dhara Dhevi (formerly the Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi, from HK$6,690). Plenty of other hotels and resorts are on offer with this package, which will be available until the end of next month, but these three seem the best value overall. Prices include economy-class flights with Dragonair, round-trip airport transfers in Chiang Mai and daily breakfast at most properties. For full details and reservations, go to tiglion.com.