As a major development ASIA Inspirations has launched services in four new destinations, collectively known as Northeast Asia. This diverse region comprises the countries of Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Mongolia offing a wealth of historical, cultural and scenic experiences along with the excitement of Modern Asia.
Japan has a rich history which at times has been very isolated resulting in a culture unlike anywhere else. It’s an incredibly advanced country yet with a very traditional society. Explore modern Tokyo and Osaka, discover historical Kyoto and Nara and enjoy the beauty of Mt Fuji. And for uniquely Japanese experiences, meet a geisha, visit an onsen and stay in Buddhist lodgings at Koya-san.
Click here to discover more about Japan.
South Korea is becoming a very cosmopolitan country yet it retains its traditional roots. Modern cities such a Seoul and Busan still have alleyways and street markets where you can discover the old way of life. Look to Gyeongju to discover the history of the Korean Peninsula and visit Panmunjom for a taste of the Cold War that is still alive today.
Click here to discover more about South Korea.
The island of Taiwan is one of Asia’s most diverse destinations. Taipei and Kaohsiung are modern, bustling cities but it is easy to find a lot of natural beauty at Sun Moon Lake, Yangmingshan National Park and Taroko National Park. And the historical and cultural side of the country is easy to find at the Buddhist temples and monasteries.
Click here to discover more about Taiwan .
Mongolia is for those with a sense of adventure. Explore the vastness of the Gobi Desert and the Mongolian Steppe discovering ancient cities, mountain glaciers and lush forests. For a taste of the local way of life, stay in a ger and meet a nomadic family. Or visit in July for the Naadam Festival featuring traditional costumes and sporting events dating back to the Genghis Khan period.
Click here to discover more about Mongolia .
Wendy Wu Tours was awarded TOUR OPERATOR OF THE YEAR at the prestigious TTG Travel Awards last night. The award was presented by Alan Carr and was won against competition such as TUI, Thomas Cook, Virgin Holidays and Kuoni.
This is the first time that a specialist tour operator has won this award. It is a testament to the quality of our products, service and value that we have overcome competition from some of the largest and best known companies in the travel industry.
Wendy Wu Tours has previously won numerous awards recognising our expertise as an Asia specialist. However we are especially honoured to have now been awarded Tour Operator of the Year regardless of company size or market segment.
ASIA Inspirations is the tailor-made travel service of Wendy Wu Tours.
Mt Sanqing has been added as a new destination on the ASIA Inspirations website.
This mountain in Jiangxi Province has outstanding natural beauty and is recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is characterised by the numerous granite pinnacles that protrude skyward often piercing the swirling mists. The mountain features a diverse range of flora and fauna and local species of pine trees cover the slopes. Accessing the higher reaches of the mountain is easy using a convenient cable car. From the top station well-made paths allow for straightforward walking although many steps may be involved!
Mt Sanqing is rarely visited by Western tourists and it makes an excellent off-the-beaten-track alternative to the more famous Mt Huang. It is just one of many parts of Undiscovered China that ASIA Inspirations can offer for more adventurous travellers.
Click here to discover more about Mt Sanqing.
ASIA Inspirations has released a major new development to the website which significantly enhances the visitor experience. The main changes include:
Hainan Island has been added as a new destination on the ASIA Inspirations website.
Hainan is an island paradise in the South China Sea. Known as the Hawaii of China, the island boasts clear blue waters and white sandy beaches near to the resort of Sanya. Unsurprisingly there are a lot of water-based activities including swimming, snorkelling and scuba-diving as well as surfing, boating and fishing.
There are also many land based activities. Hainan has at least 40 golf courses across the island making this the golfing capital of China. Other opportunities include hiring a bike to explore the island, going hiking in the rainforest or playing tennis.
To experience more of Hainan visit Nanshan Temple to learn about Buddhism, get close to nature at Jianfengling Natural Reserve and Monkey Island, or simply spend the day relaxing at Nantian Hot Springs. And while you are here don’t forget to sample the island’s excellent local cuisine.
With so many opportunities for fun and relaxation, Hainan Island is a great place to spend a few days at the end of your holiday in China.
Click here to discover more about Hainan Island.
Chongqing has been added as a new destination on the ASIA Inspirations website.
This city is one of China’s fastest growing municipalities and has much to offer both in the city centre and further afield. It is very convenient to visit, lying as it does on the Yangtze River and forming the western terminus of river cruises. It is very easy to add a day or two in Chongqing to your China holiday before or after your cruise.
Chongqing has a long history and the traditional buildings and shops can be seen in the pretty Ciqikou area. Also walk the steps of the Eighteen Staircases, a tumble-down district where you can see local houses and markets. Other attractions in the city include the attractive gardens of Erlin Park, the historic buildings of Huguang Guild and the General Stilwell Museum.
Outside of the city visit the Buddhist relics at Dazu which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of China’s hidden treasures. The site features the magnificent Baodin Stone Carvings and the Beishan Frescoes dating back as far as the 7th century.
Also visit Wulong, a part of the South China Karst UNESCO World Heritage Site. This mountainous region is an area of outstanding natural beauty and features some of the highest natural arches in the world. You can also walk through deep gorges and explore spectacular caves.
And one of the city’s most popular attractions is the Panda House at Chongqing Zoo where eight Giant Pandas currently reside. A quick visit here can often be scheduled between the cruise terminal and the airport. This is a great alternative for anyone not planning to travel to the Panda Reserve in Chengdu.
Click here to discover more about Chongqing.
Winter is a fascinating time to visit China. While the temperatures may be colder, the days are often bright and crisp with clear skies. And there are certainly fewer other travellers at the major attractions. Most of the main destinations in China can be visited during the winter months.
One necessarily winter destination is Harbin to see the Snow and Ice Festival. Enormous sculptures are created from huge ice blocks taken from the river and they are beautifully illuminated by colourful lights. Harbin is on the crossroads between Russia and China and these combined influences make it one of the most fascinating cities in China. But be prepared for the cold as temperatures in the city can sometimes drop as low as -30 degrees celsius.
The Chinese Year of the Horse starts on 31 January 2014. See in the New Year in style on an exclusive Dragon Boat in the company of Wendy herself who will be leading the celebrations. As you board the boat on the Huangpu River you will be welcomed by costumed dancers and drummers before enjoying an evening of dinner, music and dancing. The night-time vistas of the historic Bund and futuristic Pudong will provide the perfect backdrop. To join this incredible experience, simply arrange your China holiday so that you will be in Shanghai for the night of 30-31 January 2014.
Click here to discover more about Harbin and other destinations accessible from Beijing.
Click here to discover more about the Chinese New Year Party and other attractions in Shanghai.
ASIA Inspirations is delighted to announce that many new itineraries have been added to this website. This gives customers an even wider range of ideas and inspiration when creating your own tailor-made itinerary. The additional itineraries include:
Beyond the Great Wall offers extended walking at Jinshanling, our favourite part of the wall.
Beijing & Xian combines these two popular destinations in one convenient itinerary
More Shanghai has additional touring in the city including the Jade Buddha Temple, historic Xintiandi and modern Pudong
More Xian includes the informative Shaanxi Museum and the Little Wild Goose Pagoda.
Xian & Beijing is a reverse version of Beijing & Xian!
Further details about the 4 night and 8 night cruise options have been added
Silk Road Discovery is a 12 day itinerary giving an example of a popular option in this fascinating region
This is how you can discover it! Visit Changsha & Zhangjiajie to see the Avatar Mountains, Confucius Country for some philosophical history or Essential Henan to discover the cradle of Chinese civilization
Hong Kong and Macau
A Taste of Macau offers a Macau only option for those that have visited Hong Kong before
Nha Trang Beach Stay gives you the opportunity to discover this lesser-known Southeast Asian resort
Siem Reap in Focus is a shorter itinerary featuring the Temples of Angkor for those with limited time
Laos in Focus concentrates on Luang Prabang and Vientiane, the key destinations in this beautiful land
Our cruise options on the Irrawaddy River are proving to be very popular. Consider the Golden Land, Ayeyarwady Adventure or the Gorges of the Far North to see this incredible country from the comfort of a luxury cruise ship
For a different perspective on India and to escape the heat of the lowlands, travel to the hill stations and mountains of the north. Visit Amritsar & Dharamshala, Darjeeling & Sikkim or Ladakh – Little Tibet.
Galle Beach Stay offers not only the allure of the sandy shores but also the fascinating history of this Dutch colonial town
Click on the destination headings for more information. For your personal itinerary and quote, please contact a tailor-made specialist on 0844 8566 811.
Once upon a time Yunnan Province was the place of exile for disgraced Chinese officials. It was considered the end of the world and too close to the Himalayan mountains and jungles of South East Asia for civilised people. It is now this combination of contrasting landscapes and varied ethnic minorities that make Yunnan such an appealing destination.
Of all the amazing places in the province, Lijiang has to be my favourite. The old town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and my first day was spent getting happily lost in its maze of cobbled streets, rickety buildings and flowing canals. Lijiang is the home of the Naxi ethnic minority and no trip is complete without some Fried Yak Meat (tough but good) and Yak’s Milk Yoghurt (as nice as a milkshake). While in Lijiang I was amazed by Black Dragon Pool, probably the most photographed sight in Southern China, with its picturesque views of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain.
The trip out to Jade Dragon Snow Mountain was one of the highlights of my trip to China. A short drive took us out of the city, through the foothills and into the mountain range where the northern hemisphere’s southern-most glacier soared above us. First we transferred to one of the local eco-buses, designed to limit the environmental impact of tourism in the area, driving past pools and waterfalls, coloured an impossible blue and formed from melted snow draining through mineral-rich streams. Then it’s a cable car ride up to Cloud Fir Meadow with fantastic views of the glacier and surrounding forests with shaggy yaks munching on the grass.
It was an excellent trip and by the time I returned I was definitely ready for some more Yak Meat and a taste of the local Yinjiu wine.
Click here to discover more about Lijiang and Yunnan Province.
No visit to India would be complete without a visit to the majestic Taj Mahal in Agra.
The Taj Mahal was built in 1653 by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, in memory of his third wife, the one wife of his that was able to give him the gift of a son. It is a magnificent structure made from marble, which is why it still looks so beautiful today. Inside lays the tomb of Emperor Shah Jahan and his wife Mumtaz Mahal.
We rose early to travel to the Taj Mahal just in time for sunrise, and it was all worth it to see the wonderful changing colours of the sky as the sun rose to life. As I walked through the first archway to get my first glimpse of the grandeur of the mausoleum, I had goose bumps.
This is a place that I have always dreamed to visit, and here I am, standing and staring, in person, at the Taj Mahal.
Our guide then sat us down to explain the history and significance of this incredible place before giving us the freedom to have a look around along with the many other Indian pilgrims who had also made the special journey to Agra.
It was fantastic wandering around, getting up close to the building, and just admiring the grand architecture. Words just cannot describe the experience well enough, and I think that no trip to India would be complete without a visit to the breath-taking Taj Mahal.
Click here to discover more about The Taj Mahal and India’s Golden Triangle.
Dragonair, the sister airline of Cathay Pacific, has just commenced a four-times weekly service to Rangoon, the largest city and main economic hub of Burma (Myanmar).
The former capital of Burma, Rangoon is a bustling city featuring colonial architecture and ancient pagodas. The magnificent golden Shwedagon Pagoda is a symbol of the city, glittering in the sunlight by day and illuminated at night.
Rangoon is the gateway to Burma, a country steeped in mystique and rooted in tradition. Visit the cultural centre of Mandalay, explore the ancient temples of Bagan and take a cruise on the Irrawaddy River.
By flying to Rangoon with Dragonair and Cathay Pacific, it’s easy to combine a holiday to Burma with the cosmopolitan city of Hong Kong, the airlines’ hub.
Click here to discover more about Burma.
Click here to discover more about Hong Kong.
Siem Reap is home to Cambodia’s proudest sites. The Temples of Angkor are the must-see tourist attraction of Southeast Asia – and deservedly so. The hundreds of temples scattered about are all that remains of the vast Khmer empire that stretched from Burma to Vietnam. Angkor was once a glorious city of 1,000,000 people, but, as most buildings were built of wood, all that remains are the stone temples. It would be easy to spend several days exploring all the temples, but on my whistle-stop visit I would have to squeeze in as much as possible in only one full day.
I met my local guide in the hotel lobby at 4:30am to see the sunrise over Angkor Wat. After a 10-minute dash to the outskirts of the town and a short walk, my guide informed me that we were in the best location. So along with many other excited visitors of all ages and nationalities, I got my camera ready. The familiar towers of Angkor Wat appeared before me in the distance, as well as being magically reflected in the lake in front of me. It was a truly breath-taking and unforgettable experience.
From here we entered the temple and proceeded to climb the narrow, steep steps to gain access to the main corridors. There were a few people about, but it wasn’t too busy. Buddhist monks wandered around the grounds in their vivid orange robes, providing an attractive contrast against the grey stone of the temple and wonderful photographic opportunities.
My guide then took me to see the ancient city of Angkor Thom and in particular the centrepiece, The Bayon, with its towers displaying a stone face on each of the four sides. My next stop was Ta Prohm, which is renowned for the roots of the enormous surrounding trees that literally claw at the walls of the temple – almost as though the jungle is consuming it. There was something slightly haunting about the way nature has pushed through these magnificent monuments – a strong reminder that nature is far stronger than anything man can create. Ta Prohm is of course famous for its role as the location for the Tomb Raider movie.
With thanks to my knowledgeable guide I was able to enjoy a small glimpse into the past of a magnificent empire. The visit also left me with a great appreciation of the Cambodian people, most of whom still live very simple lives. And yet, each day they face the world with a big smile and refined grace.
Click here to discover more about the Temples of Angkor and Cambodia.
Finnair has announced plans to launch the first-ever nonstop flight between Europe and the Chinese city of Xian.
The airline will begin operating three flights a week from Helsinki to Xian Xianyang International Airport beginning on 14 June 2013 with good connections from London Heathrow and Manchester. The seasonal flights will terminate on 26 October.
The city of Xian holds a very special place in Chinese history. Over two thousand years ago Qin Shi Huang unified China, becoming known as the First Emperor, and it is his final resting place that is protected by the Terracotta Warriors.
Xian also boasts a very well preserved city wall that is eight miles long as well as the Shaanxi Museum which houses some of the most important artefacts from China’s ancient history. The city is located at the eastern end of the Silk Road and this influence lives on in the bustling Muslim Quarter.
Click here to discover more about Xian.
British Airways will begin direct flights to Chengdu from London Heathrow starting on 22 September 2013. Flights will be operated using a Boeing 777 with a frequency of three days a week. This becomes British Airways’ third destination in mainland China after Beijing and Shanghai.
Chengdu is the capital of Sichuan Province and is famous for its spicy cuisine. It is also renowned for the giant pandas where a very successful conservation and breeding centre houses over 80 animals.
In nearby Leshan don’t miss the remarkable Grand Buddha, reputed to be the largest stone-carved Buddhist statue in the world. Completed in 803AD, this huge carving is 71 metres tall and is etched into a river cliff.
Sichuan Province also has some very spectacular scenery including the forests, lakes and mountains of Nine Villages Valley, the colourful mineral pools at Huanglong and the holy peaks of Mt Emei.
Click here to discover more about Chengdu & Sichuan Province.
Chinese authorities have announced a new 72-hour visa-free transit policy effective January 1, 2013. This applies to travellers transiting through Beijing who are citizens of one of 45 approved countries, hold third-country visas where necessary and have onward plane tickets. The United Kingdom is one of the approved countries. This new policy exempts travellers from the complicated procedures associated with visa applications while enabling a visit to Beijing, the capital city and iconic centre of Chinese culture.
If you are transiting Beijing, consider the Essential Beijing package which includes visits to the Great Wall, Forbidden City, Summer Palace and Temple of Heaven. Also included are a ride around the traditional Hutongs on a cyclo-rickshaw and a Peking Duck dinner.
Click here to discover more about Beijing.
Qatar Airways has announced plans to launch daily scheduled flights to the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh adding to the airline’s extensive network across Asia. Services are due to start on 20 February 2013 using an Airbus A330 aircraft.
Located on the banks of the Mekong River and bordered by Thailand, Laos and Vietnam, Phnom Penh is Cambodia’s largest city and the country’s economic, cultural and political centre. It also gives access to the country’s most famous attraction, the Temples of Angkor which represent some of the finest examples of ancient architecture anywhere in the world.
Flights will operate via Ho Chi Minh City giving passengers an excellent opportunity to combine Cambodia with Southern Vietnam. Learn about the history of Saigon and explore the waterways of the Mekong Delta.
Click here to discover more about Cambodia.
Click here to discover more about Southern Vietnam.
The Yangtze River is one of the highlights of a trip to China and is a relaxing way to see some of the most dramatic scenery in the country. And if you are on a longer holiday it can make for a pleasant break and change of style in the middle of your itinerary.
The Three Gorges are of course the highlight of the cruise. What I found most impressive about them is not so much the beauty of the scenery but the overwhelming scale of the geography. I felt like a small speck sailing on a ribbon of water surrounded by the incredible bulk of the towering mountains. It’s a feeling that can never be conveyed by photographs of the river.
I was also surprised by the variety of side trips, several of which are part of the standard cruise itinerary.
The Three Gorges Dam is an amazing feat of engineering. A visit to the information centre gives a deeper understanding of the project and from here you can look down on the dam itself. But for me it was standing on deck as we transited the series of giant locks alongside three other ships that really conveyed the scale of the construction.
A side trip to the Daning River Small Gorges involves taking a smaller ship up this tributary of the Yangtze. Here you can watch people in the fields and villages as you sail past. The final stage of the journey is in a small boat in order to navigate up the ever narrowing stream between vertical cliffs.
Another interesting excursion is to the Ghost City of Fengdu. This series of temples sits on a hillside next to the river and features numerous unusual statues of demons and ghosts. Scarily, walking up the hill is said to represent the path to hell.
The cruise itinerary may also include some optional excursions. If you have the opportunity I recommend the Tribe of the Three Gorges. This involves a pleasant walk alongside a small river where the local people play out scenes of traditional life. It culminates in a stage show featuring a wedding ceremony. Guys watch out – you may become part of the show and end up marrying the local bride!
Click here to discover more about Yangtze River Cruises.
ASIA Inspirations is the new tailor-made travel programme by Wendy Wu Tours, the independent Asia specialist. With individual itineraries, local expertise and exceptional service you can be sure that ASIA Inspirations can create the perfect holiday for you.
The programme covers China, Tibet, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Burma, Thailand, Malaysia, Borneo, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan. In each destination we make use of the Wendy Wu Tours infrastructure, guiding expertise and local knowledge gained in the15 years since the company started.
What Makes ASIA Inspirations Unique?
Wendy Wu started her tour operating business with a dream to show people the region she grew up in and loved. This ethos has continued at the core of the business ensuring that personal service and exploring the real heart of a destination are the key elements of your holiday.
The range of hotels features by ASIA Inspirations is mainly in the four and five star categories. For those that like to treat themselves, the INSPIRED range of hotels offers luxury brands such as Shangri-La, Banyan Tree and Peninsula; while unique accommodation such as the Violet Junk in Halong Bay, Vietnam and the Manvar Desert Camp in Rajasthan, India are truly memorable.
To really get under the skin of a destination and experience it in a way that stays with you forever, an excellent guide is essential. ASIA Inspirations prides itself on its private guides who will adapt their itineraries and recommendations to each customer’s interests and requirements, ensuring a truly unforgettable experience for each customer.
Regional cuisine is often one of the most enjoyable components of any holiday and ASIA Inspirations understands the importance of experiencing good food and authentic flavours. Regional delicacies will be incorporated into itineraries and your guide will also make recommendations to help you to discover local restaurants for yourself.
Your ASIA Inspirations holiday features private transport. This ensures a personal service, flexible timings and the ability to beat the crowds and maximise time sightseeing.
To assist you in designing your perfect holiday, ASIA Inspirations provides a series of recommendations for each destination including highlights, accommodation and touring ideas.
Our suggested itineraries are complete longer holidays that have been popular with past travellers. One of these may suit you perfectly or may be used as a starting point in designing your unique tailor-made tour.
For a truly once-in-a-lifetime bespoke holiday, ASIA Inspirations offers the Concierge Service. This provides the very best hotels, exclusive experiences and the ultimate in luxury and service – perfect for customers with the most discerning tastes.
For further information about ASIA Inspirations and to speak with a tailor-made specialist please call 0844 8566 811