Guilin Walking Tour in Guangxi Province, China

Guilin, China is a fantastic tourist destination, drawing tons of people from all over China and foreign lands each year. From the bustling market, towering Sun and Moon pagodas, to the gumdrop mountains, it has something to satisfy everyone. My Guilin Walking Tour will take you around to some of my favorite sights around the downtown area. If you just walk the loop, it will probably take around an hour and a half, but there are plenty of places to stop and take in the local scenery and culture. Allow me to introduce you to one of my favorite places in all of China, Guilin!

Guilin Walking Tour Overview

Duration: 1.5 Hours

Distance: 3.0 Miles

Cost: FREE

Suggested Start: Xi Cheng Lu Kou Bus Stop MAP

Suggested Time: After Sunset

Map of downtown Guilin, China outlining The Places We Live's free Guilin Walking Tour. The map includes locations for the Guilin's South Gate, Pedestrian Shopping Street, People's Square, Sun and Moon Pagodas (Gold and Silver Pagodas), Elephant Trunk Hill free viewing area, and Guilin' Night Market. Credit for the image is listed to,, and

This free, self-guided Guilin Walking Tour is focused on the top sights for an evening stroll, but if you have the time, it’s worth it to do the loop during the daytime as well, especially since some of the optional, paid attractions are only open during the day. The tour is laid out in a loop, so you can start wherever is most convenient for you. For the purposes of this blog, I will be starting on the corner of Zhong Shan Road and South Ring Road near the Bank of China Self Service Center MAP.

Guilin Walking Tour Stops

Elephant Trunk Hill
Sun and Moon Pagodas
Pedestrian Walking Street
People’s Square
South Gate
Night Market

Elephant Trunk Hill

View from the Elephant Trunk Hill free viewing area in Guilin, Guangxi Province, China. At night, the small mountain that is shaped like an elephant bending over for a drink is lit up with multiple colored lights. Credit for the image is given to Travis Will Design and The Places We Live

Distance from Zhong Shan Road to Elephant Trunk Hill Free Viewing Area: 0.3 miles

From Zhong Shan Road, head East on South Ring Road along the Tao Hua River. To your left, you’ll find shops aimed to catch the attention of passing tourists as well as travel agencies to help you plan your cruise along the Li River. Fish is very popular at restaurants in Guilin, so you will find that many of them have tanks and cages lining the front of the shop. You may even see what looks like a large, caged rat. These are bamboo rats, a dish enjoyed by many people from the southern regions of China.

To the right, the river weaves through the city. Once over the bridge, you’ll be able to catch a glimpse of Elephant Trunk Hill, all lit up in the customary Chinese style.

Just before the road starts to veer North, there is a small area where you can get a free view of the Elephant Trunk Hill through the trees. The location is marked on most maps with GPS, but can also be spotted by the number of other tourists also looking to get that free view.

Considering a Li River Cruise? Read THIS first! Link  Food in Guilin

Elephant Legend Show Option

The best part about unguided walking tours is that you can take them at your own pace and find your own stops. One such stop could be the Elephant Trunk Legend Show. It is a nightly show with music, live elephants, and a great view of Elephant Trunk Hill. The ticket office is only steps away from the free viewing area and has signs in English. [Note: This is not the ticket office for exploring the mountain itself. That ticket office is located across the river.]

Show Times: (Nov to Mar) 7:35PM – 8:00PM & (Apr to Oct) 8:05PM – 8:30PM

Duration: 30 minutes plus time to explore 

Cost: ¥130

Sun and Moon Pagodas

Sun and Moon Pagoda - Guilin Walking Tour - The Places We Live.png

Distance from Elephant Trunk Hill Viewing Area to Sun and Moon Pagodas: 0.3 miles

Continue your Guilin walking tour along the sidewalk as it heads North. On your right stretches the Li River, overlooked by trees and homes lit up in fun colors. You have the option of either (A) walking on the main sidewalk or (B) heading down to the riverside walkway.

A: The main sidewalk is a bit more exciting. There is often loud music, performers, groups of exercisers, and food carts. The food in these carts looks quite tempting and usually tastes even better than it looks. The cart attendants do have a tendency to rip off foreigners though, so remember to barter. No snack should be worth more than ¥10, with the possible exception of slices of walnut cake, which are purchased by weight.

B: There are multiple sets of stairs that branch off from the main sidewalk towards the river. These lead down to the riverside walkway. This is a more relaxing and romantic walk. You will have an uninterrupted view of the river and the buildings that line the other side of it. These river walks can be found along most of the rivers in Guilin and are definitely worth exploring during the day (if you have the time).

Less than a five minute walk will bring you from the Elephant Trunk Free Viewing Area to the Sun and Moon Pagodas. Hop across the street when the way is nearly safe and enjoy the sights and sounds of the Riyue Shuangta Cultural Park.

Walking through this park is completely free, both day and night. The walkways are well kept and clean, but they are a bit narrow and fill quickly with other walkers.

River Walk  Fubo Mountain

Twin Pagoda Option

It is possible to climb the stairs of the pagodas as late as 10:30PM. Although the evening view is listed as the best, the underwater tunnel that runs between the two pagodas is better appreciated during the day. The ticket office is located to the South of the lake on the bank closest to the pagodas. 

Operating Times: 8:00AM – 10:30PM

Duration: 30 Minutes

Cost: ¥45

Two Rivers and Four Lakes Cruise Option

Getting tired already? Or maybe you would just rather do this walking tour without all of the walking? Easy! The Two Rivers and Four Lakes Cruise is an excellent option to enjoy all the night lights of this Guilin walking tour without the hassle of walking. The ticket counter is located on the North side of the lake and will have signs in English.

A fellow blogger describes their trip on the cruise. 

Operating Times: 7:30PM – 9:30PM

Duration: 2 Hours

Cost: ¥190

Pedestrian Walking Street

Pedestrian Street.png

Distance from Sun and Moon Pagodas to Pedestrian Street: 0.3 miles

Near the northern-most corner of the lake is a small road that quickly turns into a pedestrian-only sidewalk. Following this road will take you past a bunch of small craft stalls and then into a busy pedestrian-only street filled with shops and people.

This is an enjoyable walk both day and night, but the street seems to truly come alive in the evenings. The music gets a little louder, the food stalls get a little brighter, and many of the shops put their best entertainers at the doors. I have never found myself judging anyone’s ability to clap before experiencing the shop entertainers on the Chinese pedestrian streets.

Enjoy the sights, sounds, and amazing shopping of pedestrian street. If the prices are marked, that usually means the shop keeper either won’t barter or won’t barter far. Anything else is fair game. Prices can be negotiated down to as low as 25% of the asking price, but that is with a fluent Chinese speaker who has a lot of practice. Unless you are really struggling for cash, a good starting point is 50% of the asking price, with an ending price at 75%. The locals will appreciate it.

Budget  yangshuo

Shangshui Delicacy Street Option

Near the center of the pedestrian street is a four-way intersection. On the right are some stick-food vendors in a small alley, where people are often crowded up, eating their purchases. Head down this packed alley. Keep an eye on the other guests enjoying their tasty and bizarre treats. At the end of the alley and to the right is the street food market. I hope you have an adventurous stomach!

It can get a bit tight inside of the market, so stay calm and remember “Bu yao le” (boo yow la), meaning “I don’t want”. Armed with your new phrase, you are ready to explore the adventurous world of Chinese street food. 

If you’re interested in trying some snacks, but don’t have the stomach for anything crazy, I have a couple of suggestions. One of my favorite weird but deliciously normal foods is Omurice (a fried rice omelet topped with ketchup) from Japan. I’m also a big fan of just about any of the meats on sticks. Don’t worry, you can usually watch the worker cook the meat. It will be grilled all of the way through and topped with delicious seasonings that aren’t usually spicy. If you have a sensitive stomach, I do not suggest eating any of the raw fruit sticks nor drinking any of the raw fruit smoothies. Pretty much anything raw should be marked off the list.

For those of you ready to show off to your #instafriends during this Guilin walking tour, the collections of bugs are cooked just like the stick meats. You order a stick and the stall clerk will grill it right there in front of you. It will be well cooked and seasoned. This is great because it usually gives just about everything a crunchy, rather than squishy, texture. The scorpions and small bugs often come out crispy and salty, similar to a potato chip.

People’s Square

Peoples Square.png

Distance from the Pedestrian Street to People’s Square: 0.2 miles

It wouldn’t be a proper Chinese city without a People’s Square. From the pedestrian street, turn left at the major intersection of Yiren Rd. To the left, you will see a large concrete park.

These squares are popular throughout China, often being some of the major transportation hubs of the city or hosting some of the more important buildings. Guilin’s square is not one of particular note. It is a large and interesting part of Chinese culture, though, and therefore worth a visit. Walk to the end of the square to the free-standing pavilion at the far left corner. It is a stairway down to Little Hong Kong Commercial Market and also the safest way to cross the street.


Little Hong Kong Commercial Market Option

This market is much larger than it appears at first glance. It actually spans the entire area underneath People’s Square and beyond! This is a great place to buy discounted items, fun trinkets, and all the beauty services you can think of. Gel nails or detailed designs will cost around 60RMB and will include a short massage. Foot massages are around 100RMB per hour and will usually include a short shoulder and head massage as well. 

South Gate

South Gate.png

Distance from People’s Square to the South Gate: 0.9 miles

If you have taken the safer option of using the underground crosswalk at Little Hong Kong, you should be at the bottom of the stairs, having just descended underground. Turn left and walk under the main road of Zhangshan Middle Road. There will be another set of stairs on your left to take you back up to the street. Once up the stairs, continue heading southwest until you reach the bridge. Before crossing the bridge, take a right and join the other walkers along the lovely riverside path.

The South Gate is my favorite part of this Guilin walking tour. It would be easy to spend hours strolling along the well-lit river and lake. There are plenty of restaurants, bars, and shops lining the opposite side of the street, but along the water, it is fairly peaceful… by Chinese standards, that is.

At the intersection of the first major bridge is Gunanmen or The South Gate. It is a remaining piece of the city wall that stood guarding the city of Guilin long ago. Now it is a tourist attraction and open square for dancers and exercisers. These groups of exercisers may sneer if you try to take their picture, but are often very welcoming if you choose to join them in a dance.

(A) Long Loop: Continue along Northwest past The South Gate. Take a left over the next bridge to stay on Ronghu Rd North, then over the next (keeping the river on your left side), to Ronghu Rd South. Take a left on the other side of the bridge and you’ll be heading back towards the main road to do a full loop of the river.

(B) Short Loop: Head over the bridge directly across from The South Gate. Then take a left onto Ronghu Rd South. This will take you back to the main road where we left off near People’s Square.


Xicheng Night Market

Night Market - Guilin Walking Tour - The Places We Live.png

Distance from the South Gate to the Xicheng Night Market: 0.5 miles

At this point, you will have done plenty of walking, so let’s treat ourselves with a little snack at the Xicheng Night Market. Once you have returned to Zhongshan Rd, take a right (heading southwest). Three blocks down, Xicheng Pedestrian Street will be on the right. This is a much smaller and less corporate market. All of the prices are negotiable and the food is local and cheap.

One of my favorite snacks over here are the grilled scallops with rice noodles and garlic. They take a minute to cook, but are packed with flavor. There are also plenty of restaurants, bars, and KTV (karaoke) halls.

So, continue the evening by partying the night away, having dinner at one of the restaurants at the end of the market street (there are a couple that serve some delicious sweet and sour fish), or wrap up the loop by turning left on S. Ring Road and following it back to Zhongshan. Look familiar? Good, since you’re supposed to end up where you started! You should now be back at the same bus stop you left from, only on the opposite side of the road to catch a ride back to wherever you’re staying. Wasn’t that thoughtful? 😉

Instagram  Medium

And so ends my evening walking tour of Guilin, China. Although the full loop is quite long, the actual distance between the various locations is quite short, so feel free to break the walk up into two separate trips. If you do one during the day and one at night, I suggest saving The South Gate and the Night Market for the evening. The rest of the tour is equally as lovely during the day, if not as colorful.

Thank you so much for joining me on this little walking adventure. I hope you enjoy it and I can’t wait to read your comments and suggestions!

Special thanks to Travis Will Designs for the amazing graphics! ♥

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Free Guilin Walking Tour  Guilin Walking Tour

Sichuan, China Birding – February 2018

Chengdu is a very large city. Everywhere I went there were groups of little birds snatching snacks off the ground in parks and a few scattered here and there along the river. There are even a couple of man-made wetlands built specifically for migrating birds in the area. However, as mentioned in my Bad Ideas Blog, I was not able to make it to the wetlands, so my birding was limited to the city proper.

My favorite bird of the month was the Light Vented Bulbul. I spotted it while at the Panda Research Base. It was eating the red panda’s food. It was very pretty and I liked the little tuft of white feathers on its head.

Unfortunately, I did not spot many birds this month, but I’m still pretty happy to be adding three new birds to my life list. Hopefully next month I will be celebrating my 100th unique bird!

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Birding Update – February 2018

Identified: 5

New: 3

Life List: 98

  • Crested Myna
  • Light-vented Bulbul
  • Little Egret
  • Mallard
  • Oriental Magpie-robin


Budget – February 2018

There seem to be a bazillion nomad bloggers out there talking about how cheap it is to travel, but very few are open about their finances. We’ve gotten quite a few questions about how we can afford to travel full-time, so we’ve decided to open up the books and do a monthly post with the details of our budget. The hope is that these posts will help prepare others who are thinking about jumping into the nomad life, and help us re-assess our spending habits. Enjoy!

There seem to be a bazillion travel bloggers out there talking about how cheap it is to travel, but very few are open about their finances. We’ve gotten quite a few questions about how we can afford to travel full-time, so we’ve decided to open up the books and do a monthly post with the details of our budget. The hope is that these posts will help prepare others who are thinking about jumping into the nomad life, and help us re-assess our spending habits. Enjoy!

Our goal budget for this journey is $200 per week, putting us at $800 to spend for the month of February.

We did not live a life of the rich and famous, but we didn’t go without either. China is quite suitable for $800 per month for two people.

  • Average Daily Food Cost: $11
    • The time at our house sit included two home cooked meals and one meal out.
    • Outside of the house sit, we ate out for all three meals. We also enjoyed one cup of coffee and three cans of either beer or soda per day.
  • Average Daily Lodging: $7.50
    • Two weeks in the private room at the Yangshuo hostel were $14 per night.
    • Two weeks in our house sit were FREE.
    • One week in our two different dorm beds at the Chengdu hostels were $11 per night.
    • All of our lodging included Wifi, VPN (expect for three days), and free water.

Money Spent: $1,128

Income: $387

Monthly Net: -($741)

Two Month Total:

$692 (Income) – $2,662 (Spent) = -($1,970) 

Week One Net: -($178)

Despite some big nights out, we still came very close to sticking to our $200 budget. We rented a scooter for a day, ate a big meal of beer fish, and had a date night with a fancy Indian dinner and two import beers. We spent $202.

We reached our goal of 2,000 views on the blog for the month of January. I’m still not famous, but I feel pretty awesome!! I even made a little bit of money from AdWords (the annoying advertisements on the bottom of the page) of $0.46! May not be much, but that is enough for a small breakfast here.

Josh had a couple of long-term jobs on UpWork, so he was only able to close one contract for the week. We made $24.

Week Two Net: – ($149)

Week two was a travel week. We caught a taxi to the bus station in Yangshuo, a bus from there to the train station in Guilin, a train from Guilin to Chengdu, then a subway to our hostel in Chengdu. That adventure set us back ¥100/$16. We stayed at The Mix Hostel in a dorm room for a couple of days. The price was decent, but we lacked for comfort.

But the exciting news of the week was our house sitting job!!! We moved out of the hostel and moved into our house sit in Southern Chengdu where we watched a dog in exchange for a free place to stay. So, we went rent free for the next 12 days!! Whoop! In addition to our free accommodations, we had a great kitchen that allowed us to buy groceries which also saved us a ton of money. We spent $171.

It was another slow work week. We made $22.

Week Three Net: -($493)

In general, we did pretty awesome this week. We had one day where we spent nothing and three other days that were under $14. We really got into the swing of things eating more at home and only purchasing what we needed, when we needed it. However, as you can see from the sub heading, we still had a couple of really big purchases. First was a new charger for Josh’s computer. We tried to put it off for as long as we could, but both realized that we were selling ourselves short by sharing a computer. So, we bit the bullet and purchased a new charger at the Apple Store for $99. We also purchased our plane tickets to Kuala Lumpur for $313 (two direct flights). The ticket prices are amazing, but really cut into the budget. We spent $525.

Josh wrapped up one project for $23 and I made $10 on my eGift Cards link!!  We made $33.

Week Four Net: +$78

This was our hardest week due to the move out of our house sit, into a hostel, then into the more expensive city of Kuala Lumpur. Even with a $50 gift card applied, we are still paying 58RM/$15 per day for the 14 nights we booked at our KL hotel. That only leaves us with 43RM/$11 left to spend on other expenses per day. Thankfully, food and transportation are fairly cheap, but still not enough to keep us under budget. We have gone over our 101RM budget every day since we have arrived in KL. We spent $230.

Fortunately, all of those big projects Josh has been working on are finally getting wrapped up. He edited a woman’s non-fiction novel, wrote an essay about intermittent fasting, researched and wrote an article about drug testing, and summarized another research paper for CannaHealthWe made $387.

For our second month overseas, we still have not met our budget goals, but we did get much closer AND came in under $800 for the month’s total net. Overall, we feel pretty good about it. Some learnings this month were:

I have 50% of the rest of our journey booked with house sits. My goal is to bump that up to 75% by the end of next month. That should save us quite a bit of money on food and lodging, but will add to the travel costs (although that was going to be an expense regardless).

Josh and I also had a long talk about his UpWork “career” and have decided to pull back a little bit. He is going to continue to write for CannaHealth, but will otherwise focus more on his short stories. We put together a plan for the month that would have him doing brand building and creative writing for at least five hours per day. I think he will enjoy this much more and, if we start now, will hopefully start making some money at it within the next few months. It’s a risk, but one we are willing to take. I’ll update you on his work in a couple weeks.

Please check out our new branded Facebook pages:

The Places We Live Facebook Page

J. Brandon Lowry (Writer) Facebook Page

China Brews

China isn’t really known for their beer and it is obvious why at the first sip. Now, that isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy my beer in China, because I absolutely did. I enjoyed it the same way I enjoy a refreshing Coors Light. Sometimes I just really want a Coors Light, sue me.

China isn’t really known for their beer and it is obvious why at the first sip. Now, that isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy my beer in China, because I absolutely did. I enjoyed it the same way I enjoy a refreshing Coors Light. Sometimes I just really want a Coors Light, sue me.

My favorite brew of China was Guilin Liquan’s 1998 LiQ beer. It was very smooth, refreshing, and a great price at only ¥10 ($1.55). I would also put Guilin Liquan as my favorite brewer in China. I tried two of their crafts. I couldn’t taste much of a difference between the two, but they were both better than the others I had.

On our last couple of days in China, we bunked with a Chinese brewer at the hostel. He was in the middle of a brewery tour in Chengdu. He gave us a list of places to try and talked to us about the growing micro-brew culture in China and how he sees it around the world. It was super interesting to talk to him and we are looking forward to our next trip to Chengdu to check out the breweries he suggested.

I only got a taste for the flavors around me. Please share your favorite China beers in the comments, and if you’re an Untappd user, add us as friends!

Top UnTappd Badges Earned This Month

Brew Update – China

New China Flavors: 9

 New China Breweries: 8

Flavor Life List: 51

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Beijing Yanjing Brewery – Beijing, China

  • Yanjing Beer North American Adjunct

China Resources Snow Breweries – Beijing, China

  • Snow Beer 8.0 P Lager

Harbin Brewing – Harbin, China

  • Harbin Beer Pale

Master Gao Craft – Nanjing, China

  • Baby IPA

Panda Brew – China

  • Outlaw Witbier

Shandong Hande Brewing Co. – China

  • Baishi Royale Lager

Tsingdao Brewery – Qingdao, China

  • Tsingtao Pale

Yanjing Pijiu (Guilin Liquan) – Guilin, China

  • 1998 LiQ American Light
  • 10P LiQ North American Adjunct

Trusted Housesitters

Since we’ve been here, we estimate that we have saved around $200 on accommodations alone. But there are other perks as well. Not only do we have lovable Lucy to hang out with, but we have a bike to use ($5 savings) and a kitchen to cook in ($50 savings). In two weeks, we have saved over $250 by staying here with Lucy.

As mentioned in my Places We Live – Chengdu post, we are currently staying in an apartment in Chengdu, for free, in exchange for dog sitting. I learned about this type of exchange online and was able to get involved through Trusted Housesitters, a website that connects travelers with free house sitters.

We booked house sit a few months ago after sending messages back and forth with our host and doing a Skype interview. We had a lot in common and hit it off right away. She booked us a little after that, then a few months later, we showed up at her door. She introduced us to her wonderful dog Lucy, hosted us for dinner, and showed us the ins and outs of her apartment. Then she left for two weeks.

Since we’ve been house sitting here, we estimate that we have saved around $200 on accommodations alone. But there are other perks as well. Not only do we have lovable Lucy to hang out with, but we have a bike to use ($5 savings) and a kitchen to cook in ($50 savings). In two weeks, we have saved over $250 by house sitting in Chengdu with Lucy.


With this is mind, I have been working diligently to get us more bookings. I sent out about a dozen house sitting applications last week and have finally booked three more sits! Next up, we’re heading to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to enjoy the company of an adorable pup named Molly.

Scratch Google Sheets

As you can see, we’re coming back to Chengdu too! I applied for a house sit in Chengdu thinking it would be a good layover on our way to Tibet or something later this summer. I told the woman I was currently in town and was able to meet up for a face-to-face interview if she wanted. Turns out, she is friends with my host and lives just down the block! She invited us over for a chat and also the next day for dinner. Her and her husband had lots of fun stories, a beautiful home, and about the sweetest kitten I have ever met. We can’t wait to come back for the sit.


Maybe I am getting ahead of myself (this is only a our first house sit), but I think this is going to be a game changer. It has already shown to be a great way to save money, provide privacy to get our work done, and boost our social stimulation. Look out world, here we come!

Refer A Friend TrustedHousesitters com



Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Research Base

Guess what we did today?!! We woke up bright and early this morning to make the hour long trek to see China’s national treasure, the Giant Panda Breeding Research Base!

I read a lot of reviews that suggested we visit as soon as the park opens at 8AM. That is when the pandas are most active and the crowds are smaller. We left at a way too late 7:30, walked to the metro, hopped Line 1, switched to Line 3, got off at Panda Ave, then caught a shuttle to the entrance of the research base. It took us a little over an hour and cost ¥7 plus the ¥55 entrance fee each, putting us at a total of about $20 for the morning. But then, we were in.


It was similar to Disney World in that everything was brightly decorated, only this time with pandas, and there were large crowds of impatient and excited people everywhere. The park is laid out in loops surrounding the various enclosures. The giant panda areas included a section for the babies, one for breeding, and one for nursing… I think. Each of the enclosures were of a decent size and the pandas looked to be in good health and well treated.


Although we did arrive quite early, there were very few active pandas. The crowds were a bit smaller in the morning than in the afternoon though, so that was nice. But the crowds were still enough to alter the way I like to explore a zoo. Like the picture above? Here is a shot of me taking it:

Not ideal.

Our favorite section, however, held the red panda enclosures. The crowds were smaller in this section. I say the people who skipped it missed out. These guys were so cute and active! There were a few different enclosures with several pandas in each, roaming around on the ground or climbing trees.


There was even one section that was walled off for the guests to walk around in with the red pandas! We did not realize this was the case until I turned a corner and screamed with surprise (and let’s be honest, a little fear). Josh came running to find me standing face to face with a red panda only a few feet in front of me. It climbed up a tree and my shouts attracted the attention of the crowds, but it was still cool.


We finally had a blog-worthy adventure in Chengdu and it was awesome! The pandas had so much character and the park was very pretty. After another full hour trip home, it was really nice to plop on the couch and look through all of our fun pictures.








Bad Ideas: What Not to Do in China

Since arriving here, I have awoken each morning with so much excitement to explore this amazing city. Chengdu has beautiful architecture, varied restaurants and shops, and a million and one other activities to enjoy. Each night I plan an adventure, and each morning I wake up ready to put my plans into action. T,hen each evening, I come home tired and disappointed. These aren’t just Jen’s Less Than Totally Epic Adventures, these are Jen’s Laughably Failed Adventures.

Bad Idea #1: Coming to China During the Lunar New Year

Do not come to China for the Spring Festival. It would be like going to Utah only on Sundays or to just about anywhere in the states only on bank holidays. The large majority of Chinese are home with their families for the holiday… which lasts two full weeks. That means only one in every 15 stores are open, prices are inflated, and all events are on hold. We are living in an enormous ghost town.

This picture was taken at a very long stop light on a six lane road.

It is difficult to express how strange it feels to walk along a nearly empty eight lane highway between sky scrapers. It’s like a scene from a zombie movie, with the survivors making their way down empty, eerily silent streets. Sure, the freedom of movement is nice, but it’s a little spooky. How is it possible to feel so alone in a place with 14 million residents?

Bad Idea #2: Going to Tourist Attractions Over the Weekend

The only thing worse than seeing none of the 14 million residents, is seeing all of them at once. The few people that stayed in Chengdu for the holidays are facing much of the same problem that we are. The other day, we decided to do something other than cook another American meal at home. We needed to get out of the house, so we went to the only place we knew wouldn’t be closed: the streets of downtown. Apparently, we weren’t the only ones…


I made a walking tour with six stops. We made it to four of them before we started to slowly lose our minds. Every square, sidewalk, alley way, shop front, and park were all packed with people. You could hardly take a step without bumping into somebody.

The above picture was taken at what looked like a very nice set of storefronts built into a section of the old city. Unfortunately, the narrow road was so packed with people that we had no time to stop in any of the shops. We could hardly even look at them as we shuffled past. The strangest thing of all was how happy all of the locals were to be there. It was as if this was just a pleasant day trip. The two of us were so keyed up and anxious by the time we got out that we were visibly shaking. Never. Again.

Bad Idea #3: Trusting Maps

China has been in a state of constant construction for many years. They build up suburbs, then ship in whole villages of people to live there. They claim it is to reduce poverty. I don’t know and I won’t comment. The point is that China is very much under construction.


After a failed trip downtown, I decided to ride my bike to a park a little farther afield. I have an offline GPS map and a paper map (they do exist!). I was ready for a two hour, round trip bike ride through an impressive neighborhood of new sky scrapers to a non-touristy park.

Instead, I ended up getting stuck in a little sub-village that was so deeply under construction that there was only one way in or out. To get out, I needed to go either North or East. After circling the village for over an hour, I realized that all 12 of the through-roads were closed except for the one on the Southwest side. I never did find my way to the park. I rode my bike for four hours straight, only to come home with a few pictures of buildings and lots of pictures of blocked-off areas the size of a whole town.

Bad Idea #4: Letting Your Bad Ideas Stop You

I’ve had three full days of failed adventures now. My feet hurt, my lungs are tight, and my pride has been wounded. Despite our attempts at nearly all of the top ten sights in Chengdu, I don’t have a single blog-worthy adventure to report. I haven’t missed a single blogging goal since we left three months ago, but in the last week, I have missed two.

But, we are still chugging along. We have another adventure planned for today and another planned for tomorrow. I forced my way through this post, despite disliking how negative it is. But, this post by itself isn’t necessarily an accurate representation of our lives. Yes, we haven’t had any great adventures since we have been here in Chengdu, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t having fun. No matter how tough it gets at times, I’d still rather be out here, chasing my dream and failing, than to have never tried at all.

What not to do in CHina

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