Article by Reiss Palmer
Photos by Travel Members
It’s Labour Day weekend, what better way to spend the holiday than on a hiking trip and an underground boating experience? It’s 26 degrees and clear(ish) skies, why spend the long weekend frequenting your local bar (and its boozy brunch deals) or sat in any one of Shanghai’s numerous parks, when you can take a short coach ride out of Shanghai and explore some of the wonders that China has to offer?!
I’m not very good at hiking, you might say. It’s going to be overcrowded with tourists, was that other excuse. It’s just not really my thing, you keep telling yourself. Stop! I’m here to tell you why you should mix up that routine and why this trip with OK! Deal Travel has been one of my top favorite moments this year in Shanghai.
A few hours into the journey, after getting through the initial holiday traffic, out of the windows you begin to see endless picturesque, varient, pastures green. No more of that 31st floor, static grey, same-old skyline view of those pesky ‘scrapers, with their flashing lights. Instead, you’re blessed with glorious, rolling hills, flushed with those green things called ‘tress” and that other thing people call “nature.” Yes! Trust me, that does exit in China, just have a crack at this view:
Each day, from the moment you step off the bus, is jam packed with 10/10 activities from hiking up a mountain at Red Lantern Rural Life Scenic Spot(红灯笼外婆家景区), to climbing waterfalls at Baiyunyuan (白云源), with the final day underground boating. There is something for everybody and the views are unreal!
The trip to Tonglu is a family friendly tour and perfect for those who are beginner hikers.
The first stop at Red Lantern Rural Life Scenic Spot has all you could ask for: a maze for the little ones, a delightful inner plaza with a well you can grab water from, one lady writing calligraphy and another performing Chinese opera.
There’s also a perfect 20 minute hike gifting delightful views of the river, a definite selfie spot to add to your ‘Moments’, and if you don’t feel like the trek down there’s a little slide to get you back.
Day 2 is just as action packed! Woken to the choice of both a Chinese and Western breakfast, you have some free time in the morning to wander through the scenic routes next to the guesthouse, taking in the fresh air and unspoiled views. A highlight for me was being able to take a pedalo onto the river and have a swim in the crisp and clear waters. I warn you though, despite the 26 degree heat we had, the water was still frightfully cold.
In the afternoon we took a trip to the waterfalls at Baiyunyuan. This was definitely my favourite part of the trip.
Although unable to swim in the glorious lakes and pools (as this water is the source of water for the local area), there was still a chance to splash around by the ‘falls and even a opportunity to go zorbing on the water.
The hike itself was relaxed and comfortable, and there was a more challenging section boasting killer views all the way back down for those a bit more daring.
As with both days, the evening was finished with a group meal and an evening bonfire soirée.
The food on the trip was everything you could ask for: a perfect blend of traditional, local cuisine mixed with the classic laowai favourites. You definitely won’t starve on this trip! To top it all off, each evening there’s a bonfire equipped with marshmallows and a bottle of bubbly, what better way to get to know your fellow travel comrades?!
The final day doesn’t simply consist of getting on a coach back to Shanghai. Before the dreaded 4 hour drive back, Ok! Deal packs in one more underground boating adventure for you to enjoy. Sat in a ten person gondalo style boat with a lady stearing at the back, you enter the cave and are taken on a peaceful, magical journey through beautifully lit stalactites, and if you are lucky enough you will be dripped on bringing you good fortune for the days to come.
Back on the coach heading to Shanghai, you have the chance to look through your photos, confirming you made the right choice and that Tonglu was definitely a great getaway for the long weekend.