52 Chapters
Medium 9781628871708

1 THE BEST OF CHINA

Graham Bond FrommerMedia ePub

1

The Best of China

China is a continent-size colossus that swats away those who to try to pin it down with platitudes. It’s the font of an ancient, unyielding culture, sure, but it’s also as modern and fearless as a joyriding teen. It’s deeply traditional, no doubt, but remains oddly calm in the face of relentless change. It’s a communist country, in name at least, but run by technocrats whose financial scheming would put even Wall Street to shame. If there’s one thing that can be said with reasonable confidence, it’s that China rarely stays still for long. The three cities at the heart of this book are rightly renowned, not only for being jam-packed with world-beating tourist sights but also for capturing the different sides of these beguiling contradictions.

Beijing is fast becoming a full-on megacity, dynamic and diverse with pockets of imperial grandeur and low-rise charm. Xi’an is the original melting pot—the New York City of the first millennium—and reels off its ancient hotspots like tomorrow never actually came. Shanghai’s swagger is of the modern, moneyed variety, but the city tells a seductive tale of former colonial glory and soaring modern ambition. Amid this abundant tourist treasure, hidden dangers lurk: Pollution has become a serious problem for both residents and visitors, navigating what are increasingly large and crowded cities isn’t always easy, and the startling rise of domestic tourism has transformed some of the best-known sights into overpriced circuses. Fortunately for every problem in the People's Republic, there is generally a clever solution. You just have to know the secret. That’s what this book is all about. As an entrée to the very best that China has to offer, follow the lists overleaf.

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Medium 9781628871661

6 SIDE TRIPS FROM TOKYO

Beth Reiber FrommerMedia ePub

6

SIDE TRIPS FROM TOKYO

If your stay in Tokyo is long enough, consider taking an excursion or two. Kamakura and Nikko rank as two of the most important historical sites in Japan, renowned for temples and shrines that relate to former shogun (military dictators). For an overnight stay, I heartily recommend Hakone, famous for its hot-spring spas, spectacular scenery, and unique modes of transportation that include travel by ropeway and boat; you might even see Mt. Fuji on the way.

Your main problem will be deciding where to go. If you take only one day-trip, I would probably choose Kamakura, especially if you’re unable to include the ancient capitals of Kyoto and Nara in your travels. If you’re going to Kyoto and Nara, however, I would probably go to Nikko, but note that it’s a much longer journey and that the main gate is undergoing renovation until 2018. As for Hakone, it can be enjoyed as a side trip from Tokyo or seen en route to other destinations like Kyoto.

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Medium 9781628871661

5 EXPLORING TOKYO

Beth Reiber FrommerMedia ePub

5

EXPLORING TOKYO

Tokyo hasn’t fared very well over the centuries. Fires and earthquakes have taken their toll, old buildings have been torn down in the zeal of modernization, and World War II left most of the city in ruins. Save your historical sightseeing, therefore, for places such as Kyoto or Takayama, and consider Tokyo your introduction to the newest of the new in Japan and the showcase of the nation’s accomplishments in the arts, technology, fashion, pop art, and design. Tokyo also has more museums than any other city in Japan, as well as a wide range of other attractions, including parks, temples, and shrines. In Tokyo you can explore mammoth department stores, sample unlimited cuisines, walk around unique neighborhoods, revel in kitsch, and take advantage of glittering nightlife.

When planning your sightseeing itinerary, keep in mind that the city is huge and it takes time to get from one end to the other. It’s best, therefore, to cover Tokyo neighborhood by neighborhood, coordinating sightseeing with dinner and evening plans. Most museums in Tokyo are closed 1 day of the week (usually Mon) and for New Year’s (generally the last day or two in Dec and the first 1 to 3 days of Jan). If Monday happens to be a national holiday, most national and municipal museums will remain open but will close Tuesday instead. Some of the privately owned museums, however, are closed on national holidays, as well as for exhibition changes. Call beforehand or check websites to avoid disappointment. Remember, too, that you must enter museums at least 30 minutes before closing time. For a listing of current exhibitions, including those being held at major department stores, consult Metropolis, an English-language weekly available in hotels, restaurants, and bars around town as well as online at www.metropolisjapan.com.

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Medium 9781628872385

5 THE GREAT OUTDOORS

Shippen, Mick FrommerMedia ePub

Geese shaped paddleboats wait for rowers at Lumphini Park.

Lumphini Park

An oasis of greenery in the heart of Bangkok’s business and shopping districts, Lumphini Park is where hundreds of Bangkokians seek refuge every day. It’s a hive of activity with Tai Chi, aerobics, bodybuilding, and jogging all happening first thing in the morning. In the evening, office workers shed their ties and don shorts to play takraw—a Thai version of foot-tennis with a rattan ball—and work-out at mass aerobics sessions, while children go boating on the lake and young lovers stroll hand-in-hand. In the cooler months of November to February, you can also listen to the Bangkok Symphony Orchestra at the Sunday evening “Concert in the Park.” This charming park, often referred to as the “Lungs of Bangkok,’ is open every day from 4am to 9pm. START: Metro to Silom.

❶ King Rama VI Statue. King Rama VI, or King Vajiravudh, presented Lumphini Park (which is named after the Nepalese village where the Buddha was born) to the people of the city in 1925. A statue of the king stands outside the southwestern entrance to the park, near the junction of Ratchadamri and Rama IV roads.  5 min. BTS SkyTrain: Sala Daeng or MRT subway, Silom.

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Medium 9781628872385

4 THE BEST SHOPPING

Shippen, Mick FrommerMedia ePub

Central World shopping center.

Shopping Best Bets

Best Antiques in an Antiquated House

★★ House of Chao, Decho Rd (see p 72)

Best for Buying an Engagement Ring in Secret

Uthai’s Gems, 28/7 Soi Ruam Rudi, Ploenchit Rd (see p 77)

Best Cameras

★ Fotofile MBK, Phayathai Rd (see p 73)

Best Cheap Clothes That Will Last for Years

★ Pratunam Market, cnr Phetburi & Ratchaprarop rds (see p 78)

Best Designer Labels

★★ Siam Paragon, cnr Rama I & Phayathai rds, Siam Square (see p 75)

Best English Language Books

★ Kinokuniya, EmQuartier Shopping Complex Sukhumvit (see p 73)

Most Likely Place to Get Lost for a Day

★★★ Chatuchak Weekend Market, Phahonyothin Rd, Chatuchak (see p 77)

Best IT Supplies

Pantip Plaza, 604/3 Petchaburi Rd, Pratunam (see p 75)

Best Made-to-Measure Suits for Men

★★ Marco Tailors, 430/33 Soi 7, Siam Square (see p 79)

Best for Protection Against Evil Spirits

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