Using Guangzhou as a springboard, escape the chill that's gripped most of China and explore Hakka culture in Fujian province or the tropical delights of Hainan island. Xu Jingxi explores the opportunities.
While the frigid wind and icy roads in northern China may keep people from taking a short road trip during the weeklong Spring Festival holiday, the warm seaside cities in the country's south are embracing tourists with open arms.
Passenger cars with fewer than seven seats are exempt from highway tolls during the holiday from Feb 9 to 15, so it's also cost-effective to set out from Guangzhou, Guangdong province, and drive to tourist spots in neighboring Fujian and Hainan provinces.
Here are two suggested routes, one exposing you to Hakka culture and the tranquility of lakes and mountains, while the other includes lots of sunshine and takes you to the tropical sea.
Route 1: Explore Hakka culture during the weeklong holiday.
Having arrived in Meizhou, Guangdong province, go to the eastern suburbs to appreciate the stone carving art on the Thousand-Buddha Pagoda and stroll through the former residence of Huang Zunxian, a poet during the late Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), to enjoy the peace and beauty of the Lingnan-style garden.
Spend the night at the Yearning Tea Plantation Tourist Attraction or Yanming Lake Holiday Resort. It will be refreshing to wake up to the sight of green tea fields or a mirror-like lake.
Get some exercise by climbing Yinna Mountain nearby, and then drive to Fujian to spend the night at tulou, the circular communal buildings built by local Hakka people.
Yongding and Nanjing counties are two must-see places to explore tulou. The local people's knowledge of building environmentally friendly houses that keep residents in close communication will amaze you. Tour around tulou and experience local customs together with hospitable tulou residents.
Drive to Xiamen to embrace the sea. Park your car and take the ferry to the car-free Gulangyu Island.
There are so many attractions on the island that it's worth spending two days here. You can climb to the top of Sunlight Rock for an overlook of Xiamen. You can visit China's only and the world's first-class treasure house of pianos, with more than 40 precious ancient pianos on display.
The piano museum is located in Shuzhuang Garden and has an intriguing layout. The sea view is hidden by a high wall until you pass through a gate.
Before you return to Guangzhou, spend some time walking across Xiamen University, one of the most beautiful universities in China.