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How to get from China to Ulaanbaatar (Mongoila) cheaply

We’ve put together a 4 part series on how to reach Ulaanbaatar from China for under US$60 per person (The international train from Beijing normally costs $250). This is a quick post to summarise the costs and some links to help you read more in-depth about all of the stages we went through to make this happen. Visas Obviously visas are not a part of your transport costs but if …

How to Cross the Border: Erlian (China) to Zamiin-uud (Mongolia)

Mongolian visa stamped in Zamiin uud

Getting from Erlian (China) to Zamiin-uud (Mongolia) is perhaps the strangest border crossing we have ever made. Though everything went relatively smoothly, it certainly wouldn’t have been as easy if we hadn’t done a little research in advance! This is the complete A to B story of how we made it… Getting Around Erlian We’d been led to believe that getting sleeper train tickets from Zamiin-uud to Ulaanbaatar would be …

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Antai hotel, Erlian. China to Ulaanbaatar part 2!

9.5 hours in a hard seat of a Chinese train may not have been our worst China travel experience, but when we pulled up at Erlian station at 7.23pm our first priority was to beat the wave of Chinese people to the cheap hotels! We needn’t of worried. Wherever the mass of people disappeared to, it wasn’t the budget hotels. After discovering that the Hotel next to the station charged …

From Hohhot to Erlian by train. China to Ulaanbaatar part 1!

We pushed our way through hundreds of Chinese people clambering to get through the entry gates to the platform and headed towards the train… The ticket for a 9.5 hour journey to the Mongolian border had been surprisingly cheap and we were about to find out why! It cost us only 29 RMB (about $5.50) per person to get two hard seats on train 6856 from Hohhot in Inner Mongolia …

How to get your Mongolian visa in Hohhot (China)

Passport

This is the first part of our guide for budget travellers trying to get from China to mongolia. For most passport holders (USA excluded, lucky bastards!) you will need to get a visa for Mongolia. There are 3 places in mainland China to do this: Beijing, Hohhot and Erlian. In July 2013 we chose Hohhot, a city in the Chinese province of Inner Mongolia, to get our same day visa. …

The Hengshan Hanging Monastery & Yungang Grottoes (Datong)

The city of Datong is currently a massive building site. This does not make it a desirable tourist destination. Fortunately it is located right in-between two of the best attractions in Northern China. The Hanging Monastery at Hengshan Mountain is over 1,500 years old and defies belief as it hangs on the edge of a sheer rock face. The temple is located some 65km south-east of Datong, you wind through …

Eating Starfish – on a stick! Wangfujang market, Beijing. (Video)

TOMMO EATS SOMETHING TERRIBLE. For weird food eaters, Wangfujang Night Market in Beijing is well known as a culmination of many of China’s stranger “delicacies”. This maybe true, and if you have a large and frivolous wallet then perhaps you can afford to sample them all. Unfortunately we don’t, so I chose one of the cheaper options, Starfish (20 yuan – $3.75), and will have to come back to other …

Across the North Korea Border and back again!

The city of Dandong is China’s main link with North Korea. Aside from being a trade hub it is also a major tourist attraction as it is one of the only places in the world where you can quite easily, briefly cross the border into North Korea. The Yalu river separates China and North Korea. Although crossing into NK properly is actually a rather complicated and expensive process, taking a tourist ferry …

Why Visit Harbin (China) in the Summer?

St Sophia Cathedral, Harbin

Harbin is most famous for its winter ice carving festival. This occurs in January every year when temperatures plunge to -30 celsius. Now, I love art and everything… but minus 30!? That sounds pretty cold to me. We decided to head to Harbin to see what is on offer during the warmer months and we were very glad we did! Before arriving we had asked around Chinese friends if it …

Do Traditional Chinese Doctors Know What They Are On About?

As a Westerner in China you see traditional Chinese medicine stores all over the place. They contain shelves of strange concoctions and herbal medicines that we have never seen or even heard of before and which would certainly be frowned upon by any doctor from back home. But when we were offered the opportunity to visit an actual traditional Chinese doctor we thought we would go along just to see …

5 things to do in Guangzhou

FUN FOR A FIVER: Guangzhou. It used to be a regular route for backpackers. First visit Hong Kong on a “Visa Run” and then enter China overland heading towards Guangzhou the birthplace of Cantonese cuisine. Backpackers from yesteryear tell tales of a hub where people journeyed to (before Internet, or mass production of travel guides) to discuss travel, where they’ve been, how they did it and where they are going to! …

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10 random (but useful) things you should know about Hong Kong

Hong kong festival of lights

Hong Kong is a city of contrasts. Sky high prices and sky high buildings litter the central district, by Asian standards Hong Kong is certainly not somewhere the budget traveller should consider “affordable”. On the other hand there are ways around the budget problem that sometimes come as a surprise, and parts of Hong Kong that will leave you wondering if you are in a city at all. This is …