Kermesse at French school

On June 11th, Travel-Stone was actively involved in the French School Fair. As sponsor, we gave one trip to Pingyao, at a value of 2000 RMB, and three vouchers. Travel-Stone animated also the football corner. In spite of the heavy rain at the beginning of the party, a lot of children visited our stand to play the “tir-au-but”. We were glad to share with them this simple moment of happiness.

Benjamin, student in CM2, is the lucky person who has won the trip to Pingyao. “It is very nice that Travel-Stone gives presents for the lucky draw. Sincerely, we didn’t expect at all to win something, that’s why we are so happy to have this trip. It will be the opportunity for us to discover a new place in China.” told Mr. Frederic Potie, Benjamin’s father.

Six Senses in Ninh Van Bay, Nha Trang, Vietnam

If you are looking for a peaceful holiday at the beach, for a luxurious resort which respects the nature, Ninh Vay Bay, in Nha Trang, Vietnam,  is the right place.

The villas of Six Sens Hideaway are built in the middle of a picturesque setting where traditional Vietnamese architecture is blended into the natural surrounding. Imposing rock formations, lofty mountains, a white sand beach and lush vegetation embrace the Six Senses Hideaway, which can only be reached by boat.

The price of the resort is quite high, starting from more than 400 USD/night. However, each villa is big enough for 6 persons, and they all have a very nice private swimming pool. When you are in one of these villas, you feel you are alone, the villas are far apart. The breakfast buffet, included in the room fees, is wonderful, with a very high quality and a large choice of traditional and western foods. The staff is absolutely professional, very polite and helpful.

The beach in Ninh Van Bay is not ideal for swimming though. There are a lot of coral, pretty close to the beach.

For a honeymoon or a honeymoon “bis”, this destination is not bad at all!

Here are some suggestions of Travel-Stone for the Vietnam.

Wakeboarding in Hong Kong, Central (almost)

You are in Hong Kong for a week end and you don’t want to go shopping (you already have the iphone,  the ipad and the ibrouette), you have wandered in the old streets of Hong Kong (an entry in the blog to come soon). For a change, why not do a bit of sport and get away from the metropolis?

wakeboard hong kong
in front of Tai Tam Tuk

Thought of wakeboarding?  You’ve never done it? never mind, it’s quite simple to learn, much simpler than waterski anyway. If you’re in Central, the closest spot is to go to Tai Tam Tuk village. Take Minibus 16M from Chai Wan MTR Station and get off at Tai Tam Reservoir Road (10-15 minutes) and walk to Tai Tam Tuk Village (10 minutes). Or… take a taxi from Central (around HKD 110).

There are a few wakeboard companies, quite similar. I tried, number 78 on the single street, and I recommend it: call 31204102 and you’ll get Frankie.

wakeboard hong kong
in case you're wondering, that's not me

If anything, Tai Tam Tuk is nicely located, on a little channel, blocked by an old English dam and surrounded by an almost wild nature, you can’t think you’re just 10mn from the concrete of the city. Just sitting on the boat is fun. And then, you go wakeboarding. Another kind of fun.

wakeboard hong kong
that's more like me


You can also do water ski, you should ask in advance since not all the boats are powerful enough.

If you want to organize your trip to Hong Kong, you can contact us, we have interesting deals with great hotels: Hong Kong deals

Escape at Koh Samet, Thailand

Just 200 kilometers from Bangkok in the Gulf of Thailand, the T-shaped island of Koh Samet is famed for its white sandy beaches, exotic coral and crystal clear waters. Koh Samet has developed steadily over the past decade or so, but it hasn’t been the victim of over zealous construction which has hit the likes of Koh Samui (or even Koh Chang). 

Koh Samet is close to Bangkok (200 km), the island is ideal for those in the capital wanting to chill-out with their families for a couple of days. Or for those coming from further away who don’t want to take another flight from Bangkok.

Even if the Island is so popular, travelers still can find tranquility there thanks to the multitude of small beaches.

Hat Sai Kaew (Diamond Beach) is one of the most beautiful and most popular beaches on Koh Samet. Hat Sai Kaew is 1 kilometer long and 25 – 30 meters wide. The name speaks for itself, Hat Sai Kaew, which literally means Crystal Sand Beach. From dusk to dawn, it’s sunbathing, swimming, jet skiing, windsurfing, riding on a banana boat and finally partying at night.

For those looking for a truly relaxing experience on the white, clean sandy beach, Ao Noi Na, which is located near Hat Sai Kaew is more suitable.

Ao Put Sa is a small bay on Koh Samet which draws repeat visitors intent on relaxing. Suitable for those who are tired of crowded beaches and nightlife activities, Ao Put Sa offers a quiet retreat that reunites visitors with nature in its crystal clear waters.

Ao Thian (Candlelight Beach)‘s topography is painted by rocky beach. This beach is very quiet and free from group tours with bungalows and resorts available around the beach area.

The best season to go there is from October to April.

You can check a (short) sample of the holiday we offer in Thailand

Weekend in Henan

The province of Henan, about 600 km in the south of Beijing, is a good destination for a weekend, with it’s well known sites as Shaolin Temple, Longmen grottoes and the old capital of Luoyang.

The old Shaolin temple, built in 495 AD, is very well preserved. Almost as large as the Lama Temple in Beijing, it is surrounded with forests and hills. While visiting the temple, you can enjoy a show of Wushu,term used for Chinese martial arts, popularly known as kungfu. This show is rather impressive. Our children enjoyed it very much. It is possible also to organize a small training of this discipline during your stay. The kungfu spirit appears very strongly in this area. Young people practicing kungfu are seen everywhere. Close to the temple, the hotel Shanwu may be a good choice. Rooms are clean and price reasonable. However, the breakfast is very poor and hotel’s staff can not help much with suggestions of activities we can do. If you are interested in kungfu,this trip is interesting.

Leaving the Shaolin temple, we head to the Longmen Grottoes. The site, situated along the river Yi is really nice. Some of the Buddha sculptures are quite impressive. This place is worth a visit. It’s the highlight of our trip. At the other side of the river, the Dongshan hotel must be the best choice in the area. It is on the top of a hill, clean and well decorated.

We ended our trip in Henan with a day in Luoyang. The Temple of the White Horse is just ok but the city has almost nothing left of the old capital. Maybe instead, we should have spent time for a trekking in nature at the Geopark at Yuntaishan.

Splurge on Koh Samui

We were coming back from Kho Phangan and had to spend one last night in Koh Samui. For one night, let’s spend all the remaining dollars on one of these fancy hotels sprouting on Koh Samui.

It’s not difficult to find a few dreamy names: Four Seasons, Banyan Tree, W Hotel and many more. We’ve opted, a bit randomly, for the Six Senses. And it was near perfect: large room with a private swimming pool.

View from the room

Excellent food with a large choice of Thai dishes. The beach is not the strongest point: it’s nice but not exceptional and the water was very (but very) low, in this season anyway: you kill your feet before having a chance to swim. I’m usually a beach person, but for once, the swimming pool was so well designed, overlooking the Gulf of Thailand, it far surpasses the beach.

The swimming pool

We can be quite picky but when we left, we were at pain finding a defect we were supposed to mention on the departure questionnaire.

Weekend in Wanlong for our lucky draw winner

Following our lucky draw in February, the winner Andrea Scarlett had the chance, with her husband Zach, to spend the whole weekend in Wanlong ski resort.

Departing from Beijing on Friday afternoon with our driver Mr Li, they stayed two nights at Shuanglong hotel (with heated floors 😉 ) and had the chance to ski for two days at Wanlong ski resort.

Our winners:

A la découverte de Taiwan

Si les touristes se ruent sur la Chine continentale ou Hongkong, Taïwan en général ne suscite pas une vive envie de découverte. Pourtant c’est une bonne destination, surtout quand on vient de Chine continentale, comme nous l’explique notre partenaire Travel-Stone.

Entre les musées, les temples et les marchés de nuit, la ville de Taipei à elle seule mérite déjà bien 3 jours de visite.

300 ans auparavant, Taipei n’était que marécage, prairies et rizières. Aujourd’hui la ville s’est transformée en une ville cosmopolite, une métropole fascinante où modernités et traditions se mélangent à perfection.

Visiteurs, ne ratez surtout pas la tour 101! Ce « majestueux bambou bleu turquoise » de 508 mètres de hauteur a été la plus grande tour au monde jusqu’en 2007. Les visiteurs peuvent monter 91 étages en 39 secondes ! Préparez-vous au mal de l’air!

Depuis la hauteur de la tour qui fait la fierté de Taiwan, le soir, vous pouvez voir la ville entière illuminée.

La nuit dans la capitale

Taipei est une ville nocturne. Les bars, les maisons de thé se trouvent dans tous les coins des rues. Il y en a pour tous les goûts. La ville est particulièrement animée dans les marchés de nuit, qui se réunissent quotidiennement.

On y va pour acheter des vêtements pas cher, des bibelots, mais surtout pour vivre l’ambiance bon enfant et déguster les multiples plats de la cuisine populaire taïwanaise.

A ne pas rater

Le plus beau musée d’art chinois au monde se trouve ici: l’immense musée du Palais National. Plus de 650000 pièces d’art de toute sorte et de toute époque, dont plusieurs collections de la Cité interdite, y tracent l’histoire de la Chine ancienne.

Des porcelaines, des chevaux, des peintures, des calligraphies, vous y trouverez les plus belles pièces devenus introuvables en Chine continentale.

Pour ceux qui s’intéressent à l’histoire, il ne faudrait pas non plus manquer les quartiers qui conservent encore les vestiges de Taipei d’hier, comme Manka, renommé Wanhua. Village aborigène à l’origine, Manka est devenu une métropole prospère au début du 19è siècle.

Puis l’envasement de la rivière Tamsui et les guerres entre immigrants l’ont conduit au déclin. Aujourd’hui, les anciens temples, les écoles, les passages et les magasins traditionnels témoignent encore aussi bien de l’essor que du déclin de Manka.

Les temples à Taipei sont magnifiques. Les statues en bronze, les sculptures sur bois ou sur pierre y atteignent toujours une finition exceptionnelle. Les temples font partie intégrante de la vie quotidienne des Taïwanais.

Ils constituent à la fois des lieux de commémoration, des sanctuaires, et des lieux de prière. L’ambiance dans ces temples respire d’une sérénité absolue et d’un sentiment du sacré. Parmi eux, le temple de Longshan et le temple de Confucius sont les plus représentatifs.

Sortir de Taipei

Tout d’abord les gorges de Taroko, dans le centre du pays et ses cascades, ses tunnels, ses ponts suspendus, ses temples, pagodes et pavillons juchés sur les versants des montagnes et ses vues imprenables.

Puis visite de l’immense parc national de Yangmingshan, facilement accessible depuis Taipei. Montagnes couvertes d’arbres luxuriants, chutes d’eau ravissantes, lacs et rizières en terrasse, la Chine comme on l’a rêvée et rarement vue.

Tainan est un passage obligé dans les circuits car c’est la ville historique dans le sud de l’ile. Mais le peu de vestige qu’il reste est décevant.

S’Il reste quelques jours, pourquoi pas une virée à la plage? Après une heure et demie de train, descente à la gare de Fulong, à 10 minutes à pied de la plage. Ce n’est pas la plus belle plage à Taïwan , mais si facilement accessible.

Puis direction Ruifang par le train pour prendre ensuite un taxi pour Jiufen, un ancien village minier. Jiufen est célèbre pour ses rues étroites et serpentées qui montent et descendent, longées d’ échoppes surmontées de lanternes, et qu’embaument gâteaux et petits plats.

Pour le dernier jour à Taiwan, il faut faire trempette dans les sources chaude: un must absolu. Depuis Taipei, une demi-heure de métro et on arrive à Xin Beitou où se trouve un large choix de bains d’eau chaude. Pour un cadre intime dans un hôtel de luxe, vous en aurez pour 50 euros par personne, mais vous en trouverez aussi à 1 euro par personne dans un lieu public, au milieu de la nature, le vrai bain populaire taiwanais.

Si vous avez encore le temps, vous pouvez visiter le parc national de Kenting qui couvre une côte de 60 km de long entourée de récifs de corail, où la baignade est possible tout au long de l’année.

Quand on est déjà dans la région, Taïwan vaut vraiment le coup. Un petit détail côté budget: il faut prévoir un peu large. Tout est facilement deux fois plus cher qu’à Pékin.

Reward Program

To thank our growing number of loyal customers, Travel-stone has just launched its reward program.

Simple, no arcane rules or miles you can never use:
book 3 packages holiday with us and get 5% off on your 4th trip (valid for package tour  only).

– the previous trips must be acknowledged by Travel-Stone who is the sole judge in case of conflict
– not available on Club Med offers
– you can decide to give back this sum to Agape, a handicap association in China
– at any moment, Travel-Stone may decide to stop its reward program without any justification