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Travel guides from China to Tibet - Far East travel guides from Ski Flights

China's hosting of the 2008 Olympics showed off to the world a nation on the rise, where ancient riches are complemented by modern marvels of architecture and engineering. The energy of the place is palpable as the world's largest population emerges from the shadows of recent history and rushes headlong into a future as a (perhaps the) major global player - and a must-see travel destination. Chinese history China's multi-millennial history has been a tumultuous one. One of the world's earliest civilizations, it was ruled for thousands of years by imperial dynasties until the overthrowing of the Qing dynasty in 1911. The civil war in 1945 defined the China of today, ending with the defeated Nationalists fleeing to Taiwan, while Mao's victorious Communists founded the People's Republic of China. The Cultural Revolution in the 1960s effectively closed the country. However, China has made up for lost time since the 1990s: it now boasts the world's fastest growing major economy and its main cities are emerging as cosmopolitan global centres. Culture and cuisine China is a land of natural and cultural superlatives too, encompassing 37 UNESCO World Heritage sites, including the Great Wall and Forbidden City in Beijing, Xi'an's Terracotta Army, traditional Suzhou gardens and the misty peaks of Huangshan. Chinese food ranks among the world's great cuisines, while its distinctive art forms, including acrobatics, martial arts and Chinese opera, add more flavour to the mix. Changing China from Beijing's medley of ancient and futuristic monuments to cosmopolitan Shanghai's skyscrapers and art-deco heritage; and from the heights of the spectacular Tibet (Xizang) Autonomous Region to the karst peaks and rivers of Guizhou, China's experiences are many and varied. Investment spurred on by hosting world events like the Beijing Olympics in 2008, the 2010 Shanghai World Expo and 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou means urban and tourist infrastructure is constantly evolving. And while flexibility and patience are still required to travel around China, in return, the Middle Kingdom rewards visitors with memories to treasure for a lifetime.  More....

Hong Kong
Visually stunning Hong Kong offers a warp-speed ‘shop till you drop’ lifestyle combined with enclaves of tradition. It is a popular tourist destination and one of the world’s major business centers. Hong Kong’s 260 outlying islands, few of which are inhabited, provide a tranquil alternative to its frenetic energy elsewhere. Hong Kong Island is an eclectic mix of modern skyscrapers, colonial buildings and traditional temples. On 1 July 1997, Hong Kong became a Special Administrative Region of China in an arrangement lasting 50 years. Under the ‘one country, two systems’ policy, Hong Kong maintains its own political, social and economic systems. English remains an official language and Hong Kong’s border with China still exists. Hong Kong was part of China before coming under British administration as a result of the 19th-century Opium Wars. When peace terms were drawn up in 1841, Hong Kong Island was ceded to Britain. It remained under British control (apart from a four-year period under Japanese occupation during WWII) until the 1997 handover. Much has changed since 1841 when then foreign Secretary Lord Palmerston described Hong Kong as ‘nothing but a barren island without a house upon it’.  More....

The contrasts of Japan are startling - Tokyo dazzles with bright lights and high-tech gadgetry while the cherry blossoms in Kyoto’s Maruyama Park are symbols of peace and beauty, as they have been for over 1,000 years. Since 1950, Japan has seen exceptional economic growth, becoming one of the world’s most powerful economies. Bustling cities burst with skyscrapers, bullet trains and trendy nightlife. The brief economic dip in the 1990s is starting to recede into the distance, as rampant consumerism again picks up pace. Yet beneath the brash modernity beats an ancient heart. This is still the realm of the exquisite art of the geisha and the skill of the sumo wrestler; where ancient festivals are celebrated and food is elevated to an art form. And Japan is still a land of great natural beauty, from the snow festivals and lavender farms of the northern isle of Hokkaido to the sun-drenched beaches of the subtropical south. Whether you choose to climb Mount Fuji or relax at volcanic hot spring resorts, Japan is unforgettable.  More....

Mongolia is far-flung and little visited yet has much to offer in terms of scenery, wildlife, and historic and cultural sites. Outside the main cities, Mongolians continue to live the traditional life of malchin (herdsmen), and many are nomadic. With one of the world’s lowest population densities, Mongolia’s vast areas of wilderness, desert, lakes and mountains offer plenty of scope for adventurous outdoor enthusiasts. Although independent travel is now becoming more common, travel outside the capital is usually by tours. More....

North Korea
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea shares borders with China, the Sea of Japan, the Yellow Sea and the demilitarised zone (separating it from the Republic of Korea). North Korea’s capital, Pyongyang, was completely rebuilt after the Korean War as a city of wide avenues, neatly designed parks and enormous marble public buildings. The Palace of Culture, the Grand Theater, the Juche Tower and the Ongrui Restaurant epitomise the Korean variant of Communist architecture. The Gates of Pyongyang and the Arch of Triumph (built in honour of Kim Il-Sung’s 70th birthday) are particularly impressive. Many ancient buildings in Kaesong (six hours from the capital by train) bear witness to Korea’s 500-year-old imperial history. The town is surrounded by beautiful pine-clad hills. Kumgangsan is the country’s largest national park, consisting of a range of mountains (known as ’the Diamond Mountains’) along the east coast of the country. Note that only travel companies officially recognized by the North Korean Authorities are permitted to bring groups of tourists to Korea (Dem Rep). Independent tourism is not permitted, and foreigners must be accompanied by a guide at all times.  More.... 

South Korea
TV scenes of thousands of red-wearing fans going crazy over their national team during the 2002 FIFA World Cup is an image which has helped convince a global audience that South Korea is in fact, a fun place to go, a place with dazzling cities, friendly people and beautiful, mystical countryside. Until relatively recently, Korea was an insular place, existing under dynastic rule for centuries. However, the 35-year Japanese occupation from 1910, the split of the peninsula after WWII and the subsequent Korean War shattered all that. Difficult times have however made the Koreans a resilient lot, succeeding economically whilst still holding onto their unique traditions and fascinating culture. Korea is littered with fortresses, temples and palaces, many of them UNESCO World Heritage sites. In addition, the peninsula it shares with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea’s official name) is one of the most mountainous regions in the world, and Korea also has a significant beach-dotted coastline. The capital Seoul winds around the Han River, punctuated by futuristic skyscrapers in one of the most densely populated areas in the world. The city is an increasingly useful Asia-Pacific stopover point, or a hub for a three-center Korea-China-Japan cultural trip.  More....

Taiwan is one of the most unsung tourist destinations in all of Asia, its modern emergence as an economic and industrial powerhouse still overshadowing the staggering breadth of natural, historic and culinary attractions this captivating island has to offer. A fascinating mix of technological innovation and traditional Chinese and aboriginal cultures and cuisines, Taiwan is one of the only places on earth where ancient religious and cultural practices still thrive in an overwhelmingly modernist landscape. On any given day, the casual visitor can experience this unique juxtaposition of old and new, witnessing time-honoured cultural practices while still taking in technological milestones such as the world’s tallest building, Taipei 101, and the new High Speed Rail that links the island’s two largest cities. Beyond the narrow corridor of factories and crowded cities along Taiwan’s west coast is a tropical island of astounding beauty, with by far the tallest mountains in northeast Asia and some of the region’s most pristine and secluded coastline. Add to this the impressive array of cuisines - with specialties from all corners of China as well as authentic aboriginal and Japanese fare - and you’ve got one of the world’s most well-rounded and hospitable holiday destinations.  More....

Tibet, a rich and beautiful land, is located at the main part of Qinghai-Tibet plateau, south-West frontier of China. Tibet borders with Sichuan, Yuannan, Qinghai And Xinjiang; to the south contiguous to India, Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan and Burma, and bounded by Kashmir on the west. When the word Tibet is mentioned it can generate icy chills. In fact it snows only once or twice in a year and owing to the perpetuity of bright sunshine, it is not at all cold during the daytime even in the coldest of the winter. Tibet is so sunny that it produces a year-round sunshine of over 3,000 hours in a year. Its old name-"land of snow"--the name by which Tibet is almost popularly known as, is always thickly covered with snow with hardly any signs Of inhabitation. In fact, it is correct only when it is referred to the world greatest ranges located in Ima, the Tisi, and like. These ranges run by leaps and bounds across the country showing their beautiful snow covered peaks against the bluest of skies. Geographically, Tibet can be divided into three major parts, the east, north and south. The eastern part is forest region, occupying approximately one-fourth of the land. Virgin forests run the entire breadth and length of this part of Tibet. The northern part is open grassland, where nomads and yak and sheep dwell here. This part occupies approximately half of Tibet. The southern and central part is agricultural region, occupying about one-fourth of Tibet's land area. with all major Tibetan cities and towns such as Lhasa, Shigatse, Gyantse ad Tsetang located in this area, it is considered the cultural center of tibet. The total area of the Tibet Autonomous Region is 1,200,000 square kilometres and its population is 1,890,000. The region is administratively divided into one municipality and six prefectures. The municipality is Lhasa, while the six prefectures are Shigatse, Ngari, Lhaoka, Chamdo, Nakchu and Nyingtri (kongpo). The People's Government of the Tibet Autonomous Region exercises the hightest adminis-trative authority in Tibet. Tibetan history can be traced thousands of years back. However, the written history only dates back to the 7th century when Songtsan Gampo, the 33rd Tibetan king, sent his minister Sambhota to India to study Sanskrit who on his return invented the present Tibetan script based on Sanskrit. Tibet's history can be diveded into four periods The Tsanpo's Period This period starts from Nyatri Tsanpo, the first of the Tsanpos, in 127 B.C(historians differ in view of the date, but this date is taken from the White Annales, a reliabl book on Tibetan history) and ends in 842 A.D. at the death of Lang Dharma, the last of the Tsanpos, who was assassinated by a buddhist monk owing to Lang Dharma's ruthless persecution of Buddhism. During this period some 42 Tsanpos had ruled over Tibet among which Songtsan Gampo's rule was considered as the zenith. Songtsan Gamoi was an outstandingruler, he unified Tibet, changed his capital to Lhasa, sent Sambhota to India to study Sanskrit and promulaged a script for the Tibetan on the latter's arrival to tbiet, married Princess Wencheng of the tang Court and Pricess Bhrikuti Debi of Nepal, built the Potala and the temple and the temple of Jokhang The period of Decentrailzation This period began in 842 A.D. the year of Lang Dharma's assassination, and ended in about 1260 A.D, when Pagpa, the Abbot of Sakya monastery, became a vassal of Kublai Khan, the first Emperor of the Yuan Dynasty. During this period a little is known in history except that Tibet vecame decentralized into a number of petty principalities. The period of Sakya, Pagdu, and Karmapa's Rule This period began with Sakya's rule over Tibet, followed first by Pagdu's rule in Lhaoka and then by Karmara's rule in the Tsang region(Shigatse). The sakya period was the time when Tibet officially became an inseparable part of China. This period lasted from 1260 A.D to 1642 A.D during which political powers centred in the three regions of Sakya, Pagdu, and tsang successively ruled over Tibet. The period of the gandan Podrang's Administration This period is the period in which the Dalai Lama ruled Tibet. It started in 1642 A.D. when the 5th Dalai Lama overtook the ruling power from the Tsang ruler. It basically ended in 1951 when Tibet was liberated and came to a complete end in 1959 when rebellion led by the Dalai Lama was pacified and the People's Government of the Tibet, Autonomous Region was set up.  More....

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