Travel Prep 101, Part 2: Qu Na'er?

This is the second part of a three-part feature. For part 1 (weighing your options), click here.

Travel Prep 101, Part 1: Weighing Your Options

This is the first part of a three-part feature. Parts two and three will be featured in coming days.

Vacations are supposed to be relaxing. After planning, packing, and re-checking everything for your family getaway, getting to the airport or navigating security shouldn’t be additional source of stress. Here, we offer a comparison of airline baggage allowances.

Spring Fling, Part 3: Beaches

This is the third and final part of a three-part feature. For part 1 (cities), click here. For part 2 (sports), click here.

Railay Beach, Thailand

Suitable for: Ages 8+
Flight duration: About six hours in total. From Phuket airport, there’s a two-hour ride to Ao Nang in Krabi, where the boat leaves for Railay Beach.
Visa information: More than 40 countries are visa-exempt and can stay for up to 30 days in Thailand (see for details).
Recommended vaccinations: Hepatitis A, typhoid, Japanese encephalitis, and anti-malaria medications.

Spring Fling, Part 2: Sports

This is the second part of a three-part feature. For part 1 (cities), click here.

Trekking and Hiking in Myanmar

Suitable for: Ages 8+
Flight duration: Six hours to Bangkok, followed by a 40-minute domestic flight to Myanmar’s Heho Airport
Visa information: Tourist visas required in advance or on arrival; e-visas are available for certain nationalities (check for details).
Recommended vaccinations: Malaria, hepatitis A and B, Japanese encephalitis, and typhoid

Myanmar’s turbulent history means that the country has only started opening up to tourism in the past few years. Virtually untouched by modern-day excesses, the country’s allure lies in its unspoiled landscapes, colorful festivals, and breathtaking temples. The most famous attraction is Bagan, but nature lovers will also enjoy Golden Rock, Ngapali Beach, Mandalay, Yangon, and Shan State.

Spring Fling, Part 1: Cities

This is the first part of a three-part feature. That will be featured in coming days.

Spring Fling - Get into gear for Chinese New Year

Although it’s not 2015 yet, believe us - in travel terms, Chunjie is almost here. The Spring Festival sees an annual exodus from Beijing to all parts of China, Asia, and beyond. And it’s not just the Chinese who are on the move; the Lunar New Year is a major holiday in many neighboring countries. The   fact that 2015 is a lunar “leap” year, which means that the first day of Chunjie falls much later than usual on February 19, that’s no excuse to dawdle on booking plane tickets and accommodations. We feature ten gorgeous domestic and international destinations, and focus on what makes them great for families. We’ve done your homework for you, so now it’s really time for you to get the credit card out!

Maker's Corner: Bat O’Lantern - Keystone’s Halloween centerpiece will get your party pumpkin


Nine-year-old Coco Zhai bounces into Nan Lu’s art classroom, eager to get crafting. Both Coco and Lu Laoshi are native Beijingers, and pioneers at the fresh-as-paint Keystone Academy. The impressive and spacious campus is housed in a red brick, modern-meets-Jacobean building in Shunyi. Lu is the art teacher at the bilingual primary school, which opened its doors in September with almost 200 students. Keystone emphasizes using the arts to encourage exploration, collaboration, and independent thinking – and it shows. Under Lu’s watchful eye, bubbly Coco breezes through our Halloween craft project, to which she adds her own twist. “He needs a crazy mouth to go with his crazy eyes,” she says, giggling.

Weekend Warrior: Forest Families - Commune by the Great Wall isn’t just for architecture nerds

In 2002, a project featuring the work of 12 prominent Asian architects won a special architecture award at the Venice Biennale. This is the familiar story of Commune by the Great Wall, a series of boutique retreats located far from the clamor of downtown Beijing. Now managed by SOHO China, the collection has grown to include 40 villas – many of them replicas of the original houses.

I first heard of Commune by the Great Wall when I moved to Beijing four years ago, but I didn’t have a chance to visit until this August. Over the past few years, the boutique hotel has turned its attention to families with the construction of a kids’ club in 2007. When we arrived at the Courtyard, the Commune’s central clubhouse, there were many Chinese families milling about despite the light rain outside.

What's Fun In: Roll Out the Red Carpet - Eight places to see some of Beijing’s autumn colors

Autumn is finally in full swing. Be sure to catch Beijing in a sea of yellow, orange, and red leaves before winter turns the city a dreary gray. The changing leaves are a beautiful sight to behold, especially in areas covered with maples, gingko trees, and oaks. Fragrant Hills (Xiangshan) is one of the most popular places in Beijing to appreciate the changing of the seasons, but it also happens to be one of the most crowded. Several other sites in Beijing offer a better alternative to the popular destination for a day of hiking or walking, photography, and playing in the leaves.

Baiwangshan 百望山
Boasting a variety of maple trees from the US and Holland, Baiwangshan has two main sightseeing points: the Friendship Pavilion and Langfeng Pavilion. The Friendship Pavilion is accessible through a flat walking path surrounded by trees while Lanfeng Pavilion offers a panoramic view from the top of the mountain. Best times to go: Mid-October to mid-November

Birthday Bash: Break Out! Make room for Omescape

The Room Escape concept began with online shockwave flash puzzle games – point-and-click adventures in which players must uncover clues and solve riddles to escape from a locked room. In Japan, enthusiasm for the games grew to the point where real-life versions were created by fans. Chinese entrepreneur Hu Yuxiang tried a live-action Room Escape with his friends, and was inspired to replicate the experience here. 

Talking Shop: La Dolce Vita - Vivienne Li wants you to stop and smell the rose gelato

When Vivienne Li decided to take a break from public relations and marketing, it was to rethink her career. She wanted her next endeavor to be creative and sustainable, something that she and others could enjoy and share. Li got her answer after discovering gelato on a trip to Italy.

She returned to attend Carpiagini Gelato University, where she took a full course on the art of gelato making and interned at the institution’s gelataria. In 2012, her business Vivi Dolce was born.

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