The Best China Travel Blogs / by Thomas O'Malley

Update: I'm adding more links to worthy China travel or travel-related blogs at the bottom of the page as I find them.

There are thousands of travel bloggers and no shortage of blogs about China, but the two don’t coincide all that often. China’s history of blocking blog platforms hasn’t helped matters, inbound travel to China is falling, and travel as a topic isn't as click-worthy as stock market crashes or bombastic military parades. So the aim of this work-in-progress list is to seek out and celebrate bloggers and blogs writing about China (in English) in an interesting or inspirational way, with the emphasis on travel. A note on selection: I’ve avoided corporate blogs by travel agencies unless genuinely exceptional, and taken a wide berth around “My Year in China” type journals too unless similarly worthy. News-based blogs likes Wall Street Journal’s China Real Time Report, or tabloid-y China shock story aggregators like The Shanghaiist also won’t feature, though they do occasionally carry travel-related pieces.

www.josephrock.net

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This photoblog by medical writer Michael Woodhead traces the swaggering footsteps of Dr Joseph Rock, an Austro-American botanist who lived near the town of Lijiang in China’s southwest Yunnan province during the 1920s and 30s. Rock travelled across the remote region and into Tibet, taking early color photos of its landscapes for National Geographic magazine, as well as penning a comprehensive study of the Naxi people. Woodhead captures fantastic shots with an old Leica film camera; his 'then and now' photographs side by side with Rock’s are particularly illuminating, often because so little seems to have changed on the Tibetan plateau.

www.shanghaistreetstories.com

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Shanghai Street Stories is the work of Sue Anne Tay, a Singaporean and long-term resident of Shanghai. Hers is a stylish urban blog that records the ever-changing landscape of Shanghai, collecting photographs and stories that focus on the life of citizens and the evolution of one of Asia's great cities. A mix of photojournalism and street photography, her images are supported by anecdotal text, personal stories and useful explanations of Chinese cultural terms.

The Urban Edit

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A stylishly irreverent look at the smarter side of Beijing and Shanghai’s dining, hotels and nightlife, together with a smattering of little-known tourist site recommendations, hidden gems and bespoke boutiques. With articles on everything from the latest luxury hotel rooms in the capital to ‘How to Bargain in Beijing Silk Market’ , it offers something for China noobs and old China hands alike. (I should say I wrote this blog between 2013-14, but don't let that put you off).

www.travelcathay.com

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A step above the usual travel journal type blogs, the Swiss author of Travel Cathay seeks out little known towns and villages, mostly in China’s southwest provinces of Yunnan and Guizhou, that really are off the beaten path. Expect well-informed reports on minority cultures, local architecture, repeated discoveries concerning the Ancient Tea and Horse Road and other travel highlights, as well as (best of all) clear instructions on how to get to these villages on public transport from nearby cities.

www.china-mike.com

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A fun site for first-timers, China Mike cuts through the noise and gets to the heart of the big China travel issues, while also including oddball facts and entertaining potted histories of the major travel destinations. It's all written in Mike’s laidback, “average Zhou” style; but underneath the vernacular it's clear he's a sympathetic, savvy and well-informed observer.

Best of the rest:

www.wildchina.com/blog

A useful destination for noobs, this travel agency blog has some informative listicles about sights and regional Chinese food, along with plenty of promotion for its own high-end trips. 

http://www.echinacities.com/

Strictly speaking not a blog, but this is a good travel resource in English for those tier three cities in China that nobody else tends to write about much. Need to know the best KTV places in Changchun? This site probably has you covered.

http://fiona-reilly.com/blog/

Life on Nanchang Lu is a Chinese travel blog from an expat based in Shanghai. Although seemingly no longer updated, the archive of posts on travel in China go from 2009 to 2016 and are a cut above most blogs in style, content and photography. 

https://www.farwestchina.com/blog

A very well put together Xinjiang / Silk Road travel blog by Josh, a teacher living in the far west of China. He's also written city guides to Kashgar, Turpan and Urumqi which he sells for a small fee via the website.

Got a worthy China travel blog I've missed? Get at me on the CONTACT page.