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You, too, can cool off-for a price

By He Qi | China Daily | Updated: 2017-07-25 07:32

Shanghai resident Wang Liyun made one of the most hasty travel decisions of her life when she applied for annual leave, escaped the heat and took shelter with her family in Qingdao, Shandong province.

Tortured by the heat wave that has broiled eastern China for about two weeks, the 35-year-old bank worker booked a flight and left Shanghai with her son on Friday, when the mercury there surged to a record high 40.9 C.

Without doubt, the trip was costly-1,200 yuan ($178) per day on average. Her total expenses in the seaside city north of Shanghai were higher than a trip to Japan.

"We had to stay in the budget hotels with poor air-conditioners and facilities because the star hotels were fully booked," Wang said. "But I am still very happy because I didn't have to tolerate the sweltering weather in Shanghai. Walking along the shore at night was very comfortable."

The recent high temperatures in eastern China are pushing the wealthy in Shanghai and some other cities to cooler places for short vacations.

According Ctrip, a major online travel agency, Shanghai, Beijing and Chengdu are the top three cities with the most people traveling to escape the heat this summer. Cooler places, including Qingdao, Kunming in Yunnan province, Qinhuangdao in Hebei province, Xiamen in Fujian province and the Tibet autonomous region are their most popular destinations.

Hotels near these destinations are virtually full, and some popular rooms are booked until early August.

On Tuniu, another online travel agency, the most frequent keyword is bishu, or escape the heat. Searches have increased 52 percent week-on-week the agency said.

It added that domestic travel routes of eight to 15 days are the most popular this summer.

Outbound tourism is also a choice for many this summer, as Africa has gained the attention of Chinese tourists.

"South Africa became a popular travel destination in recent years. During China's summer, the average temperature there is about 10 C," said Liu Qingtian, a tour guide from Beijing who will lead a group to the country on Thursday.

For those in the middle class who cannot afford a lavish vacation, seeking shelter at a high-end hotel in a nearby city is another choice.

Luxury hotels with independent swimming pools, as well as specialty food and courteous service have key advantages, Ctrip said.

Also, some people worry about staying out of the heat when the vacation ends. On Monday, Shanghai issued a red alert, the highest of four levels, for the second time this year when the mercury in the landmark Xujiahui area jumped to 40.2 C.

The Shanghai Meteorological Service said things won't cool down until the end of the month.

"There's no annual vacation left this year," Wang said. "To escape the upcoming heat, I may have to choose a road trip to nearby places like Chongming Island or Qingpu district."

He Qi in Shanghai contributed to this story.

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