Things are beginning to heat up in the China space in 2018 — at least as far as Ireland is concerned. On June 2nd, Cathay Pacific will start their new direct, non-stop service from Dublin to Hong Kong with flights on Monday’s, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, leaving at 00.50hrs and arriving in Hong Kong at 06.45 hrs. This will be the first time that Ireland and China have ever been linked by a direct service and is expected to be a boon, not only for tourists but also business interests as well.

There is now a very real possibility that Ireland will get a second direct (but not non-stop) service to China with news emerging that Hainan Airlines have already applied for a four-times weekly service from Beijing via Edinburgh. It’s now beginning to look like 2018 will be the year in which to visit the ‘Middle Kingdom’ and what an amazing place China is! Everything about it just defies description — amongst them its mind-bogglingly large population which stood at 1.379 Billion in 2016 and which is growing at a rate of approximately 17.2 million per annum! Such is the rate of expansion of the Chinese economy that they are building more than 500 new power station each year, just to keep pace with demand.

Don’t forgot though that China is a very large country too, in terms of area and is only marginally smaller than the United States when Alaska is included — 9.597 million square kilometres versus 9.834 million sq. kms for the USA. Take Alaska out of the equation and the continental United States shrinks to 8.08M sq. kms., so despite its enormous population, there still remains huge swathes of countryside that seem no more crowded than what you would expect in other countries, including Ireland.

Travel Centres is running a dedicated Irish group out to China later this year in October and places can be booked in any of the more than 70 affiliated agencies that can be found right across the country (go to www.travelbug.ie and click on ‘Find an Agent’ to find the nearest one to where you live!) The itinerary features expected highlights such as the Great Wall of China; the Terracotta Warriors at Xian; Shanghai; Guilin and, of course Beijing itself. The tour departs Ireland October 13th and is 16 days in duration and is priced keenly at €3,720 per person which includes all excursions, visa, flights, accommodation and meals as specified on the itinerary.

This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit one of the world’s most amazing countries in the company of fellow Irish travellers and at a competitive price.

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