Destinations of interest in China

Hangzhou Grand Canal

Places Near Shanghai To Visit Over The Weekend

As a popular tourist destination, Shanghai is a must-visit city for many local and foreign tourists. Shanghai has much to offer a bustling first class city, However, if you’re in Shanghai with a few days to spare, and yearning for a change of pace, be sure to check out the beautiful destinations nearby!



One of the most popular places to visit near Shanghai is Huangshan. A short 50 minutes away by flight, the ‘yellow mountain’ is an incredibly picturesque place. It looks straight out of a traditional Chinese painting, and is well-deserving of its UNESCO World Heritage Site status. We recommend spending at 2 nights at this place, and take the opportunity to view one of the most beautiful sunrises nature has to offer. 




About 2 hours via high-speed train away from Shanghai is Hangzhou. Hangzhou is prosperous city that sits at the Southern end of the Grand Canal, also known as the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal. The Canal is the oldest and longest in the world, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Hangzhou is also home to many idyllic sceneries and attractions, such as the West Lake and Longjing Tea Fields. We recommend spending 1-2 nights stay at this scenic city.

Hangzhou Grand Canal
Hangzhou Grand Canal
West Lake Hangzhou
West Lake Hangzhou



Suzhou is another popular destination a stone throw away from Shanghai. 30 minutes by high-speed train, Suzhou is famous for its Classical Gardens which are collectively a UNESCO World Heritage site. Tongli Water Town in Suzhou is also known as the ‘Oriental Venice’, for its unique water town scenery. We recommend a day’s excursion to explore the sceneries of Suzhou. 

Suzhou Tongli Water Town
Suzhou Tongli Water Town
Suzhou Lingering Garden
Suzhou Classical Garden




A little further away from Shanghai lies Wuxi, about 1 hour by high-speed train. Wuxi is home to many beautiful attractions, such as the Jichang Garden, and Turtle Head Park. The Jichang Garden in Wuxi rivals that of Suzhou (we find it more even more beautiful than Suzhou’s Classical Gardens!), and as it is relatively unknown, that means less crowds to contend with. We recommend a day’s excursion to Wuxi. 

Wuxi Jichang Gardens
Wuxi Jichang Gardens



About 2-3 hours by high speed train from Shanghai is Nanjing. Having served as the capital of various Chinese dynasties, Nanjing has been an important cultural, political and financial hub of China. Rich history abounds in Nanjing – from the Sun Yat Sen Mausoleum to the Linggu Pagoda, the city tells its story to anyone who stops to listen. 

Sun Yat Sen Mausoleum
Sun Yat Sen Mausoleum
Linggu Pagoda
Linggu Pagoda

All these places we have mentioned are within driving distance from Shanghai. You can easily take a weekend to visit these lovely places. Of course, you could also take a short flight to destinations like Chengdu and Xian as well!


If you’re interested to explore these places together with us, feel free to drop us an email at

Lijiang Impressions Show

The Wonders of Yunnan

Yunnan is one of the most culturally diverse places in China, with the highest number of ethnic groups. About half of China’s ethnic minorities reside in Yunnan, and account for about 38% of the population of Yunnan. The Yunnan landscape is equally diverse, its geography peppered with mountain ranges, and swaths of water bodies.

With so many things to see and do in Yunnan, one might feel somewhat overwhelmed. But not to worry, we’re here to help!



The capital and largest city of Yunnan province is also most likely the first city you’ll visit. Equipped with an airport and railway station, this city would be your gateway to other places such as Dali, Lijiang and Shangri-la 


Stone Forest Yunnan U China Travel
Stone Forest

One of the most popular places around Kunming is the Stone Forest. Large protruding stone ‘trees’ cover the Stone Forest, giving visitors a sense of grandeur and mystery.


Dian Lake

If you prefer the serenity of water, then Dian Lake would be the place to go. Also known as the Kunming Lake, this beautiful freshwater lake was the model for another ‘Kunming Lake’ in the Summer Palace in Beijing. 


Ethnic Minority Village

You can’t visit Yunnan without making a trip to the Yunnan Minority Village, a place where the traditions and culture of Yunnan ethic groups are celebrated.


YuanYang Rice Terrace

Nearby Kunming lies the Yuanyang Rice Terraces, one of the most beautiful rice terraces in the world. In fact, the local community have been granted the title of ‘Skillful Sculptor’ by the Ming Dynasty emperor and the terraced fields have been officially recognised as a UNESCO site.


Jianshui China Yunnan
Jianshui Ancient Town

Jianshui Ancient Town is one of the more famous historic and cultural towns of Yunnan. Well known as a ‘museum of ancient buildings and residential houses’, this town retains the traditional style of the original town from the Ming Dynasty.


Dongchuan Red Earth

Dongchuan Red Earth is about 40km away from Kunming, and is a beautiful and unique sight to behold, even within Yunnan. The red earth and green pastures seem to be taken from a painting.


A city where new and old live in harmony. As one of the most popular tourist destinations in Yunnan, there’s much to do and see here.

The Three Pagodas China
The Three Pagodas

The Three Pagodas of Chongsheng compromise of one of the tallest pagodas in China’s history. Arranged in an equilateral triangle, this magnificent trio have withstood great disasters for over 1000 years. 


Erhai Lake Yunnan
Erhai Lake

Erhai Lake is a serene lake that adds to the pristine beauty of Dali. Created via an alpine fault, the lake rests 1972m above sea level. If you’re lucky, you might even spot the famous tradition of local fishermen catching fish with the help of trained cormorant birds!


Xizhou Town Yunnan
Xizhou Town

If you appreciate architecture and aesthetics, then the ancient Xizhou Town is a place you must visit! With a rich and thriving place in the history of Yunnan, many buildings in Xizhou are beautifully crafted and are protected heritage sites.



Weather in Lijiang can swing widely through the year. Its high elevation and closer proximity to the equator brings about cold dry winters and warm wet summers. Nonetheless, Lijiang is still a place of incredible beauty, somewhere you’ll want to add into your travel list.


Lijiang Old Town

Perhaps the most famous place in Lijiang is the Lijiang Old Town, a UNESCO heritage site. An important historical centre of Lijiang, this ancient town comes alive every day with bustling crowds. There’s much to see, do and eat here in Lijiang Old Town.


Lijiang Impressions Show
Lijiang Impressions Show

The Lijiang Impressions show is probably one of the most amazing outdoor performances you’ll ever watch! Directed by Zhang Yimou and using the snow-capped Jade Snow Mountain as a backdrop, this singing and dancing performance features the traditions and lifestyle of local ethnic tribes in Yunnan.


First Bend of Yangtze River

The Yangtze River is about 6380km long, making it the longest river in Asia. In Lijang, the river makes its first 180 degrees bend, earning the place its name – First Bend of the Yangtze River. Many legends and historical milestones have taken place in this magnificent destination. 


Tiger Leaping Gorge Yunnan
Tiger Leaping Gorge

The Tiger Leaping Gorge one of the deepest and most breathtaking river canyons in the world. Situated between the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and the Haba Snow Mountain, this gorge is named after the legend of a tiger which jumped across the river to escape its pursers. 



The name Shangri-la invokes feelings of wonder, in no small part due to the descriptions of a novel by author James Hilton. While the real source of James Hilton’s Shangri-la might never be known, it’s no doubt that Yunnan’s Shangri-la possess great magnificence and beauty of its own.



Gandan Sumtseling Monastery Yunnan
Gandan Sumtseling Monastery

An impressive Tibetan Buddhist monastery complex stands 3380m above sea level, and is said to be the most important monastery in Southwest China. The Ganden Sumtseling Monastery is truly a sight to behold. Be sure not to get lost within!


Potatso National Park

Although it only compromises of 0.7% of China’s land area, the Potatso National Park is home to more than 20% of China’s plant species, and about 33% of its mammal and bird species.


Shika Snow Mountains

If you’re feeling adventurous, go for a trek up the peak of Shika Snow Mountains. Located 4500m above sea level, you can take a cable car and reward yourself with a spectacular view from the mountain top after a short trek.


Cizhong Catholic Church

Venture deeper into Shangri-la and you will get to Cizhong Catholic Church, one of the most important Catholic Churches in Yunnan. The church has seen a violent past, with wars waged by people of opposing ideologies. Wine making has become a culture in the village, so don’t forget to get some local wine before you leave.

You may also visit Tacheng City, an important centre of trade in ancient Western China. Many products, especially tea, exchanged hands between the Chinese and Russians in this city. With lush open landscapes and beautiful architecture, Tacheng is a place to behold.


The large biodiversity and cultural diversity of Yunnan complements its exquisite landscape perfectly. Its allure lies in its harmonious blend of mystery and majesty.


If you’ll like to explore this wondrous place, drop us an email at

Incredible China: big, bigger, the biggest !!!

When we think about China, we think big ! Big because first of all it is a huge country (the 3rd biggest country) but also because we can’t ignore the architectural prowess of amazing and huge buildings or structures, ancient and contemporary. 

Nothing seems impossible for the Chinese and China definitively likes superlatives (I let you count the number of ‘the tallest’, ‘the biggest’, ‘the highest’, ‘the largest’…) and a lot of architectural structures and building undoubtless match that statement.


The very first one that comes into the mind is undoubtedly the Great Wall since it is the longest structure ever built by humans. If you measure the length of all the different sections of wall, the distance is 22000 kilometres (13670 miles). The widest section of the wall is around 9 metres and the highest point of the wall is around 8 metres. Huge enough to be seen from a satellite ! Needless to say it is a must see spot at only one hour and a half far driving from Beijing. U China Travel brings you to Mutianyu Great Wall, one of the best-preserved and less crowded Great Wall sections. It has been renovated, making it easier and safer to climb. Moreover, it is equipped with cableway and luge, which make the visit possible for children and seniors.

Flowers bloom all over the mountains in spring. Grasses dress the hillside green in summer. Trees are laden with sweet fruit in autumn, and especially in October, leaves turn red or yellow, touching the mountain tops with gold. In winter, the wall is covered by snow, making it more magnificent.

Great Wall of China U China Travel
The Great Wall of China


Another must-see spot U China Travel likes bringing you to for the first time or umpteenth as wandering inside is such an unrivalled feeling is The Forbidden City. This magnificent building complex located in the very heart of Beijing is the largest and well-preserved wooden building complex of the world.

Forbidden City in Beijing


Also in Beijing, the Temple of Heaven is the largest existing temple in China. It is renowned for its precise outlay, unique structures and decorations which cover an area of 2.7 million square meters. 

Early morning is the best time to visit The Temple of Heaven. It is well worth waking up for; you will have an interesting experience watching local people doing morning exercises. Next to an older person practicing the slow and flowing movements of Tai Chi there might be a youngster performing vigorous karate-like punches and kicks; one group might be learning the ancient martial art of sword fighting, while another would be practicing a traditional dance. If you want to explore and try Tai Chi, U China Travel can make you join the practitioners at sunrise.

Temple of Heaven in Beijing


Among the top ten most unstable architectures in the world, the Hanging Temple is located on a cliff of Mt. Hengshan in Datong, Shanxi Province.

How could a building like this withstand the winds and storms of so many years? Hanging Monastery is an architectural wonder. A unique mechanical theory was applied to building the framework. 

And why build a monastery like this? Location is the first reason: building a monastery on the cliff could shield it from floods. In addition, the mountain peak protects it from rain and snow; and the mountain around it also diminishes damage from long-time sunshine. 

Hanging Temple
Hanging temple near Datong in Shanxi province
Sakyamuni Pagoda Fogong Temple

 In the same Province, Sakyamuni Pagoda Fogong Temple is the oldest fully wooden pagoda still standing in China today. With the total height of 67.13 meters, Yingxian Muta is the highest wooden pagoda in China and also the world highest wooden pagoda.

But more impressive than its beauty, it is its durability. The 220.83 ft. tall temple was built almost 2000 years ago (yes you read that right!) in 1056. It has survived several earthquakes and other natural disasters, which is a miracle in itself. 



Situated at a strategic point along the Silk Road, at the crossroads of trade as well as religious, cultural and intellectual influences, the Mogao Grottoes (Gansu Province) are the largest, oldest and the best-preserved Buddhist grottoes with the richest contents in the world.

Mogao Grottoes along the Silk Road


Leshan Giant Buddha (Sichuan Province) is the tallest stone Buddha in the world, carved out of a cliff. Finally finished under the hard work by three generation of craftsmen for 90 years, this engineering masterpiece has a history over 1300 years.

While the width of mouth and eye is 3.3 meters, his neck is 3 meters tall, his shoulder is 24 meters wide and his finger is 8.3 meters long.

His smallest toenail can accommodate a seated person.

Leshan Giant Buddha
Leshan Giant Buddha
The Canton Tower

 Canton Tower (Guangzhou) is also the 4th tallest freestanding structure in the world. In 2011, this record was broke by the Tokyo Sky Tree. But it still remains the title of the tallest building in China.

 The 46-storey Leeza Soho Tower, located in the buzzing Lize Financial Business District in Beijing, with a huge twisting atrium at its centre, is the tallest in the world.

Leeza Soho
Leeza Soho Tower


With a totally length of 36 kilometers, Hangzhou Bay bridge ranks as the longest cross-ocean bridge in the world.

Hangzhou Bay Bridge
Hangzhou Bay Bridge


In their gigantism spree, China never forgets the aestheticism.

To reach these superlatives and the aestheticism, China attracts the best talents from around the world. China wants to work with architects who understand what the next generation requires, connecting communities and traditions with new technologies and innovations to embrace the future.

The amazingly beautiful architectural buildings and structures are countless!

Self-proclaimed to be one of the “greatest museums of the world,” the National Art Museum of China (NAMOC), designed by the French architect Jean Nouvel, will contain collections dating back to the Ming Era. Programs include permanent and temporary exhibition galleries, a research and education center, auditorium, large-scale interior garden and a series of public spaces.

National Art Museum of China (NAMOC) in Beijing
National Art Museum of China (NAMOC) in Beijing

The Egg or Water drop in Beiing or more formally known as the National Centre for the Performing Arts is an ellipsoid dome of titanium and glass surrounded by an artificial lake and vast expanse of green space

The location, immediately to the west of Tiananmen Square and the Great Hall of the People, and near the Forbidden City, combined with the theatre’s futuristic design, created considerable controversy.

Paul Andreu, the French architect who designed this magnificent structure, countered that although there is indeed value in ancient traditional Chinese architecture, Beijing must also include modern architecture, as the capital of the country and an international city of great importance. His design, with large open space, water, trees, was specially designed to complement the red walls of ancient buildings and the Great Hall of the People, in order to melt into the surroundings as opposed to standing out against them.

National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing


More recently, the Tianjin Binhai Library made the buzz for its incredible white floor to ceiling bookshelves, and all-around gorgeous interior design!  With 33,700 square meters and five levels, there is enough shelf space for 1.2 million books. Needless to say it is the biggest library in the world!

Tianjin Binhai Library
Tianjin Binhai Library


Dongzhuang Building Museum of the Western Regions used to be a 1950s grain mill, which has been transformed into a light and airy museum of the Western Regions. It is designed to look like a stone that’s rolled down from the mountain, seamlessly blending into the landscape of the Nanshan grasslands. This museum captures the majestic and uninterrupted view of the mountains. 

Dongzhuang Building Museum of the Western Regions


Tianrenhe Museum located in Hangzhou is the first private contemporary art museum. Located in a former train depot and factory it is an impressive space at 2,000m², it is the ‘China’s longest museum’.

Tianrenhe Museum
Tianrenhe Museum


The list of the most extravagant and biggest architectural buildings could continue endless since each year new amazing architectural creations spring up. By the way, our future guests will have the possibility to land in the new Beijing airport from late 2019 – the world’s largest airport shaped like a sea star!

To fully appreciate all these breathtaking monuments, buildings, U China Travel is your perfect travel partner to discover them!

For further information and any inquiries, feel free to contact us at:

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The Silk Road Cities of Gansu Province

Birthplace of the Qin Dynasty and economic hub of Imperial China, the Gansu Province is a charming region in China relatively untouched by commercial tourism.  The ancient Silk Road cuts across Gansu Province, bringing life and prosperity to cities along its path.

While no longer the bustling economic powerhouses that used to be, the Silk Road cities of China still retain immense cultural, architectural and natural beauty. Join us as we explore some of the key cities of Gansu Province along the Silk Road!


Dun Huang

Dun Huang literally means to ‘flourish and prosper’. As the gateway to far Western China, Xinjiang, which is predominantly Muslim, Dun Huang is one of the most culturally and religiously diverse cities of China. 

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Temples at Magao Caves

A short ride from Dun Huang City lies The Magao Caves. The Magao Caves are also known as ‘Caves of the Thousand Buddhas’. A visit to this UNESC World Heritage Site and you’ll immediately understand why! Some of the finest specimens of Buddhist art, spanning a period of 1,000 years, are kept here. Intricately rock-cut sculptures and temples adorn the caves, along with colourful murals that decorate its walls. 


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Camels at Ming Sha Shan

When at Dun Huang, the sand dunes at Ming Sha Shan are a must-see too! Ming Sha Shan translates to ‘singing send dunes’, a name given due to sounds formed by strong winds blowing on the sands.


Yumen Pass

At the west of Dun Huang stoically stands the Yumen Pass, a strategic point where the Silk Road passes through. The gates of Yumen Pass were the final outposts in Chinese territory in which merchant caravans had to pass through, before heading westwards.


Great Wall Han, U China Travel
2,000 Year Old Great Wall

Situated at the border of Gansu Province and with the important Silk Road passing through, defense against potential invaders was vital. A 2,000 year old Great Wall built by the Han Dynasty stands guard vigilantly, erected 1,300 years before their more famous Ming Dynasty cousins. These ancient walls have seen constant warfare, and bravely withstood the test of time and harsh environments. 


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Yadan Landforms

The Yadan Landforms look like they’ve come straight out of a story book, especially when lit by the twilight sun rays. These unique rock formations have been formed though years of weathering, forming unique and mystifying shapes that will hold you in awe. The harsh weather conditions and numerous closely-packed rock formations have earned it a notorious nickname – ‘Devil City’.

Jia Yu Guan

About 4 hours away from Dun Huang is Jia Yu Guan, an important military city of ancient times. The Great Wall of China begins at Jia Yu Guan, guarding China’s Western territory. As such, Jia Yu Guan is also known as the ‘Mouth of China’. 

First Fire Tower

Numerous prominent military installations may be found in the ‘Mouth of China’. The first fire tower of the Great Wall is one such place.


The Overhanging Great Walls

For those who love to climb and experience a little history at the same time, The Overhanging Walls of Jia Yu Guan would satisfy your craving. Reward yourself with a spectacular view of the city at the top!


Suspension Bridge, China Tour
Gobi Suspension Bridge

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can try taking a stroll across the Gobi suspension bridge. Not for the faint-hearted! 

Zhang Ye 

A short 2.5hrs drive from Jia Yu Guan brings you to Zhang Ye, where you’ll get to witness one of the most beautiful landforms in the world. 

Danxia Landform
Danxia Landform

The Danxia Landform of Zhang Ye is known for its colourful rock formations. Plate tectonics, natural mineral deposits and weathering has given the landform its colourful layered appearance and smooth unique shapes. A definite must-see! 

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Danxia Landform

Lan Zhou

Above 500km eastwards of Zhang Ye is the city of Lan Zhou. Located along the Yellow River, it is the capital and largest city of the Gansu Province. 

ZhongShan Bridge, China Tours
Zhongshan Bridge

From here, you can visit famous destinations such as the Zhongshan Bridge, the first permanent bridge over the Yellow River.


China tour, WuQuan Mountain, U China Travel
Wu Quan Mountains

Love history and culture? Then visit the Wu Quan Mountains nearby, where many ancient architectural and cultural sites have been built. 

The Silk Road cities of Gansu Province are a melting pot of cultures and people. If you love being inspired by the natural beauty of nature and man-made wonders, these 4 cities will let you immerse in the allure of Gansu Province.

Keen to visit? Drop us an email at for more info.

Shennongjia Yangzi Explorer

Enjoy one of China’s rare and natural wonders this summer!
Click on the link below for more information on this special promotion, available through U China Travel with Sanctuary Retreats!


Golden Mask Dynasty Show

The first performance of the Golden Mask Dynasty show was back in 2007, prior to the 2008 Olympics. It’s been an ongoing nightly show and successful ever since.
Set in a fictional but symbolic “Golden Dynasty” in ancient China, it tells the story of the country during it’s golden years. The main character is a woman who wears a golden mask and she builds her dynasty, bringing China into its “golden” era. 
The story was adapted from an art exhibition that was held in Beijing’s 798 Art district, in the northern end of the city. The 798 has been a staple for the city’s art and creative world and a popular site for tourists, locals and artists alike. This successful art exhibition was eventually turned into what is now known as the Golden Mask Dynasty Show. Using traditional Chinese costumes and make-up, traditional dance and acrobatics, this has been a successful show for about a decade.
The theatre is located next to the Happy Valley which is a popular, child and family-friendly amusement park.
Nightly performances are held at the Happy Valley Theater in Beijing. There is one from 5:30-6:30 and the second showing is at 7:30 in the evening.

Hua Jia Yi Yuan

This Beijing favourite is tucked away in one of the city’s hutongs near the infamous “ghost street”. The Ghost Street gets its name from the rows of restaurants, mostly serving traditional Chinese food, which stay open until the wee hours of the morning. It consists of a few blocks of what seems like endless dining options on a sleep that never (or barely) sleeps.
Hua Jia Yi Yuan is one of the more well-known restaurants in the city. It’s famous for serving delicious Peking Duck-a Beijing specialty. They also serve a variety of famous Chinese dishes. The atmosphere is ideal: The restaurant is set in a courtyard, providing guests with lots of light in a comfortable setting. A visit to Hua Jia Yi Yuan is s great way to mix traditional Chinese food in a classical garden setting in the middle of the city.
There are even live dance performances happening every night. It’s located near Beixinqiao subway.


Yuanmingyuan Garden

This is also known as the Old Summer Palace of Beijing. The name Yuanmingyuan literally translates as the “Garden of Perfect Brightness”. 
The site is located in the Haidian district in north west Beijing.
Used to be known as the Imperial Gardens, as the site consists of a large area of palaces and gardens built for the royal family.
It worked with the Forbidden City during Imperial Times. The Forbidden City was used mostly for ceremonies and the business of the state was done on site of the Old Summer Palace. The palace housed numerous works of art as well as special gardens and structures, mostly representative of the Qing Dynasty. There are also some buildings decorated in Mongolia and Tibetan styles.
Yuanmingyuan was originally built for the son of the Kangxi Emperor at the beginning of the 18th century, who ordered the expansion of the gardens. A huge garden and 28 “scenic spots” were built and it became one of the most important sites in the capital city.

Prince Gong Mansion

The Prince Gong Mansion is one of the best imperial mansions in Shichahai Park, located in north-west Beijing.
A notable Manchu prince once lived there during the Qing Dynasty. It was later given to a group of Benedictine monks in the mid-20th century, who performed numerous renovations on the property and used it for a university. The mansion was later restored in full for the 2008 Olympics.
The mansion consists of numerous halls and is a total of 60 sq. metres. The mansion is separated into the north and southern parts. The gardens are in the northern end while the houses are in the south. The gardens are similar to those of Suzhou, a popular spot near Shanghai.
The infamous Beijing opera as well as other styles of Chinese opera are housed in the Prince Gong Mansion in the Beijing Opera House. There are sometimes kung fu performances in the mansion area. Walk through this site in Shichahai Park for a dose of Chinese history and culture in the middle of the city.

Shichahai Ice Rink

Located in the trendy Houhai district of Beiijng, this is one of Beijing’s best skating rinks and the only natural outdoor rink in the city. It was a popular outdoor space for years and neighbourhood locals would use it as a public rink during the annual winter freeze. The ice rink was remodelled a few years ago and opened as the Shichahai Ice Rink.

The rink is typically open to the public by the middle of winter (weather depending). For a few months during Beijing’s cold winters, during the week and especially on weekends, the rink is filled with locals and some tourists enjoying winter sports. 
There are skates, sleighs and even “ice bikes” and “ice chairs” available to rent. It is a great way to enjoy simple winter sports with Beijing locals in one of the city’s largest parks. The entrance is right across the north gate of Beihai Park.
It’s open all day from 9-5 and then open again in the evening from 5:30 until 10 p.m.