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As air worsens, China travelers seek 'smog escapes'


Increasing pollution levels in major Chinese cities has caused 'smog escapes' to shoot up to the top of tourism destinations, with Iceland and Antarctica getting a lot of attention.

Ctrip, a Shanghai-based travel search site, says that 'smog escape,' 'lung-cleansing' and 'forests' have become among the most popular search terms, tripling since the last survey, according to Bloomberg News.

Top destinations travelers think will offer the freshest air, Ctrip says, are the Seychelles, the Maldives and Iceland. Other popular destinations include Bali, Jeju Island in South Korea, Phuket in Thailand and Sanya, on Hainan Island in southeast China.

62 Chinese cities have issued health alerts, 25 of them red alerts, the highest level. Overall, 186 cities have medium or higher pollution levels, especially in winter. Much of China's industry and heating still comes from coal.

Beijing, the capital city, is the focus of a plan to improve the air there by closing 500 factories identified as main sources of pollution, and requiring upgrades at 2500 others. High-pollution vehicles will also be banned from the city starting next month.

Photo: Street scene in Beijing (Berserkerus/Wikimedia)

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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