Fancy getting shot at by a mock-Red Army guerrilla, sleeping on a brick bed and eating C-rations of millet porridge? Or having a happy snap with a Mao Zedong lookalike outside the mountain cave from which he fought the Communist revolution?
China's newly affluent tourists do. They are increasingly choosing to visit sites that deify Mao or glorify the Chinese Communist party, a trend heartily welcomed by government officials struggling to clean up the party's image for corruption and reignite revolutionary values that have fallen by the wayside on the path to prosperity.
In the past decade China has invested Rmb 9 billion ($1.5 billion) to develop sites of famous battles in both the war between Communists and Nationalists, and the wartime struggle with Japan in what has come to be known as red tourism. The latter is coming in handy to ratchet up public opinion against its eastern neighbor in the current territorial dispute over a group of islands in the East China Sea.
Visitors to the mock battlefields and cave dwellings of Yan'an, celebrated as the birthplace of the communist revolution, rose 30 percent, to nearly 30 million last year. Overall, "red tourism" visits nationally increased to 786 million last year from 670 million the previous year, rising at nearly twice the pace of the entire domestic tourism market.
Red tourism is gaining popularity in part because the packages are often cheaper than other holidays. But Liu Xiao, of the Tourism Institute of Beijing Union University, says there is another reason too.
"When people are no longer worried about food and safety, they begin to look for something that can satisfy their spiritual needs," he said. "Tourists visit these revolutionary sites because they want to find out what inspired the older generation to overcome so many difficulties even in the toughest times. Feeding one's spirit from heritage, I think this is the true meaning of . . . red tourism."