China Travel Guide – Everything You Need to Know

China is a vast and diverse country, offering travelers a rich cultural experience, from bustling cities to stunning natural scenery. Visitors to China must have a valid passport and a visa. It is important to apply for a visa well in advance of your trip, as the process can take several weeks. The currency in China is the Chinese yuan (CNY). Credit cards are accepted in major cities, but it’s a good idea to carry some cash, particularly when traveling in more rural areas.

What’s the Best Time to Visit? 📅

The best time to visit China depends on where you want to go and what you want to do. Generally, the best time to visit China is during spring (April to May) and autumn (September to October). During these seasons, the weather is pleasant, and the crowds are smaller than during the peak summer months and Chinese New Year. However, if you’re planning to visit specific regions like Tibet or Yunnan, the best time to visit may differ due to weather patterns and seasonal festivals. It’s always a good idea to research the specific region you plan to visit and plan accordingly.

What’s the Best Way to Get Around? 🚌

China has a well-developed transportation system that makes it easy for tourists to get around the country. Here are some common modes of transportation for tourists in China:

  1. Air travel: China has many domestic airports, and flying is a popular way to travel between cities.
  2. High-speed trains: China has the world’s largest high-speed rail network, and traveling by train is a fast, efficient, and affordable way to get around the country.
  3. Buses: Buses are a convenient and cheap way to travel short distances within a city or to nearby towns.
  4. Taxis: Taxis are widely available in cities, and they are a good option for short trips or if you are traveling with luggage.
  5. Metro: Most major cities in China have a metro system, which is a fast and convenient way to travel around the city.
  6. Bicycle: Renting a bicycle is a popular way to explore cities in China, and many cities have bike-sharing programs.

It’s important to note that China is a large country, and traveling long distances by bus or train can take many hours. If you plan to travel between cities, consider flying or taking a high-speed train to save time.

What’s the Official Language?

It’s important to note that Mandarin Chinese is the official language in China, but there are also other dialects and languages spoken in different regions of the country, such as Cantonese and Shanghainese. Here are some common Chinese phrases that may be helpful for tourists:

  • 你好 (nǐ hǎo) – Hello
  • 谢谢 (xiè xiè) – Thank you
  • 不好意思 (bù hǎo yì si) – Sorry/Excuse me
  • 对不起 (duì bù qǐ) – I’m sorry
  • 再见 (zài jiàn) – Goodbye
  • 多少钱 (duō shǎo qián) – How much does it cost?
  • 我不要 (wǒ bù yào) – I don’t want it
  • 可以吗 (kě yǐ ma) – Can I?
  • 没关系 (méi guān xi) – It’s okay
  • 请 (qǐng) – Please

Where to Stay? 🏨

China offers a wide range of accommodation options for tourists, including budget hostels, luxury hotels, and traditional accommodations. Here are some of the best accommodation options when in China for a holiday:

  1. Luxury Hotels: China has a vast range of luxury hotels in almost every city. Some of the most popular luxury hotels in China include Four Seasons Hotel Shanghai, Shangri-La Hotel Beijing, The Peninsula Shanghai, The Ritz Carlton Beijing, and more.
  2. Budget Accommodation: For budget travelers, hostels and budget hotels are an excellent option. These budget accommodations can be found in almost every city in China, and they are perfect for backpackers and budget travelers. Some of the best budget accommodation options in China include Han Tang Inn Hostel in Xi’an, Leo Hostel in Beijing, and Mingtown Suzhou Youth Hostel in Suzhou.
  3. Traditional Accommodation: China also has traditional accommodations that offer a unique experience to tourists. These traditional accommodations include courtyard houses, temples, and even monasteries. Some popular traditional accommodation options include Amanfayun in Hangzhou, Jing’s Residence in Pingyao, and Dragon’s Backbone Rice Terraces Lodge in Longsheng.
  4. Airbnb: Airbnb is also a popular option for tourists visiting China. Airbnb offers a wide range of accommodation options, including apartments, private rooms, and entire houses. However, it is important to note that Airbnb is not legal in all parts of China, so make sure to check the regulations in your intended destination.

When choosing the best accommodation option, it is essential to consider your budget, location, and preferences.

What to Eat? 🍽️

China is a country with a rich culinary history and there are many delicious dishes to try. Here are some must-try foods when in China for holiday:

  1. Peking duck – a roasted duck dish that is sliced and served with thin pancakes, scallions, and hoisin sauce.
  2. Dumplings – a staple in Chinese cuisine, dumplings come in many varieties and are typically filled with meat, vegetables, or both.
  3. Hot pot – a communal meal where diners cook raw ingredients such as meat, seafood, and vegetables in a boiling pot of broth at the table.
  4. Kung Pao chicken – a spicy stir-fry dish made with chicken, peanuts, vegetables, and chili peppers.
  5. Mapo tofu – a spicy Sichuan dish made with tofu, minced pork, chili oil, and Sichuan peppercorns.
  6. Xiaolongbao – a type of steamed bun filled with pork and soup, originating from Shanghai.
  7. Fried rice – a staple dish made with cooked rice, vegetables, and usually meat or seafood.
  8. Jianbing – a popular breakfast food consisting of a crepe-like pancake filled with egg, scallions, and a variety of other ingredients.
  9. Zhajiangmian – a noodle dish made with thick, hand-pulled noodles and a savory bean sauce.
  10. Ma La Tang – a type of spicy hot pot originating from Sichuan, where diners select their own ingredients to cook in a communal pot.

What to See? 🔍

China is a vast country with a rich history, diverse culture, and natural beauty. Here are some must-see tourist places in China:

  1. The Great Wall of China – A UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Great Wall of China is an ancient fortification that stretches over 13,000 miles.
  2. The Terracotta Army – Located in Xi’an, the Terracotta Army is a collection of thousands of life-sized clay soldiers, horses, and chariots that were buried with the first emperor of China.
  3. The Forbidden City – Located in Beijing, the Forbidden City was the imperial palace of the Ming and Qing dynasties and is now a museum that showcases China’s rich cultural heritage.
  4. The Yangtze River – The longest river in China, the Yangtze is a scenic wonder that offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and countryside.
  5. The Li River – Located in Guilin, the Li River is a scenic river that flows through picturesque mountains and is a popular destination for river cruises.
  6. The Potala Palace – Located in Lhasa, the Potala Palace is a UNESCO World Heritage site and was the winter residence of the Dalai Lama.
  7. The Giant Buddha of Leshan – Located in Sichuan Province, the Giant Buddha of Leshan is a massive statue of Buddha that is carved into a cliff overlooking the confluence of three rivers.
  8. The Yellow Mountains – Located in Anhui Province, the Yellow Mountains are a scenic mountain range that is known for its stunning landscapes, hot springs, and ancient pine trees.
  9. The Bund – Located in Shanghai, the Bund is a famous waterfront area that is lined with historic buildings and offers spectacular views of the city skyline.
  10. The Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding – Located in Sichuan Province, the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding is a conservation center that is home to over 100 giant pandas and is a popular destination for tourists.

What to Do? 📸

China is a vast country with a lot of things to see and do. Here are some things you can do while on holiday in China:

  1. Visit historic landmarks – China is rich in history and culture, so visiting historic landmarks like the Great Wall of China, the Forbidden City, and the Terracotta Army should be at the top of your list.
  2. Explore natural beauty – China has some stunning natural scenery, so take time to explore places like the Yellow Mountains, the Li River, and the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park.
  3. Try local cuisine – Chinese cuisine is one of the most diverse and delicious in the world. Be sure to try local delicacies like Peking duck, Sichuan hotpot, and Xiaolongbao dumplings.
  4. Attend festivals – China has many festivals throughout the year, such as the Chinese New Year, Lantern Festival, and Mid-Autumn Festival. Attending these festivals is a great way to experience local culture.
  5. Shop at local markets – China has many local markets where you can buy unique souvenirs, such as silk, tea, jade, and calligraphy.
  6. Take part in cultural activities – China has a rich cultural heritage, so take part in activities like calligraphy, tai chi, or Chinese painting to immerse yourself in the culture.
  7. Watch a performance – China has many traditional performances, such as Beijing opera, acrobatics, and shadow puppetry. Watching a performance is a great way to experience the local culture.
  8. Visit modern cities – China also has many modern cities, like Shanghai, Beijing, and Shenzhen. These cities offer a different experience from the more traditional parts of China and are worth a visit.
  9. Visit panda reserves – China is home to the giant panda, and visiting a panda reserve is a must-do activity. The Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding is a popular destination for tourists.
  10. Take a river cruise – China has many rivers, and taking a river cruise is a great way to see the countryside and experience local life. The Yangtze River and the Li River are popular destinations for river cruises.

Culture and Safety 🦺

China is a country with a rich and diverse culture, and as a tourist, it’s important to be aware of the customs and traditions of the country. Here are some culture and customs that tourists should be aware of when visiting China:

  1. Respect for elders – Respect for elders is an essential part of Chinese culture. When interacting with older people, use formal titles like “grandma” or “grandpa” and address them with respect.
  2. Greetings – When meeting someone, it’s common to exchange greetings by saying “ni hao” (hello) or “zai jian” (goodbye) as a sign of respect.
  3. Public behavior – Public behavior is essential in China. It’s considered impolite to be loud, push or shove people, or talk too loudly in public places.
  4. Gift giving – Giving gifts is a part of Chinese culture, and it’s considered a sign of respect and gratitude. However, there are some rules to follow, like avoiding giving clocks as gifts, which symbolize death.
  5. Table manners – Table manners are essential in Chinese culture. When eating, use chopsticks, do not stick them vertically in the rice bowl, and do not start eating before the host.
  6. Dress code – Dressing modestly is recommended in China. It’s important to avoid wearing revealing or provocative clothing, especially when visiting temples or other religious sites.
  7. Tipping – Tipping is not a common practice in China, but it’s becoming more common in tourist areas. It’s generally not expected, but leaving a small tip to show appreciation is appreciated.
  8. Bargaining – Bargaining is a common practice in markets and street vendors. However, it’s important to do it with respect and not to overdo it.
  9. Public displays of affection – Public displays of affection, like kissing or hugging, are not common in China and may be seen as inappropriate in public.
  10. Photography – When taking photos, it’s important to respect people’s privacy and ask for permission before taking their picture. It’s also recommended to avoid taking photos in some sensitive areas, like military bases or government buildings.

China is generally a safe country for travelers, but it’s important to take precautions to protect yourself and your belongings. Be aware of your surroundings, particularly in crowded tourist areas, and be cautious when using public transport.

Conclusion

China is a fascinating destination with a rich cultural heritage and a wealth of attractions to explore. With a little preparation and planning, you can have an unforgettable trip to this amazing country.