China Travel Guide

By Admin | Last Updated August 27, 2019

China is the cradle of one of the most ancient civilizations – The Yellow river in the Xia (2100–1600 BC) and Shang (1600–1046 BC) Dynasty. The first empire was the Qin dynasty and the last emperor was overthrown in 1912, after which China became a republic. The country has been ruled by communist government since 1949, but in the last 20 years, China has changed to a modern nation.

China is a vast country with lots of different landscapes like mountains, high plateaus, sandy deserts and dense forests. Two major rivers, Yangtze and Yellow, flow within the fertile lands of the country. The country stretches 5000 kilometers east to west, and 5500 kilometers north to south. According to World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) data, China is the world’s 5th most popular country for tourists. 59.3 million people visited China in 2017. China is just behind Spain and above Italy.

As the most populous country in the world and third largest in area, China also has the largest number of neighbors (14) sharing its 22,000 km land borders with North Korea, Russia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam.

China – Quick Facts

  1. Official Name: Peoples Republic of China
  2. Capital: Beijing (formerly Peking)
  3. Population: 1.4 Billion   About a third of the population lives in cities, and the rest live in the countryside.
  4. Official Languages: Chinese, Mandarin
  5. Money: Yuan (Renminbi)
  6. Area: 9,596,960 square kilometers
  7. Form Of Government: Communism
  8. Time Zone: (GMT +8 HOURS)
  9. Major Mountain: Himalayas.
  10. Major Rivers: Yangtze and Yellow.
  11. Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, Whatapp, Google, Snapchat, Twitter are all blocked. Get yourself a VPN and install it before you arrive to stay connected. Hong Kong is outside the firewall.
  12. Tea is historical icon, but modern China runs on coffee. There is a coffee shop on every corner. You can find Starbucks, Costa Coffee, and other locally owned cafes on every street. 
  13. If you're into soft drinks, you'll be in Coca-Cola heaven.
  14. The word “ketchup” may come from a Chinese word for pickled-fish sauce.
  15. Arts and crafts have a long history in China. Thousands of years ago, the Chinese were some of the first people to use silk, jade, bronze, wood and paper to make art. Calligraphy was invented here.

Religion

Three major religions or philosophies shaped many of the ideas and history of Ancient China - Taoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism. Taoism was founded during the Zhou Dynasty in the 6th century by Lao-Tzu.

Any religion other than Taoism was prohibited, and persecutions affected communities of Jews, Christians, and any other faith. Much of  China’s modern beliefs and philosophies are based on the teachings of Kongfuzi, also known as Confucius, a government official more than 3,000 years ago.

Top International Airports In China

  • Beijing International Airport
  • Shanghai Pudong International Airport
  • Hong Kong International Airport
  • Xian International Airport
  • Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport
  • Kunming Changshui International Airport
  • Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport
  • Lhasa Gonngar International Airport

Get to the airport 3 hours early. More people means longer lines and frustrating delays. For international flights, give yourself 3 hours to make it through check-in and security.

Train Services In China

The train system has more than 131,000 km (81,400 mi), including the world's largest high-speed train network connecting more than 500 cities across the country. The highest speed can reach 350 km/h (217 mph). Train travel is often the best in the country. It is convenient and safe.

  • Beijing-Shanghai: 1200 kilometers, 4.5 - 6 hours.
  • Hong Kong-Guangzhou: 200 kilometers, 1 hour.
  • Beijing-Xian: 1075 kilometers, 4.5 - 6 hours.
  • Beijing-Guangzhou: 2100 kilometers, 8 - 10 hours.
  • Shanghai-Guangzhou: 1450 kilometers, 7 - 8.5 hours.
  • Shanghai-Hangzhou: 200 kilometers, 1 hour.
  • Shanghai-Suzhou: 100 kilometers, 23 - 44 minutes.
  • Guangzhou-Guilin: 480 kilometers, 2.5 hours.

Unlike European countries, most Chinese people prefer trains over flights.

Travel to China is a bit difficult and challenging considering the language, political and cultural barrier. A package tour is sometimes the more convenient choice. There are lots of travel agencies in China and other countries to give you a worry free travel. Google is not always useful here. Many tourist attractions are city based.

Visa

Chinese Visa is confusing to many as there are so many types of visa.

China Tourist Visa is termed ‘L Visa’.

The L Visa Application Process

  1. Original signed passport with at least six months of remaining validity and blank visa pages, and a copy of the passport's data page and the photo page if it is separate.
  2. The completed Visa Application Form (Form V.2013) and a photo on glossy photo paper glued onto the form.
  3. Proof of legal stay or residence status (applicable for non-U.S. citizens).

You must provide the original and photocopy of your valid certificates or visa of stay, residence, employment or student status, or other valid certificates of legal staying.

You need to furnish documents showing the itinerary including air ticket (round trip) and proof of hotel reservation, or an invitation letter issued by a relevant entity or individual in China.

A citizen of Singapore, Brunei or Japan with an ordinary passport is exempted from a visa if he or she visits China's mainland for tourism, business, or meeting with friends or relatives, and if he or she enters China through ports open to foreigners, and stays for no more than 15 days.

Visa For Hong Kong And Macao

Getting an e-visa for Hong Kong or Macao is easy, though they are parts of China. You cannot visit mainland China with this visa, though.

Shenzen Visa

Shenzhen 5-Day Visa on Arrival – Also known as Shenzhen 5-day VOA, this lets tourists from most countries to stay for up to 5 days without applying for a regular visa. During these 5 days, tourists cannot enter mainland Chinese cities.

You should carry your passport everywhere. You can be asked for your passport when buying your Chinese SIM card, at random Metro checkpoints, and when booking train tickets. You can make a copy of your passport picture page and the page with your visa on it if you don't feel safe keeping the passport with you.

Top 10 Reasons To Visit China

  1. Rich Culture – A unique combination of rich and diverse culture of ancient civilizations and modern cities with the latest technologies under the umbrella of communist rule.
  2. Wonder of the World – See the Great Wall of China, one of the Seven Wonders of the World by visiting from Beijing.
  3. Yellow Mountain – The legendary Yellow Mountain with its sea of cloud and charismatic rocks and pines, the rainbow lakes and floating pinnacles in Zhangjiaje.
  4. Guilin’s charming karst formed from limestone, dolomite, and gypsum and for hiking in the gorge.
  5. The world’s highest and most majestic plateau in Tibet.
  6. Modern Cities – Cities that can compete with the west – skyscrapers, shopping malls, roads, bridges, fast trains.
  7. Forbidden City – The world’s largest ancient palace.
  8. The Chengdu Giant Panda Centre.
  9. Traditional Chinese Medicine, massage and Chinese Calligraphy.
  10. Chinese Cuisine – Lots of regional influences and variety. International favourite like Chow Mien, Peeking Duck, Dumpling, Spring Roll, Wanton, Kung Pao Chicken, Sweet and Sour Pork, Ma Po Tofu.

Top 10 Cities To Visit In China

  1. Beijing  – The Forbidden City: Beijing has served as the capital for more than 800 years. The city has many places of historic interest and scenic beauty, including the Forbidden City – the largest and best-preserved ancient architectural complex in the world, the Temple of Heaven – where Ming and Qing emperors performed solemn rituals for bountiful harvests, the Summer Palace – the emperors' magnificent garden retreat, Ming Tombs – the stately and majestic mausoleums of 13 Ming Dynasty emperors, and the world-renowned Badaling section of the Great Wall.
  2. Shanghai – The Largest City, Riverside Cityscape: Shanghai is one of the world’s largest seaports and a major industrial and commercial center. The city is playing a leading role in boosting the economic development of China. Shanghai has attracted a lot of tourists from home and abroad for its unique charm. As a top historic and cultural city in the country, Shanghai has more than 70 sites of historical interest and cultural relics, which best represent the distinctive characteristic of Shanghai’s regional culture. Shanghai is also the paradise of gourmets. There are thousands of restaurants that serve a complete list of China's famous cuisines.
  3. Xi'an – Home of the Terracotta Warriors: Xian, an ancient capital of China, is your gateway to the ancient Chinese civilization. In its 3,100 recorded years of evolution, it has been the capital of 13 dynasties, including the Zhou, Qin, Han, the Sui, and Tang dynasties for 2000 year. Major attractions in Xi'an include the Qin Terracotta Army, the Big Wild Goose Pagoda – the most outstanding landmark of the city, Banpo Neolithic Village Museum – remains of a 6,000 year-old village once home to a matriarchal clan community, and the Xi'an City Wall.
  4. Hong Kong – Shopping Paradise: Hong Kong is on the south coast of China, 60 km (37 mi) east of Macau. It is a former colony of British Empire and now officially the ‘Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China’. Hong Kong is a prosperous international metropolis now, and a leading financial center in the world. You will get magnificent city views. There are many skyscrapers and shopping malls, the Disneyland Ocean Park, shopping districts and nightlife areas. It is also an easy transit point to visit Macau and Shenzen.
  5. Guilin - Scenic City, Mountain, River Scenery: In South China, Guilin offers one of the top landscapes in the country. The city’s name comes from the cassia tree, ‘Guihuashu’ in Chinese. You can see green cassia trees standing in the roadsides. In autumn, the fragrance of the blossom fills up the air. Guilin is famous for its unrivalled karst landscape, exquisite mountains, limpid rivers, wired caves and beautiful rocks. The city also has a long history. Guilin has been the political, economic and cultural center of Guangxi.
  6. Guangzhou – A Prosperous, Liberal City Near Hong Kong: Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong Province, is nicknamed the ‘City of Goat’. It is the largest industrial and commercial city and the largest export port in South China. Guangzhou has a humid climate all year around. Flowers blossom in all four seasons, and hence it’s another nickname ‘the City of Flowers’. There are over 150 historical sites and places of interests here. But you will also find modern entertainment facilities.
  7. Chengdu – Hometown of The Giant Panda: Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province, is a famous historical and cultural city with a history of over 3,000 years. Known as the land of abundance, Chengdu boasts plentiful local products, a pleasant climate, a large number of scenic spots and historical sites, and fine traditional handicrafts. According to records and relics, humans have lived here for more than 3,700 years.
  8. Hangzhou – Beautiful City With Lake View: Hangzhou is a ‘holy and beautiful paradise on earth, a hot travel destination now in China. Established as Qiantang County during the Qin Dynasty, the city has a history of 2,200 years. Hangzhou has always been the administrative, cultural and economic city of the Zhejiang Province. It is one of the seven ancient capitals in China. On the south bank of the Haogzhou Bay, Hangzhou is 180 km from Shanghai. Marco Polo, the great explorer, came here during the Yuan Dynasty. Famous local-made products are silk, Xihu silk umbrellas, color-glazed porcelain, Longjing Tea and White Chrysanthemum.
  9. Lhasa – Land of the Gods: Lhasa, ‘Land of the Gods’ is over 1,300 years old. Tibetan influence is still strong in the eastern part, near the Jokhang Temple and Barkhor neighborhood. You will see traditionally dressed Tibetans engaged on a kora (a clockwise circumambulation or walk around the Jokhang Temple), often spinning prayer wheels. The western part of Lhasa is more ethnically Han Chinese in character. It is busy, modern and looks similar to many other Chinese cities.
  10. Kunming – The City Of Eternal Spring: Kunming has a temperate climate. It may snow in the winter. Rainy days are also usually cold. The air is also quite clean compared to many Chinese cities, though it is crowded with 10 million people. Kunming is also expanding rapidly, with modern buildings and highways. The city is a start point for exploring the Yunnan Province.

Festivals In China

  • Chinese New Year in February is also called the ‘Spring Festival’. It is the most important festival of the Chinese people. Many activities are held to celebrate the festival, such as dragon dance, setting off firecrackers, making dumplings, etc.
  • Lantern Festival or the Spring Lantern Festival is a Chinese festival celebrated on the fifteenth day of the first month in the Chinese calendar. Usually falling in February or early March on the Gregorian calendar, it marks the final day of the traditional Chinese New Year celebrations. During the Lantern Festival, children go out at night carrying paper lanterns and solve riddles on the lanterns.
  • Dragon Boat Festival or The Duanwu Festival is a traditional holiday on the 5th day of the 5th month of the traditional Chinese calendar. The actual date varies from year to year. Dragon boat racing has a rich history of ancient ceremonial and ritualistic traditions followed by eating of Zongzi or rice Dumpling.
  • August Moon Festival or the Mid-Autumn Festival or the Moon Cake Festival is held close to the autumnal equinox which is at the end of September or the first week of October. It ends with a big feast. The Chinese have Moon Cakes. Friends and relatives send cakes as a way of giving thanks. People enjoy music and dancing and eating.

Best Time To Visit China

Beijing Spring – March to May, Summer – June to August, Autumn – September & October, Winter – November to February (H: 26°C / 79°F, L: 14°C / 57°F). Cold and dry in winter, hot and wet in summer. Spring and Autumn have Beijing’s most comfortable weather.
Shanghai March to October. March to May, which is Spring, and September to October, autumn is warm. The maximum temperature reaches 24°C (75°F), with less rain than summer months. June to August is the summer with rainy days.
Xi'an April to May is Spring warm and relatively dry. September to October is Autumn (H:  26°C / 79°F, L:  14°C / 57°F). Hot and humid in the summer. Occasional snow in the winter.
Zhangjiajie April to the middle of November. Generally April through the middle of November is a good time to visit Zhangjiajie. April and October are the two best months.
Chengdu March & April or October & November ( H:  22°C / 72°F, L:  13°C / 55°F ). High humidity makes summers feel warm. The winter is cold. There is mild temperature and little rain in the spring and autumn season.
Guilin March to October ( H:  23°C /73°F, L:   16°C / 61°F). April and August sees monsoon rain and hot days.  November and December are cold, but sunny. January and February are cold and damp.
Hong Kong October & November (H:  24°C / 75°F,  L:  19°C / 66°F). These are the best months for visiting Hongkong.
Lhasa April to October ( H:  20°C / 68°F, L:  6°C / 43°F). The best time to visit Lhasa is the summer and autumn, especially, August to October.
Hangzhou March to May ( H: 20°C / 68°F, L:  16°C / 43°F). Spring in Hangzhou will be very good. June. July and August are the hottest months in summer but the peak season for tourism. September to November is autumn. It is the most beautiful and fragrant season.
Kunming March to May and September to October (Average temperature of 19.7°C). Expect good weather in these times. Spring is colorful and autumn is very pleasant.