Guide on How to Travel China, Tips, Popular Destinations [Updated 2020]
If you are planning to travel and explore China, one of the most beautiful countries in the World, you should learn more about it before pack your bags.
Be one of the 140.2 million tourists that are visiting this amazing country full of history, ancient cities, tradition, culture, nature like from another world, modern cities, rivers, and mountains that you can not see elsewhere on this planet.
One of the reasons that we create this China Travel Guide is to bring you the uniqueness of this country, but also to help you organize your trip to China easier and better.
If China is not yet on your travel list, after seeing the major destinations and attractions that China has to offer, we are sure you will start thinking about visiting right away.
Table of Contents
- Basic information about China
- How to get to China
- Best travel destinations
- Major attractions in China
- Festivals in China
- Food and drink
- Travel Accommodation
- Currency and Money
- Internet and WiFi in China
- Do and Don’t in China
Basic information about China
China is one of the four ancient civilizations in the World with a history long about 5000 years. With such a long history, China can offer a rich and unique culture and tradition worth experience and visit, but at the same time, learn more about their uniqueness and simplicity.
Also, China is the third-largest country in the World, with a total area of 9,596,961 km2.
On such massive territory, travelers can enjoy the beautiful natural landscapes that can't be seen nowhere else.
The capital city is Beijing, and the largest city is Shanghai. If you visit both cities, you can witness a combination of modern and traditional China. Both Beijing and Shanghai are offering an amazing experience for tourists.
Weather in China
For such a vast area, there is no surprise that China has the largest climate variabilities for a single country. However, it is essential to know the weather in different regions in China, especially if you are visiting different areas in the country.
China has divided 5 temperature zones and a special Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. The heat in various temperature zones is different, the growing season is different, and the cultivation system and crop types are also significantly different.
On the southeastern edge, the temperature north of the line (including the north, northwest inland, and Qinghai-Tibet Plateau) is below 0 °C, Heilongjiang is below -30 °C; the temperature in the south of this line is above 0 °C, the temperature in Sanya is above 20 °C. Therefore, the south is warm, the north is cold, and the temperature difference between north and south is the distribution characteristic of winter temperature in China.
Spring in China
Spring is the season when the weather is getting warmer, and the temperature rises faster. The Spring in China begins in March, and it ends in May.
The average temperature is around 0 °C in February, in March that temperature is reached the southern part of Inner Mongolia. However, in April, the temperatures are rising above 0 °C, except for the northern parts of the Greater Xing'an Mountains, the Altai Mountains, the western Tianshan Mountains, and the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. Northeast and Junggar Basin the temperatures are from 0 °C to 6 °C.
In the Yellow and Huai River basins and the Tarim Basin, temperatures reach from 12°C to 16°C, and south of the Yangtze River reaches 16°C to 26°C. There is very little precipitation in spring, except for a relatively wide area of spring rain in the Jiangnan area, the rest of the area is dry.
Summer in China
The summer season generally begins in June and ends in August. Summers in China are characterized by high temperatures and rain. Usually, July is the hottest month in China. The temperature in July in most areas is between 20 °C and 28 °C. Lot of areas in China in summer are very hot, including Beijing, and the temperature can rise up to 36-38 °C.
South of the Huaihe River Basin, is generally between 28 °C and 30 °C. The extreme maximum temperature in the Turpan Basin has reached 48.9 °C. The Qinghai-Tibet Plateau is below 10 °C.
Summer is a monsoon season with the most precipitation in most parts of China.
The area south of the Yangtze River to the north of Nanling and the mountains of northwest Xinjiang account for less than 40% of the annual precipitation, North China and Northeast are greater than 60%, and the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau is mostly above 70%. To the east of Yichang and between 26 °C and 34 °C, north latitude is the Meiyu area. Generally, the mid-June to early August is the Meiji period, which lasts for about a month. During this period, there were continuous rains, often with heavy rain and thunderstorms, and the total precipitation reached 300 mm.
Typhoons have a more significant impact on the southeastern and southern coastal areas of China.
Autumn in China
Autumn in China is characterized by enjoyable weather with high clouds, light wind, and plenty of sunshine. The autumn season begins in September and ends in November. Temperature changes in the opposite direction from spring, from warm to cold. The isotherm distribution in October is basically similar to that in April. In the Greater Xing'an Mountains, Tianshan Mountains, and the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, the average monthly temperature is below 0 °C. And the average monthly temperature in North China is between 6 °C and 16 °C. Huaihe, south of Qinling and north of Nanling the temperature is between 16 °C and 22 °C. The temperatures in South China is between 22 °C and 24 °C. Precipitation is small in all regions, except for the southeast coast, the eastern side of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, south of the Qinling Mountains, and Sichuan and Guizhou, which account for more than 30% of the annual precipitation, most of the rest of the country is between 15-20%.
Winter in China
Winter in China begins in December and ends in February next year. This season is the coldest, and January is the coldest month of the year. A big part of China has an average temperature below 0°C. North part of the country is generally frozen, and on Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, the average temperature in January is below -10 °C.
In winter, the high pressure of the Mongolian side is formed, and at the same time, the low pressure on the ocean causes the situation of cold air flowing eastward to the sea.
How to get to China
Depending on your place of departure, there are so many flight options to travel to China. China has airports in every city, Beijing has three airports, the new Daxing International Airport is the biggest in China/
- If you are traveling from the US, again, depending on your departure point, you will need approximately 13 hours if you are going from LA to Beijing. The distance between Los Angeles and Beijing is 10,084 km (6,266 miles).
- If you start your flight from New York, you will be up in the sky for approximately 14 hours. Traveling time also depends on stops and time between the stops. The distance that you will need to fly from New York to Beijing is 11012 km (6842 miles).
- There are direct daily flights from Chicago to Beijing and Shanghai, and from Washington DC, there are only flights to Beijing.
- If you fly from San Francisco, you can arrive at the airports in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Xian, Hangzhou, or Qingdao.
- If you are traveling from a city in Europe (for example London ) to Beijing, you will spend around 10 hours.
Beijing has three international airports: Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK), which is the main airport, Beijing Nanyuan Airport (NAY) and Beijing Daxing International Airport.
Shanghai also has two international airports: Shanghai Pudong International Airport, which is the main airport, and Hongqiao International Airport.
Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport is a major international airport in Chengdu. There are direct flights from Melbourne and Sydney, and also from Amsterdam to Chengdu for about 10-100 hours. Xi'an major airport is Xi'an Xianyang International Airport.
Us citizens must hold a Chinese visa to enter China. Tourists need to apply for an L type of Chinese visa or also known as China travel visa, which is intended for sightseeing and touring.
What do you need to apply for a Chinese visa?
In order to apply for a Chinese Visa, you need a valid passport (valid for at least six months) with available two blank pages for the visa, prepare two color photos- full face frontal (48mmx33mm) and application form.
The procedure for Chinese Visa
You will need to go to the nearby Chinese embassy or consulate to make the application personally. Also, if you are not able to get to the visa office for the application, on your behalf can apply an agent or your close relative or friend.
Visa fees for American citizens are $140.
Visa fees for UK citizens are £151.
You can pick up your visa after four days at the same place where you have applied. If you can’t go, on your behalf, it can do it someone else with the receipt.
The best period to apply for a Chinese visa is about 30 to 90 days before your trip. The Chinese visa has validity three months from the date of the issue.
Here are some questions answered about the china travel documents.
After you have all the necessary documents for traveling to China, here are the top destinations that you should visit on your trip.
Best travel destinations
China has so many destinations and attractions worth visiting. In fact, the country is one of the first choices of travelers in the past decade, and experts expect that trend to go on an upward line. How famous is China as a tourist destination shows the vast numbers of tourists that visited beauties and learn more about the tradition in this country.
Below you can read about the most popular travel destinations in China.
The capital of the country, Beijing, is the most visited tourist destination in China, with seven World Heritage Sites declared by UNESCO. The city attracts millions of travelers every year, offering them a fantastic experience and unusual time spending in the city.
The most famous attractions in Beijing are Forbidden City, The Great Wall, Summer Palace, Temple of Heaven, Tiananmen Square, the National Museum of China, Ming Dynasty Tombs, and many more.
Best time to visit Beijing
Beijing has four seasons, and continental and monsoon climate. The winters are cold and dry, the summers are hot and rainy, while the springs and autumns are short with pleasant weather. The coldest month is January, and hottest in July.
The best time to travel in Beijing is in spring to early summer and autumn. If you want to go to China, choose the months between March and May, and from September to October. Avoid traveling in summer, when it is the rainy season, and the humidity is at its highest level.
Transportation in Beijing
Beijing has a highly developed transportation system for traveling to and within the city.
There are two airports in Beijing: Beijing Capital International Airport and Nanyuan Airport. Beijing Capital International Airport is more frequent with both domestic and international flights.
From the airport to downtown Beijing you can get by Airport Express Train, Airport Shuttle Bus, Taxi.
If you have booked a tour via a travel agency, their team will arrange transportation for you from the airport to your hotel.
Beijing subway system has 22 lines, and it is a cheap way to travel around Beijing. The ticket prices depending on the distance you want to travel. For the first 6km, the ticket is $0.44, and for distance from 22 to 32km is $0.87. For every additional 20km, you will need to pay $0.29.
As your transportation choice, you can also choose traveling by bus or taxi. The bus ticket is about $1.45 to $2.91, and the taxi prices start from $1.89.
Xi'an is known as Chang'an in ancient times, is the capital city of Shaanxi Province, and the starting point of the Silk Road.
Xi'an is also one of the important birthplaces of Chinese civilization and the Chinese nation. More than a dozen dynasties established their capital here in history.
Today, Xi'an is one of the best tourist destinations in China and one of the best cities in China's international image. There are several heritage sites listed on the World Heritage List, they are Tomb of Emperor Qin Shihuang and Terracotta Warriors and Horses, Giant Wild Goose Pagoda, Little Wild Goose Pagoda, Tang Chang'an City Daming Palace Site, Han Chang'an City, Weiyang Palace Site, and Xingjiao Temple Pagoda.
Major attractions are also Xi'an City Wall, Bell and Drum Tower, Huaqing Pond, Zhongnan Mountain, Shaanxi History Museum, and other attractions.
Weather in Xi'an
Xi'an has a warm temperate semi-humid continental monsoon climate, with four different seasons: winter, spring, summer, and autumn. Cold, warm, dry, and wet.
The winter in Xi'an is characterized by cold weather, light wind, fog, a little rain, and snow. The summer in Xi'an is hot and rainy, the drought is protruded, and there are strong thunderstorms. The weather in autumn is fresh, and the temperature drops rapidly.
The best time to visit Xian is spring and autumn.
Xianyang International Airport is China's primary airport, from there to downtown Xi'an you can go with a shuttle bus, metro, or taxi.
From Xi'an with a high-speed train, you can travel to Beijing, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Changsha, Wuhan, Zhengzhou, Shijiazhuang, and Chengdu.
In the city, you can use the subway, bus or taxi. Among the ordinary bus lines (about 280 bus routes), there is a four-night run line.
Guilin is a city in the northeast of China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. It is located in southern China, about 150km southwest of Liuzhou, and 220 km east of Hezhou. And it is one of the most popular travel destinations in China, mostly for the unique mountains.
Limestones throughout the city have been weathered and eroded by hundreds of millions of years, forming thousands of peaks, a city surrounded by water, and beautiful stones.
Guilin is a national tourism scientific research and education center. It has been known as the "Landscape in the World" since ancient times.
Significant attractions in Guilin are famous Li River, Reed Flute Cave, Seven-Star Park, Two Rivers & Four Lakes, Solitary Beauty Peak & Jingjiang Prince City. Are you familiar with the Elephant Trunk Hill? Well, that natural beauty is also in Guilin
Weather in Guilin
Guilin is located in low latitude and has a subtropical monsoon climate, which is characterized by short and mild winters and long, hot, and humid summers. Winter is dry at the beginning but continue with cold weather. Usually, spring is rainy, while summer continues to be rainy, and the hottest months are July and August. Autumn is sunny and dry. The best time to visit Guilin is from April to October.
Transportation in Guilin
You can arrive at Guilin Liangjiang International Airport, which is located in Liangjiang Town, Lingui District, southwest of Guilin City. From there to downtown Guilin you can get a Shuttle bus, metro, train, or taxi. While the transportation in the city is well- developed with all transportation facilities.
Shanghai is the biggest city and the most important administrative and business center. It is situated in the Yangtze River Delta in East China.
In Shanghai, you will meet the combination of modern and ancient charm. There are many modern buildings in Shanghai, but the most popular are the Oriental Pearl TV Tower, China Art Museum, and others. And if you like to visit some of the ancient attractions, you can not miss Yuyuan ('Happiness Garden'), Jade Buddha Temple and Discover the French Concession. And do miss to visit the ancient town near Shanghai- Zhujiajiao Water Town.
Weather in Shanghai
Shanghai has a subtropical monsoon climate, with four distinct seasons, sufficient sunshine and abundant rainfall. Shanghai has a mild and humid climate, with shorter spring and autumn and more extended winter and summer.
The best time to visit Shanghai is from March to the end of November. Avoid traveling in Shanghai in winter.
Transportation in Shanghai
Shanghai has two international airports, Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport and Shanghai Pudong International Airport.
Three major railway stations in Shanghai: Shanghai Railway Station, Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station, Shanghai South Railway Station.
Shanghai has more than 1,000 bus lines and more than 270 taxi companies. To better serve the mobility needs of people with disabilities, Shanghai launched 200 multi-functional taxis based on accessible services through bidding.
Chengdu is the capital city of Sichuan Province, and it is located in the southwestern part of China, west of the Sichuan Basin, and the hinterland of the Chengdu Plain.
Chengdu is a national historical and cultural city, Birthplace of ancient Shu civilization. And now it is a great tourist city in China.
Near Chengdu, there are the homes of the Giant Pandas. In fact, the whole Sichuan Province is home to these cute animals. If you travel to Chengdu, you can not miss to visit some of the Giant Panda Bases where you can enjoy the amazing natural environment, but also in the games of the pandas. The closest one is the Giant Panda Breeding Research Base. Other popular tourist attractions in Chengdu are Mount Qingcheng, Wenshu Yuan Monastery, Kuanzhai Ancient Street of Qing Dynasty, Jinsha Site Museum. You will be amazed of city parks in Chengdu, if you have time, visit some of them. Also, no one can't miss Sichuan Opera in Chengdu. Sichuan opera is different opera from the west operas that we are used to seeing. The atmosphere is very relaxed, and you will enjoy amazing mask changing, but also the whole opera program in general.
Weather in Chengdu
Chengdu has a subtropical monsoon climate with the characteristics of early spring, hot summer, cool autumn, and warm winter. The average annual temperature is 16 °C, and the yearly rainfall is about 1,000 mm. A distinctive feature of Chengdu's climate is cloudy and foggy, with short sunshine hours.
The best time to visit Chengdu is from March to June, and in autumn from September to November.
Transportation in Chengdu
From Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport to downtown Chengdu you can get a Shuttle bus, train, metro, or taxi. The distance is about 16 kilometers.
In Chengdu besides the standard means of transport such as bus, subway, taxi, you can rent a bike. You can also use Pedicab or an engine as a means of transport that is ideal for sightseeing in the city for a little money.
Yunnan is located in south China, and it is a neighbor with Guangxi, Guizhou, Sichuan, and Tibet, as well as the countries Vietnam, Laos, and Myanmar.
Yunnan has many cities worth to be visited, but also great attractions that are must-see on your tour in China.
Kunming is the capital city of Yunnan Province, and also a city is known as "The City of Eternal Spring." There are several attractions in Kunming, but the most popular is the Stone Forest.
Another city in Yunnan that offers many attractions for tourists is Lijiang. Lijiang has a very long history and that you can see all over the city, but mostly if you visit Lijiang Ancient Town.
If you want to meet a unique culture and tradition, you should visit Dali and Shangri- La. Both places offer incredible once in a lifetime experience.
Weather in Yunnan Province
Yunnan has the subtropical monsoon climate, which is characterized by hot and humid summers, and cold to mild winters. However, the weather is Yunnan is pleasant all year long. The average summer temperature is about 20°C, while the lower temperature is around 7°C.
The best time to visit Yunnan Province is during the winter, from November to April next year.
Zhangjiajie is a city in Hunan Province. It is located in the northwest of Hunan, in the upper reaches of the water, and belongs to the hinterland of Wuling Mountain. Zhangjiajie was founded as a city for tourism and is one of the most famous tourist cities in China.
In 1992, the Wulingyuan Scenic Area consisting of three major scenic spots such as Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, was included in the World Natural Heritage List by UNESCO.
If you love nature, then you must visit Zhangjiajie and its major attractions, such as Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, Tianmen Mountain, and Tianmen Cave, Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass Bridge.
Weather in Zhangjiajie
It belongs to a prototype monsoon humid climate in the mid-subtropical mountains, with sufficient light and heat, abundant rainfall, long frost-free periods, short cold periods, and four distinct seasons. Affected by factors such as topography and geomorphology, the climate in the territory is complex and changeable, and natural disasters such as droughts, floods, and wind and hail are also frequent.
Tourists can visit Zhangjiajie all year round, but the most beautiful periods for a visit would be spring and autumn. September and October are the best months to visit, but often are very crowded, so if you want to avoid crowd travel to Zhangjiajie in spring.
Transportation in Zhangjiajie
In Zhangjiajie, there is a small airport, but still, you can get by air from Beijing and other large cities in China. Also, there is no bullet train to Zhangjiajie. The best way to get proper transportation is to book a tour with a travel agency, and their team will arrange private transport for you.
In the north part of China, between Beijing and Xi'an, you will find the best-preserved ancient town- Pingyao. Pingyao is a large cultural relic county in Shanxi Province, with more than 300 monuments. The traffic context of the ancient city of Pingyao consists of four main streets, eight small streets, and seventy-two serpentine lanes. Pingyao was a famous trade center during the Ming Dynasty.
On West Avenue is located the famous Rishengchang Exchange Shop, one of the most renowned forex shops in China. It is also known as the "Countryside Grandfather" of several Chinese banks. Rishengchang Exchange Shop is established in 1823 during the Qing Dynasty.
The main attractions of Pingyao include Pingyao County, Temple of Literature, Qingxu Temple, Qicheng, the top of the city gate, the corner tower, and the Jiangtai station. Pingyao County is the second batch of Chinese historical and cultural cities. In December 1997, the ancient city of Pingyao was listed by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage. It is also known as the most existing city in China with the ancient town of Lijiang in Yunnan, the ancient city of Langzhong in Sichuan, and the ancient city of Yixian in Anhui.
Weather in Pingyao
Pingyao County has a temperate continental semi-arid monsoon climate, with four different seasons and mild weather. The average yearly temperature is 10.60 °C, while the hottest month in July is 24.50 °C, and the coldest month is January, with the average temperature is -5 °C. Winters are cold and often with northwestern winds, a little snow, and severe fog. In the spring, the temperature varies greatly between day and night, with a bit of rain and some wind. Summers are often hot, humid, and rainy. In autumn, the temperatures are falling, and there is a little rain.
Transportation in Pingyao
In Pingyao, there is no airport. The closest airport is Taiyuan Wusu International Airport. From Taiyaun you can get to Pingyao by trains and long-distance buses. There are also regular trains from Beijing, Xi'an, Chengdu, Chongqing, and Lanzhou. And if you want to travel by bullet train, you can go from Beijing, Taiyuan, Xi'an, and Yuncheng.
Yangtze River Cruise
As the largest river in China and the third-largest in the world, along with all the natural beauty on the way, Yangtze River attract so many tourists to go on a cruise and to and to admire the surrounding scenery.
Yangtze River originates in Tibet, in the Tanggula Mountains of Qinghai. It has a total length of more than 6.300 km, and it flows through 11 provincial-level administrative regions Injected into the East China Sea east of Chongming Island, the entire length is more than 6,300 kilometers.
If you are going on a Yangtze River cruise, you will be amazed by the beauty and how nature is different in the flow of the river.
Upper reaches highlights of the Yangtze River are Lijiang, which is the hub for the main Upper Reaches attractions. In this area, you can see one of the world's deepest canyons- Tiger Leaping Gorge. Also, at this area is the First Bend of the Yangtze River.
Middle reaches are the most popular for the Yangtze River cruise, and it reaches the area between Chongqing and Yichang. In these sections are the famous The Three Gorges, they formed a series of natural and cultural attractions on a Yangtze cruise.
In the lower reaches of the Yangtze River are the water towns and cities, such as Wuhan, Nanjing, Hangzhou, Suzhou, and Shanghai.
In recent years, Tibet has become a very popular tourist destination, due to the natural scenery combined with snowy mountain peaks, crystal clear lakes, rich tradition and culture, and also for the best hiking trails.
Tibet is located in the southwestern part of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau with an average altitude of above 4,000 meters. The capital city is Lhasa, and also a top-rated travel destination.
If you choose Tibet as your next travel destination, you'll need to know some very crucial things about traveling to Tibet.
- You can't travel to Tibet alone, ie, you must be accompanied by a licensed tour guide all the time during your stay in Tibet. Also, you will need organized transportation and a driver. To have all this, you will have to book a tour with a travel agency, and they will arrange everything for you.
- Besides a Chinese visa to enter Tibet, you will need a Tibet Travel Permit. This document is issued by the Tibet Tourism Bureau. Your agent will apply for the permit on your behalf.
- Acclimatization is essential when you are in Tibet. After your arrival in Lhasa, you will need to spend two-three days in the city to be acclimatized before continuing with your tour around in Tibet.
Major attractions in and near Lhasa are Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, Saga Monastery, Drepung Monastery, and Norbulingka.
Also, must-see attractions in Tibet are Namtso Lake, Yamdrok Lake, and Lake Manasarovar. We can miss mentioning Everest Base Camp. In fact, most of the tourists go to Tibet to trek to Everest Base Camp.
There are also religious attractions in Tibet, such as Mt. Kailash Kora.
The only way to feel the real Tibet is to go there and to have a once in a lifetime experience.
You can read more about how to travel Tibet on our Tibet Travel guide.
Weather in Tibet
Tibet has a unique climate and generally is characterized by severe cold and dry in the northwest and warm and humid in the southeast.
The climate types are from tropical to subtropical, plateau to temperate, plateau to subtropical, and plateau to cold.
The climate in southern Tibet and northern Tibet is very different. The southern Tibet is affected by the warm and humid air currents of the Indian Ocean. It is mild and rainy, with an average annual temperature of 8 °C, a minimum monthly average temperature of -16 °C, and a maximum monthly average temperature above 16 °C.
The northern Tibetan plateau has a typical continental climate. The annual average temperature is below 0 °C, and the freezing period is as long as half a year, and the highest temperature is not more than 10 °C in July.
The period from March to October is the best time to visit Tibet. From July to August is the rainy season. Autumn is also an excellent time to visit Tibet, especially from September to mid-October.
Transportation to Tibet
You can get to Tibet by plane, by train or by car from mainland China.
There are direct flights to Lhasa from all bigger cities in China, but the best way to travel is by train.
If you choose to travel by train, you will spend around 40 hours from Beijing to Lhasa, but also you will have a fantastic experience. And also, you can get acclimatization gradually when traveling by train.
Major attractions in China
The Forbidden City it was a royal palace of the Ming and Qing dynasties in China. It was formerly known as the Forbidden City.
It is located in the center of Beijing and is the essence of ancient Chinese palace architecture. The Forbidden City is centered on three main halls, covering an area of 720,000 square meters, with a construction area of about 150,000 square meters. It has more than 70 palaces with different sizes and more than 9,000 houses. It is one of the largest and most well-preserved ancient wooden structures in the World.
The Forbidden City is hailed as the first of the five largest palaces in the world, and Listed it was listed as a World Cultural Heritage in 1987.
Best time to visit
The best season to visit Forbidden City is from March to June and from late August to late November. If you want to avoid a crowd, you shouldn't go during the weekends and holidays.
Peak hours are between 10 am and 1 pm if it's possible to try to go early in the morning or after 2 pm to avoid the crowd.
The Great Wall of China
The Great Wall is a military protection project in ancient China. It is a tall, sturdy, and continuous wall that restricts the action of the attackers.
The construction of the Great Wall of China begins at the time of the Western Zhou Dynasty. The Great Wall that we know and see today is mostly constructed during the Ming Dynasty.
The Great Wall has a total length of 21,196.18 kilometers, and it starts at Shanhaiguan- the First Pass Under Heaven in Qinhuangdao Prefecture, Hebei Province, about 300km due east of Beijing. More precisely, it ends a few miles down the road at the Old Dragon's Head.
The Great Wall has many sections, but the most popular sections are near Beijing.
- Badaling - Best preserved and also the most crowded section. It is located 72km from Beijing.
- Juyongguan - One of the three most famous passes along the Great Wall. It is closest to Beijing, only 60km from downtown Beijing.
- Huanghuacheng - has unique scenery. The Wall is surrounded by water. It is located 75 km from Beijing.
- Jiankou - The wild section. Great for hiking. It is located 100 km from Beijing.
- Mutianyu - The most famous section among the tourists. Fully restored and child-friendly. It is located 73km from Beijing.
- Gubeikou - Another wild section. Great for adventurers. It is located 146km from Beijing.
- Jinshanling - The most popular hiking route and also it has magnificent scenery. It is located 154km from Beijing.
- Simatai - This is the section that is open at night. It is located 120 km from Beijing.
- Huangyaguan - Each May, there is an annual Great Wall marathon.
- Shanhai Pass - Where the Great Wall ends, and the sea begins. It is located in Qinhuangdao City, Hebei Province, about 300km from Beijing.
Best time to visit The Great Wall
The peak season on The Great Wall is summer when it is very crowded. However, spring and autumn are the best seasons to visit some of the sections of The Great Wall. In spring from April to May, and in autumn from September to November.
Terracotta Army is one of the most significant attractions, not just in Xian but also in China. Even a tremendous archeological discovery in the 20th century. In March 1974, local farmers in Xiyang Village, Bishan Town, Lintong County, found several broken pottery figurines the same size as real people, which were burned with soil.
In December 1987, the tomb of Emperor Qin Shihuang and the Terracotta Army Pit were approved by UNESCO for inclusion in the "World Heritage List" and were honored as "the eighth wonder of the world."
In the Museum of Qin Terracotta Warriors and Horses, there are three major pits.
- Pit1 is the largest, and It is considered to contain over 6,000 terracotta figures, but there are less than 2,000 are on display.
- Pit2 is 20 meters northeast of Pit1, and it is the most amazing section with a variety of divisions.
- Pit3 is 25 meters northwest of Pit1, and it is the smallest vault. There are only 68 terracotta figures, many of them are without heads.
Best time to visit the Terracotta Army in Xi'an
The Terracotta Warriors Museum in an indoor museum, so you can visit it all year around. However, the best seasons to visit the museum are in spring from March to May and in autumn from September to October.
Avoid visiting the museum on weekend days and holidays.
The Li River is a generic name for the upper reaches of the Gui River, and which belongs to the West River system of the Pearl River Basin.
The most beautiful scenery among the Li River begins from Guilin to Yangshuo, and the best way to see and experience that beauty is to take a cruise.
Hiking along the Li River is also very popular and an excellent opportunity to explore nature in depth.
Best time to go on a cruise
The best time to visit can be post-rain during summer and autumn when the weather is pleasant. However, the scenery along the Li River is different every season. If you want to see the green peaks and to feel when nature wakes up, you should go in spring. The weather in late autumn and winter can be mild to cold, but also very quiet.
The peak season for visiting the LI River is from May to October.
Visiting Giant Pandas is also one of the biggest attractions among tourists in China. There is no other place to have some of this visit then in Chengdu in Sichuan Province.
The closest to Chengdu is Chengdu Panda Base, which is located only 10 km from downtown Chengdu. There are about 50 pandas, and if you want to see a little cub, you should go there between September and November.
Another panda base is Dujiangyan Panda Base. It is located 67km from Chengdu. There are about 20 pandas, and the base allowed tourists to volunteer in one day in the base.
Wolong Panda Center also offers a volunteering program. It is located 120km west of Chengdu.
Bifengxia Giant Panda Base is the farthest panda base but is less crowded. It is located in Ya'an City, 150 kilometers from Chengdu.
Best time to visit Giant Pandas
Avoid visiting pandas in summer, because you will not see any panda in the parks. If you go in summer, choose to visit some of the parks early in the morning.
The best time to go on a giant panda tour is from September to June next year.
Everest Base Camp
One of the reasons why travelers go on Tibet tour is Everest Base Camp. On Mount Everest there are two base camps: the South Side from Nepal, and the north side from Tibet.
The elevation of 5.100 meters above sea level, the tourists have the most amazing view from the camp, and also the most beautiful sunsets and sunrises are from Everest Base Camp.
Foreign tourists should know that visiting EBC on their own is not possible. You must have booked a tour via travel agency from China or Tibet. Also, you can’t travel in Tibet without companion from a tour guide.
Everest Base Camp is located 800 km from Lhasa, and you can get there by trekking or by driving. We always suggest to visit EBC with trekking, that is a magnificent way to visit all attractions on the way, but also to feel Tibet in depth. The trekking journey from Lhasa can last from 8-12 days, but usually the trekk begin from Old Tingry, so the tourists trekk around 5 days.
Unfortunately, the Everest Base Camp it is still closed for tourists, and it is like that from January 2019. There are no information when or will it be open again soon. However, there is an option to go up to Everest Base Camp is you have to pay $10.000 USD.
The highest point that travelers can get is Rongphu (Rongbuk) Monastery, which is also a great point to see the beauty of the mountain.
Yunnan Stone Forest
Kunming Shilin Scenic Area, or also known as Yunnan Stone Forest, is located in Kunming Shilin Yi Autonomous County, 78 kilometers from Kunming, the provincial capital of Yunnan. Stone Forest covers 350 square kilometers and there are four main and must-see areas: Lizijing Stone Forest, Heisongyan (Naigu Stone Forest) Scenic Area, Daide Waterfall, Zhiyun Cave, Long Lake, Moon Lake and Qifeng Cave.
Stone Forest is recognized as "First Wonder of the World", and it is one of the excellent places to see near Kunming and it is also regarded as one of the top Yunnan tourist attractions.
Best time to visit Stone Forest
Stone Forest area has a subtropical low-latitude plateau mountain monsoon climate. It has an average annual temperature of about 16 °C. There is no harsh cold in winter, no either severe summer, and spring is the most pleasant time of the year.
That means you can visit Stone Forest all year round, but avoid rainy days, because it is an outdoor area. The rainy season is from May to October.
If you want to avoid crowds, you should avoid the Chinese public holidays. Also, it is very crowded during the Torch Festival, which is usually celebrated on month six days 24-26 of the Yi calendar, that is around July and August.
Shaolin Temple is located 90 kilometres (56 miles) west of Zhengzhou and about 450km from Xi’an. And it is believed that is the birthplace of Chinese Buddhist zen ancestral home and Chinese kung fu.
The Shaolin Monastery and its Pagoda Forest were inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in April 2010, and it is also a national AAAAA-level tourist attraction in China.
Shaolin Temple has an important position in the history of Chinese Buddhism and is known as the "first place in the world". It is famous for its Shaolin monks who devoted themselves to the creation and development of Shaolin kung fu in the past. It is known as "The world kung fu came out of Shaolin.”
Best time to visit Shaolin Temple
The best time to visit the Shaolin Temple is from March to May and August to October.
Shaolin Temple is situated in Dengfeng where there is a continental climate with an annual average temperature of 14 °C. It has four distinct seasons, and the coldest month is January, while the hottest month is July.
Zhangye Rainbow mountain
Zhangye Danxia Geopark is located at the northern foot of Qilian Mountain, 30 kilometers south of Zhangye City, Gansu Province. It is one of the largest and best-developed Danxia landforms in China and also the only Danxia landform and colorful hilly landscape complex in China.
There are four viewing areas: Colorful Meeting Fairy Platform, Colorful Sea of Clouds Platform, Colorful Embroidered Platform and Colorful Clouds Platform.
- The first viewing platform is the largest and it is the nearest to the entrance.
- On the second viewing platform are actually two platforms. one at the base and one at the top of a hill. That viewing platform which is on the top of the hill, will give you the most amazing panoramic view. Also, it is a great spot for watching the sunset.
- From the third viewing platform you can see the famous “Seven-Color Fan.”
- And the fourth viewing platform has the most majestic view.
Best time to visit Zhangye Rainbow mountain
From June to September is the best time to visit Zhangye. The rest of the year is very dry. Winters in Zhangye are very cold and windy so it is not recommended to visit at that period.
If it is possible, try to go when it is sunny day to see the colors of the mountain. That it’s not possible if it is cloudy.
Best time of the day is in the morning or at dusk, so you can catch the sunrise or sunset.
Jiuzhaigou National Park or Jiuzhaigou Valley is located in Jiuzhaigou County, 450 kilometers (280 miles) to the north of Chengdu.
This valley is nothing like you ever seen before. Often is referred to as Fairyland, because of the majestic nature combined with turquoise lakes, waterfalls, virgin forests, and is surrounded by snowy peaks that complement all that magical scenery. You can enjoy this beauty for one, two, or three days. We recommend two days to explore all the valleys and amazing ponds and lakes.
Best time to visit Jiuzhaigou Valley
The best time to visit Jiuzhaigou is autumn, especially in September and October. Although the Jiuzhaigou is very attractive even in winter.
Festivals in China
China has many festivals, but fifteen are the main festivals in the country.
- Chinese New Year is celebrated on the first day of the first lunar month,
- The Lantern Festival is celebrated on the fifteenth day of the first lunar month,
- Longtaitou Festival is celebrated on 2nd February,
- Clod Food Festival- Chinese people are celebrating on the day before the Ching Ming Festival,
- Ching Ming Festival- Solar terms,
- Dragon Boat Festival is celebrated on the fifth day of the lunar month,
- Tanabata is celebrated on the seventh day of the seventh month,
- Ghost Festival- on 15th July,
- Moon Festival- celebrated on 15th August,
- Chongyang Festival- 9th September of the lunar calendar,
- Winter solstice- Solar solstice,
- Laba Festival- Lunar New Year's Day,
- Tali teeth- is celebrated on the 16th day of the lunar calendar,
- Sacrifice- Lunar New Year's Eve,
- New Year's Eve- the last day of December in the lunar calendar.
Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year, or in China known as The Spring Festival, is the first day of the year in the traditional sense, and it is one of the four main festivals in China.
The Spring Festival has a long history, which evolved from the ritual of the first year of the New Year. All things are based on heaven. Also, people are based on ancestors, praying for the sacrifice of the year, worshiping the ancestors of heaven, and returning to the beginning.
The beginning of the Chinese New Year holds deep cultural meanings and gives a rich historical and cultural heritage in inheritance and development. During the Spring Festival, various activities are held throughout the country, with strong regional characteristics, and an exciting and festive atmosphere.
In ancient folks, people started the "busy year" from the end of the year's festival on the 23rd or 24th, and the new year ended on the 19th of the first month.
In modern times, the Chinese New Year is scheduled to be the first day of the first lunar month, but it usually ends at least on the fifteenth day of the first lunar month.
This year 2020, The Chinese New Year, according to the Gregorian Calendar, will be celebrating on 25th January.
The Lantern Festival, also known as the First Lantern Festival and the Little Zheng Moon. The festival is celebrated on the fifteenth day of the first lunar month of the Chinese calendar, and it is on the last day of the Chinese New Year period.
The Lantern Festival is also one of the major traditional Chinese festivals. This is a festival when Chinese people are gathering with family and friends. In the evening, they go out to enjoy lanterns, guessing lantern riddles, eating tangyuan, and lion dances.
Since ancient times, the custom of the Lantern Festival has been dominated by warm and festive lantern watching.
The Lantern Festival mainly includes a series of traditional folk activities such as lantern viewing, eating rice balls, guessing lantern riddles, and setting off fireworks. Also, in many areas, there are traditional folk performances such as playing dragon lanterns, playing lions, stepping on stilts, rowing boats, twisting Yangge, and also playing Taiping drums.
In June 2008, it was decided that the Lantern Festival is into the second batch of national intangible cultural heritage.
The Lantern Festival, according to the Gregorian Calendar, will be celebrated on 5th February 2020.
Food and drink
Eating and drinking in China are different from other countries in the West. In such a massive territory, China has so many different cuisines to offer.
China has its culture and tradition when it comes to eating and drinking. We all know that knives and forks have no role in eating in China; instead, they use chopsticks.
Eating culture in China
Be prepared for the experience that Chinese culture can offer you at the table.
Don't be surprised if the Chinese host place food on your plate; it's a gesture of hospitality. Also, in China, people like to share food. In Western countries, everyone at the table at the restaurant order a dish for himself. Here in China, very often, there is a food ordered dish-by-dish to be shared by all present at the table.
Everyone uses their own chopsticks. Please do not use them to fetch the food from the center of the table. Instead of your chopsticks, take food from the center of the table with the spoons or chopsticks provided with the food.
It is also not polite to reach for food from the plate of the one next to you.
Every area or province in China has its own cuisine specialties; every one of them is unique and delicious.
While you are in Beijing, you must try Peking Duck. And if you travel to Sichuan Province, you can not miss trying Hot Pot. It would be best if you are prepared for the spiced food in Sichuan, the food can be too hot.
If your tour in on the Silk Road, you will visit Turpan, and there you can try some of the popular Muslim dishes, such as whole roast lamb and hand-pulled noodles.
The characteristic of Xiamen cuisine is seafood.
It doesn't matter which area in China you are visiting. Every single province has something unique and delicious dishes.
Drinking in China
One of the most popular drinks in China is beer, but it also is red wine. In China, you can find all alcoholic beverages; some of them served in different ways.
Because China is popular for its tea, you can also have a cup of tea on your tour. Some of the popular teas are black tea, chrysanthemum tea, oolong tea, or Jasmine tea; also, you can have every kind of herbal tea.
China has a variety of accommodation to offer to tourists. You can choose your accommodation from hostels, hotels, spa hotels, vacation rentals. In fact, there is a lot of choice of hospitality in China.
In large cities there are all star-level hotels, many of them are 3 star rated hotels. However, there are all widely known international chain hotels such as Hilton, Marriott, Hyatt, Holiday In, Four Seasons, Shangri-La, Kempinski, and others.
A trendy type of accommodation is a hostel. The prices are low compared with other accommodation capacities like hotels. If you are traveling with friends, this can be your perfect accommodation for you.
We recommend that you book a three-star hotel. The price is affordable, and also you will have all the amenities, such as AC, private bathroom, minibar in the room, telephone, TV, internet access.
Two-star hotels also are cheap, but not in every hotel the staff speaks English.
Four-star hotels belong in the luxury group of hotels. Rooms are spacious, equipped with every single detail that you will think of.
Five-star hotels, among the basic and luxury amenities, pool, spa, conference center, business center, etc.
Currency and Money
The official currency of China is Renminbi or PMB. The basic unit is yuan, and CNY is the abbreviation of Chinese yuan.
In your entry to China, you, as a tourist, can’t bring with you more than 20,000 yuan in cash. But you can have with you your credit cards, and withdrawals an ATM any time while you are in China.
You can use your credit cards only in luxury hotels (four and five-star hotels) and big foreign chains, and in some stores, in other places, your credit cards are useless. The problem is that all POS is connected to China UnionPay, and if you have that type of credit card, you can use it everywhere in China, and if you don’t, cash will be your only option.
Internet and WiFi in China
Internet is available all over China, and WiFi connections can be found free in some hotels, cafes or restaurants. In big cities, WiFi can be free and available, even out of hotels and restaurants.
But, if you want to use Google, Facebook, Instagram, or other social media, you should use a VPN, because all of these social media are blocked.
If you want to use the internet at the bus, train station or airport, you should have a Chinese phone card, without that you can not have free WiFi.
Do and Don’t in China
Every country or region has its own traditions, culture and regulations and as we said before, every tourist should respect the regulations of the country where is traveling.
China has many do and don’t. Here are some of them:
- Handshake is the way how the Chinese are greetings.
- When you are addressing someone, first use the title or the family name plus Mr. or Mrs.
- Also first you’ll need to address the oldest or more senior person to show respect
- It is polite to join the toasts
- When you are near temple or monastery walk in a clockwise.
- Also, when you entering the temple take you hat off.
- When you entering temples or monasteries you should have appropriate clothes
- In mosque, women need to cover up the head with a scarf
- When you are receiving gifts, make sure that you are taking with both hands
- Handshake should be light. A firm handshake it’s considered to be aggressive.
- Avoid hugs
- Do not place your chopsticks inside the bowl after eating. Put them on the top of the bowl.
- Don’t play with your chopsticks.
- Do not eat the last piece on a tray.
- Do not tip in China. Noone will accept tipping.
- Do not take photos of the local people without asking permission
- Avoid talking about politics and religion
Click here to read more about our frequently asked questions about traveling to China.
We hope that you find our China Travel Guide helpful. If there is anything else that you need to know about traveling to China please contact us.
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