China Travel Guide
From ancient wonders that have stood the test of time to breathtaking landscapes shaped by nature’s hand, China is a kaleidoscope of experiences waiting to be discovered.
This vast and diverse country offers a unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty, making it an irresistible destination for travelers from around the globe. Explore the bustling cityscapes, get lost in the serenity of its picturesque countryside, and immerse yourself in its rich cultural heritage.
Whether you are an adventurer seeking thrills, a historian on the trail of ancient civilizations, or a nature lover looking to bask in the glory of Mother Nature, China welcomes you with open arms and a promise of unforgettable experiences.
Capital city: Beijing
Currency: Chinese Yuan – 1 USD = 7.3 CNY.
Electricity: Power voltage is 220 Volts. Power sockets type A, C, and I.
Languages: The official language is Mandarin Chinese, but other dialects are also spoken, such as Cantonese and Hunanese for example.
10 Handpicked Highlights of China
Jiuzhaigou, located in Sichuan Province, is a fairy-tale world of colorful lakes, cascading waterfalls, and snow-capped peaks. The valley is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a haven for nature lovers and photographers, offering unparalleled natural beauty that changes with the seasons.
In autumn, the landscape transforms into a canvas of vibrant colors, while winter brings a serene, snow-covered tranquility. Jiuzhaigou’s unique ecology supports a variety of flora and fauna, making it an important conservation area and a fascinating destination for those keen to explore China’s natural heritage.
Famed for its towering sandstone pillars, Zhangjiajie National Forest Park was the inspiration for the floating mountains in the film “Avatar.” This UNESCO World Heritage site in Hunan Province offers a mesmerizing landscape of jagged peaks, lush vegetation, and misty valleys.
The park boasts an array of hiking trails and the world’s longest and highest glass bridge, providing adventure and thrill for visitors. Zhangjiajie’s rich biodiversity and unique geological formations make it a must-visit destination for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers alike.
Yuanyang Rice Terraces
The Yuanyang Rice Terraces in Yunnan Province are a testament to human ingenuity and a stunning example of agricultural artistry. Carved into the Ailao Mountains over the course of centuries, these terraced fields transform with the seasons, from the watery mirrors of spring to the golden hues of harvest time.
The terraces are an integral part of the local Hani people’s culture, showcasing a harmonious relationship between humanity and nature. A visit to Yuanyang offers not just breathtaking views but also an insight into the rich cultural tapestry of China’s ethnic minorities.
Guilin & Li River
The picturesque region of Guilin in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region is renowned for its dramatic karst landscape, where limestone peaks rise abruptly from the ground to create a surreal and captivating scenery. The Li River winds its way through this stunning backdrop, providing one of the most scenic river cruises in the world.
Along the journey, visitors can witness traditional fishing villages, lush bamboo groves, and iconic sights such as the Nine Horse Fresco Hill. Guilin itself offers a charming blend of natural beauty and cultural heritage, making it a highlight of any trip to China.
Tibet, often referred to as the “Roof of the World,” is a place of spiritual significance and unparalleled natural beauty. Home to the awe-inspiring Himalayas and the sacred Mount Everest, Tibet offers a serene and majestic landscape that has captivated the hearts of travelers for centuries.
Visitors can explore ancient monasteries, engage with the warm-hearted Tibetan people, and embark on journeys through some of the most dramatic scenery on the planet. Tibet’s unique culture and breathtaking landscapes make it a must-visit destination for those seeking a profound and transformative travel experience.
Giant Panda Breeding Center in Chengdu
The Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in Sichuan Province is a sanctuary for one of the world’s most beloved animals – the giant panda. Dedicated to the conservation of these adorable creatures, the center provides a natural habitat to ensure their well-being and promote breeding.
Visitors have the unique opportunity to observe pandas in a setting that closely resembles their natural environment, learn about conservation efforts, and even participate in volunteer programs. The center plays a crucial role in safeguarding the future of giant pandas and offers a once-in-a-lifetime experience for animal lovers.
Zhangye National Geopark (Rainbow Mountains)
The Zhangye National Geopark in Gansu Province is home to the stunning “Rainbow Mountains,” known for their vibrant and varied colors. The result of millions of years of sedimentary deposits and erosion, these multicolored hills provide a surreal and otherworldly landscape that is a feast for the eyes.
The park offers various viewing platforms and trails, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in this unique geological phenomenon. The Rainbow Mountains are a testament to the raw beauty and artistic power of nature, making them a must-visit for nature enthusiasts and photographers.
Oasis of Dunhuang
Situated on the ancient Silk Road, Dunhuang is an oasis city in Gansu Province that boasts a rich history and stunning natural landscapes. The nearby Mogao Caves house an exquisite collection of Buddhist art, spanning over a millennium, while the Singing Sand Dune and Crescent Spring offer a mesmerizing desert experience.
Dunhuang serves as a gateway to the awe-inspiring beauty of the Gobi Desert, providing a unique blend of cultural heritage and natural wonders.
Mutianyu Great Wall
The Mutianyu section of the Great Wall of China offers a less crowded and more authentic experience than the more famous Badaling section. Located just outside of Beijing, this well-preserved section of the wall winds its way over rugged terrain, providing stunning views of the surrounding countryside.
Visitors can hike along the wall, take a cable car, or even ride a toboggan down. The Mutianyu Great Wall offers a chance to step back in time and experience one of the world’s most iconic landmarks in all its historic glory.
Shanghai stands as a dazzling beacon of modernity, showcasing China’s rapid development and cosmopolitan flair. This vibrant metropolis is a melting pot of cultures, where the East meets the West, and tradition coexists with innovation.
Visitors can wander along the Bund, taking in the stunning skyline, delve into the city’s rich history at the Shanghai Museum, or explore the art and fashion scenes in the trendy M50 district. Shanghai’s dynamic energy and blend of old and new make it an essential stop on any China itinerary.
China's Geography & Landscapes
China’s geography is incredibly diverse, spanning across plateaus, mountains, hills, plains, and basins. The country is home to some of the world’s highest mountain ranges, vast deserts, rich river valleys, and long coastlines. Here is a brief overview of its major geographic regions:
The Tibetan Plateau: Also known as the “Roof of the World,” this plateau is characterized by its high elevation, mountainous terrain, and stunning landscapes. It is home to the Himalayas and the world’s highest peak, Mount Everest.
The Northern Plains: Dominated by the Yellow River, this region is one of China’s main agricultural areas. It includes the North China Plain, which is vital for farming.
The Southeastern Highlands: This area is characterized by hills, low mountain ranges, and is where the Yangtze River flows. The landscape here is lush and green, with plenty of rainfall.
The Northwestern Deserts: This region includes the vast Gobi Desert and the Taklamakan Desert, known for their harsh climates and stunning dune landscapes.
The Southwestern Mountains: Encompassing parts of the Himalayas, this rugged terrain includes deep valleys and is known for its biodiversity.
The Coastal Region: China has a long coastline along the Pacific Ocean, featuring bustling cities, beautiful beaches, and major ports.
Best Time To Go To China
China’s vast size and geographical diversity mean that the country experiences a wide variety of climates and weather conditions. Here’s a breakdown of the different seasons and the best times to visit:
Spring (April – June): Spring is one of the best times to visit China. The weather is warm and comfortable, and the country is blooming with flowers. However, it can be crowded due to domestic tourism.
Summer (July – August): Summer is the peak tourist season for regions like Tibet and Inner Mongolia. However, many parts of China experience high temperatures and heavy rainfall during this time.
Autumn (September – November): Like spring, autumn is a great time to visit. The weather is cool and pleasant, and the autumn foliage, especially in regions like the Great Wall, is spectacular.
Winter (December – March): Winter is ideal for visiting China’s ski resorts in the northeast or for exploring the southern regions where temperatures are milder. However, northern and western China can be extremely cold, and some remote areas may be inaccessible.
Generally, the best times to visit China are during the spring and autumn when the weather is mild, and the tourist crowds are less intense. However, this can vary depending on the specific region and personal preferences.
Traveling in China
China is generally considered a safe country for travelers, with low rates of violent crime. However, like any travel destination, it’s important to stay aware and take precautions to ensure your safety. Here are ten tips to help you stay safe while traveling in China:
- Beware of Scams: Be aware of common tourist scams, especially in crowded areas and popular tourist destinations. Avoid engaging with people who approach you offering unsolicited services or goods.
- Guard Your Belongings: Petty theft, such as pickpocketing, can occur in crowded places. Keep your belongings secure and be mindful of your surroundings.
- Avoid Unregistered Taxis: Stick to official taxi services and avoid unregistered cabs, as these can overcharge you or be unsafe.
- Be Cautious with Street Food: Street food is a vital part of Chinese culture, but it’s important to eat at busy stalls that have a high turnover of fresh produce to avoid food poisoning.
- Stay Connected: Ensure you have a local SIM card or a VPN to access essential services like maps and translation tools, as many western services are blocked in China.
- Respect Local Laws and Customs: Be aware of and respect Chinese laws and customs. Avoid discussing sensitive topics like politics and religion.
- Be Prepared for Pollution: Air quality can be poor in many Chinese cities. Check pollution levels regularly and wear a mask if necessary.
- Travel Insurance: Make sure you have comprehensive travel insurance that covers medical expenses and evacuation.
- Use Safe Transportation: Stick to reputable transportation companies, especially for long-distance travel.
- Learn Basic Mandarin Phrases: Knowing a few basic phrases in Mandarin can be incredibly helpful, especially in emergencies.
Getting to & Around China
China’s transportation network is extensive and varied, offering numerous options for travelers:
- Air: China is home to several major international airports, including Beijing Capital International Airport, Shanghai Pudong International Airport, and Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport. There are also numerous domestic airlines like Air China, China Southern, and China Eastern, connecting various parts of the country.
- High-Speed Rail: China’s high-speed rail network is one of the largest and most efficient in the world, connecting major cities and regions.
- Buses: Long-distance and local buses are widely available, though they can be more challenging for non-Mandarin speakers to navigate.
- Subway: Many of China’s major cities, including Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou, have extensive and efficient subway systems.
- Ferries: For certain travel routes, such as between the mainland and Hong Kong or Hainan Island, ferries can be a convenient option.
- Bicycles and E-bikes: In many cities, renting a bicycle or e-bike can be a convenient and enjoyable way to explore.
China offers a wide range of accommodation options to suit all budgets and preferences, from luxury hotels to budget hostels and guesthouses. International hotel chains like Hilton, Marriott, and InterContinental have a strong presence, especially in major cities and tourist areas.
For those on a budget, there are numerous hostels and guesthouses available, many of which offer clean and comfortable rooms at very reasonable prices. Additionally, China has a growing number of boutique hotels and traditional guesthouses (sometimes referred to as “nongjiale” in rural areas), providing a more unique and localized lodging experience.
Prices can vary significantly depending on the location and the level of comfort, but in general, accommodation in China is quite affordable compared to Western standards. However, it’s important to book ahead during peak tourist seasons and national holidays when accommodations can fill up quickly.