How about planning a trip to the mystic and exotic land of China? China is a populous nation in East Asia encompassing mountains, desert, lakes, rivers and over 14,000 km of coastline. The breathtaking beauty, captivating heritage, delectable dishes and bewitching art is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to everything China has to offer the intrepid traveler.
What gets your heart racing? Lush green grasslands or the vast stretches of deserts? Do the pristine, clear lakes put your soul at ease or do you want to climb up the mighty mountains? China has something for each and every one of us.
China Travel Info
Language: There are at least eight different linguistic groups, in addition to hundreds of dialects spoken in China. The official language is Mandarin Chinese however many Chinese people can speak conversational English.
Currency: Renminbi (RMB) or Chinese Yuan (CNY) is used in mainland China.
Visa: The best time to apply for your Chinese visa is 30-60 days before your departure. Make sure that your passport is valid for at least 12 months. A visa that grants single entry for 3 months is 140 USD for American Citizens and 30 USD for citizens of other countries.
Electricity: Voltage in China is 220V/50HZ. In Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau the common power voltage is 220 Volt / 50 HZ. In Taiwan electronic devices usually work with the electricity supply voltage of 110V/60HZ. I recommend bringing a Universal Travel Adapter so you don’t need to keep buying new adapters for each country you visit.
China Festivals & Celebrations
To understand Chinese culture you have to experience the festivals that take place here annually.
Chinese New Year: Commonly referred to as the Spring Festival, Chinese New Yeat takes place between 15th to 20th of February. It is one of the biggest and most important celebrations that takes place on Chinese soil each year. From the popular dragon dance to delightful food this festival has the whole shebang. The Chinese people associate their years with the symbol of an animal, for example the “Year of the Dog”.
The Dragon Boat Festival: Another huge festival that showcases the culture, heritage and importance of Chinese tradition. The Chinese indulge in the Duanwu Festival for three days before returning to their daily lives. During this festival the Chinese people demonstrate their unwavering faith towards ancient Chinese figures such as Qu Yaan, Cao E, and Wu Zixu. Watch the impressive boats decorated as dragons sail by, eat good food and dodge the superstitions surrounding the Dragon Boat Festival.
The Chinese Lantern Festival: The day that marks the end of the Chinese New Year is none other than the Chinese Lantern Festival. Like every other festival, this one is also celebrated according to the readings mentioned in the Lunar month of the Chinese calendar. People spend their time admiring the beauty of the moon along with flying lanterns and drones. This festival brings happiness and light to the lives of everyone who is a part of it.
Safety In China
Safety is a concern for most people traveling to China. Bag-snatching, pick-pocketing and other scams to take advantage of tourists are common in some places. Female travelers should take care to dress appropriately and be extra careful when walking alone or at night. Some parts of China are dangerous so always do your own research before you go and make sure that you avoid dis-reputable places. Based on many years of solo travel around east Asia I wouldn’t leave home without travel insurance. I recommend checking out the travel insurance plan that World Nomads can offer you a few weeks before your China trip. It’s always better to be safe than sorry!
Top 10 Amazing Things To Do In China
The Great Wall of China
When visiting China you can’t miss out on seeing something as magnificent and delightful as the Great Wall of China. It is the longest and the most amazing wall you will ever come across. The ancient architecture along with it’s defensive beauty encompasses one of the greatest and most famous tourist attractions in the world. The Great Wall of China goes way back in time and the history surrounding it is equally as awe-inspiring. Discover the tales of wisdom, pain, dedication, blood, sweat and tears of the people who made this majestic wall that still stands tall and proud today.
The Forbidden City
Lying in the heart of China, this place is an absolute must too. The Forbidden City has been a part of China for centuries now and it was constructed during the rule of the Ming Dynasty. UNESCO declared the Forbidden City the largest and oldest spacious structure. You will feel the beauty and the extravagant culture of the Chinese tradition on the walls and halls of this structure. Step into the mesmerizing palace that took years to build. Take your time to admire the art and beauty.
The Terracotta Army
The first Emperor that ruled China wanted his own army to guard him in his afterlife. You can’t miss out on the intricate detailing of the army that stands even in the modern day to guard the Emperor. The techniques used to build the Terracotta Army in 476 BC are really fascinating so enjoy learning about how and why the Terracotta Army was built as you roam around.
Who can stay away from these cute bundles of joy? China is known for their Giant Pandas which are tragically close to extinction. These members of the bear family are a delight to watch. Spend your time in China cuddling a real-life teddy bear, a true Chinese national treasure.
The Li River
Ready to experience one of the world’s most breathtaking views? It lies in Guilin, China. Surrounded by majestic mountains lies the crystal-clear water of the Li River. The Li River stretches for as long as 83kms and is home to ducks, vignettes and water buffaloes. Escape the hustle and bustle of the city and let your soul relax and recharge on the banks of the Li River.
The Yellow Mountains
When you are in China, the variety of different landscapes will blow you away. After enjoying the serenity of the Li River, it’s time to experience the impressive beauty on offer at the Yellow Mountains. Plan for a day to climb up the mountain so you can get the best view. The Yellow Mountains are famous for pine trees, their irregular shape and of course the hot springs.
The Potala Palace
Often frequented by the Dalai Lama himself, another ancient palace that finds it’s home in China is the Potala Palace. It is as high as 3750 meters and towers over Lhasa city. The Potala Palace is important to the beliefs and religious sentiments of the Tibetans. Every year people from all over the world flock to the Potala Palace to show their respect.
The Silk Route
Get a true taste of China by visiting the Silk Route. Brimming with historical fun facts and stories the Silk Route is one of the greatest attractions in China. The beauty of the vast open stretches of desert while riding on a camel will help conjure up the image of a bygone era when emperors would often frequent this very same route.
The Glass Bridge
For thrill seekers… walk on the longest glass bridge in the world! China has seen a surge in the number of tourists due to this attraction which was only built a few years ago. It rises 400 meters from the valleys and is as broad as 430 meters. Enjoy the view that surrounds the bridge and the streams that flow beside it.
The Qinghai Tibet Railway
If you fancy a trip to Tibet make sure you are on the Qinghai Tibet Railway for this amazing journey. Breaking every record in the world the Qinghai demonstrates the Chinese’s extraordinary skills at building world-class railways. Besides being the highest railway going to the highest station, Qinghai Tibet Railway has got it all and with bells on. Enjoy the enchanting view of the landscape, rivers and lakes as the train whisks you to Tibet at the speed of light (almost).
Other than these top things to do in China, there is so more to see and experience in this amazing country. Plan ahead so that you can take your time exploring and be prepared to be flexible because sometimes travelers you meet along the way will have the best suggestions for undiscovered gems.
What To Eat In China
Get ready for your stomach to growl and your mouth to water… here’s some of the most popular must-try Chinese dishes.
Sweet and Sour Pork: Yes, you can have it in any part of the world but will it have the same authentic taste? The blend of the sweet, sour and crispy taste of this traditional Chinese dish is going to make your taste buds dance in sheer delight.
Ma Po Tofu: A dish that goes back centuries in Chinese history is Ma Po Tofu. The use of ground beef along with tofu and green onions creates the perfect balance. Served with rice this is one of the most popular dishes in China.
Dumplings: These tiny balls of joy that burst into delightful flavors in your mouth are the hardest thing to stay away from and don’t my thighs live to tell the tale. Dumplings are filled with a variety of stuffing. Choose the one you like from pork, beef, vegetable, shrimp, fish and so many other choices.
Hot Pot: Another delicacy from the Chinese kitchen is Hot Pot. Cook your own hot pot by adding your choice of vegetables and meat in the boiling cauldron of water on your table. When the vegetables and meat are cooked dip it in your favorite sauce and enjoy just like the Chinese do daily.
Stuffed Buns: Hopping from Chinese tourist attraction to traveler hot spot and in a hurry? Stuffed buns will save the day. Grab these flavor-filled buns that are oh-so-delicious while on the go! A mixture of pork and vegetables are stuffed inside dough balls and then steamed. Munch on these as you enjoy the breathtaking views of wonderful, enchanting China.
Where To Stay In China
Finding great accommodation in China is usually really easy because there’s such a large variety of options to choose from no matter what the size of your budget. Hostels and dormitories cost between $6-12 and make travel to China affordable and often more enjoyable too for backpackers and travelers on a shoe-string budget.
If you’re visiting China during peak season or would prefer to stay in a luxury hotel then it’s wise to book your accommodation in advance. Don’t wait until you arrive to see what’s available or you may be disappointed to find that all the best places to stay have already been snapped up. China is a very popular year-round travel destination you know!
Jetset Bunny recommends using Booking.com for the best accommodation deals in China.
If you’re backpacking in China or traveling on a tight budget then Hostel World is another great option. Staying in hostels makes travel in Asia very affordable and is also a great way to meet new travel buddies.
China Trip Planner
Best Time to Visit China
Top China destinations like Beijing, Shanghai and Xi’an aren’t weather reliant and the weather conditions at any time of year won’t affect your trip to these large cities. However the best time to visit China in general is between April and May and also September and October. This is when most of the main tourist destinations will have their best weather (not too hot or cold). Summer time is between June and August and if you don’t mind crowds (particularly Chinese families with children) and heat it’s a good time to visit too. For lower prices visit China in Winter between November and March which is considered low season. Wrap up warm because China can get very cold.
China Travel Budget
China is an affordable destination for travelers on all budgets, high and low. The cost of your trip to China depends on the comfort level you want while here. If you’re backpacking and planning on staying in hostels and basic food then budget between $20 and $35 a day. If you’re looking to stay in private rooms and eat in mid-range restaurants you could spend anywhere between $35 to $100 per day. If you want to enjoy luxury 4-5 star accommodation and gourmet restaurants in places like Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai and Xi’an then budget about $150 to $300 plus a day.
- Budget: $6-12
- Mid-range: $12-$50
- Splurge: $100+
Meal For One
- Budget: $2.00-$8.00
- Mid-range: $8-$15
- Splurge: $15-$60
China Packing Guide
Packing for a trip to China, like most other places in east Asia, is a breeze if you think ahead and know what kind of weather to expect. East Asia climates, depending on the time of year can go from being scorching hot to freezing cold. So pack lightweight and breathable lose fitting clothing for a Summer trip and warm rainproof clothing for winter visits.
If you forget to pack something for your China trip you can buy anything you need in the larger cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Guangzhou.
Other essential items to pack for a trip to China include, most importantly, a good quality travel backpack. Choose the brand carefully and make sure you find the right size backpack for your torso. Believe me, doing this will make all the difference and prevent major backache. Smaller items to pack include a padlock for any valuables particularly if you’re staying in hostels or dormitories and a money belt to keep important documents close to you while on the go.
For the full list of everything you need to pack for a trip to China check out the Jetset Bunny Ultimate Southeast Asia Packing List.