Everything you need to know about travel in china
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Location: South Eat Asia – and borders 14(!) different countries along its 22,000km of land borders. (North Korea, Russia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam
Language: The official language is Mandarin Chinese however there are at least eight different linguistic groups, in addition to hundreds of dialects and variations. Most of the times they are not mutually understandable.
Get Here: via Plane with Momondo or on an Organised Tour via Tour Radar (5% off through this link) – G Adventures (up to 25% off with this link!) or Intrepid
Currency: Chinese Renminbi (CNY) is the only recognised currency in mainland China. Hong Kong has it’s own currency – the Hong Kong Dollar (HKD) – check the latest exchange rate here
Electrical Plug Fixture: Type A, C & I (Grab yourself a universal adapter and you’ll never have to worry about having the right plug again!)
Time Zone: UTC + 8
Capital City: Bejing, China
Other Major Cities: Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tianjin, Xi’an
Famous For: Terracotta Warriors, The Great Wall, Feng Shui, Giant Pandas and being a huge industrial hub for electronic products.
When To Visit China:
China is one big country and there is no one-size fits all for when you should visit, but all experts say that you should NOT visit during Chinese New Year (dates vary each year so it is wise to check before booking) During this time public transport will be packed, hotels will be fully booked and some shops and tourist attractions will be closed.
- October (Early Autumn) is often hailed as the ‘best’ time to visit. Most of China has warm/mild temperatures, and the summer rains have stopped (apart from around Hong Kong and Sanya) so it’s relatively dry
- April to May (Late Spring) – the flowers are in bloom and the temperatures are warming up. Also, April and May precede China’s peak travel season. It is still relatively quiet at attractions.
- June to August (Summer) – Is peak season and the hottest part of the year. Daytime temperatures are known to exceed 35ºC and this period coincides with Chinese school holidays.
Visa Requirements for China:
All visitors from the UK, USA and Australia require a visa to travel in mainland China. Detailed travel plans must be provided with every application including hotel bookings and return flights. As the application process varies between countries I would urge you to check with your own government travel advisory service before making any bookings. Click for more: UK – Australia – USA.
Travel Within China:
Internal flights or Trains are the easiest way to get around the country. A huge investment in China’s high speed rail system has made it one of the most popular transport options as it is both comfortable and affordable. If you are concerned about crossing large sections of the country independently there are a variety of overland tours with English speaking guides organized by companies such as Intrepid,and GAdventures – compare them all at TourRadar to get the best deal.
As always, check your own government recommendations prior to traveling, however you should generally ensure your basic immunizations (such as Tetnus and Diptheria) are up to date and discuss with your travel doctor Hep A, Influenza and Typhoid Inoculations alongside anything else they recommend at consultation.
What to Know Before You Go to China:
- Tap water in China is NOT drinkable. Bottled water is cheap and readily available throughout the country.
- Haggling (outside supermarkets and boutiques/chain stores) is totally acceptable and is often expected. Don’t accept the first or marked price.
- Cash is king. Whilst hotels and major restaurants will accept Visa and Mastercard, the most common type of payment card is UnionPay. For everything else you will need cash.
- Carry tissues/toilet paper and hand sanitizer whilst out and about. Public conveniences often do not have toilet paper or handsoap, although these are generally provided in hotels and restaurants.
- Download a VPN (we recommend NordVPN) in order to access Facebook, Google, Twitter & Instagram etc. The Great Firewall of China remains strong and these platforms are blocked within the country.
- Culture Quirks – spitting (and blowing your nose onto the floor!) is commonplace; Chinese people are used to much less personal space than Westerners and so you may be ‘jostled’ when walking/queuing; be proactive if you require service in a restaurant – attentive table service is not something to be expected.
- Air Pollution – Air pollution is a problem in big cities. Visitors are advised to wear a mask and avoid strenuous activity on heavy pollution days.
Read More About Destinations in China