If planning a China trip seems a bit daunting (specially if this is your first trip), fret no more! Our China Travel Guide will help you navigate through the maze of options based on your travel preferences and budget.
We will cover all from some very essential points like securing your China visa...
... to advice on best times to go...
... places to visit if this is your first time to China...
... to practical information such as changing money...
... what to pack...
Here's all you need to know to have a grand time in the Middle Kingdom!
Let's get started!
Step 1: Where To Go In China
Yes! It's a great land! Where to go? Lots of places to see, lots of things to do! Climbing the Great Wall, rickshaw rides, ancient terracotta soldiers,
biking in the countryside, stunning mountains, giant buddhas, bamboo rafting, cuddly pandas...
take a deep breath...don't cram too much into the schedule... assume you will be back!
China has much to offer... culture and history... outdoors and nature... incredible modern megacities, quaint little watertowns... More...
Where can you see pandas? Where is the Great Wall? Where are those famous mountains that look like paintings? Mapping major sight and activities... More...
This is China 101! Use as a starting point, add and subtract according to your interests! More...
Step 2: When To Go To China
China is a vast area, it has many climate zones and experiences a large range of weather patterns throughout the year. Summers for example, could be very hot and humid in the South and East regions, and winters in the North are bitter cold.
As a general rule, the Spring (April and May) and Autumn (September and October) months are very pleasant to travel in China. The Summer crowds are gone (except during national holidays) and you can find good rates in hotels and transport.
If you are traveling with children, however, you might be limited to the Summer holiday months, so just know that it can get very very hot and humid in some areas, i.e. Shanghai and Hong Kong, bring plenty of sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat/cap!
Remember, there is no such thing as "bad weather", only the wrong clothes and gear! Dress and prepare accordingly and have a great time!
Knowing what to expect during the time of your travel is important. If there are any major holidays or celebrations, you need to pay special attention to your transportation and accomodation as this becomes very challenging during these times.
When is the best time to go? What will the weather be like in... More...
Don't miss out on that special event, but plan accordingly! More...
Chinese celebrations are rich in tradition and history, great food, dazzling decorations... More...
Step 3: Going To China With A Tour Or On Your Own?
One major aspect will be to decide whether to go on an organized tour or make the arrangements yourself
Step 4: Getting There - Booking Your Flight To China
Where to fly in and out of China? Cheap flights to China can be found from most of the world's major airports to any of the four main hubs for air travel into China: Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Hong Kong.
Getting to China is nowadays very easy as there are numerous daily non-stop flights from many cities in North America, Europe, the Middle East, Australia and South East Asia, and more routes are added every year.
A combination of factors such as oil prices and increased airport taxes throughout the world makes getting cheap flights to China increasingly more difficult. But there are still many ways you can save
when booking your air tickets to China.
If traveling with a tour, skip to Step 8. Independent travelers continue to plan accomodations and local transportation.
Step 5: Where To Stay In China - Booking Hotels and Accommodation
As far as your accommodations in China go, you can choose to travel very inexpensively or you can choose to go as luxurious as you wish, you are bound to find something that fits your budget, preferred accommodation type and location.
Hotels, Apartments, Youth Hostels, Rentals... Follow our guide to the different accommodation options you may encounter,
the standards you can expect at each and tips on booking and getting the best deals.
Our Where to Stay in China guidelines are not intended to make recommendations of specific places to stay, but to give you an idea of the different accommodation options you may encounter, the standards you can expect at each and tips on booking and getting the best deals.
Step 6: Getting Around in China - Booking Domestic Flights and Trains
When traveling to different cities within China, you should pre-book your domestic transportation if you are traveling on a tight schedule. Otherwise,
unless it's during peak holiday season, booking
as you go will be fine and might even save you money. There are several options for getting around cities, here are some resources for booking
domestic flights and high-speed trains.
Where to fly in and out of China? Tips for booking your air tickets to China. More...
Hotels, Guest Houses, Apartments, Youth Hostels, Rentals... what to expect More...
Domestic travel in China: high-speed trains vs. domestic flights? More...
Step 7: Things To See And Do - Booking Activities, Shows, Day Tours
Want to see the acrobats? Hug a panda? Ride some rickshaws or go for a bike ride? It is a good idea to pre-book
any activity that you REALLY want to see or do to
avoid dissapointment. Activities can be booked separately for each city you wish to visit. It is easy to put your own program together.
We have used and highly recommend GetYourGuide and Klook.com to book activities, airport transportation, discount tickets to theme parks, etc.
Both are excellent online resources with highly competitive prices that offer hundreds of adventure activities, city tours,
off-the-beaten-path experiences, educational tours, family-friendly activities, day trips, airport transfers... you name it,
in hundreds of different locations, not only in China.
Step 8: Secure a China Visa
A China Visa is needed by all foreign passport holders upon entry into China with very few exceptions. Chances are, you need to get one.
For visa purposes, Hong Kong and Macau are separate Special Administrative Regions and most Western nationals do not require a visa.
If traveling to Tibet, an additional permit is required.
Step 9: Travel Insurance
First review any coverage you might have with your current policies for medical insurance or any coverage provided with your credit card
issuer for any travel-related casualties.
We do recommend that everyone traveling to China or any foreign country for that matter get the appropriate coverage to safeguard
the holiday from any unexpected incidents.
Travel insurance is not only for medical emergencies, which your existing medical policy may or may not cover, but will also
provide assistance in cases of trip delays or interruptions, evacuations, lost baggage... and then
there's also the peace of mind of knowing that if something does go wrong there will be a helping hand and someone ready to assist you to sort it out. Considering the cost of a policy, you can not afford NOT to have one!
Who Needs One, Where and When to Get It, About the 72 and 144-hour Visa-Free Stopover More...
Do I need travel insurance? What does it cover? How much does it cost? Get a quote here... More...
Step 10: Staying Healthy in China - Vaccinations and Precautions
Are vaccinations required for China? Can you drink the water?
Although not required, some vaccines are recommended for travel to China. In this section we cover basic safety and health concerns when traveling to China and the precautions you should take to make sure your trip is a healthy and enjoyable one, from drinking the water, food safety, how to deal with pollution, etc.
There are no required vaccinations for travelers to China, with the exception of Yellow Fever IF you are visiting an infected area prior to your China trip, but some are recommended. More...
Tap water is NOT safe in China. Even in the big cities like Beijing, the water itself might be free of contaminants but the plumbing in the city is old and therefore drinking the tap water is not safe. More...
Air pollution has become a major threat to the population's health and has been highly publicized. Be mindful of the effects the poor air quality might cause. Here are some tips for dealing with Pollution in China. More...
Step 11: Staying Connected in China - Internet, WiFi Coverage, Mobile Phones and SIM Cards
Will my phone work in China? How do I access the internet with my ipad? How do I charge my batteries?
There is no standard for electricity around the world. From voltage differences to the shape and size of the sockets, everytime you travel outside your home country to a different continent, you might find that the electrical appliances you bring can't be readily plugged in the foreign land.
Electricity in China is 220 Volts, this is twice the standard voltage than in North America and some Latin American countries which run on 110V.
In addition, the standard electrical socket where you plug your device consist of two linear pins in a V-shape as opposed to the round pins in European plugs, and the straight linear ones in the U.S.
To overcome these differences, you might need an electrical converter or/and an adapter. For more information see Electricity in China.
Check out these sections that provide answers to some basic questions about internet access, cell phone and tablet use and electricity in China:
Do I need an adapter, a converter or both? How to charge my phone, tablets and cameras in China? More...
Wireless Internet in China is widely available; however, note that many websites, specially our usual social media and messaging sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram are not accesible in China. More...
Will my mobile phone work in China? Here are some tips when using your home cell phone in China as well as whether getting a local China SIM Card is advantageous for you. More...
Step 12: Money Tips for China - Credit Cards, ATMs, Mobile Payments
The Chinese currency is the Chinese Yuan or Renminbi used throughout mainland China. If venturing to Hong Kong, you will need to exchange HK dollars, Macau as well has its own currency, the Pataca.
Where to exchange? How much to bring? Are credit cards widely accepted? How about mobile payments? Here are some answers:
Step 13: China Travel Packing List
Here's a useful checklist of essential stuff to take along, and the not so essential stuff that comes in really handy.
All done! Relax and Enjoy! Welcome to China!
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