China is a must-visit for every globetrotter as it has a lot to offer. It might now be on the list of most people that explore Asia, but you should add it to your personal travel list. After all, it is an incredible and large country with a rich history and natural beauty.
Bustling cities like Shanghai and Beijing stand in contrast with the astonishing landscape of the Wulingyuan Scenic Area. And fundamental monuments like the Great Wall tell the stories of China’s ancient history.
Hong Kong is a Special Administrative Region. It is quite different than China and due to that and its’ status, all information about Hong Kong can be found on a country page about Hong Kong.
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Places to see in China
Wulingyuan Scenic Area
Great Wall of China
Terracotta Army, Xi’an
Things to know before you visit China
The official languages of China is Mandarin.
If you explore big and international cities like Beijing or Shanghai you will be able to get around by talking English. In other cities like Guangzhou, it is best to download a translation app like Google Translate.
The official currency is Renminbi and a single unit of it is called Yuan.
In May 2021 the exchange rate was: 100 CNY equals 12.85 EUR, 15.45 USD, 20.01 AUD, or 11.18 GBP.
Credit Cards & ATMs
You can use your MasterCard or Visa in hotels and some restaurants while in the bigger cities. If you want to explore the countryside or go shopping, you need cash. At this point few places accept Amex, so do not rely on it.
Alternatively, you can connect WeChat with your credit card and use the app to pay.
The plugs in China are type A, C and I. The voltage is 220 V and the frequency is 50 Hz. If you are from the USA or Canada you need a voltage converter.
Except for citizens of 18 countries, everyone requires a visa to enter the country. There are many different visas, so I recommend looking up which visa you need to visit Chinaon the official website. The price and length of these visas vary vastly between countries, so it is best to consult the website of your closest Chinese embassy.
If you are unsure if you will like the country and do not want to pay for a visa, you might be able to explore it on a transit visa. By now they are available for many Chinese cities and are valid for up to 72 hours. In fifteen cities, including Shanghai and Beijing, you can even get a 144 hours transit visa. Just ensure that China is merely a stopover from one country to another.
Generally speaking, China is a safe destination. There are some instances of theft and pickpocketing, so keep your valuables in a closed bag near your body. Avoid illegal taxis while exploring the cities.
When it comes to street food it is best to see where the locals eat, as they tend to flock to the best food stalls. So do as the locals do if you want a good and affordable meal.
There are times of heavy air pollution in the big cities. Therefore, you should use an app like ‘AirVisual’ if you are sensitive to bad air conditions, so you know when to stay indoors.
Do not do anything disrespectful while in the country and keep in mind that many places have intense video surveillance. It is usually better to refrain from talking about politics and to avoid protests.
There is a chance that locals will start taking photos of you if you leave behind Shanghai and Beijing. The understanding of (data) privacy tends to be different, so taking photos of strangers is not seen as an impairment of your personal rights. People that do not have an Asian heritage tend to stick out in the crowds and I have been told that it is because different ethnicities are sometimes considered exotic. Just tell the person taking photos of you to stop if it bothers you.
The Best Time to Visit China
Cities like Shanghai and Beijing are great destinations year-round, but if you plan to visit other parts of China spring (April and May) and autumn (September and October) tend to be the best time to visit China. After all, they tend to be warm and dry months, while winter tends to be very cold and summer is incredibly humid.
However, there is an exception to this concerning Tibet and other mountainous regions. Due to the generally colder climate in these areas, June to August tend to be the best months to visit them.
The main typhoon season in China is July to September, so it is recommended to keep your eyes on the news if you explore the country during these months.
Additionally, you should avoid national holidays like the Chinese New Year (late January to mid-February), Labor Day (May 1) and the Chinese National Day (October 1 – 7). Places tend to very crowded and the inland tourism booms as people travel and visit their families.