Visit China – China Travel Guide By A Chinese Local

As a local mainland Chinese, I do believe I offer better “advice” as to where you should visit in China as opposed to experience China for what she has to offer. China is one of the oldest civilizations in the world and is the birth place for many of Man’s inventions that changed the world (Paper, Printing Press, Gunpowder and the Compass).

If you are planning for a trip to China, allow me (as a local Chinese) to share my views on where you should really go to maximize your experience in China.

About China – Information About China

China, officially the People’s Republic of China (PRC), is a sovereign state in East Asia. With a population of over 1.381 billion, it is the world’s most populous state. Covering approximately 9.6 million square kilometers, China is the world’s second largest state by land area. The state is governed by the Communist Party of China based in the capital of Beijing. It exercises jurisdiction over 22 provinces, five autonomous regions, four direct-controlled municipalities(Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, and Chongqing), two mostly self-governing special administrative regions (Hong Kong and Macau), and claims sovereignty over Taiwan. China is a great power and a major regional power within Asia, and has been characterized as a potential superpower.

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Ren Min Bi (RMB) is the official currency of China. Since 2008 global financial crisis, China realized the dependency of US Dollar and the weakness of the international monetary system. The RMB Internationalization accelerated in 2009 when China established dim sum bond market and expanded the Cross-Border Trade RMB Settlement Pilot Project, which helps establish pools of offshore RMB liquidity.

In November 2010, Russia began using the Chinese renminbi in its bilateral trade with China. This was soon followed by Japan, Australia, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and Canada. As a result of the rapid internationalization of the renminbi, it became the eighth-most-traded currency in the world in 2013.

China had the largest economy in the world for most of the past two thousand years, during which it has seen cycles of prosperity and decline. Since the introduction of economic reforms in 1978, China has become one of the world’s fastest-growing major economies. As of 2014, it is the world’s second-largest economy by nominal GDP and largest by purchasing power parity (PPP). China is also the world’s largest exporter and second-largest importer of goods. China is a recognized nuclear weapons state and has the world’s largest standing army and second-largest defense budget. The PRC is a member of the United Nations, as it replaced the ROC as a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council in 1971. China is also a member of numerous formal and informal multilateral organizations, including the WTO, APEC, BRICS, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the BCIM and the G-20.

The ancient treasures and modern wonders of China span 5,000 years of culture and history. The natural beauty, fascinating heritage, mouth-watering cuisine, and state-of-the-art cities will enthrall, excite and amaze you. And throughout this great destination, a warm and friendly people awaits you, eager to share a level of hospitality that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Now is the time to discover beautiful China, like never before!

About China – Biggest Cities in China
While various criteria exist for defining a city’s particular tier, the main characteristics used for such classification include economic development, provincial GDP, quality of transportation systems and infrastructure, and historical and cultural significance. China’s first-tier cities usually refer to “The Big 4” of Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen.

According to a report by the China Business Network (CBN) Co., Ltd, besides Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen, another 15 cities have joined the elite club of China’s first-tier cities due to their commercial charm,

The new ranking, released by Shanghai-based media group CBN on Monday, lifted Chengdu and six other provincial capital cities, two municipalities and six coastal cities in the east as China’s new first-tier cities.

The city of Chengdu, capital of southwest China’s Sichuan Province, tops the list, which also includes Hangzhou, Wuhan, Tianjin, Nanjing, Chongqing, Xi’an, Changsha, Qingdao, Shenyang, Dalian, Xiamen, Suzhou, Ningbo and Wuxi.

Instead of GDP and population, the number of brand outlets, catering industry, cinemas and skyscrapers are emphasized more in the list. Chongqing, a municipality in southwest China, comes No. 2 in the amount of high-rises after Shanghai.

To compile the list, CBN emphasized a city’s connectivity with the outside world, given its capability of delivering merchandise, cash, talents, lifestyle and even values to neighboring areas.

The use of smartphone apps in transport and online shopping, the availability of subway and the active number of LinkedIn users are also important to measure the vitality of urban residents. Hangzhou, capital city of east China’s Zhejiang Province, tops the subindex among the 15 new first-tier cities.

More interestingly, a city with more cafe and restaurant varieties would rank higher in the sub-index of lifestyle diversity, where Xiamen, a popular tourism city in southeast China, gets the top scores.

In addition, the air quality, the number of universities and venture companies would also help boost a city’s ranking, as Changsha, capital city of central China’s Hunan Province, beat its peers in the sub-index.

History of China

China is one of the cradles of civilization, with its known history beginning with an ancient civilization – one of the world’s earliest – that flourished in the fertile basin of the Yellow River in the North China Plain. For millennia, China’s political system was based on hereditary monarchies known as dynasties. Since 221 bc, when the Qin Dynasty first conquered several states to form a Chinese empire, the state has expanded, fractured and reformed numerous times. The Republic of China (ROC) replaced the last dynasty in 1912, and ruled the Chinese mainland until 1949, when it was defeated by the Communist Party of China in the Chinese Civil War. The Communist Party established the People’s Republic of China in Beijing on 1 October 1949.

Visit Beijing – Capital Of China

Beijing (Chinese: 北京; pinyin: běijīng), formerly romanized as Peking,[8] is the capital of the People’s Republic of China and the world’s third most populous city proper. The city, located in northern China, is governed as a direct-controlled municipalityunder the national government with 16 urban, suburban, and rural districts. Beijing Municipality is surrounded by HebeiProvince with the exception of neighboring Tianjin Municipality to the southeast; together the three divisions form the Jingjinjimetropolitan region and the national capital region of China.

Beijing is the second largest Chinese city by urban population after Shanghai and is the nation’s political, cultural, and educational center.It is home to the headquarters of most of China’s largest state-owned companies, and is a major hub for the national highway, expressway, railway, and high-speed rail networks. The Beijing Capital International Airport is the second busiest in the world by passenger traffic.

The city’s history dates back three millennia. As the last of the Four Great Ancient Capitals of China, Beijing has been the political center of the country for much of the past eight centuries. The city is renowned for its opulent palaces, temples, parks, gardens, tombs, walls and gates, and its art treasures and universities have made it a center of culture and art in China. Encyclopædia Britannica notes that “few cities in the world have served for so long as the political headquarters and cultural centre of an area as immense as China.”Beijing has seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites – the Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, Summer Palace, Ming Tombs, Zhoukoudian, as well as parts of the Great Wall and the Grand Canal.[16]Beijing hosted the 2008 Summer Olympics and was chosen to host the 2022 Winter Olympics, which will make it the first city to ever host both events.

Visa to Visiting China

Visitors to the Mainland of People’s Republic of China must obtain a visa from one of the Chinese diplomatic missions unless they come from one of the visa exempt countries. The two Special Administrative Regions – Hong Kong and Macau – maintain their own independent border control policy and thus have their own visa requirements.

In order to enter China, however, a non-Chinese national should apply to the visa-issuing authorities outside China for a Chinese visa.[3] Because Hong Kong and Macau maintain their independent border control policies, ordinary Chinese visas are valid for Mainland China only and are not valid for Hong Kong or Macau, so travelers must apply for separate visas for Hong Kong or Macau should they require one for travelling to these regions.The government of the People’s Republic of China allows holders of normal passports issued by 11 countries to travel to Mainland China for tourism or business purposes for up to 15, 30 or 90 days without having to obtain a visa. The 11 countries are: San Marino (90 days), Bahamas(30 days), Ecuador (30 days), Fiji (30 days), Grenada (30 days), Mauritius (30 days), Seychelles (30 days), Tonga (30 days), Brunei (30 days), Japan (30 days), and Singapore (30 days).

List of China Tourist Attractions – Places to go and Things to do in China

Historic structure winding across China
Forbidden City
Sprawling palace complex & museum
Terracotta Army
Site famed for ancient, imposing statues
The Bund
Famed waterside walkway with city views
Summer Palace
Iconic lakeside retreat for royalty
Temple of Heaven
Famed & historic temple complex
Jiuzhaigou
Lakes, waterfalls & mountain landscapes
Potala Palace
Famed royal retreat from 17th century
Huangshan
Mountain
West Lake
Lake
Mutianyu
Hiking
Oriental Pearl Tower
Iconic tower with city views
Badaling
Popular section of iconic structure
Tiananmen Square
Immense, famed plaza & cultural site
Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding
Giant panda
Leshan Giant Buddha
Massive, ancient stone statue
Ming tombs
Ancient system of emperor’s tombs
Yu Garden
Winding, famed classical garden
Jin Mao Tower
Soaring skyscraper with scenic views
Mount Emei
Mountain
Nanjing Road
Shopping
Jade Buddha Temple
Monastery with many sculptures
Victoria Peak
Mountain
Old Town of Lijiang
Historic, atmospheric urban village
Humble Administrator’s Garden
Garden
Mogao Caves
Temples with ancient Buddhist cave art
Mount Qingcheng
Mountain
Reed Flute Cave
Colorful stalactite cave with tours
Longmen Grottoes
UNESCO–listed cliff cave carvings site
Wangfujing
Shopping
Yonghe Temple
Vibrant Tibetan Buddhist temple complex
Xintiandi
People’s Square
Shopping, museum, park, architecture
Giant Wild Goose Pagoda
7th-century Buddhist landmark
Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor
Mausoleum
Shanghai Science and Technology Museum
Museum
Jinshanling
Hiking
Great Mosque of Xi’an
Expansive Tang dynasty mosque
Huanglong, Sichuan
Picturesque area with colorful pools
Beihai Park
1,000-year-old former imperial park
Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center
Venue for urban-development exhibits
Lingering Garden
UNESCO-recognized classical garden
Lantau Island
Lantau Peak & Tian Tan Buddha statue
Kinmen
Historic site, otters, parks, architecture, fog
Qiandao Lake
Lakes, beer, water reservoir
Mount Sanqing
Mountains, fog, mountaineering
Lugu Lake
Lakes, outdoor recreation, honeymoon, backpacking
Hong Kong Disneyland
Iconic amusement park with themed lands

Most Beautiful Places to Visit In China (For nature lovers)

Dali, Yunnan Province

Dali has been a classic backpacker destination since the 1980s. Resting at the foot of Mount Cangshan with the Erhai Lake to its right, Dali makes for a great destination for nature lovers. Mount Cangshan is known for its Cloud Traveller’s Path, a well-built 17 kilometre long path, where you will be able to enjoy the beautiful view of the Old Town and the vast Erhai Lake. Ride along the shore of the lake surrounded by Bai minority villages that will add a cultural flair to your experience.

Tiger Leaping Gorge, Yunnan Province

Tiger Leaping Gorge is probably the most famous hiking destination among tourists. The start of the hiking trail is located 60 kilometres away from Lijiang city. The gorge is wedged between the massive Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and Haba Snow Mountain, both standing at a height of more than 5,000 metres. On a clear day, the gorge offers hikers the most stunning views. Hiking the Tiger Leaping Gorge requires reasonable fitness, as the trail is narrow and special care is needed when hiking during the rainy season. Most people would do the hike over two days. There are few small guesthouses along the trail which offer modest accommodation.

Longsheng Rice Terraces, Guangxi Province

The Longsheng Rice Terraces are a major tourist destination in Guangxi province, so don’t be surprised to be swarmed by villagers upon arrival. That shouldn’t deter you from visiting despite the touristy first impression; the atmosphere will change once you start your hike to the scenic spots. Walk along the rice fields, get lost in the woods and enjoy the view of the rolling hills. Longsheng can be easily reached from Guilin city. It is highly recommended to spread the hike over two days so that you can enjoy the peaceful atmosphere in the village and rest under the starry night sky.

Yangshuo, Guangxi Province

Yangshuo is another backpacker’s playground. The small town is known for the karst mountain peaks that surround it. Yangshuo is small enough to be explored on a bicycle, and rentals are offered on every corner of West Street, the town centre. However, the best way to enjoy Yangshuo is to tour the surrounding villages and visit the many karst hills while relaxing on a bamboo, as you cruise along the Li River. Yangshuo is also a rock climber’s paradise. This climbing community is very welcoming, as it is populated by both locals and expats.

Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, Hunan Province

Zhangjiajie has garnered worldwide attention due to its inspirational influence for James Cameron’s Avatar. The national park is located in Hunan province and is famous for its stunning karst stone pillars. Must-see sights in the park include the Heavenly Pillar and First Bridge of the World, where one can enjoy the views of the so-called “Avatar mountains”. Another highlight is the Tianzi Mountain, which is the highest peak in the park. Due to the vastness of the national park, which covers an area of 243 square miles, it is impossible to see it all in just a couple of days, so plan your hike well in advance.

Mount Huashan, Shaanxi Province

Located not too far away from Xi’an, one of China’s oldest cities, Mount Huashan became a viral sensation because of its stomach-churning cliffside plank path. What didn’t get much viral attention however, is the fact that hiking Huashan is a tough feat, yet is worth the aching calves because of its beautiful scenery. Like most mountains in China, hiking means climbing lots and lots of stairs. Climbing stairs sounds boring, but definitely not in Huashan; the stairs are so steep that at times they present a 90 degree angle. Furthermore, when you finally reach the plank path after conquering all those stairs, you deserve bragging rights for putting your life on the line.

Lugu Lake, Yunnan Province

Among the destinations on this list, Lugu Lake is probably the most off-the-beaten-path destination. However, it is not difficult to get to and most hostels in Lijiang (where most tourists would depart from) will definitely be able to help you with transport arrangements. Lugu Lake is among the few places in China that is protected from extensive development. The area is home to the Mosuo minority tribe, whose people still maintain their unique matriarchal system of society. Most tourists enjoy Lugu Lake on bike, although the ride is 60 kilometres long, completing the entire circumference.

Jiuzhaigou National Park, Sichuan Province

Located in Sichuan province, Jiuzhaigou is also another one of China’s most famous national parks. It’s best to avoid visiting during peak times, as the number of visitors multiply exponentially and hoards of Chinese crowds aren’t the easiest to deal with, especially for foreign visitors. It is pretty obvious why Jiuzhaigou is very popular, though. This national park features turquoise blue lakes which are crystal clear. What makes a visit to Jiuzhaigou even better is how clean and well-maintained the park is. The only downside is the expensive entrance fee, priced at a whopping 330 RMB (about  55 USD) for an adult. Jiuzhaigou can be reached from Sichuan’s capital, Chengdu, by either a short plane ride or a nine-hour bus journey.

Marvel at Zhangjiajie National Forest Park

Now more commonly known as the Avatar Mountains, this site in the Hunan Province was the inspiration for the Hallelujah Mountains in James Cameron’s movie Avatar. Plan to spend at least two to three days inside the park, and make sure bring good shoes for walking! The best times to go would be in summer for the weather, or in autumn to avoid the crowds.

As China’s first national park, this area holds countless eons of history in its gravity-defying mountains. Standing like pillars in the midst of a dense forest, these mountains provide a breathtaking view that simply cannot be described. Do yourself a favor and head to the Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass Bridge, where you can marvel at the stunning views from a scenic perch atop the mountain.

China Travel Tips

1. Break the language barrier

The number one hurdle to overcome when travelling around China is the language barrier. Even today, with Chinese children learning English from primary school onwards, it’s a barrier that can be almost completely impenetrable at times. It’s always advisable to try to learn a few words and phrases before you visit far-flung lands, but in China it’s almost essential. Try to enrol in Mandarin classes before you go (Mandarin Chinese is the default language in almost every part of China), or try to teach yourself some of the basics – the BBC website has a decent introduction to learning Chinese.

The array of Mandarin dialects and variations across China can make communication difficult even for native Mandarin speakers.
But help is always at hand: those under 25 years old are most likely to speak both standard Mandarin and English.
Students who have studied English in books for years, but have had little contact with native English speakers, may more readily understand written questions.

2. Focus your itinerary

China is massive. Really, it’s unbelievably large. It contains the world’s highest mountains, some of the world’s largest deserts, remote jungles, seemingly endless grasslands, and, of course, many of the world’s largest cities. You would need months and months of travelling to even begin to do it justice. So, rather than skimming the surface of the whole country on your first trip, choose one region, or even just one province, and explore it properly.

3. Check the weather

At any time of the year there are places in China that enjoy ideal weather for travel, but almost nowhere is weather-perfect all year round. So to ensure your first trip to China doesn’t become a wind-beaten blowout, an energy-sapping sun-scorcher or just a damp squib, get on top of where’s hot and where’s not in the month you’re planning to travel. Generally speaking spring and autumn are the most comfortable seasons, although not in all provinces, and in many parts of China spring and autumn are no more than a few weeks long. For starters, check out this China weather rundown.

4. Use public transport

Ditch the taxis and the airplanes and hop on buses, bikes and trains to see China how the locals see it. Sure, it’s easier flying from city to city, and then taking a taxi around each one once you’re there. But where’s the fun in it? China’s public transport systems are already extensive, and getting bigger and better every year and many towns and cities are well set up for cycling – cycle lanes abound in Beijing, for instance. And don’t worry about getting lost. Chinese people in general are extremely friendly, helpful and honest, especially to foreigners who can’t speak Chinese, so there will always be a local on hand to put you back on track if you lose your way.

5. Eat, eat and then eat some more

China has many wonderful features but arguably its standout attraction is its food. As this tasty introduction illustrates, cuisine varies tremendously from region to region – even breakfast time can be an assault on the senses – so try as much of it as you can. And don’t listen to anyone who tells you to avoid the street food. It’s often the best part of a city’s culinary experience. In order to get some local color on business trips that will otherwise be spent inside taxis and boardrooms, “take to the backstreets behind your hotel for an early breakfast of dumplings or noodles and watch the area wake up while you eat.

Famous Landmarks In China

When to visit China? National Holidays In China

Best time to visit China (for different areas) and the major holidays in China to avoid the crowd

YangTze Cruise

Must See Places In China Before You Die – Add this to your bucket list

A list of must see places in China before death