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China

CHINA
DESTINATION GUIDE

The Ultimate Guide Before You Plan for your Next Trip

The land of the mythical creatures and tranquil gardens beckons the most adventurous souls to explore one of the largest and the most culturally enriched countries of the world. With historical monuments dating back to several millennia and captivating natural landscapes, China is definitely one of the most attractive countries for the tourists to explore. At one side there is the historic cities like Beijing and Xian with its enchanting destinations and charming lifestyles on the other side you can witness the glamour and glitters of cities like Shanghai and Shenzhen.

Attractions in China

China weaves a mystical web with the threads of tranquility and magic. To get inside that web is every traveler's dream as it will allow him/her to explore the history and the natural beauty of this large country.

Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in Chengdu

Thanks to the animation movie Kung Fu Panda, the beautiful creature of Giant Panda has become the national symbol of China. There are many specimens of pandas available in all the major Chinese zoos but a visit to the research base gives you an experience of a lifetime. Located in the Sichuan province of China this research center will give you an opportunity to witness the daily routine of as many as 80 giant pandas, of all sizes and shapes. The authorities there provide English language tours for the visitors and if you visit there in the morning then you can also witness a lot of activities going on around the park.

Najing Road

Shanghai's shopping lane will not only spoil you with options but at the same time will give you a pupil dilating experience. The pedestrian friendly streets of this area was built back in the early stages of the 19th century and it essentially offers the tourists with a great shopping experience. From art and craft to fashion wear, from food vendors to the antique sellers, there are plenty of Chinese merchants you will meet on the street of Najing. There are plenty of food stalls from where you can try authentic Chinese street food and you can also venture to the affluent shopping zone of Xintiandi.

Nanshan Mountains

The Nanshan mountain of the Shenzhen province proves that China's attractions are not just limited to historical sights and architectures. The natural beauty and landscape of the Chinese borders is also there to mesmerize you and give you feel of tranquility up there in the majestic heights. As a traveler you often have to decide between a mountain or a sea-side destination, but in case of the Nanshan Mountains you do not need to choose. Lying around the coastal borders of Hong Kong this beautiful mountain range is a moderate climb and it also allows you to enjoy the view of the ocean.

Li River

Running through the middle of China's most beautiful countryside the Li River is indeed another natural beauty of the country. The picture perfect set-up of this lovely river and the adjoining lake will transport you to another world as you can witness sites which has inspired many poets and artists to create great folklore and fairy-tales about this place. You should definitely board the cruise from the city of Guangxi and sail across the river leaving behind the villages,
the bamboo forests, the mystical rock formations and also the dense formation of the reed-beds. You can witness the Mount of Unique Beauty and also the Elephant Trunk Hill amongst many other mesmerizing sights.

Xiaomeisha beaches

The coastlines of the Shenzhen province stretches into some fascinating beaches with lots of amenities and excitements in offer, for the tourists. Starting from the reefs to the caves, the scattered islands to the cliffs, there are plenty of natural beauty for a tourist to savor. Then there is of course the delightful seafood restaurants serving you the freshest of the catches. There are lobster aquariums which will allow you to choose your lunch and then relax under the warm Chinese sun for the rest of the day. This beach attracts a lot of foreigners and it is well maintained compared to the other parts of the province.

When To Reach

The Chinese summers are pretty hot whilst the winters are chilling cold. In some areas it even snows massively in China. So, for an Indian traveler choosing to go in the winter might not be a good decision because many of the destinations will remain closed. On the other hand the Chinese summers are mostly associated with hot and humid weather, similar to that of India, and hence traveling during that time would not guarantee any enjoyment. Only the Chinese highlands will offer you a nice weather during summer. That is why spring, covering the months of April to May and the autumn, covering the months of September to October, are the ideal time to visit China. During this times of the year the temperature remains pleasant, throughout the country and you will not break a sweat whilst hiking or traveling.

Seasonality

High Season: Spring and Autumn are considered to be the high seasons as far as China is concerned. The weather remains pleasant all throughout the country and tourists from all over the world gather here to enjoy the sites.


Shoulder Season: For people who can withstand the cold winter in China can be a good season to travel. The city of Beijing and Shenzhen all remain covered in snow and it evokes a different kind of scenic appeal.


Low Season: Summer is most definitely the low season for traveling to China. Barring few of the highlands the temperature remains hot and humid making it uncomfortable for traveling.

How To Reach

Reaching China from India is only a matter of time. Plenty of direct flights are available on a daily basis. Starting from China Eastern, China Airlines, Shandong Airlines, Air China to other carrier airlines like Air India, Air Asia, Singapore Airlines, Tigerair, Mihin Lanka, Dragonair, Hong Kong Airlines, Thai Smile, and Thai Airways have regular flights connecting all major Indian cities with Beijing and Shanghai. Apart from these the western airlines like KLM, Swiss, Air France, British Airways, Turkish Airlines, and Austrian Airlines can be a good alternative. Other Asian airlines like Qatar Airways, Mega Maldives, Ethiad Airways, Air Mauritius, Malaysia Airlines, and Korean Air will also take you to China. So, basically you will be spoiled with choices.

Why should you go?

China is a land of many hidden treasures and myths. As one of the largest countries of the world China offer a wide variety of landscapes to its tourists. There are the high mountain ranges and the serene rivers, the ancient monuments and the dazzling nightlife. From the old to the new, from the high to the low, China will never fail to entertain you. The fascinating beauty of the new cities and the quaint charm of the old ones will create a magical effect from which you will never recover.
10 Reasons to visit China -
  • Stretching across a wide landscape, China offers its tourists a plenty of natural beauty to savor. From the high mountains to the coastal beaches, from deserts to bamboo forests, China is pretty rich in its natural diversity.
  • The ancient cities of China are one of the few well-preserved sites in the world. Their history dates back to few millennia.
  • China is the home to the Great Wall of China, one of the greatest wonders of the world and the only human-made architecture which is visible from the space.
  • Chinese foods are popular all over the world and a trip to China will ensure that you savor the authentic Chinese food.
  • China is the home to Giant Pandas, and a trip to China will allow you to come up-close these lovely cuddly furry beasts.
  • A cruise down the River Li will allow you to enjoy the most enchanting scenery of the world. From mountains and caves to dense bamboo forests, you will never have a such a heavenly cruise ride ever in the world.
  • China as a country is still connected to its ethnic roots and there are many traditional customs which are still in practice. As a tourist these ancient customs and traditions will certainly mesmerize you.
  • For Indians, China is one of the nearest and most affordable foreign holiday destinations in the world.
  • A trip to Shanghai will allow you to immerse in the lights and glitters of one of the largest port cities of Asia and it is a fabulous shopping destination.
  • China is the home to many beautiful gardens like the Yu Garden of Shanghai and it is one of the most tranquil places of the world.

Getting Around

Domestic travel around China is mostly dependent on airlines, mostly due to the large area cover of the country. Getting from one city to another normally takes days via road. That is why the Chinese prefer the airlines to take them from one destination to another. Apart from the airlines there are buses and options for renting cars. Cruising through the rivers is also another option but it is mostly for leisure and not for regular transportation.

Airlines

There are many domestic airlines in China which operate on a regular basis. They are not as expensive as the international flights and they are frequent and affordable for the tourists. These flights are the main way of commuting from Beijing to Shanghai, from Shanghai to Shenzhen and so on.

Bus

The network of buses are also pretty strong as many people travel via this network to the neighboring towns and the villages. Tourists can also avail the bus network to get around the sites surrounding a big city like Beijing or Shanghai.

Cruises

Considering the huge stretches of water, riding a boat to one village to another is always a good option if you have time to kill. But cruises are mostly availed by the tourists and not by the local people as they rely on other modes of transportation for their regular commute.

Rented Cars

If you have a Chinese driving license then you can rent a car in China. Cars are best suited for the city tours and if you know how to read and speak Chinese then you can also venture out of the city to the nearby places, with the car.

Weather

Due to its wide range of landscapes and huge water-bodies China experiences extreme weather conditions. The summer is hot and humid with temperature reaching to almost 33 to 35 degree Celsius. Rainfalls are frequent during the monsoons. On the other hand the winters are pretty chilly and some parts of China experiences extreme snowfall. Major cities in the form of Beijing and Xian are completely covered in snow. The spring and the autumn seasons are the best for travelling because the weather is mostly pleasant during these times. The humidity is less and the temperature also stays within the range of 20 to 25 degree Celsius. However, rainfall might happen anytime during the year.

What to pack in your suitcase?

  • No matter what time you visit China you should most definitely take a heavy-duty umbrella with you. Chinese rainfall is pretty unpredictable and it can cause you to stop you anytime during your trip.
  • Carry shirts and t-shirts made of cotton because walking along the towns and the cities can cause you to sweat a lot.
  • If you are traveling during autumn you should carry a fleece jacket or a hoodie because in the higher altitude you might experience some cold and chilly winds.
  • Carry two different types of shoes for the high and the lower altitude places. You can also carry some flip-flops to wear within the city.
  • You should pack at least 2-3 types of pants including a denim and a pair of shorts, in case the weather is too hot and humid in patches.
In the Spotlight

Whilst there is a dedicated China Town in almost all the major cities of the globe, having Chinese cuisine in the country itself is a different experience altogether. From the famous Peking ducks to the smell of the soya sauce you will get to explore a different version of Chinese cuisine, here in China. Apart from authentic Chinese food many places now also serve Italian, French, and even Indian cuisine.

Laris : The biggest and the most prominent restaurant in Shanghai and even China has obtained several brilliant reviews for obvious reasons. Located on the Bund this restaurant is one of the most posh eateries in entire China.
The swanky interior decor will dazzle you for certain as the seafood served on your plate will just melt in your mouth. Due to its close proximity to the sea, the restaurant is well-known for its fabulous fish and crab preparations and there is certainly some good news for the chocolate lovers as this restaurant is also a chocolatier making original chocolates for guests.
Beijing Da Dong Roast Duck Restaurant : A paradise for duck lovers, this multi-award winning restaurant is a definite hot-spot in Beijing. The Peking roast duck menu which the restaurant has cultivated over the years is now regarded as one of the most authentic roast duck flavors of China
and you will often face a huge queue of people waiting outside the restaurant doors, awaiting their turn to get in. With it is minimalist decor and a hustling kitchen environment this place is also for its wide variety of soups and vegetable sides. The popularity of this place is such that, more than an eatery this place is now has converted into a popular tourist destination.
M on the Bund: Located on the 7th floor of the Nissin Shipping Building this restaurant is known for its exotic view from the large glass windows. Overlooking the Huangpu River and the city of Pudong this eatery offers its guests a luxurious ambiance and a fabulous menu to choose from.
A wide variety of European, North African, and Australian cuisines are available in this place, signifying Shanghai's international inclinations. Bund itself has a very unique pro-European vibe and this particular restaurant just complements the entire environment of the place. Many foreigners often visit this place as this place also hosts some fabulous events.
Country Kitchen : This Beijing eatery will allow you to taste some of China's most worshiped recipes in its true and authentic form. This open kitchen restaurant brings forward some of the old Cantonese delights like in the form of Peking duck and Inner Mongolian lamb leg roast.
This is one of the few places in entire China where you will find the delicious Shaanxi noodles and the Rosewood furnishing of the entire place will allow you savor the flavor of the orientals. The restaurant claims to bring back some of the recipes from the Qing dynasty and they have also brought to life some of the forgotten recipes of the Mao era.
De Fa Chang: Located on the Bell Tower of the city of Xian, this restaurant is the most popular restaurant in that entire province. Known for its scrumptious dumpling delights this place also offers a magical view of the entire city.
The place is very popular for its wide variety of Cantonese finger-foods like in the form of har kao, various varieties of bao, and also the guotie. Till date the place serves as much as 300 different varieties of dumplings and they are filled with seafood, meat, vegetables, and even fruits on occasions. The restaurant offers a set menu option along with a la carte, and foods are being served with a wheeled trolley moving from one table to another.

As the country itself is as large as a continent there are different cooking styles prevalent across China. Starting from the Sichuan Chinese to Hunan Chinese, from Cantonese Cuisine to Fujian Cuisine there are various variety of foods that you can encounter throughout the country. Like for instance the Shandong cuisine style is more based on seafood because of Shanghai's proximity to the sea whilst on the other hand the Fujian cuisine is mostly based on meats and herbs from the mountains. The Sichuan and Hunun cuisine styles are normally very hot and spicy whilst on the other hand the Cantonese cuisines are mostly sweet and light flavored.

Wontons: A food from the Tang dynasty of China is now a popular finger-food in the country. Stuffed with meats and vegetables wontons are either steamed or fried.

Dumplings: A food with a history of more than 1800 years is popular has a starter-menu during the Chinese New Year's festival. Stuffed with minced pork or vegetables this food is covered with a thick dough-skin.

Spring Rolls: Spring Rolls are basically Cantonese dim sums which are cylindrical in shape and are fried making the crust crunchy. They are normally stuffed with meat and vegetables.

Peking Roasted Duck:It is China's national and it is one of most popular food items in the city of Beijing. Sliced roasted duck can be had with soy sauce or mashed garlic.

Sweet and Sour Pork: The brightly orange colored dish is also available in beef, chicken, and pork ribs options. The sweet and vinegary flavor of the dish is very popular now throughout the country.

The densely populated country of China is also pitted with many stalls and shopping centers. From swanky supermarkets to street-side hawkers, Chinese markets will just spoil you with choices. As is the nature of the markets here in China that merchandises of same nature are normally sold in the same street or lane, thereby making it easier for the shoppers to bargain and make the best purchase decision. From foods to antiques, from clothes to memorabilia you will find just about anything in the markets of China.

Wangfujing Street: Located at the northern part of the city of Beijing this pedestrian friendly Chinese market is one of the oldest and the biggest markets in the entire country.
The street houses quite a few department stores where tourists along with the locals gather almost every evening to make their purchases. Apart from the department stores the place also has few really good souvenir stores from where you can purchase authentic Chinese items. The street is also lined with some fabulous food stalls and tourist are normally seen sitting with an ice cream or chilled beer under the shades of the temporary umbrella stands.
Shangxiajiu Pedestrian Street : This ancient marketplace in the Guangdong Province is an important representative of the traditional Lingnan or South China culture. The street houses some of the most ancient architectures of the province strongly reflecting their deep-rooted Lingnan heritage.
More than 300 different shops, including shopping malls, department stores, restaurants, and cafes. This place is an ideal destination for the tourists because they can witness a mix of Chinese and European architecture and you can also grab some nice food and drinks in the area. Li Wan Plaza is one of the most prominent place in this area which serves a very decent breakfast.
Chunxi Road : This cluster of high-end shopping centers and department stores in the town of Chengdu, is one of the busiest and biggest marketplaces in the entire Sichuan province.
Various shapes and sizes of shopping centers are pitted across the area. Starting from branded fashion stores to supermarkets, from exotic Chinese boutiques to restaurants and cafes, you will have many places to peek in, and make your choices. The locals spend time in this area by roaming from one food stall to another sampling the foods. As a tourist you can also enjoy some free samples before you decide on what actually to purchase.
Barkhor Street : Located in Lhasa, Tibet, this marketplace is also known as the Pilgrim's Circuit. Mostly frequented by foreigners this market has a charm of its own. The colorful Tibetan flurry is hard to miss as you take a leisurely stroll and buy your time before making the final call of making the purchase.
The shop-keepers here are extremely affable and they will not hesitate to display you their products even if you do not actually buy them. The street is also lined with some of the nicest inns in entire Tibet and they are mostly occupied by western backpackers. So, overall you will get a nice and warm multicultural vibe in the place.
Central Avenue: This popular marketplace in the city of Harbin is a cobblestone lined street with its European past. The province of Heilongjiang has a distinct Russian influence and that cultural connection is very much evident in the overall architecture and the design of the marketplace.
This area is actually a part of the original town built during the Russia era, more than a century ago. During that time, the street was known as the Chinese Street. As a tourist, you can witness the inter-mixing of the two cultures reflected in the overall decor of the marketplace. There are still some Russian products available in the shops, restaurants and the supermarkets of this place.

The currency used in China is called Renminbi which is also known by the name of Chinese Yuan. As per the current rates are concerned 1 Chinese Yuan equals to 10.72 INR. According to the laws stated by the Administrative Rules of the People's Republic of China on Cross-Border Transportation of National Currency as a foreigner you can carry a maximum of US$5,000 which comes to around Chinese Yuan of 20,000. If you are planning to come and leave China twice within 15 days then you can carry up to US$1,000 in cash. The government allows limited cash to enter into the market but you can spend through your debit and credit cards.

Special Tips

  • Exchanging INR to Chinese Yuan is very easy as in every airport, international or domestic, you will find at least one Foreign Currency Exchange center.
  • You should only bring enough Chinese Yuan to meet your immediate needs and requirements like snacks and daily commute for the first two days. Anything in between Chinese Yuan 200 and 500 is enough.
  • There are plenty of ATMs available all across China and you can withdraw cash by using your VISA or MasterCard.
  • China is a cash based economy and that is why you need cash in most of the situations. Even some of the bigger restaurants of the country accept only cash.
  • Pay your hotel bills with credit cards or debit cards because everywhere else you will be needed to pay by cash.

Since China as a country is guided by a strict Communist Regime the visa application process is very daunting. You have to adhere to a strict list of norms and processes in order to get your tourist visa. Do not get surprised if they ask you an array of questions because that is what the Chinese visa officers normally do. Try and keep everything brief and to-the-point so that your statement appears to be clear and precise to the Visa officer. You also need to give proof of your hotel accommodation and flight tickets (including return tickets) during the visa application process.

Special Tips

Do not take the risk of filling-up the visa application form by hand. If the Visa authorization officer fails to read your handwriting then he/she might just cancel your application. Fill out the application form by typing the same in your computer. To be on the safe-side put everything in capital letters so that the chances of mistakes are minimum. Moreover, the visa application is valid for only 3 months so do not make the mistake of applying too early as your application might be rejected in that case. The entire visa approval process takes around 4 to 7 days.

Crime in China is not as high when compared to the Western countries. Crime against foreigners, in China, is extremely rare. However, being said that pick-pocketing and other petty crime can just happen to anyone. Pick-pocketing is a more common form of crime because the chances of getting caught for the thieves is very less. The punishment level of crime in China is very harsh and that is why criminals are very cautious about committing any nuisance. But do not leave any sort of valuables like camera, Ipod, or any other devices at the back-pockets of your bags. China is also infamous for traffic accidents. Make sure that you cross the streets carefully. However, as an Indian you might hardly find any difference.

  • Police 110
  • First-aid Ambulance 120
  • Fire 119
  • Traffic Accidents 122
  • SOS in Water 12395

Entertainment & Event

With rich diversity of animals and plants and colorful festivals China will cast a magical spell on you.

  • Flora and Fauna

    Due to its vastness in size China is the home to a large variety of plants and animals. The latest findings suggest that there are around 7000 different species of woody plants in China including the likes of silver fir, golden larch, China cypress, Fujian cypress, Taiwan flousiana and many others. These species of plants are unique to the soil of China and they are not found anywhere else in the world. China is also blessed with a dense forestation of metasequoia plants as these redwood variety covers a large portion of the Sichaun borders.

    As far as the animals are concerned China is of course famous for its huge population of Giant Pandas. An animal which was once considered to be endangered is now thriving all throughout the country and even the world thanks to the massive conservation and breeding project undertaken by the Chinese government. Apart from Giant Pandas, China also houses various other animals in the form of takin, golden monkey, Chinese river dolphin and alligator.

  • Festivals

    Celebrations in China is all about lights and music. Colors fill the night sky whenever any festivals happens in China. The Chinese New Year Celebration is definitely one of the most popular festivals in the country is also known as the Spring Festival. Starting from dragon dances to firecrackers people celebrate the occasion in many ways. Then there is the famous Dragon Boat Festival which happens during the 5th month of the Chinese lunar calendar. It is basically a Dragon Boat race that takes place and people enjoy the show whilst having rice dumplings.

    China's Lantern Festival is also another colorful festival that marks the event calendar of the Chinese people. Celebrated for around 2000 years this festival witnesses a night-sky pitted with Chinese lanterns and drones. Qingming Festival is not typically a festival as such but an ancient custom where Chinese people visit the graves of their loved ones to pay respect.

  • Culture

    There are a lot of cultural diversity as far as China is concerned. Due to its vast geographical landscape the Chinese differ in their rituals and practices, customs and food habits. However, there are few things which unifies the Chinese people and their view towards the world. Like for instance the Chinese people believe in the amalgamation of the old and the new, the east and west. The Chinese people are very open to new ideas and habits as they accept the west with open hearts. However, that does not imply that they totally reject their roots and rituals and forget their past.

    Han Chinese accounts for the majority of the Chinese population and whilst there are several Chinese dialects spoken across the country the core language remains the same. The Chinese are very proud of their history and they have made peace with their religious beliefs and the practice of communism. Chinese people are normally friendly and hospitable to their tourists and they are very soft-spoken by nature.