China boasts one of the world's most ancient and enduring civilizations, where the blend of history and landscapes captivates the imagination. Begin your journey in the capital, Beijing, where iconic landmarks like the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, and the awe-inspiring Great Wall await. Venture to Xi'an to explore the vestiges of an ancient fortified city wall, pay homage to the Wild Goose Pagoda, and stand in awe before the life-sized Terracotta Warriors. In the vibrant metropolis of Shanghai, experience the harmonious coexistence of the old and the new.
Enrich your travels with the breathtaking vistas along the Li River, close to Guilin. As you cruise along, you'll encounter mist-shrouded mountains, idyllic riverside villages, humped limestone peaks, and fishermen navigating bamboo rafts, all under the watchful gaze of grazing water buffalo. The grandeur of the Yangtze River, the picturesque town of Suzhou often likened to the Oriental Venice, and the mesmerizing rice terraces in Longsheng beckon travelers to explore further. Don't miss the chance to visit the Red Yao and Zhuang ethnic minorities in this enchanting region.
Beijing: The vibrant metropolis of Beijing boasts an impressive history dating back a staggering 70,000 years. It once served as the ancient capital for three illustrious dynasties - Yuan, Ming, and Qing. Amidst the towering skyscrapers and bustling shopping districts, you can still sense the authentic heartbeat of Beijing when strolling through the labyrinthine hutong areas (narrow streets and alleys) and exploring its rich historical attractions.
Guilin: The enchanting landscape surrounding the city of Guilin possesses a mesmerizing charm entirely its own. The uniquely shaped karst hills, adorned with lush vegetation ranging from bamboo to conifers, alongside captivating caves, make Guilin an absolute must-visit destination for travelers in China. Embark on a Li River cruise to the picturesque town of Yangshuo, where you can intimately explore China's traditional and rural way of life.
The Great Wall of China: Earning its rightful place as one of the world's most awe-inspiring wonders, the Great Wall was honored as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. Resembling a colossal dragon, this architectural marvel meanders across deserts, grasslands, mountains, and plateaus, stretching approximately 6,700 kilometers from east to west in China. With a history spanning over 2,000 years, some sections of the Great Wall now lay in ruins or have vanished entirely. Nevertheless, its enduring architectural grandeur and profound historical significance make it one of the most captivating attractions globally.
Xi'an & the Terracotta Warriors: Xi'an, having served as the capital for eleven dynasties over two millennia, holds a unique position in Chinese history. An old Chinese proverb aptly captures this city's essence: "If you want to see China of 100 years ago, visit Shanghai; China of 500 years ago, Beijing; China of 2,000 years ago, Xi'an." Stroll along the Ancient City Walls, some of the oldest and best-preserved walls in China, wide enough to accommodate golf carts or rickshaws. Explore the renowned underground army of Terracotta Warriors, where over 6,000 intricately-carved, life-sized clay statues of warriors and horses stand in battle formation, guarding the mausoleum of Emperor Qin Shi Huang for over 2,200 years.
Yangtze River: Winding its way 6,300 kilometers from the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau in Western China to the East China Sea, the Yangtze River traverses nine provinces and acts as a watershed for a vast expanse of 695,000 square miles. Ranking second in length only to the Amazon and Nile, this river passes through numerous regions, earning a half-dozen names along its course. As you navigate this majestic waterway, you'll be treated to breathtaking scenery, including the awe-inspiring and untamed Three Gorges, eventually arriving at the remarkable engineering feat of the Three Gorges Dam. You'll pass through the locks at the dam before reaching Yichang, marking the culmination of this remarkable river journey.
When to go / useful information
When to go
The prime seasons to plan your visit to China are during Spring, from mid-March to the end of May, and in Autumn, spanning from September to November. Summers, especially in July and August, can be quite sweltering, while the winters, from December to early March, tend to bring bitterly cold temperatures.
Currency: The official unit of currency in China is the Yuan. It's possible to exchange major currencies at the hotel desk, although it's worth noting that, unlike in many other countries, exchanging currency at a hotel in China typically provides almost the same rate as the banks.
Language: Mandarin is the official language of China. While visiting various regions of the country, you may also encounter different languages, such as Cantonese, which is spoken in Hong Kong. English is spoken in higher-end hotels and by the younger population, but its use is not widespread and may not be widely understood.
What makes it special: China, a vast and diverse nation, boasts a rich and storied heritage. It offers a captivating glimpse into early civilizations through its outstanding museums (such as the one in Shanghai) and must-see attractions like the Terracotta Army in Xian. While in Xian, the opportunity to walk atop the remarkable city wall provides a fresh and unique perspective of the town below. A leisurely riverboat cruise along the mighty Yangtze River for several days allows travelers to marvel at the breathtaking Three Gorges. In the modern capital, Beijing, and the cosmopolitan city of Shanghai, one can experience the Western-influenced facets of Chinese culture. Just beyond Beijing's boundaries, you can climb the iconic Great Wall of China and ponder the monumental human effort it took to build it. The awe-inspiring Forbidden City stands adjacent to Tiananmen Square in the heart of Beijing, offering a glimpse into the vibrant Tai Chi and exercise culture thriving in the park outside the stunning Temple of Heaven. Suzhou, a canal city, boasts enchanting gardens and is just a short journey from bustling Shanghai. In this special town, you can stroll through the streets of the French Concession and dine at cafes reminiscent of Paris. An absolute must-see are the captivating acrobat performances, followed by a visit to the historic Bund and the mesmerizing nighttime light show in the futuristic Pudong district across the river.
Weather: The most favorable times to visit China are during Spring (from mid-March to the end of May) and Autumn (from September to November). Summers, particularly in July and August, can be sweltering, while winters can be harshly cold, spanning from December to early March.
Social customs: When shopping, especially in local markets, bargaining is essential. Vendors often start with high prices (four to eight times the actual value), and you should counter with a significantly lower offer. Due to language barriers, this negotiation is typically conducted using calculators provided by the salesperson. In warmer weather, wearing shorts is generally acceptable, even though it might not be the norm among the Chinese population. It's common for people to approach you in parks or on the streets to engage in conversations in English, as they are looking to practice their language skills. This interaction can be a delightful cultural exchange if you have the time. Photography opportunities abound, but it's polite to ask for permission before photographing individuals, although many won't mind. Modern Chinese people are generally polite and content, and many take great pride in their country's progress and achievements.