China travel guide
China, once so enamoured of its relative isolation from the rest of the world, has become an attention-grabbing location for travellers looking to discover more about the Far East.
And how much there is to discover, from ancient temples and significant monuments to captivating modern cities that grow at breakneck speed. China is unlike any other place on earth.
The country is massive and with good transport links offers the chance to truly explore the assorted areas, regions and locations that make up this mighty place.
Visit Beijing, one of the most world’s most exciting cities, where the ultra modern and ancient are married in a sophisticated alliance that encourages a terrific eruption of culture, music and technological innovation.
Be sure to explore the Forbidden City which served as the Chinese Emperor’s Imperial Palace, and dates back to the Ming Dynasty. The City was built between 1406 and 1420 using a total of more than a million workers and covers a massive area of 720,000 square metres. Surrounded by a 7.9m high wall, the Imperial City consists of 980 buildings including the Hall of Supreme Harmony, Hall of Central Harmony, Palace of Heavenly Purity and Palace of Earthly Tranquillity. The site is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is considered one of the wonders of the modern world.
The Great Wall of China is another superb attraction which has been something of a construction masterpiece having been built, re-built and modified by a succession of rulers between the 5th century BC and the 16th century. At over 6000km long the Wall is a monumental feat of engineering and definitely something to be savoured.
Visit some of the more than 30 world heritage listed sites in China and explore the many cities, towns and smaller villages to truly appreciate the culture. There is so much to learn on a holiday here, so much to absorb; it would be impossible to ever be bored. This intriguing holiday destination has something to offer for everyone.
Because China is so big it has a great variety of different weather patterns; conditions can fluctuate radically from region to region. As a general rule of thumb the northern region around cities such as Harbin is cooler while cities like Shanghai, Guangzhou, Suzhou and Macau occupy a more subtropical climate. The Hainan province and Taiwan are hotter and subject to more tropical conditions.
Beijing enjoys a long hot summer, a fairly short spring, a longer, relatively cold winter, and a mild autumn. The hottest months are June and July at the height of summer with temperatures somewhere in the high 20s to 30s. The coldest month is January when the mercury can plunge as low as -10˚C. Spring in the city marks the onset of the monsoon season.
Shanghai has a more subtropical climate and at its hottest in July and August can register temperatures in the upper 30s. Shanghai experiences its coldest months in January and February but unlike Beijing the temperature rarely drops below freezing.
For the latest weather info use the Pampo weather forecast tool.
All tourists are required to apply for a visa in order to enter China; the “L visa” is granted for foreigners wishing to visit the country for a holiday and is valid for one month with the option to apply for an extension.
Those planning to enter the country should visit the Chinese Embassy or Consulate and/or website for more information. And of course, along with the visa, all visitors require a valid passport.
Chinese cuisine contains an amazing array of combinations in taste, with sweet, sour, spicy and salty food stuffs often mixed in various dishes to achieve a distinctive flavour.
Sweet and sour pork is a well-liked dish in China and consists of strips of pork deep fried and then added to a stir-fry sauce made up of soy sauce, vinegar, sugar and tomato sauce. The sauce may also be rounded out with capsicum or pineapple and green peppers.
Jiaozi is a traditional dumpling made with a ground meat and vegetable filling contained in a crimped dough-like wrapper which is then steamed. Almost any meat can be used for the filling from fish and shrimp to lamb, mutton, beef, pork and chicken. Eaten with soy sauce the dumplings are popular as a celebratory food during events like Chinese New Year.
Mapo Doufu is an enormously spicy dish which hails from the Szechuan province. Made with tofu and black beans which are cooked in a chilli based sauce and topped with minced pork, it is something the adventurous traveller will certainly want to sample. Those who are faint of heart will want to steer clear of this one.
For an alternative snack try Tea Egg which is literally an egg that has been hardboiled in tea. Often served with soy sauce and/or “five-spice powder”, the snack is widely available in the cities from street vendors.
Maotai is one of the most popular alcoholic beverages made in China. A social drink it is distilled using sorghum and has a very high alcohol content ranging anywhere from 30-50% by volume. With a characteristically sharp and somewhat piquant smell the drink has a pleasant smoothness about it. It’s also a very clean drink which might account for its large following.
If it is beer you want be sure to sample Tsingtao, a lager with a faint nutty quality, malty aftertaste and generous head. At 4.8% ABV it will not weigh you down and can be a good dinner or lunchtime beer.
Sun Lik beer is perhaps the most popular beer in the bigger cities and has a typically Asian taste being brewed with rice as well as barley, malt and hops. An easy drinking lager it is also available on tap and has a multifaceted taste which is refreshing.
The Chinese love jasmine tea and drink lots of it at meal times, and generally throughout the day.
The Chinese use the Renminbi (RMB or CNY) which translates to “People’s Currency” in Chinese.
The units of RMB are the Yuan, Jiao and Fen.
1 Yuan = 10 Jiao
1 Jiao = 10 Fen
For the latest info on your rates, please use the Pampo exchange rates calculator.
Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK)
Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport (SHA)
Shanghai Pudong International Airport (PVG)
Ürümqi Diwopu International Airport (URC)
Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport (HGH)
Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport (CAN)
Shenzhen Bao'an International Airport (SZX)
Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport (CTU)
The first recorded use of the name “China” occurred more than 450 years ago
In Latin the name for China was “Sinia”
According to the CIA China’s population is 1,330,044,544
China is known as the birthplace of paper and has given the world a number of innovative concepts including woodblock printing, gunpowder, toilet paper, the needle compass, the cannon, the rocket, matches and the propeller
The Great Wall of China stretches a whopping 6000km although it cannot be seen from space as is commonly assumed
The Chinese flag was designed by Zeng Liansong and the red background symbolises the blood split by the heroes of the revolution while the gold stars represent the different classes of people in China: the peasant, working classes, bourgeois and capitalists
More than 45 billion pairs of chopsticks are used in china annually
The world famous Terracotta Army in Shaanxi province contains more than 8000 individual soldiers