Private Home Style Cooking Half Day Tour
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China is set in a diverse and vast landscape. With grassland and desert, mountains and rivers, cities and coastlines, there’s plenty to explore and experience. Its countryside hosts a haven of tranquility, with rolling plains, paddy fields carved into mountains and lakes and deserts that blend seamlessly into the horizon. Its 870 miles of coastline features cliffside drops, port towns and sandy beaches. Even within major city centers, historical spaces, monuments and awe-inspiring temples wheedle their way out of the woodwork.
If you’re planning a trip to China, start here. We’ll help you figure out the details, from take off until its time to go back home.
A new country can be intimidatiing for even the most seasoned of travelers. That’s why reading up on where you’re traveling to is essential to ensure you’re not stuck up a creek without a paddle. Here a few tips that you should consider before traveling to the Far East:
Sounds simple enough, but some in-depth research about your destination is a must. If you go without any prior knowledge, you’ll likely get lost or even worse, offend the locals. Knowing about the culture and common etiquette is a must when traveling to a country that isn’t your own — you don’t want to be disrespectful.
Have your passport and visa documentation taken care of well before you’re ready to go. Look for attractions and sites you’d like to visit prior to leaving so you’re not wasting your valuable time planning what to do while you’re in China. While public transportation is easily available, if you want to rely on private services, make sure to arrange your plans in advance.
Obviously you won’t be able to learn the language in a snap, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn some key phrases before you go. Picking up a phrasebook or pocket dictionary can be extremely useful when trying to communicate with the locals. A translator app on your mobile device can be a lifesaver if you’ve got a question that you’re having a tough time relaying.
Travel insurance is another small cost to your trip, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. In the unfortunate case that something happens to you while you’re traveling, travel insurance can help alleviate costs for missed flights or medical bills. Also, packing your own prescriptions is highly recommended as pharmacies may not be able to provide the medicine or drugs you’re are used to.
Rich and flavorsome, Chinese cuisine is a favorite of many all over the world. If you’re a fan, then the most authentic Chinese food experience can really only be had in its country of origin.
Here, different regions of the country serve up different versions of the same dishes. The food is cooked fresh, fast and in a way that appeases the local tastebuds.
Some dishes may seem familiar to you like stir fries, fried rice and dumplings, though others may be a little more unique, such as fried pigeon or snake soup. Whether you’re feeling adventurous or you’re simply seeking something addictively good, these dishes will hit the spot.
Being such a vast country that features a variety of climates, different parts of the nation boast different traditional cuisines. Here’s a snapshot of what you can find in each:
China is a proud and traditional nation and while you may be excused for poor etiquette, you should still try to respect it. Here are a few pointers for the banquet table:
It’s common courtesy to not start eating until everyone has been served their meal.
Traditionally, the first person to eat should be the eldest at the table. Once he or she has started their meal, everyone else is free to join in.
This is considered a sign of death and is bad luck.
A great way to learn about the local cuisine and to discover the best restaurants for later is through an organised food tour. These are some of the best to wrap your tastebuds around:
As China is such a vast country, if you are intending to travel between cities you may want to consider fast transport to save on time, including internal flights and the high speed rail. Your best mode of transport within each city will depend on how large the city you’re visiting is as well as how concentrated the tourist attractions are.
It’s best to research this before arriving so that you can commute easily between your desired attractions with minimum fuss or stress.
Xi’an is near equidistant from Shanghai and Beijing. Flights from each are around 2 hours. High speed trains from Shanghai take between 6 and 11 hours, depending on the number of stops. High speed trains from Beijing take between 4.5 and 6 hours. Buses are more expensive though can take up to 15 hours.
Generally, train travel is preferred over bus or coach travel between major Chinese cities.
Paying for transportation
To buy a train ticket, you need your passport and enough cash to buy the ticket. You can also buy a China Rail Pass, which is a pre-paid electronic card you can use on bullet trains. In addition, each subway has its own smart-card which offers discounted fares and ease of access.
Getting to and from the airport
In every major city in China, public buses and an underground metro connect the airport to the city center. Private transfers, airport shuttles and taxis are other options to get to and from the airport in each city.
Best apps for getting around on public transportation
China Metro is a useful app that has downloadable subway maps of 15 cities with information about fares, timetables and shortest routes. If you are looking to travel from one city to another by train, the China Trains app can help you plan your journey and book tickets.
Renting a car can be a good choice if your are looking to get out of the city and want to drive yourself.
Car rental desks of major car hire services like Avis, Budget, Europcar, Hertz, DriveNow and Dollar are available at the major airports in China.
You can find several private transfer and airport shuttle services that provide door-to-door transfer to the airport in every major city in China. Many of these can be found on Viator or City Discovery. Transfers to some of the more popular locations can be booked below.
If you’re contemplating a trip to China you no doubt have some questions you’d like answered. It’s time to indulge in the culture and customs of the world’s most populous country.
You’ll have no problem using a travel-friendy debit or credit card in China, however, cash is the preferred method of payment. The currency used in China is renminbi — or more commonly called yuan. US dollars will do you no good in China as yuan is the only currency accepted.
You’ll have no problem locating an ATM in busy areas of the city, just be aware of withdrawing money with your credit card as you’ll be hit with a hefty cash advance fee.
Also, don’t worry about tipping in China — it is not a common practice.
Although China is a communist country, it does allow capitalism. In practice this means that Chinese companies belong to the state, and any profits become the property of the state. China is officially known as the People’s Republic of China, and is governed by the Communist Party of China.
Facebook is blocked in China. The block followed the Urumqi riot in July 2009 as government officials derived that Facebook was being used for communication between independence activists.
The block excludes Hong Kong and Macau where it is not enforced.
Yes. You need a visa to visit China and must apply for one before leaving home.
The exception is travelers who are traveling through Shanghai, Hangzhou or Nanjing for less than 144 hours. Travel elsewhere is limited to 72 hours. You need an onward ticket from the same airport to be eligible.
You can fly direct to China from New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Seattle, Detroit, Washington DC, Honolulu and San Francisco. Prices and flight times vary depending on which city you’re flying from and to.
In general, China is a safe country and most of its inhabitants are honest and friendly. There are currently no major threats in China. The largest risk factors in China remain the day-to-day risks you can experience anywhere, such as road traffic accidents or petty crime.
You should be vigilant in respect of your personal safety and belongings, and avoid wandering alone down dark alleyways.
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