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China travel guide

What to see and do in China.

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Great Wall of China at dusk

Look carefully at China and you’ll find there’s much beauty within, far beyond the crowded, bustling cities. 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. It’s 14,000 kilometres 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.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Read on to discover what else China hides behind its cityscape appearance.

Is it safe to travel in China during the coronavirus threat?

Due to the recent and growing coronavirus threat across Asia and beyond, use caution and take steps to safeguard yourself if you choose to travel to areas where the virus is prevalent.

To help lessen your chances of infection, the World Health Organization recommends that you:

  • Wear a face mask in public when physical distancing is difficult, such as on public transportation, in shops or in other confined or crowded areas
  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Keep your distance from anyone coughing or sneezing
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
  • Practice respiratory hygiene
  • Stay informed of the situation
  • Seek medical care if you suspect coronavirus symptoms

Check out our guide to stay up to date on the latest coronavirus travel advisories.

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Travel tips for first time visitors

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:

Research

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.

Plan accordingly

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.

Breaking the language barrier

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.

Medical concerns

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.

China travel deals

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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.

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.

What to know before you go

How to spend money in China

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.

Is China a communist country?

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.

Does China have Facebook?

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.

Do I need a visa for China?

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.

Can I fly direct to China?

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.

Questions about safety and health

Is China safe?

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.

Getting around

Catching taxis in China

There will be an abundance of taxis available in busy city areas, although, many drivers will not speak English. It’s best to have a map to show where you’re going or have your destination written in Chinese to give to the driver.

Does China have Uber?

No. Uber quit the market in China in August 2016.

Didi Chuxing bought Uber’s China unit and removed the English-language interface. It has introduced an English-version app, but this is only in operation in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.

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