China is a country filled with unexpected surprises.
The warm welcome from the people, the beauty of the landscape and the sheer size and scope of the cities has made China one of the PlanetD's favorite destinations.
This China travel guide will help you plan your next vacation.
- Chinese power voltage is 220 V 50Hz; Plug A, I & G.
- The currency is the Chinese Yuan and is around 6.07 CNY to 1 USD. Check current rates here.
- Toilet paper is rarely found in public restrooms; carry your own sanitary napkins just in case nature calls.
- The internet is censored in Chine. You need a VPN to use most social media sites.
Budget: You can get a hostel in China starting at $15 USD. This often includes a shared room, shared bathroom, and lounge area.
Mid Range: Mid-range hotels in China start at $75 USD. They may include free breakfast, a pool, and family suites.
High End: Luxury hotels in China start at $150 USD per night. They usually include a restaurant, bar, and airport transportation.
Dumplings – These are a popular food found on both the street and in restaurants filled with beef or chicken.
Chow mein – This is a stir-fry noodle dish mixed with sauce, onion, celery, and meat.
Peking duck – Peking duck is considered one of the national dishes in China and has thin and crispy skin.
Wontons – Wontons are another common food you'll see people eating as a snack or appetizers and are filled with shrimp or pork.
Getting to China:
Many flights fly directly to major hubs in China including Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Guangzhou.
You can check for the best flights to China on Skyscanner.
Transportation: Getting around China is best by flying or taking high-speed trains. China is a huge country, but it has a very efficient train system.
High-speed trains run through cities from Shanghai to Nanjing, Suzhou, and Beijing.
Buses/Metro: Cities in China have very efficient subway systems and are the best way to get around. They are easy to follow and well signed in English. Be sure to have small bills on your as machines only give change in small denominations. See our videos of Beijing , Shanghai, and Hong Kong to watch how to use the subway system.
Taxis: Taxis are reasonable and efficient in China, but be sure to have a card with your hotel's name and address on it written in Mandarin.
Always carry your hotel's business card to get back to your location. Taxi drivers will not understand where you want to go.
Uber: Uber is not in China.
Compare prices on flights below
China is one of the largest countries in the world.
Given its size, the climate is extremely diverse ranging from tropical regions to a subarctic climate in the north.
The type of clothing you pack depends on the season and also the intended region of travel.
The Northern regions tend to have hot summers and chillingly cold winters while southern China tends to be wetter and milder
- Layers – The general rule of thumb is to pack at least four layers: a base layer, long sleeve shirts, a fleece (mid-layer) and a top layer such as a windbreaker (waterproof!). Base layers should be made of wool or synthetic fabrics as they often offer superior moisture-wicking and temperature control protection than cotton.
- Avoid White – smog is a big issue in many Chinese cities so this means that white clothes get dirty quicker than normal.
- Avoid Jumpsuits (or tight pants)– squat toilets are quite common in particular Chinese areas. As a result, wearing any form of tight pants or jumpsuits will make a travelers trip to the bathroom infinitely more difficult.
- Tampons – tampons aren't easy to find in China and unless you are a fan of pads than makes sure to stock up before you go on your trip.
When to Go:
The best times to visit China are May through June and September through October. That's when you'll find the most pleasant weather, as parts of China can have blistering winters and sizzling summers.
Things to do
- Hike the Great Wall of China – take a different tour and enjoy a hike along the Great Wall of China
- Go Rock Climbing – When visiting the world's greatest Karst formations in Yangzhou, why not try your hand at rock climbing? We promise you won't regret it!
- Bamboo Rafting Down the Li River – a visit to the Yangshuo would not be complete without a bamboo cruise on the Li River.
- Fine Your Inner Chef at Yangshuo Cooking School – learn about Chinese cooking and gain a new appreciation for their fine cuisine.
- See the Ghost City of Fengdu – pass three tests in order to be deemed innocent and pure of heart and be allowed to enter the city's 600-year-old temple.
- Enjoy a Sizzling Night Out – the Sichuan Province is known as the province of flavor and is famous for its over the top spices.
- Shanghai Acrobats – watch some of the finest acrobats in the world in one of China's most vibrant cities.
- Try Hot Cupping…. If you Dare – originating in China, hot cupping is meant to draw out toxins from the body and muscles.
- Visit Tiananmen Square – walk around the world's largest public square, the location of the infamous 1989 massacre.
- Visit the Great Wall of China – visit the mother of all China's tourist destinations. See our Travel Video of the Great Wall here.
- Take a Cruise through the Three Gorges – relax as your cruise on the Yangzi River and through the Three Gorges
- Watch Panadas at Chengdu – visit the Giant Panada Research Base to watch these magnificent creatures from up close.
- Weekend Fun in Chengdu – Chengdu is known as one of the most laid back cities in China, so join in on the fun at the People' Park in Chengdu
- Tour the Forbidden City – in Beijing
- Explore the Yangshuo countryside by bike – visitors come to Yangshuo for the scenery and there is no better way to witness it than from the vantage point of a bicycle.
- Hong Kong in Three Days – all you need to do and see when limited on time in Hong Kong
- Take in the Skyline from the Bund – the Bund of the Shanghai Skyline offers one of the most spectacular views in the world.
- A Good Day in Xi'an – there is much more to see in Xi'an than the Terracotta Warriors. This city is worth a visit in its own right.
A Bit about China
- Best Things to do in China
- 5 Tips on Travelling in China on a Budget
- Terracotta Warriors; Are the Real or is it Memorex?
Places to Stay
Shangri-La Hotel – This Beijing hotel is a beautiful place to stay when you're traveling. The hotel has a spacious pool, plush beds, and floor-to-wall windows so you'll have a view of the city.
SSAW Boutique Hotel Shanghai – This hotel is conveniently located within a few minute's walk to the nearest train station, so it's a breeze getting around. They also have family suites, blackout curtains, a rooftop terrace, and even a nail salon.
Fraser Suites Shenzhen – This is a beautiful hotel to stay at when you're in Shenzhen. They have a rooftop restaurant overlooking the city, a kitchenette in each room, free parking, and a business center.
Whenever we travel to Asia we make sure to start with these companies. We have tried a lot of different ones over the years and all of these have consistently proven to be the best when it comes to offering great prices as well as great customer service.
We have used every one of these personally and continue to do so.
Booking.com: This is our go site to when comparing prices for accommodation. It is usually the has the cheapest prices and we love their interface. Not to mention you get free cancellation and you are guaranteed the best price.
Trip Advisor: What we like about Trip Advisor is that we can look at all the reviews and then book our accommodation. TripAdvisor is where we go when we want to compare prices with multiple accommodation providers.
Air BnB: Airbnb is the main search engine we use when we are looking for a home or apartment rental. It can sometimes be cheaper than hotels and it is the best way to stay in areas that offer a more local feel.
Skyscanner: This is the first place we check for flights. It consistently comes back with the cheapest and best options. It allows us to compare a lot of airlines to get the best price.
Hostelworld: With one of the largest databases of hostels in the world, Hostelworld is the go-to site when you are looking for budget accommodation.
Rome 2 Rio: If you want to see how to get somewhere by plane, train, bus, ferry or car Rome2Rio lays it all out for you as well as related costs. I love how they show it all to you on a Google Map and it works offline.
Get Your Guide: For all your day trip and city guide needs, we use Get Your Guide. It has the world's largest collection of things to do with more than 30,000 activities in 7500 destinations.
World Nomads Insurance: When traveling to China you should always have travel insurance. We have found the best bang for your buck is by far World Nomads.