WHY TO VISIT CHINA
The sheer immensity of this country, the strangeness of this ancient way of life, its history stretching back thousands of years, the rapidity of its current evolution, all of this makes China a fascinating destination and one that cannot be all taken in during just one visit there.
Beijing – Peking – a sprawling metropolis is home to various historical sites and cultural marvels. Start with the famous Tien’anmen Place, surrounded by monuments such as Peoples Assembly Palace or the mausoleum of Chairman Mao. The Forbidden City, vast residence of the Ming and Qing dynasties, is of course an almost obligatory stop with its magnificent architectural design perfectly maintained. The Summer Palace and its superb park, the temples, pagodas and the lake all create landscapes of such harmony and balance that are rare between natural elements and human constructions.
Take a walk through the streets (hutong) that have escaped the work initiated by the JO Organisation, stroll around the markets and taste the delicious local foods sold on the street stalls. Visit the Flea Market where you will find over 3,000 stall holders trying to sell you their goods, Satin Road and the Bird and Flower Markets are also worth a visit. At the latter you will find scorpions, turtles, spiders and cats for sale.
Shangai, another megalopolis, unfortunately has a bad reputation although in the old town you will enjoy discovering its labyrinthine streets, its bazaar, the lovely Yu Gardens and the Bund quarter with its boutiques and fashionable restaurants. Also worth seeing is the gigantic skyscraper building of the Shangai World Financial Centre and the People’s Place where you can see the Opera House.
The Great Wall should definitely be visited. Started 2,000 years ago and requiring the enslavement of countless workers, it crosses countryside that is sublime in its beauty at numerous places.
The largest archaeological site in China is at Xi’an, the jewel of which is the terra cotta army, 6,000 full size figurines and their horses, each one different, underground for 2,000 years. It makes an unforgettable scene.
Other sites worth a detour include the Neolithic village at Banpo and the Faman Temple.
Hong Kong, surprising symbiosis between east and west, offers various opportunities for visits that should not be missed: Criss-crossing the Bay in a Junk or aboard the Star ferry, a walk down the Avenue of Stars, discovering one (or several) of the 6,000 Chinese Temples in the city, coming across semi-hidden gardens and parks throughout the city offering beautiful glimpses of nature tamed and nurtured where you can cycle, walk, fish or play golf, the Arts Museum in the Kowloon quarter…
Finally, Tibet is a place apart as much for China as in the mind of the traveller. Lhassa and the Potala Palace remain magical places and the Shigatse Buddha will astound you.
WHAT TO SEE IN CHINA
Top destinations in China are:
- Hong Kong
WHEN TO GO TO CHINA
This huge country experiences a great variety of climates, from tropical to temperate which make China a multi-faceted country. Best period to visit China is from May to June the north. from October and November for Centre and South.
Manchuria and the North East side of China like Shenyang and Peking experience extremely cold winters lasting practically half of the year, from October to April. Temperatures can reach –33°C in the North whereas temperatures in the South, during winter, are around -15°C.
The rest of the year is milder with warm temperatures but there is a monsoon period which can make the climate unpleasantly hot and wet with high rainfall from June to August.
In the mountainous areas the harshness of the winter is compensated by the cool of the summer when, due to latitude, the temperatures are lower than in the other parts of the area.
Autumn, as with the majority of the Asiatic countries, is the best time to go. The months of May and June are also very pleasant as an alternative.
The Centre and the South
If the North of China experiences dry summers and cold winters, a large part of China lives according to the rhythm of the monsoon climate with a wet summer and a cold winter.
This generic leaning towards a monsoon climate linked to a certain similarity in climatic conditions, except in the North of China, should not blind one to the fact that within this vast country there are many regional differences in climate and weather, between the north and the south, ranging between areas that are semi-desert, desert and mountainous.
Central and Southern China benefit from a more tropical and subtropical climate without a really cold winter, even though it can be a little colder in the centre such as Shanghais where minus temperatures are often reached.
In the centre, from June to September, the monsoon is in full swing with abundant rain and a humidity that is so high that it can sometimes be hard to bear. May and October are the most favourable months.
In the South, Hong-Kong in particular, these climatic irritations are accentuated; the strong rains of the monsoon from May to August associated with a stifling atmosphere during this period know their apotheosis with the arrival of devastating typhoons during September. Therefore, a visit between November and December is preferable.
Following a list of typical festival and celebrations of China.
HOW TO REACH AND TRAVEL THROUGH CHINA
Travelling inland, the plane is of course the quickest way for long distances but the train and bus will provide you with memorable experiences. In towns, the bicycle is very practical and very popular.
by plane, main airports are:
- Shanghai (Shanghai Pudong)
- Shanghai (Shanghai Hongqiao)
GENERAL INFORMATION ON CHINA
country entry requirements: passport + visa (check your visa requirements)
health tips & vaccination: drink only bottled water and avoid ice. Vaccine against typhus, hepatitis A and B are recommended.
local currency: Chinese Yuan Renminbi
local time zone: GMT+8
electricity: type A, C and I (220 V, 50 Hz)
mobile phone operators:
WHAT TO DO IN CHINA
typical food in China
- Peking duck: Roasted and eaten in a thin pancake with cucumber and a sweet plum sauce
- Mongolian hot pot: A Chinese version of fondue, usually eaten communally. It consists of simmering soup in a large round pot, into which is dipped a variety of uncooked meats and vegetables
- Jiaozi: Steamed dumplings, typically filled with pork or other meat, and chopped vegetables
- Kung po chicken: A classic Sichuan dish, marinated with chillies
- Dim sum: Small portions of food served in steamer baskets, usually involving dumplings and rice noodle rolls
- Stinky tofu: Fermented tofu, often sold as a snack
- Shanghai hairy crab: Considered a delicacy in eastern China
- Oyster omelette: A speciality of the Fujian region
- Hainanese chicken rice: A Hainan dish also popular in Southeast Asia
- Baijiu: A strong alcoholic spirit, also known as sorghum wine
- Tsingtao: The most common of China’s beers, similar to German lager
souvenirs from China
- jade jewellery
- silk garments
- carvings in wood, stone and bamboo
Hello: Nǐ hǎo
How are you?: Nǐ hǎo ma?
Thank you: Xièxiè
What is your name?: Nǐ jiào shénme míngzì?
How much is it?: Zhège duōshǎo qián?