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A Comprehensive Guide For Your First Visit To China

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China is one of those magical places that is known for its rich biodiversity, unique geographical climates, stunning natural landscapes, historic culture (spanning thousands of years), and its delicate, savory cuisine.

So, whether you want to enjoy awe-inspiring panoramic views or explore world-class historical heritage sites, adding China to your bucket list is a must.

In fact, it doesn’t matter who you are. where you are from, or what you’re interested in. Because China has something different to offer everyone.

Therefore, if you’re thinking about visiting China for the first time, there are certain things you should know before you visit.

After all, China is a vast country. And don’t want to lose yourself in a foreign land. That’s why this comprehensive guide is here to help you.

So, in this incredible guide, you’ll find everything you need to know before visiting China.

Top 8 Places To Explore In China

1. Mount Huangshan

Mount Huangshan in China

Also known as the yellow mountain, Mount Huangshan is a UNESCO world heritage site that is quite popular for its stunning peaks and the dense pine forest that surrounds the mountain.

It is also a perfect place for hiking on weekends since the dense clouds surrounding the tip of the mountain look truly ethereal from a distance.

2. Suzhou

Confucian temple in Suzhou China.

Locally known as the water town, Suzhou is the second UNESCO world heritage site that is considered to be “the Venice of the east”.

What makes this town worth visiting is the unique architectural layout of the town, which includes many canals, narrow alleys, picturesque bridges, and pagodas.

Therefore, it is a place you must visit if you are planning to visit China.

3. Hangzhou

Panoramic view of Hangzhou, China.

In ancient China, during the five dynasties and ten kingdom periods, Hangzhou was the capital of China.

Nowadays, it is known for its west lake and for the well-preserved natural area that surrounds it.

In fact, within the pristine area around the lake you can find over 50 different cultural sites to explore. And what makes this place truly fascinating is its rich history.

So, if you are interested in history, then a trip to Hangzhou can add to your wealth of knowledge about the world.

4. Guilin

Incredible karst topography of Guilin.

Guilin is a true hidden gem of the natural world and is considered by many to have the most aesthetically pleasing landscape in all of China.

And the most beautiful thing about Guilin is its uniquely-shaped mountains, incredible karst topography, and the mysterious caves that can be found within those mountains.

Additionally, the vast bamboo forests surrounding the rivers here are also quite a feast for the eyes.

5. Beijing

Incredible historic gate in Beijing.

The national capital of China, Beijing is home to upwards of 21 million people. Therefore, it is and always will be an important place to the Chinese as the historic home of both the Ming and Qing Dynasties.

Now, aside from being the political center of the country, it also has several notable historical and cultural sites that make it another incredible UNESCO world heritage site in the world.

And that makes sense since Beijing is home to one of the seven wonders of the world, the Great Wall of China.

6. Shanghai

Aerial view of Shanghai.

When you come to Shanghai, you will never feel bored since there is always something fun to do in this dynamic city.

So, be sure to go to the Bund to experience Shanghai nightlife at its finest, explore Tianping Road and Hunan Road in the Xuhui District to see gorgeous historic houses, and feel history come to life on old Shanghai Lane.

Or, simply relax and enjoy a bit of people-watching at either Tianzifang or Xintiandi before hitting the bars on Hengshan Road and the 1933 old factory buildings, in addition to various other art warehouses.

Finally, don’t forget to board the Oriental Pearl and get a look at this bustling metropolis from another vantage point.

7. Guangzhou

Incredible skyline of Guangzhou

Guangzhou is a wonderfully cultural city with an incredible history. See, legend dictates that in ancient times, there were five immortals who were wearing five-color clothes and riding five-color fairy sheep with rice ears in their mouths.

Evenutally, the immortals came here to give the rice ears to the people, wishing to erradicate famine for all time.

Since then, Guangzhou has been known as “Yangcheng” and “Suicheng”, while the “five sheep” has become the symbol of Guangzhou.

Additionally, according to historical records, a city wall was built here as early as 214 BC,. Therefore, this city has a history of over 2,210 years and has many cultural relics for you to check out.

8. Shenzhen

Shenzhen is a young city that integrates contemporary art with technology, commerce, and modern culture.

It is also located on the east bank of the Pearl River Delta, adjacent to Hong Kong, and is one of the fastest-growing cities in the world. And that’s mainly because it was the first special economic zone in China.

So, be sure to visit the Nanshan District which is Shenzhen’s research, business, and education center.

You can also stop by Shenzhen High-tech Industrial Park, where Shenzhen University is located.

Additionally, recent rapid economic development in Nanshan District has created many scenic spots for you to visit like Shenzhen Overseas Chinese Town, Window of the World, Shenzhen Happy Valley, Sea World, Nantou Ancient City, and more.

Top 5 Things To Do In China

  • Hike the great wall of China
  • Visit the panda Reserve in Chengdu
  • Visit the forbidden city of Beijing
  • Walk over the Zhangjiajie Glass Bridge
  • Explore Xi’an, the home of the terracotta army

When Is The Best Time To Visit China?

The best time to visit China is during Spring (March-May) and Autumn (September- November).

However, you can also visit different regions at different times since China is a large country that covers a wide variety of climates. Therefore, some areas may be more enjoyable in the fall while others are better in the spring.

When Is NOT a Good Time to Travel To China?

Try to avoid visiting China during The Spring Festival (Chinese new year) and Golden Week.

And that’s mainly because these are national holidays. Therefore, you may find many establishments closed.

And while there will be some open provinces for you to enjoy, you need to book everything well in advance since there are fewer open businesses.

Visa Requirements for China

Before you plan your first trip to China, the most important thing that you will need during your trip is a China tourist visa. You will have to keep it with you all the time while traveling around China.

In order to acquire your visa, you will have to apply for one at the Chinese embassy or the Chinese consulate. However, this is only applicable if you are from a country that is not Visa-exempt.

One additional thing you should be aware of is that both Hong Kong and Macao, have separate, independent border policies. This means if you are planning to visit those places, you will have to apply for a separate visa.

Things To Remember While Visiting China

  • When purchasing train or bus tickets in China, you will have to show your passport.
  • Keep a VPN Installed on your phone, since the internet in China is censored and you won’t have access to common social media outlets and search engines.
  • It can be difficult to use credit cards in China. So, make sure to always have cash on hand.
  • Keep a photocopy of your passport and visa with you just in case you lose the original.

China is a great country for visitors. The people are honest, respectful, and helpful when it comes to foreigners and their own people.

So, if you are a bit worried about traveling to China, don’t be. It is a great place for travelers and there is nothing to worry about.

After all, it is a country that you must visit once in your lifetime.