CHINA TRAVEL GUIDE
Exotic, unique, historic, and so much more than you could ever ask for. Here is The Ultimate China Starter Guide!
HOW TO TRAVEL CHINA
This is the ultimate China starter guide!
This guide includes what to expect when traveling China, what food to try, activities to consider, as well as more tips and inspiration for your first trip to China!
China Travel Tips and What to Expect
China is an incredible country full of unique culture, tons of people (it's the most populous country in the world), and plenty to see and do.
Expect the unexpected if you're from a western country - you may experience some culture shock, but that's the fun of going somewhere new.
Please keep in mind that while I traveled to China for two weeks. I visited big cities in the east - Beijing, Hangzhou, Shanghai - and there are many more large cities, smaller towns, and various sub-cultures in both western and eastern China (I have some additional resources for cities I have not personally traveled to included in this guide as well).
Population: There are a LOT of people in China. Yeah, you probably know that but if you're not used to big cities and you visit some of the larger ones like Shanghai or Beijing, be prepared to be around people all the time.
For size comparison, New York City roughly has a population of 8.5 million people; Beijing has around 22 million people.
Currency: Chinese yuan
Language: Mandarin (North; most major cities) and Cantonese (South, includes Hong Kong)
TIP: Have screenshots, printouts, or the business card of your hotel name in Chinese characters (instead of only being spelled out phonetically). Since many Chinese people don't speak English, it is helpful to have these on hand if you take a taxi or are asking someone for directions.
Censorship: China censors a lot of sites you may use daily on the Internet. Some of these sites include Google, Gmail, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Wordpress, and more.
TIP: Download at least 1-2 VPNs on your laptop/phone/tablet before you arrive in China if you'd like to use those sites. I used SurfEasy on my phone and also used an app called TunnelBear on another trip. The VPN will make it look like you're visiting the site outside of China. Keep in mind that VPN download sites are blocked in China so you'll need to do this beforehand. The VPN on my laptop stopped working in the middle of my trip and I wished I had a backup on there!
Bathrooms: Most toilets in China are squat style. Hotels and some tourist attractions almost always have western toilets, but keep in mind you may need to squat to use the bathroom. Also, it is hit or miss on whether the bathroom will have toilet paper and a sink with soap. Keep toilet paper and hand sanitizer with you.
Visas: Make sure to plan well in advance to secure your visa for China and have your passport ready to go before you do so (the visa for Americans is a full-page sticker that is placed on one of your passport pages). Since I visited China for work, the company I worked for prepared this for me, though I still had to go through the application, etc. Here are some tips on completing your visa app, though obviously make sure to go through all the requirements/guidelines from your country's government website well ahead of time!
Top Activities in China
Great Wall of China - near Beijing
Forbidden City - Beijing
Summer Palace - Beijing
Terra Cotta Army - Xi'an
The Bund skyline - Shanghai
Chinese Acrobat Show
Trying Peking duck in Beijing
Trying Hot Pot style food at a restaurant
TripAdvisor is a great resource to learn more about these popular activities for travelers in China!
Where to Stay in China
Book a place to stay - my all-time favorite booking website is the well-known Booking.com - I’ve used it for years all over the world.
It is the easiest way to search and find the best hotels (hostels too!), especially based on reviews. I always check the reviews on Booking, even if it’s a name-brand hotel. You never know!
Food in China
Chinese food! If there is one thing I have to say about China, it is that I really like Chinese food.
Before you go looking for orange chicken and fortune cookies, however, know that authentic Chinese food is much different than some of the random items you'll find in the US or other western countries. (Yup, "orange chicken" and fortune cookies are American and you won't find those in China.)
Delicious food, adventurous food, and food you may find odd if you're not used to it...China has it all.
TIP: Be sure to drink bottled water only in China
Here are 10 (of many) foods you must try in China:
Love tea? Here's what it was like visiting a tea plantation in Hangzhou:
China Travel Tips - How To Travel China
Every single article posted on Go Seek Explore about China!
More Articles on Go Seek Explore
Visiting Macau as a Day Trip from Hong Kong (it's always a debate on whether to consider Macau and Hong Kong their own countries versus cities within China, so I'll add this here too)
More China Travel Tips from Others
Western China: China's Eclectic City - a Day in Kashgar from Nomadasaurus
Tibet: 7 Days in Tibet from Probe Around the Globe
General: 10 Tips For Your First Trip to China from The Blonde Abroad
Get inspired for your visit to China
Droning the Great Wall of China - Sam Kolder
This video is really, really cool. It shows so much more of Beijing than the Great Wall, too. Let this get you inspired and excited for your trip!
Best Travel Gear for Traveling to China
Best Gear for Travelers, Digital Nomads, and Working Abroad
Here's what I use and recommend for those working abroad, who travel often, and especially for those who work online at home or on the road!
My all-time favorite luggage
AWAY Carry-on luggage (I am absolutely obsessed with my AWAY bag)
Tumi carry-on duffel for under the seat
Don't know how to use travel adapters or converters? Watch this short video!
Nice to Have
External hard drive (to back up photos/videos and other files)
Favorite travel clothing & accessories:
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