Ever since the world discovered China through the writings of adventurer Marco Polo more than 700 years ago, we've come to regard this large Asian country as the embodiment of all that is mysterious and exotic. Even now, after decades of economic growth, this vast country has lost none of its fascinations. Indeed, the contrast between China's ancient customs and the new ultra-modern state that is developing has only increased our fascination with a culture that dates back many millennia.
Thanks to its size, China as a tourist destination offers limitless scope for exploration. Whether you choose to travel aboard a luxury cruise ship through the picturesque Yangtze gorges, visit a bustling city, or seek out the tranquility of an ancient temple, this country is full of incredible experiences.
The rule of thumb, in general, is that spring and autumn are the best times to visit China. Any time from March to May and from September to early November are the best moments to plan a great trip. One way to help you decide when to visit is to divide China between regions and seasons.
Visa is not required for EU citizens. Everyone else needs a Visa.
|Currency used||Chinese Yuan|
|Area (km2)||9.597 million km²|
|Country name||People's Republic of China|
Things to Do
Zhangjiajie National Forest Park
When you first set eyes on Zhangjiajie National Forest Park in Hunan province, it's certainly not difficult to see how filmmaker James Cameron was able to draw inspiration from it. Cameron's box office hit, Avatar, could well have been set in this area of stunning natural beauty, its many unique pillar-like rock formations looking like some incredible alien landscape right out of a sci-fi movie (one of the tallest pillars, standing at an impressive 1,080-meters, has in fact been renamed "Avatar Hallelujah Mountain").
Leshan Giant Buddha
"The mountain is a Buddha and the Buddha is a mountain." So goes the famous Chinese saying, one that's attributed to the spectacular 71-meter-tall Leshan Giant Buddha. And it certainly makes sense as you stand at its feet as the colossal statue towers high above you. Started in AD 713 by a Buddhist monk and completed 90 years later, this important religious icon is carved entirely from a stone cliff-face and is the largest Buddha sculpture in the world. Representing the Buddha Maitreya, the statue is even more dramatic given its location overlooking the river that it was designed to appease (it had often proven treacherous for shipping). Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Giant Buddha continues to draw huge numbers of pilgrims from across the globe and is widely regarded as one of China's must-visit attractions.
Cruising the Li River
The town of Guilin, in the northeast corner of Guangxi, boasts some of China's most beautiful countryside and is famous for the Li River, which meanders through the town and surrounding karst mountains. While for hundreds of years this unique scenery has attracted poets and artists and has been the subject of countless fairy tales and legends, these days it's popular with tourists from around the world wanting to see this natural splendor up close.
The best way to enjoy the area is to take a cruise along the Li River. The most popular stretch is from Guilin to Yangshuo, where the river meanders peacefully through some 80 kilometers of remarkable rock formations and caves with romantic names such as the Mount of Unique Beauty, Elephant Trunk Hill, and Reed Flute Cave. Depending upon the type of boat used — you can choose from a tourist cruise ship to small bamboo punts — trips can take anywhere from a few hours to multiple days.
Although swiftly catching up with the west in nightlife options, China's night scene has a distinct personality of its own. In other words, anything goes. Acrobatic shows, karaoke, disco dancing, a sprinkle of naughtiness here and there, Chinese opera dinner shows, western-style bars and pubs, there's even a Louisiana-themed jazz bar/club downtown Beijing!
In a country with so many influences and people to influence, the nightlife in China is bound to be eclectic, different and interesting. Go for it.
Culture and history info
Present-day Chinese culture is an amalgamation of old-world traditions and a westernized lifestyle. The two co-exist like the traditional Yin Yang formula of balance. This can be seen in the juxtaposition of towering skyscrapers with heritage buildings, the contrast of western fashion with the traditional Chinese Qipao dress, the people's paradoxical affinity for both dim sums and McDonald's.
Ancient Chinese Culture is older than 5000 years. Chinese cultural history has enormous diversity and variety. The sophisticated Chinese civilization was rich in the Arts and Sciences, elaborate Painting and Printing techniques and delicate pottery and sculpture. Chinese architectural traditions were much respected all over the world. Chinese language and literature, philosophy and politics are still reckoned as a strong influence. Chinese culture managed to retain its unique identity till the advent of Western culture in the mid-19th century.
Chinese Religion, Philosophy and Politics: Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism have left a collective and lasting impression on Chinese culture and tradition. Confucianism propagated “Ren” (Love) and “Li” (rituals), signifying respect for society and social hierarchy. Taoism advocated the controversial philosophy of inaction. Buddhism emphasized on the need to attain self- emancipation through good deeds.