China Tours Info

China

A vast and immensely varied land, China defies a simple definition. It is a world of remarkable contrasts and a virtual universe unto itself. Chinais home to world's oldest recorded history, a rich and endlessdiversity of spectacular scenery and ancient cultures that beliebelief.

Rarely is so much wonder found within the boundaries of one country.Increasingly engaging the outside world after decades of isolation, China now awaits you. Immense in scale, resplendent in culture and famous of cuisine, China is an essential destination that will both amaze you and leave you with an aching thirst for more.

Key Facts

Capital:Beijing
Area:9.3 million sq kms
Population: Approximately 1.3 billion
Religions: Officiallyan atheist nation. Buddhism remains the main unofficial religion butalso practised are Taoism, Christianity and Islam.
Languages:StandardChinese (Mandarin) is spoken by 96% of the population. Cantonese inSouthern Guangdon, Hong Kong and Macau. Various dialects and minoritylanguages spoken throughout the nation. Tibetan languages in TibetAutonomous Region and Turkic languages in Xinjiang Province. English isgenerally not largely understood outside major hotels and tourist areas.
Time:GMT + 8 hours
Visa Formalities: Entry visas are required for China and Tibet. British passport holders do not require a visa for Hong Kong or Macau.
Currency: Yuan Renminbi
Electricity: 220V AC,50hz cycle

Climate

China stretches some 5,026 kilometres (3,123 mi) across the East Asian landmass bordering the East China Sea, Korea Bay, Yellow Sea, and South China Sea, between North Korea and Vietnam in a changing configuration of broad plains, expansive deserts, and lofty mountain ranges, including vast areas of inhospitable terrain. The eastern half of the country, its seacoast fringed with offshore islands, is a region of fertile lowlands, foothills and mountains, deserts, steppes, and subtropical areas. The western half of China is a region of sunken basins, rolling plateaus, and towering massifs, including a portion of the highest tableland on earth.

The vastness of the country and the barrenness of the western hinterland have important implications for defense strategy. In spite of many good harbors along the approximately 18,000-kilometer coastline, the nation has traditionally oriented itself not toward the sea but inland, developing as an imperial power whose center lay in the middle and lower reaches of the Yellow River on the northern plains. China also has the Tibetan Plateau, a very large, high altitude plateau, to the south. To the north of the Tibetan Plateau lie the Gobi and Taklamakan deserts, which stretch from the extreme northwest eastward through Mongolia.

The People's Republic of China is one of the world's largest countries in total area behind Russia and Canada, and very similar to the United States. Whether China or the United States is the third largest country in the world in total area is related to (a) the validity of claims by the PRC on territories such as Taiwan, Aksai Chin, Trans-Karakoram Tract, and South Tibet (Aksai Chin and Trans-Karakoram Tract also claimed by India), and (b) how the total size of the United States is calculated: The CIA's The World Factbook gives 9,826,630 sq km,the United Nations Statistics Division gives 9,629,091 sq km ,and the Encyclopedia Britannica gives 9,522,055 sq km. Figures for the size of China differ slightly depending on where one draws a number of ill-defined boundaries. The official figure by the People's Republic of China is 9.6 million square kilometers. The Republic of China based in Taiwan but claiming to be the government of China puts this figure at 11 million square kilometers, but this includes Mongolia a state whose sovereignty has been recognized by the PRC. China's contour is reasonably comparable to that of the United States and lies largely at the same latitudes. The total area is estimated to be 9,758,801 sq km, with land accounting for 9,326,410 sq km and water for 270,550sq km (around 3 percent).

Travel Tips

Local laws and customs

There are severe penalties in China for drugs offences. These include the death penalty, which was imposed on a British national who was executed in China for a drugs offence in December 2009.
 
Foreign nationals are required to carry their passports with them at all times as the Police carry out random checks; failure to produce your ID can lead to a fine or detention.

There are restrictions on undertaking certain religious activities, including preaching and distributing religious materials. The Falun Gong movement is banned in China.

Homosexuality is not illegal although there are no laws specifically protecting the rights of homosexuals.

What To See

Beijing
The political capital, once an imperial palace city, is now a bustling and congested metropolis of 12 million people housing China's best tourist attractions - The Great Wall, Tian An Men Square, the Forbidden City and the Summer Palace.

Xian
This former capital was once the starting point of the legendary Silk Road. It is also home to the famed Terracotta Warriors, built to protect Emperor Qinshihuang in the afterlife.
Suzhou & Hangzhou
These cities, both in close proximity to Shanghai, are two of China's most pleasant and attractive. Hangzhou life centres on the stunningly beautiful West Lake area whilst Suzhou is at the heart of traditional garden architecture in China.

Shanghai
Shanghai grew from a small port town into Asia's 'Paris' in the 1920's and is now a financial centre rivalling Hong Kong and Singapore.

The South West
The provinces of Yunnan and Sichuan boast some of China's most stunning natural scenery. Heavily influenced by their proximity to the Tibetan Plateau they are home to many ethnic minorities with their individual cultures and traditions. Sichuan is also the habitat of the endangered Giant Panda.
Tibet, the "Roof of the World", with its proud and unique people has inspired and attracted travellers for centuries. Lhasa, spiritual home of Buddhism, still retains its allure even as modernisation changes the high plateau's landscape with modern buildings and railways.

Guilin
Limestone peaks and rice paddies as far as the eye can see - this is the China of the classic paintings, best seen on a leisurely cruise on the Li River.

Hainan
China's very own beach resort with a tropical climate, quality resorts and fantastic hinterland.

When To Go

Late spring (April, May)and early to mid autumn (September, October)are the most pleasant months to visit as temperatures are more moderate and nature is at its most glorious. The summer months, from June to August, are generally swelteringly hot and much of the country is very crowded. The winter months, from mid November till late March, are often bitterly cold and many sights close during that time.
The tropical island of Hainan in the South China Sea is the only year round destination in China. The Tibetan Plateau, including parts of Yunnan and Sichuan province are best visited in summer, from late June till mid September.
 Xinjiang Province in the west of China and the bordering Central Asian countries are one some of the hottest places on the planet and are to be avoided in summer.
The Spring Festival (or Chinese New Year) in January or February and the Mid-Autumn Festival in October see several hundred million Chinese travelling to their hometowns and tourism grinds to a halt during these weeks.

Getting There
British Airways offers direct flights to Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong.
Air China offers direct flights to Beijing and Shanghai.
Cathay Pacific flies direct to Hong Kong and Virgin Atlantic flies direct to Hong Kong and Shanghai. China Eastern offers direct flights to Shanghai.
Indirect options are available including via Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Paris, Dubai and Bangkok. Direct flight time is about 10 - 12 hours.

Getting Around

Road Travel
Air-conditioned buses, vans and cars are available in the main tourist areas. Road conditions vary considerably and vehicles can be more basic in rural areas or during busy holiday seasons.

Train Travel
A well developed system connects all regions of China. Hard sleeper (6 berths, open compartment) and soft sleeper (4 berths, closed compartment) are available for overnight train journeys. Some luxury trains are available between major cities.

Air Travel
A good network of internal flights links many of the major cities.

Boat Travel
Ferries link the major island groups with the mainland and connect Chinese ports to other countries such as South Korea, Russia, Japan and Vietnam. Several cruises are available on the Yangtze, Yellow River, Mekong and Li River.