China Travel For Beginners
The Ultimate Guide
Travelling in China
The vast and beautiful lands of China make a great place to visit or even start life over as an expat. Whether you’re all in for making it your new home or just want to see the sights, this China Travel Guide for Beginners will help you make the most of your time on the mainland, whether it’s a brief sojourn or something long-term.
Best Time to Visit China
Planning your first visit to China? You’ll find the best times to visit, as far as the weather is concerned is in spring and autumn. The weather during these times tends to be better for exploring China’s most revered landmarks.
As China is quite large and spans different terrains, the weather can be quite different from one location to the next. This is a rough guide of the average weather you can expect in each season:
Spring (March – May)
Most of the country is warm and at a comfortable temperature. Nature comes into full bloom and you can experience the cherry blossoms at peak. In the south though, the rains will start to come, however they create some glorious views in many places, such as the Li River in Guilin. For a drier spring experience, stay in the north.
Summer (June – August)
Weather is hot across the country, particularly in the south, and no place is safe from summer rains. However, the tourist sights and access to hiking and outdoor activities become more abundant. You’ll have more crowds to contend with as families with school-age children will also be traveling. Typhoons may be common for the southern cities along the coast, like Shenzhen or Guangzhou, so always have a backup plan and prepare for delays.
Fall (September – November)
Temperatures start cooling off, making for pleasant outdoor experiences. With kids back in school and the main festivals a way’s off, it’s a better travel time. In the north, things turn cold in November so pack accordingly.
Winter (December – February)
If you don’t mind the cold or the snow up north, winter is a wonderful time to visit. Places like Harbin and Pingyao are fascinating when blanketed in snow. Travel tends to be cheaper at this time until just before the Chinese New Year. Traveling during the holiday usually results in delays, crowds, and stress so plan ahead.
Anytime can be a great time!
Festivals are also a good reason to visit any time of year. Although the crowds can be intense, the holidays are a wonderful way to explore Chinese culture. Chinese New Year is the biggest one. It goes by the lunar calendar so it could be in late January or February. Most things close for the holiday so coming during this time is best if you have Chinese friends who will invite you along. Keep reading to explore more about the festivals of China to decide when to come!
Major Cities in China
If you imagine China as a place of remote villages, you’re not entirely wrong, but you’re not entirely right either. China’s major cities are a force to be reckoned with, and they keep getting more and more exciting. If you want to live and work in China or just stick to an easier itinerary, you can’t go wrong with the major cities of China.
Here are the 4 biggest cities in China:
With a population just under 24 million people, it’s quite crowded. It’s the wealthiest city in the country, and has a very cosmopolitan vibe. In fact, if you visit smaller cities and come here, you’ll be completely floored. It’s home to the largest and busiest port and is the financial center of China.
Best Cities to Visit in China
Just because a city is big doesn’t mean it’s the best to visit. If you’d like to explore China’s best sights and most famous offerings, you’ll want to see more than the major cities. This next list will give you an idea of what places must go on your itinerary.
Some of them are familiar from above, but others are a bit off the beaten path and worthy of exploring to get the full experience of China’s rich tapestry of history and culture.
Chinese Food Guide
If all this reading is making you hungry, then get ready to feast your eyes on the best foods of China. Each region has its own specialty, making for many great flavors to explore. It’s important to note that Chinese food isn’t like it is in the West but don’t let that hold you back. The authentic flavors are truly amazing!
Here’s what to eat:
Things to Do in China
Whatever city you’re in, there will come a time when you’ve seen all the landmarks. Then what? The best thing to do is to try out some of the things that will put you closer to Chinese culture.
Get street food
Every city has street food vendors as far as the eye can see. Stand in line at the busiest one for the best quality and the best sampling of local fare.
Check out the markets
The outdoor markets of fruits, vegetables, and handicrafts are always fun to explore. The people are very friendly too!
Try a sidecar ride
In Beijing in particular, you can hop in an open-air sidecar to explore the city on the back streets. It’s a lot of fun, plus the guides can tell you much more about what you’re seeing. (photo credit: BeijingVisitor)
Do Tai Chi in a local park
Chinese people love to gather in the parks and enjoy the outdoors. Feel free to join them. They often do Tai Chi there too. It’s a great way to get your exercise. Make sure you get up early to catch it! (photo credit: robertharding)
Get a massage
The art of Chinese massage is extraordinary. Especially for feet. Make sure you indulge in one, especially after all that sightseeing!
Catch a wedding
Chinese weddings are a big deal. With all the celebrating, you may be welcomed in as you walk by because you’re foreign! When you’re living in China a while, you’ll likely be invited to a wedding. Make sure you go – you’ll have fun! (photo credit: themonastery)
Have hot pot with friends
Hot pot is more than food. It’s a way of life. There is nothing like gathering around a table for hours, leisurely eating hot pot together with plenty of beer and liquor to go around. (photo credit: Yelp)
Try a traditional Chinese character painting class
You can learn this ancient art, though if it’s too intimidating, you can always watch the experts and be amazed.
Listen to the music
Violin and piano lessons are incredibly popular in China. Look around your city and you may discover the chance to listen to it in concert.
Drink tea at tea houseszhen
Tea is at huge part of Chinese culture. Visiting a tea house to experience it in a more in-depth way is a perfect way to enjoy any day!
Interesting Chinese Festivals
China has many fascinating festivals throughout the year. While they are amazing to be a part of, you should know that travel and seeing sights will be more crowded and difficult to navigate. If you’d prefer less crowds, schedule your visits around these holidays. If not, come and celebrate!