12 Tips to Plan a China Trip
Vast in area, varied in landscapes, rich in history, travelling in China always meets the needs of tourists of different ages, interests and styles. China, listed by Lonely Planet as one of the Top 10 Countries to visit in 2018, has become a more and more popular destination for world travelers since the last several decades. As one of the world's oldest civilizations, China captivates travelers with its many historic World Heritage Sites, stunning landscapes from beautiful mountains to vast deserts, and diverse cultures of its main population Han People and 55 groups of minorities. Megacities with roaring skyscrapers and fast paced life introduce travelers to the modern side of the old nation while remote villages in southwest part demonstrate the primitive ways of living.
Planning a China tour can be a big task and you might have no clue at all about where to go, what to see and how to plan a trip after your idea of traveling to China pops up as this vast nation is not only far away but has so many differences in language, food, customs, etc. Anything you are commonly familiar with differs here. Please ease all your tensions as the 12 tips below will help plan your dream trip to China.
1. Top Places to Go
Travelling to China, long famed classic wonders including the amazing Great Wall, fascinating imperial palace Forbidden City, incredible large-scaled full-size Terracotta Army should never be missed. Thus, they are always listed on top of first time travelers' travel list to China. To cover these wonders, the classic 8 Days tour to Beijing, Xi'an and Shanghai is a popular choice for first-time travelers.
- View details of 8 Days Golden Triangle.
Picturesque karst pinnacles scattered Guilin and beautiful rural villages in Yangshuo plus the leisurely Yangtze River Cruise are also must-sees for travelers if tourists have 5-6 more days to explore the natural astounding sceneries of China.
2. Five More Hot Cities for First Time Travelers to Visit
Chengdu with adorable Giant Pandas, tantalized Sichuan Cuisine together with the stunning Leshan Giant Buddha enjoys more and more popularity among tourists. Pay a visit to Chengdu, embark on a safari in this lively city; capture fun moments of adorable pandas and experience its local leisure life over a cup of tea as locals in some outdoor tea house where you may get a chance to learn about playing Mahjong from hospitable locals.
Recommended stay: 3 days
See popular Chengdu Tours
If you are a nature fan and meanwhile would like some adventure, Zhangjiajie featuring with its natural pillar-like mountains, challenging Sky Walk built along cliffs of Tianmen Mountain and newly open Glass Bridge over Grand Canyon will offer both. It has become an increasingly popular hot spot for world travelers in recent years. About 4-hour drive, travelers will get to the nearby Fenghuang Ancient Town to appreciate the traditional stilt houses and colorful culture of Tu Minority.
Recommended stay: 3-4 days, 2 more days is needed for Fenghuang Ancient Town
Hangzhou where 2016 G20 Summit was held is a delightful city to relax in its elegant beauty and take a sip of the famous Dragon Well Tea. A leisurely boat cruise along the dreamy West Lake and a nice walk through the verdant tea plantation offers an enjoyable way to absorb the city's magnificence. We offer in-depth tea cultural tour for tea lovers to learn more about this famous tea. Nearby Wuzhen Water Town about 1-hour drive is also recommended to experience the charm of Chinese traditional water town. With many choices for accommodation, spending one night in Wuzhen is getting popular as well.
Recommended stay: 2-3 days
Check out our popular Hangzhou Tours
China has many famous and beautiful mountains. Yellow Mountain is one of them with well-known grotesque rocks, dramatic pines and sea of clouds. A visit to Yellow Mountain is ideal for both scenery catching and trekking. Ancient villages around the mountain area including Hongcun Village, Xidi Village and Chengkan Village show great complex of original folk houses with grey-tiled roof, white wall, small ditches running through the whole village in case of fire. Traditional Chinese culture is well displayed together with vivid local villagers' life.
Recommended stay: 3 days
Hong Kong with roaring skyscrapers, cultural mix of east and west, fascinating harbor view, variety of shopping choices, fun Disneyland..., offers travelers all they would like to do and see during a trip. With clear English signs, easy transportation inside the city, travelers could simply get an Octopus Card and start their navigation in the fascinating cosmopolis. Connected with every part of the world by its convenient international transportation network, Hong Kong could be easily accessed for travel as either the start of a China trip or the last stop before departure.
Recommended stay: 3 days is enough to delight in vigorous Hong Kong. Many tourists also choose 4-5 days to relax and explore prior to or after their trip in mainland China
Listed above are the popular destinations for first time travelers to China depending on different travel length and interests.
See the most popular China tours including above destinations at China Tour and get inspired for your China trip.
3. Pick the Best Time to Visit China
China's climate varies in its vast landscapes but generally to say the best weather to travel falls in Spring and Autumn (April, May, September and October). Summer is a nice season to visit with fascinating views but can be a bit hot. Winter is the slow season for travelling in China so tours enjoy lower prices as hotels, air tickets are both cheaper. Please remember to avoid China's holidays like National Holiday since you will be stuck in the crowds of Chinese tourists.
4. Prepare a China Visa
Travelling to China, a tourist visa needs to be applied except those who meet visa exemptions. Basic documents including valid passports, photos and application form are needed. The processing time for a Tourist Visa L Visa needs 4 working days generally and express service is available, too. Tourists are suggested to apply for a visa 1 or 2 months before their arrival dates. See more details and embassy information at China Visa.
5. Choose Accommodations for Your China Trip
There are many hotels of different classes in China including boutique hotels, 5 Star and 4 Star international chains with brilliant service and facilities, and also a lot of comfortable 3 Star hotels and apartment hotels with good location and service, which can also help keep travel budget. Our travel specialists will offer the best suggestion for you.
6. Pick a Gateway City to start for a China Tour
Many big cities in China are now connected to major international cities in the world. The most popular three gateway cities to start a China trip are Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong due to large number of international flights to different cities. But cities like Guangzhou, Chengdu, Hangzhou and Xi'an are getting more popular for travelers in recent years. Kunming in Southwest China is a hot choice for travelers from Southeast Asia. So, come to China through the gateway city for your convenience and we will arrange your dream vacation starting there accordingly.
7. Travel to China with Clear Ideas and Styles
If you are seeking an ideal destination for a family tour, choosing China cannot be wrong. Preparing celebrations of special occasions like honeymoons, anniversaries or birthdays, you will be impressed by the romances and surprises China will offer. Photographers find many glittering gems to shoot in China's vast landscapes. Adventure fans who would like off-the-beaten tracks will be feasted with excitements with featured cultures. Trace of ancient history and culture finds no destination better than an old nation with over 5,000 years' history of civilization.
Check out what China offers for a theme tour or start to customize your dream vacation!
Family Tour in China
It is believed that travelling with kids is challenging and tiring, which we do admit to some extent. But a well-designed family tour with varieties of activities and sightseeings both for adults and kids will make quite a difference. People might wonder how attractive an ancient country full of history and historic sites can be appealing to kids. Think about a rickshaw ride along Hutong Alleys, painting a fantastic facial mask on their own, race on top of a 600-year-old ancient City Wall, hand make a little terracotta warrior, bike around the Chinese rural village with enchanting natural sceneries, needless to say meeting lovely pandas and indulging in the fantastic Shanghai Disneyland. There are various choices for accommodations for family and adjoining rooms and connecting rooms will be arranged so everything will be taken care of. Food won't be a problem at all for kids as in most cities except small remote ones, there are western restaurants and hotels we recommend offer western breakfast. Allergies will be avoided since everyone will be well informed and our local guide will help translate to avoid ingredients that cause the allergies.
Check our pre-set wonderful Family Tours and you could let us know any of your travel ideas for your family tour, our expert local travel consultant will make it happen!
Panda Tours for Panda Fans
Panda bears are China's national treasure animals who have attracted fans all over the world. Looking at them in pictures or videos is appealing enough and seeing them in person is more than exciting. Travelers can visit the adorable ones at Chengdu Panda Research and Breeding Center where adult pandas, panda cubs and even new-born babies can be seen for a more detailed understanding of these star mammals. Get ready to be amused and attracted by the cute creatures, catching sight of them eating, sleeping, rolling and being naughty. For tourists who would like more interactions with them, Dujiangyan Panda Base offers a chance to work as a Panda keeper for one day and you will enjoy working for the stars to clean their enclosures, make cookies for them, and more excitingly, to hand-feed them under the guidance of a professional keeper. Guess what, taking a photo with a lovely cuddly panda is also accessible here! What's more, if you'd like to trace wild pandas, Wolong Panda Base is a best choice.
See the popular Panda Tours to get an up-close encounter with the star mammals.
Train Travel in China
Thanks to the well-developed high speed train system in China. Now travelers can enjoy explorations throughout the vast country by fast and comfortable trains. Travelers could embark on a trip to explore highlights of China in the most popular destinations. They can also make their way further to Northeast China like Harbin for the amazing winter scenery and Ice Festival, or travel through Gobi and desert area to trace the ruins of ancient Silk Road in northwest part of the country. Visit pandas in Chengdu, embark on Yangtze Cruise in Chongqing, even minority area in Southwest China enjoy very good highspeed train network. See our popular Train Travel and get inspired to plan your train trip in China.
China Trip for Photographers
China with its many eye-catching spots for great photos is always popular among photographers. Great Wall alone can be the top reason for shutter-bugs since many astonishing parts of the Wall make great photos. Many other areas with magnificent sceneries and folk cultures are also worth your shoots. Travel to Yellow Mountain to catch its breathtaking sunrise and spectacular sea of clouds; appreciate the ancient ruins along Silk Road to speak for the ancient glories with your camera; Hong Cun Village, Wang Family's Mansion and Tulou in Fujian Province all demonstrate the architectural essences of Chinese traditional folk houses and turn out fascinating in photos. Minority culture in southwest China and the mudflat in Xiapu is intriguing and worthy of going and shooting.
Well knowing the highlights and hidden gems of this country, tell us your interests and we will customize your dream photography China tours.
China Adventure Tours
Hike along the amazing Great Wall along the quiet and wild part; trek in Zhangjiajie National Forest Park and walk over the Sky Walk built along cliffs at Tianmen Mountain; go deep into southwestern China like Yunnan, Guizhou and Guangxi to explore the original lifestyle of minorities and learn about their preserved colorful cultures; visit the off-the-beaten track places and discover the hidden gems like some isolated villages to see another part of China except its fast-developing cities. Get packed and start your exploration! See what our insider adventure travel expert brings you with our Tailor-made Service.
China Tour for Special Occasions
Honeymoon, anniversaries, proposals, China's oriental romance will impress you and leave you a special and unforgettable moment. Elaborate plans with Chinese culture featured activities, accommodations, meals and surprises will be offered for you to choose. If you would like to just sit around and relax, nice beaches in China like Sanya and Southeast Asia like Thailand and Vietnam beat many others around the world with competitive prices. If this isn't your thing, just share with our specialists your idea and they will make sure you get what you want! Elysian Tour has successfully planned for many couples' honeymoon celebrations, romantic proposals for lovers and anniversaries with programs and arrangements they just wanted and also very much enjoyed. Need our suggestions for your special moment? Start planning your trip with us by our Tailor-made Service.
Educational Tours in China
Curious, passionate, energetic, students find China a wonderland to travel and learn. They get the chance to communicate with local Chinese students, experience the diverse ancient cultures through various activities like making traditional Chinese brush pen, paper cutting, fantastic Kungfu... Together with new fashion and artistic designs, students will be introduced to a new China.
Get expert travel ideas and tips of educational tours and leave your travel information so that Elysian Tour could customize wonderful trips for your students groups.
8. Eating in China: Try Yummy Chinese Cuisines & Wonderful Street Food
China has great food and has been a dreamed destination of foodies for a yummy safari. When talking about food, please don't get nervous. 90% Chinese people never had snakes or scorpions and those will not be what you will commonly see in restaurants or street stalls. Delicious cuisines in different parts of China offer diverse tastes and varieties to tantalize your tastebuds every day. Get ready for the tasty Peking Duck, spicy Chengdu hotpot, local Xian hamburgers, Shanghai steamed buns and Cantonese dim sum. Our insider guide will recommend you the most authentic restaurants to try them! If you miss home food, many cities now have brilliant western restaurants with great western food.
9. Getting around in China during Free Time
While travelling in China, getting around is easy in big cities like Beijing, Xi'an, Chengdu, Shanghai etc., while Beijing and Shanghai could be the best. Metro system in cities has clear English signs and names of different stops so you could easily find your way. Taxis is also recommended but drivers mostly don't speak English at all. You are suggested to bring notes offered either by us or by your local guides to show to the drivers. Taxis fare is charged by meters. Buses are not recommended at all as not many of them have any English signs and are usually overcrowded which does not mean metro is less crowded. You don't want to experience public transportation during rush hours.
10. Learn about Different Notes of Chinese Money
Chinese money is known as RMB or Yuan. Common notes you often need and see in China is 100 Yuan, 50 Yuan, 20 Yuan, 10 Yuan, 5 Yuan, 1 Yuan and 50 Cents. Common coins in use currently are 1 Yuan, 50 Cents and 10 Cents. You are suggested to exchange some cash before your entry to China. While travelling in China, it is easy to get cash from ATMs or exchange from hotels and airports.
11. Where to Do Shopping in China
China has many modern department stores which are quite popular among locals for shopping, food and entertainments and are also best places to see modern Chinese people's life. For souvenir shopping, fun and elaborate memorabilia could be found in markets basically in every destination to bring home. BTW, bargaining is still popular in markets but in department stores, things have fixed prices and people don't bargain. Instead, there are sometimes promotions on holidays or festivals.
12. Tipping in China: Whom to Tip and How to Tip
Tipping or gratuities in mainland China are customary in tourism industry, like tipping tour guides, drivers, hotel bellboys for their excellent service. Usually, RMB80 per traveler for tour guides and half the amount for the drivers. To tip bellboys, RMB10 per piece of luggage is acceptable. But it's not popular to leave tips at local restaurants or tip taxi drivers. People do round up to the nearest number shown on the meter for convenience of both. Please keep in mind that tipping in Hong Kong and Macau is common and important.
Please check China Travel FAQs for the frequently asked questions and answers regarding travelling to China.