The Middle Kingdom is the fourth largest country in the world and stretches over 3,300 km from the high north to the tropical south and over 4,000 km from the west to the east. This large area is home to a variety of cultures, people, attractions and travel destinations. Before travelling to China, you should think about what you really want to see and experience, and which destinations can be combined to make the China adventure an unforgettable one. Achieving these goals requires you to keep few things in mind while in China.
Rule of thumb
As a rule of thumb, all travels to the targets within 1000 km radius should be planned with the Chinese high-speed trains. The network now covers more than 15,000 km of rail tracks, so that you can reach all major destinations quickly (about 300 km/h), comfortably and without delays by train. Trains are modern, and delays are a rarity, unlike the Chinese domestic flights, which are often affected by delays. Only for significantly distant destinations within China, flying should be considered. The likelihood that a flight will be delayed or cancelled, and you have to wait many hours at an airport in China is after all around 75%.
Visa for China
It should also be noted that you cannot travel to Hong Kong or Macao with a single-entry visa and then re-enter China as you would have officially left the People’s Republic of China. It is all considered as one country, but with two different systems. Either you apply for a multi-entry visa, which is not always that easy, that you could travel to and from China several times, or you visit the two special administrative areas Hong Kong and Macau directly before you enter Mainland China.
Travel dates to avoid
You should not consider two appointments in the annual calendar as a travel period. These include the Chinese New Year festival in January/February and the national holiday week in early October. Over 500 million Chinese people will visit their hometowns during these periods, or they will use these days off to travel without China themselves. Most sights will then be crowded with people and travelling around China will be very difficult.
To get from A to B in cities
In the big cities, it is easy to wave a taxi. The taxis are equipped with taximeters and are very cheap compared to the US and Europe. However, only a few drivers speak English, so it will be necessary to have your destination, hotel address etc. in Chinese characters at hand. It should be noted that the traffic in large cities, especially in rush hour, is very overloaded and it is better to use the metro. Beijing and Shanghai both have excellent metro systems that are user-friendly, affordable, fast and reliable. But smaller cities also build very diligently on metro systems, therefore the metro network in China grows at a significant speed.