China is vast and diverse in landscape and its population. A trip to China may be a challenge for some travellers, but experiencing its natural beauty and urban achievement is an awesome reward. Chinese culture and custom can be a striking contrast to Western ways and its size cannot be overstated, so visitors should plan well to make sure they’re getting the most out of their adventure. China is a global powerhouse in many respects, its large population, size, economy and long history don’t tell you enough about its unique beauty and charm, we think you need to see it for yourself!
Where is China?
China is bordered by Mongolia and Russia to the north; Kazakhstan to the north-west; Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India to the west; Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Laos, and Vietnam to the south; North Korea and South Korea to the east. China has a vast coastline, 14,500 kilometres (9,000 mi) along the Pacific Ocean and is adjacent to the Yellow, East China, and South China Seas.
Size: 9,600,000 km2 and 3,700,000 sq mi
Official Language(s): Standard Chinese
Capital City: Beijing
Time Zone: China Standard Time (UTC +8)
Currency: Renminbi (Yuan)
Electrical Plug Type: Type A (flat blade attachment plug); Type C (Europlug); Type I (Also used in Australia & New Zealand).
Drives on the: Right
Food You Must Try: Xiaolongbao: a delicate dumpling, filled with piping hot soup. Try it at Din Tai Fung, a Michelin Star holder.
Best things to do in China
UNESCO Sites in China
Famously visible from space, the Great Wall of China is a feat of architecture and a massive historical site. Construction spanning from the 3rd to 17th centuries, to say it is a significant piece of infrastructure is an understatement.
In terms of global recognition, perhaps the only match for the Great Wall is China’s Giant Panda. Nearly one million hectares of land is protected in the Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries; home to the majestic bear, as well as many other endangered species.
Top Attractions in China
Hong Kong: Incredibly clean (polishing escalator handrails!) and surprisingly green (Hong Kong Park!), Hong Kong will entice you with its impressive landscape of skyscrapers, but what you find below may be unexpected. Although our preference is towards visiting places like Hong Kong Park’s Zen Garden, other visitors may be drawn to the high-end shopping comparable to your favourite cosmopolitan destinations.
If you’re looking for something more active than lifting shopping bags while visiting Hong Kong, you can climb to reach the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery. Actually a series of temples, constructed by Reverend Yuet Kai, between 1949-195, the Buddhas invoke a variety of poses, in a variety of moods and activities that will inspire a range of emotions for the traveller.
If couture isn’t your thing, but you want to bring home something interesting (and want to practice your bargaining), there is a market for everything in Hong Kong. We explored the Flower Market, Goldfish Market, Jade Market, and many more.
We assume all travellers are foodies of some degree and Hong Kong does not disappoint in this area. Visitors can enjoy an authentic Chinese experience (or anything authentically Asian) or an interesting Western meal.
China has the largest population in the world, although India is catching up. Nearly 20% of the world’s population is Chinese!
China does come second in terms of economic size; the USA is the first.
You’ll have to save your travel bragging for after you leave China, popular social media sites like Facebook are banned there.
China only has one time zone, despite its size.
New Year in China does not fall on January 1st as it does for us – instead, it’s determined by the Lunar Calendar (the world’s oldest calendar). New Year is the biggest holiday in China and is celebrated for two weeks.
Enjoy a cold, sweet, creamy treat when the weather is warm? Thank China! Ice cream was invented by mixing rice and milk with snow.
You may already know China boasts the largest standing army in the world but did you know their massive military contingent also includes pigeons? 10,000 have been employed to deliver communications between military installations in the event of an infrastructure failure.
China is the origin of many technological inventions: kites, seismic detection, and the waterwheel to name only a few.
Shanghai has the fastest train in the world, clocking 431 kilometres per hour (268 miles/hour).
If you’re looking for luck, choose the number 8 and wear red. In China, brides wear red on their wedding day and couples often get married on days associated with the number 8.
Our thoughts about China
Alison says: “While we have technically been to China, and have the passport stamps to prove it, it’s hard for us to count a day in Shenzhen as having ‘done’ China. We did, however, spend an incredible week in Hong Kong –technically China these days but so unlike the mainland. We loved Hong Kong’s crazy diversity – the mix of ancient and modern, and Eastern and Western. We loved the vast markets and incredible food scene. We can even see ourselves living there for a few years.
We’re both a bit hesitant about mainland China, while we want to visit, the mixed reviews from our friends who have travelled there, make us pretty sure it would be a challenging trip. We’re always up for a good challenge, and we’ve learned to push our boundaries when it comes to travelling. Even if we don’t fall in love with a country, we’ve never regretted travelling somewhere new.”
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