China is a country that’s not only steeped in ancient culture, it also has a generous touch of the exotic about it, making it an appealing prospect for those looking for something a little different. Its vast proportions mean that it’s quite a commitment if you want to really get into the heart and soul of its rural areas as well as its high-profile cities, but it also lends itself to short itineraries that cover specific attractions.
The fourth largest country in the world, China is not as easy to get around as others. But with some careful planning it is possible to get a wonderful insight into the attributes for which it is most famous: its mammoth, seething cities, the epic natural landscape and a host of cultural attractions, including one that has become a household name, the Great Wall of China.
Home to the world’s oldest continuous civilization, the sheer diversity and scale of China’s history and landscape is unmatched. From the harsh deserts of Mongolia and the otherworldly pinnacle-spiked burnt earth around Yangshuo, to bucolic rice paddies and acres of bamboo forests in the south, there are few places on earth as intriguing.
What to Do
Whether you choose bustling Beijing, modern Hong Kong, or stylish and cosmopolitan Shanghai (the country has more than 50 cities with populations in excess of a million), the opportunity to explore one of China’s major cities is something you’ll never forget. The atmosphere is frenzied and the rich culture and sheer volume of people makes it a heady and unforgettable experience. Give yourself over to the crowds and soak up the ambience and excitement of some of the most populous metropolises in the world.
On the other side of the coin, for adventure seekers the country is a Pandora’s Box of opportunities. Destinations include the jungles of the Yunan, the arid expanse of the Inner Mongolian Steppe, the Buddhist Caves at Datong, the magnificent isolation of the Guilin Mountains, the chilly extremes of Manchuria, and Mount Huashan with its terror-inducing cliff-edge plank walk.
Whatever you’re looking for in a travel experience, China can deliver in spades, with some of the world’s top rated attractions – both natural and manmade.
Chinese food is famous all over the world, but what many people don’t realise, however, is that there are eight styles of cuisine, which emanate from the various regions and provinces. Each has its own unique flavours and specialities and there’s nothing quite like tasting the ‘real thing’ in the place in which it originated.
But even if you’re not lucky enough to be able to travel to all the provinces, the style of most cuisines is usually readily available in the high-profile tourism areas. Look out for dishes from Sichuan, Hunan, Guangdong (Cantonese), Fujian, Zhejiang, Anhui, Shandong and Jiangsu. If you manage one from each, you’ve tasted China in its entirety!
Some specific dishes you should seek out are the famous Bang Bang Chicken, crispy claypot rice, oyster pancakes, fried eel, preserved pork with bamboo shoots, candied yam and, most definitely, dumplings as often as you can!
China is a large country, meaning its climate is quite diverse. Its seasons are roughly the same as Europe, although it experiences far more extreme temperatures at both ends of the scale – dropping to -20 Celsius and rising to in excess of 40 degrees Celsius in some parts of the country. The best times to visit are in the spring and autumn, when rainfall is low and temperatures are mild. March and April are the busiest months for tourism, but September and October are also popular.
How to Get There
With a flight time of just under 10 hours from the UK, there are numerous airlines offering direct flights to a range of airports, including Beijing Capital International (PEK), which is the busiest. Whatever airport you choose, the very best way of getting to your final destination is by pre-booking a shared or private transfer service with Shuttle Direct. You’ll be met by a local driver and taken to where you need to go, without the hassle of expensive taxis or the headaches of public transport.
Travelling to China? Don’t Miss…
- You can’t mention China without the Great Wall and you certainly can’t travel there and not walk along one of the most famous landmarks on the planet. Don’t worry, you don’t need to commit to traversing its entire length (more than 13,000 miles spanning several provinces) and you can even walk on part of it in Beijing! There are some much quieter sections, though, which are well worth seeking out if you want to enjoy a more fulfilling and not wall-to-wall crowded walk.
- The Terracotta Warriors of Xi’an are famous the world over and this magnificent site is worth braving the inevitable crowds to see. Although various parts of it have toured the world’s museums, seeing these incredible terracotta monuments of life sized soldiers and horses in situ, where they were unearthed in 1974, is unforgettable.
- Something else inextricably linked to the country are its Giant Pandas and, in Chengdu, you’ll have the chance to interact with these quirky animals as well as learn more about the breeding programmes and research being conducted. If you’re lucky enough to be there in autumn you may even get to see the babies in the nursery.
About Shuttle Direct
Make the best start to your holiday by pre-booking your onward transfers with Shuttle Direct before you leave home. As one of the best in the business, we make things easy with a simple online booking system that allows you to choose from a range of shared or private transfers services. No matter what your budget or your final destination, we can have a friendly local driver waiting at the airport to take you wherever you need to go.