China is home to one of the world’s oldest and most progressive civilizations. For years the country paved the way with innovative inventions and new research. Over the years China has had numerous capital cities and has come under rule by a range of dynasties. Today the capital is the modern city of Beijing and the country is ruled by the Communist Party of China. Other large cities in China include Shanghai, located on the east coast and Guangzhou, found in the south. Outside the cities and within the countryside, China is incredibly diverse. Not only are there over 50 officially recognized ethnic groups living in China, but customs and traditions often vary from region to region.
Much like its population, the weather in China is incredibly varied. Generally speaking the more north you go, the colder and drier it gets. Northern China does experience hot summers but its winters are particularly chilly. Southern China has more of a tropical climate. During April and May, southern parts of China often experience monsoonal weather while North China receives the majority of its rain in July and August.
In January or February, depending on the Chinese calendar, the country celebrates Chinese New Year. This event spans 15 days and is the most important holiday on the Chinese calendar. On the 15th day of the New Year celebration, the Spring Lantern Festival takes place which features spectacular lantern parades. Double Tenth Day is another significant event in which the country celebrates the national day of the Republic of China.
There are over ten international airports located throughout China, the largest of which include Beijing Capital International Airport and Shanghai Pudong International Airport. Airlines that fly from Australia to Shanghai include:
Direct flights are available from Sydney and Melbourne to Shanghai and take around eleven hours. Many air lines stopover in regional Asian transit hubs such as Singapore and Guangzhou before proceeding onto Shanghai.
Though China shares boarders with 14 countries, travelling into the country by land isn’t always accessible. The boarders shared with Afghanistan, Bhutan and India are closed and travel via other countries often requires certain visas at checkpoints which can be quite complicated. Furthermore boarders can sometimes close due to changes in government policy.
The easiest way to travel to China by land is on the Trans-Mongolian and Trans-Tibetan railway trek or with a guided tour.
As one of the world’s major economic centres, there are dozens of luxury hotels that cater both to international businessmen and discerning travellers. Stay within the pulsating heart of China’s energetic cities and discover new heights in luxury and service.
To find out more about the range of holiday accommodation available with Travel Associates call 1800 017 849 or enquire online.
Sights to See
Two of China’s greatest attractions are located in Beijing, so the capital city is a good place to start your travels. At the centre of Beijing is the Forbidden City, the former palace of the Ming and then Qing Dynasties. For 500 years, the Forbidden City was home to emperors and acted as the political centre for the government. Today the site also houses the Palace Museum and is an ideal place to learn about China’s fascinating history.
Though not strictly located in Beijing, the city is highly regarded to possess the best view of the world famous Great Wall of China. Built over 2,000 years ago to protect the northern boarders of the Chinese Empire, the wall stretches and winds its way from Shanhaiguan in the east to Lop Lake in the west. From Beijing you can visit various sections of the historic wall and also take part in a tour.
South west of Beijing in the city of Xian lies the breathtaking Terracotta Warriors. Discovered by a farmer in 1974, the site features 1800 life size terracotta figures, each with their own individual features. The carved army was created over 2,000 years ago to defend the grave and underground kingdom of the first Emperor of the Quin Dynasty. Needless to say the sheer size and preserved detail of the Terracotta Warriors makes for a spectacular sight and is one of the most significant archaeological excavations of the 20th century.
Don't leave home without...
Travel insurance is a must when travelling anywhere, but definitely make sure you are covered when visiting China. Accidents can happen anywhere and medical treatment in China can be incredibly expensive, so don’t risk it.
Be sure to leave some room in your luggage before you arrive. China is the manufacturing capital of the world and you’ll be able to pick up some great bargains to bring home with you.
Gift giving is a popular custom in China and has many unique aspects to it. For example, always give gifts with two hands and never give four of anything, as four is an unlucky number. Flowers, clocks and handkerchiefs are associated with funerals so do not give these as regular gifts. Food baskets are considered to be the safest option and will always be well received.
Things to be careful of…
China has very strict laws involving illicit drugs. Do not test the law or the patience of the judicial system or your visit to China may last a little longer than you intended.
In China there is no such thing as personal space so be prepared to deal with crowds and for locals to get quite close to you during peak hours.
Like any big city, China’s capital cities are home to numerous street vendors selling anything and everything. At some of the more popular tourist sites, vendors can get quite pushy. If you like what they are selling, buy it straight away, if not, simply ignore them and avoid eye contact.