Shanghai Tower, The Bund, China
Shanghai Tower, The Bund, China

Shanghai

Views of Shanghai Tower from the famous The Bund, a legendary waterfront located on the western bank of the Huangpu River in Shanghai.
Photo by Li Yang

CHINA

Asia

China Travel Information

Temp icon
Overview icon

Key facts

Capital:

Beijing

Location:

Eastern Asia, bordering the East China Sea, Korea Bay, Yellow Sea, and South China Sea, between North Korea and Vietnam

Currency:

Renminbi yuan (RMB)

Area:

9,596,960 sq km

Population:

1,397,897,720 (July 2021 est.)

Languages:

Standard Chinese or Mandarin (official; Putonghua, based on the Beijing dialect), Yue (Cantonese), Wu (Shanghainese), Minbei (Fuzhou), Minnan (Hokkien-Taiwanese), Xiang, Gan, Hakka dialects, minority languages (see Ethnic groups entry); note - Zhuang is official in Guangxi Zhuang, Yue is official in Guangdong, Mongolian is official in Nei Mongol, Uighur is official in Xinjiang Uygur, Kyrgyz is official in Xinjiang Uygur, and Tibetan is official in Xizang (Tibet)

Religion:

folk religion 21.9%, Buddhist 18.3%, Christian 5.2%, Muslim 2%, Hindu &lt; 0.1%, Jewish <0.1%, other 0.7% (includes Daoist (Taoist)), unaffiliated 51.8% (2020 est.)

TimeZone:

UTC+8

Tel Code:

+86

Weather

Climate in China

China has a diverse climate, with temperatures and weather patterns varying greatly depending on the region and time of year. Generally, northern China has a continental climate with cold winters and hot summers, while southern China has a subtropical climate with mild winters and hot summers. Central China has a more moderate climate, with warm summers and cool winters.

Best Time to Visit China

The best time to visit China depends on the specific destination and the type of weather you prefer. Generally, the most comfortable time to visit northern China is in the spring or fall, when temperatures are mild and the landscape is most scenic. Southern China is best visited in the winter or early spring, when temperatures are mild and there is less humidity. Central China is best visited in the spring or fall when temperatures are most comfortable.

If you want to see the cherry blossoms, the best time to visit is spring, specifically April to May. If you want to see the famous terracotta army, Xi'an is best visited in autumn, specifically September to November. The Yellow Mountain is also best visited in autumn as the weather is clear and the leaves are changing colors.

It's important to note that some of the popular tourist destinations in China, such as the Great Wall of China, can be very crowded during peak tourist season. If you're looking to avoid crowds, consider visiting China during the off-season, which is typically from November to February.

Transportation

Air Travel

Air travel is the most popular and convenient way to travel within China. The country has a well-developed domestic air network with flights to most major cities and tourist destinations. There are several major airlines in China, such as Air China, China Eastern, and China Southern, as well as several budget airlines, including Spring Airlines and Lucky Air.

High-Speed Trains

China has a extensive high-speed train network, known as the "bullet train," which connects many major cities and tourist destinations. The trains are fast, efficient, and comfortable, and they offer a great way to see the country while avoiding traffic and long travel times.

Buses

Buses are a popular and inexpensive way to travel within China, especially for shorter distances. Many cities and towns have bus stations with regular service to nearby destinations. The buses are usually comfortable and have air conditioning. However, in case of long-distance travel, it might be less comfortable than trains.

Taxis

Taxis are widely available in China's major cities and towns and are a convenient way to get around. They are relatively inexpensive and a good option for short trips. It's worth noting that many taxi drivers do not speak English, so it's a good idea to have your destination written in Chinese.

Bicycles and Scooters

In some cities, particularly smaller ones and tourist destinations, renting a bicycle or electric scooter can be a fun and environmentally friendly way to explore. It's a great way to get around and to experience the local culture.

Rickshaws

In some places, particularly in smaller cities and towns, you might find rickshaws. They are a traditional form of transportation, typically used for short distances. They are an interesting way to experience the local culture and to move around.

In conclusion, China offers a variety of transportation options for travelers. The most convenient and popular way to travel within China is by air, high-speed train, and bus. Taxis and bikes/scooters are also widely available for shorter distances and for more immersive experiences, and rickshaws are a traditional way to get around in some places. It's worth noting that while some of the public transportation options are widely available, they may not always be the most comfortable, especially during peak tourist season.

Accommodation

Hotels

China has a wide variety of hotels to suit all budgets, from luxury five-star hotels to budget-friendly hostels. The major cities in China, such as Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong, have many international hotel chains, as well as local hotels. In smaller cities and rural areas, there may be fewer hotel options, but you can still find comfortable accommodations.

Serviced Apartments

Another popular accommodation option in China are serviced apartments. These are typically fully-furnished apartments that come with amenities such as a kitchen, living room, and laundry facilities. Serviced apartments are a good option for travelers who are staying in China for an extended period of time or for families who want more space than a hotel room can offer.

Homestays

For a more authentic Chinese experience, you can consider staying in a homestay. Homestays are typically family-run accommodations where you can live with a local family and experience their culture and way of life. This type of accommodation is becoming more popular in China, especially in rural areas and small towns.

Hostels

For budget-conscious travelers, hostels are a good option. Hostels in China offer basic accommodation at a low price. They are mostly found in major cities and popular tourist destinations. Some hostels provide shared dormitory rooms, while others offer private rooms.

Airbnb

Airbnb is becoming increasingly popular in China, especially in urban areas. You can find a wide variety of options, from apartments and private rooms to entire homes. The prices vary depending on the location and the type of accommodation.

In conclusion, China offers a wide range of accommodation options to suit all budgets and preferences. Whether you're looking for a luxury hotel, a serviced apartment, a homestay, a hostel or an Airbnb, you'll find something that fits your needs. It's worth noting that during peak tourist seasons, it is recommended to book in advance as the places may fill up fast.

Money

Money Tips for Travel

  • Research the currency and exchange rates of your destination before you depart.
  • Notify your bank and credit card companies of your travel plans to avoid any potential issues with international transactions.
  • Bring a mix of cash, credit, and debit cards--and possibly a travel money card.
  • Be aware of the fees associated with withdrawing money from ATMs and using credit cards abroad.
  • Make sure to have a backup option for accessing money in case your primary method doesn't work.
  • Consider using a card with no foreign transaction fees.
  • Be aware of the local customs and etiquette when it comes to paying.
  • Keep an eye on the exchange rate throughout your trip and try to make large purchases or withdraw large sums of money when the rate is favorable.
  • NEVER accept currency conversion at ATMs! Always get your home bank to convert at much better rates.
  • Think about getting a Wise or other travel debit card; these can provide much better rates and some free ATM withdrawals.

ATM and Credit Cards

  • Research the availability of ATMs and credit card acceptance at your destination before you depart.
  • Keep your ATM card in a safe place and be mindful of your surroundings when using it.
  • Try to stick to using ATMs that are affiliated with major banks.
  • Keep your credit card information safe and secure, and be aware of potential scams.
  • Make sure your cards have the necessary security features, such as chip and pin.
  • Be aware of the fees associated with withdrawing money from ATMs and using credit cards abroad.

Exchange Rates

  • Research the currency and exchange rates of your destination before you depart.
  • Consider using a card with no foreign transaction fees.
  • Be aware of the local customs and etiquette when it comes to paying.
  • Keep an eye on the exchange rate throughout your trip and try to make large purchases or withdraw large sums of money when the rate is favorable.
  • Be careful of places that may offer to exchange money at rates that seem too good to be true.

Mobile

When traveling, getting mobile access is very important these days. If you are working remotely, wanting to update social media, or need to access your banks SMS authentication messages having a reliable service is a must. At WhereNext we recommend:

eSIM

Services such as those offered by our partner, Airalo, allow you to easily order and install an eSIM for different countries or regions that you are traveling in.

Dual SIM phone

If you have a phone that supports dual SIM's then you can get a SIM on arrival for each country, this is probably better done at a telco store rather than at the airport.

Extend your home plan

Depending on where you live and your mobile service provider you may be able to extend your plan to cover mobile roaming at reasonable rates.

Keep your primary SIM

With the amount of accounts we all have that require two factor authentication via SMS, keeping a constant number for these accounts is a must.

Community

There are several online communities and platforms that you can use to meet people while traveling, both for making new friends or for networking professionally. Some popular options include:

Facebook groups

There are many Facebook groups dedicated to connecting people while traveling, from expat groups and travel communities to groups specific to certain cities or regions of the country. You can search for groups based on your interests or location and connect with others who share similar interests.

Meetup

Meetup is a platform that allows you to find groups of people that share your interests in your local area. There are Meetup groups all around the world, and they cover a wide range of topics, such as language exchange, sports, and cultural activities.

Internations

Internations is a social network for people who live or work abroad. It has a large community of expats and organizes regular events, activities and gatherings that allow members to connect and socialize.

Couchsurfing

Couchsurfing is a platform that connects travelers with local hosts, who offer free accommodation and a chance to experience the local culture. It's a great way to meet locals and make friends!

Reddit

Reddit has a large community, and there are several subreddits dedicated to connecting expats and travelers. You can use it to ask questions, get advice, and connect with others who are also living or traveling in the country.

Linkedin

LinkedIn is primarily a professional network, but you can also use it to connect with people who work in the same industry or have similar backgrounds. It can be useful to connect with people before you arrive and establish a few professional contacts to help you get started.

At WhereNext, we use Nomad List as a global community and then research more local ones for our destination. These are just a few examples of online communities you can use to meet people; please suggest any others that you think are appropriate for this destination.

Insurance

Travel insurance can provide financial protection and peace of mind for travellers in the event of unexpected situations or emergencies. It covers a wide range of needs--even some you might not expect!

Medical Coverage

Travel insurance can provide coverage for medical expenses if you become ill or injured while traveling. This can include coverage for doctor visits, hospital stays, and emergency medical transportation. It's also a good idea to ensure that your travel insurance covers COVID-19 related illness and delays!

Trip Cancellation and Interruption

Travel insurance can provide coverage if you need to cancel or interrupt your trip due to unexpected events such as illness, weather, or travel bans. It can also provide coverage if your trip is delayed or if your travel provider goes out of business.

Lost or Stolen Luggage

Travel insurance can provide coverage for lost or stolen luggage, as well as personal items such as passports and electronic devices.

Emergency Assistance and Evacuation

Many travel insurance plans offer emergency assistance services, such as providing information on local hospitals and doctors, assistance with replacing lost or stolen documents, and help with arranging transportation in the event of an emergency. At WhereNext we have partnered with Global Rescue for evacuation services, which are highly recommended if you are undertaking dangerous activities or are travelling to dangerous parts of the world.

Liability coverage

Travel insurance can also provide liability coverage in case you cause an accident or harm someone while you are traveling.

Travel insurance can provide financial protection and peace of mind for travellers in the event of unexpected situations or emergencies. It can help cover the costs of medical expenses, trip cancellations, lost or stolen luggage, and more. It's always a good idea to review the coverage and compare the different options available before making a decision. At WhereNext we both use and have partnered with Safety Wing for general travel insurance.

Entry Requirements

Here are some general travel tips regarding entry requirements that apply across all countries:

Passport

Make sure that your passport is valid for at least six months from the date of your arrival in the country you are visiting. Some countries will not allow you to enter if your passport is set to expire within a certain period of time.

Visa

Check with the embassy or consulate of the country you are visiting to see if you need a visa. Some countries require a visa for entry, while others do not. Make sure to apply for a visa well in advance of your trip as the process can take several weeks. Check the latest Visa requirements and if necessary get an online Visa with our partner iVisa.

Health Requirements and COVID-19 Rules

Check with the embassy or consulate of the country you are visiting to see if there are any health requirements for entry. Some countries require vaccinations or proof of medical insurance. Check the latest health requirements and if necessary get an online Visa with our partner iVisa.

Travel Insurance

Consider purchasing travel insurance, especially if you are traveling internationally. Travel insurance can cover you in the event of trip cancellation, medical emergencies, and other unexpected events. Our travel insurance partner is SafetyWing. For dangerous activities and/or countries consider a rescue service like those offered by our partner, Global Rescue.

Customs

Be familiar with the customs and laws of the country you are visiting. Some countries have strict laws regarding drug possession, alcohol consumption, and dress codes.

Currency

Check the currency exchange rate and make sure you have enough local currency for your trip. Some countries may not accept credit cards or travelers cheques, so it is always good to have some cash on hand. At WhereNext we recommend use a Wise debit card, which provides low cost currency conversions and ATM withdrawals.

Research the country

Research about the culture, customs and laws of the country you are visiting. It will help you to understand the place more and also prepare you better for the trip.

Contact Information

Make a copy of your passport and keep it in a separate place from your passport. Also, leave a copy of your itinerary and contact information with a friend or family member at home.

COVID Status

I am vaccinated 
China Closed
Test
Not required
Quarantine
Not required

Check Visa Requirements

      Things to Do

      China is a country with a rich history and culture, and there are countless things to see and do there. From visiting ancient temples and palaces to exploring bustling cities and natural wonders, there is something for every type of traveler in China. Here are the top 10 things to do in China:

      1. Visit the Great Wall of China

      One of the most iconic and recognizable landmarks in the world, the Great Wall of China is a must-see for any traveler to China. The Great Wall is the longest wall in the world, stretching more than 13,000 miles across China. Visitors can hike along the wall, take a cable car to the top, or even ride a toboggan down.

      2. Explore the Forbidden City

      Located in the heart of Beijing, the Forbidden City was the imperial palace of China's emperors for more than 500 years. Today, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a popular tourist destination. Visitors can explore the palace's courtyards, halls, and gardens, and see ancient artifacts and art.

      3. See the Terracotta Army in Xi'an

      Discovered in 1974, the Terracotta Army is one of China's most famous archaeological sites. The site features thousands of life-size terracotta warriors and horses that were buried with the first emperor of China to protect him in the afterlife.

      4. Visit the Bund in Shanghai

      The Bund is a famous waterfront promenade in Shanghai that offers panoramic views of the city's skyline. Visitors can see the city's modern skyscrapers, including the iconic Shanghai Tower, as well as historical buildings along the promenade.

      5. Explore the Li River in Guilin

      The Li River is one of China's most beautiful natural landscapes, known for its limestone karst peaks and crystal-clear waters. Visitors can take a boat tour along the river to see the peaks and enjoy the scenery.

      6. Visit the Summer Palace in Beijing

      The Summer Palace is a large imperial garden in Beijing that was a favorite retreat for China's emperors. Visitors can explore the palace's lakes, gardens, and temples, and see ancient artifacts and artwork.

      7. See the Giant Pandas in Chengdu

      Chengdu is the home of the giant pandas, and visitors can see these beloved animals at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding. The base is a conservation and research center that also offers opportunities for visitors to interact with the pandas. See our volunteer story on working with Pandas.

      8. Visit the Yellow Mountain in Huangshan

      The Yellow Mountain is one of China's most famous natural landmarks and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visitors can hike to the summit to see the mountain's famous "sea of clouds" and enjoy the views of the surrounding landscape.

      9. Explore the ancient city of Suzhou

      Located in eastern China, Suzhou is known for its well-preserved ancient gardens and traditional architecture. Visitors can explore the city's canals, temples, and gardens, and see examples of Suzhou's famous silk and embroidery.

      10. Take a cruise down the Yangtze River

      The Yangtze River is the longest river in Asia and the third-longest in the world. Taking a cruise down the river is a great way to see China's landscapes and culture, with stops at popular tourist destinations along the way.

      Join logo

      Join our newsletter to stay up to date. No spam, ever!