Checking out China – How to see the most of this huge country in the space of one holiday.
China is one of those countries that most people dream of visiting, simply because it so mysterious and different, but they think it’s too difficult to navigate, there’s too many barriers in the way, or too expensive, and it gets put on the ‘one day’ pile, never to be seen again.
That is a huge mistake, because China has so many fantastic sights to be seen, and these days it’s much easier to explore, if you do your research ahead of time.
Due to the sheer size of the place, in fact if you want to be specific, all 9596,961 square miles, it’s important to know exactly what it is you want to see. It’s no good wandering around aimlessly, hoping to find something good along the way, because you’ll be travelling vast distances of nothingness, with desert and mountain in-between. The Gobi Desert is not a particularly friendly place to visit if you find yourself there without pre-warning! If you’re dreaming of China, consider the following in planning your holidays to China and beyond.
Deciding where you want to go and what you want to see will help you put together an action plan. Once you have a plan, you can find the best way to bridge it all together.
Loop in the cities and remember history
Beijing is a definite must-visit, and obviously the capital. Modern, yet old at the same time, this is where you will find some of the most important monuments of China’s Imperial past, including The Forbidden City, and the Temple of Heaven. Part of the Great Wall of China is here too. A visit to China is not complete without time in Beijing. Shanghai on the other hand, China’s biggest city, doesn’t seem as historic, and more modern as a result, yet still worth a visit.
Xian with the Terracotta Warriors, Chengdu with the giant pandas, Tibet with its misty mountains and Buddhist monks, the Yangtze River … research is everything, but these are the highlights.
Think of your route
Nowadays you will find many companies who offer tours of the main sights in China, which is a more structured way to see the sights, with the help of guides. If this is your first time in China, and maybe if you’re feeling a little nervous, this could be the best way for you to see the country, as you’ll feel safer as a result. If you’re aiming to trek the Great Wall, you can do this for charity, and again, you’ll find companies who will help you do this in safe and structured way.
Trains are undoubtedly the best way to get around China if you’re planning to do it on your own steam. Seat61.com is a good place to head for the most up to date information on trains, and you’ll notice that the Chinese rail service runs like clockwork, leaving bang on time! Trains range from modern, fast services between major cities and towns, to the more long-distance sleeper trains which include sleeping cabins and restaurant cars. Fares are cheap, however quite short-notice in terms of booking, so this isn’t something you can plan too far ahead.
If you’d rather sit back, relax and let someone else do the organizing, you can go with a tour. This way you will find yourself with knowledge at your disposal, without having to find it out for yourself. If however you’re more into flying into the horizon by yourself, then it’s entirely possibly to backpack around China, provided you do plenty of research first.
This post is presented in collaboration with Wendy Wu tours.