China occupies a part of the world that has remained civilized for almost 5,000 years and in fact considers itself the center of the world. China has had a great impact on an international level in the arts as well as in culture and science. The country remains a place full of mystery and a storehouse of cultural and archaeological treasures. Its geography is extensive and its climates extreme, while its topography is rich in landscapes, which vary from the peaks of the Himalayas to dramatic gorges and huge desert regions.
China is the third largest country in size and the first in terms of total population in the world. Its origins as a country with primitive roots in international trade and exploration, to become a closed society, continue to evolve to open again to trade and tourism with the world. Every year, a growing number of travelers consider China as one of the main tourist destinations and its hotel and tourist infrastructure continues to grow to meet this demand.
There is so much to see and do in China that travelers are unlikely to feel bored during their stay. Its gastronomic offer is also impressive: from the very spicy cuisine of Sichuan to the delicious seafood of the coastal areas and the Muslim specialties of the western regions. The variety of attractions you can visit is equally astounding: from the Great Wall to the Forbidden City, plus the bustle of Shanghai and the surprises hidden along winding rivers.
The Chinese history goes back to 4,000 or 5,000 years, generally characterized by the presence of dynasties until the most recent times. The first dynasty, the Xia dynasty, took place approximately in the years 2200-1700 BC, and has been described mainly by legends as a time when sovereigns were divine and granted the gift of life and knowledge to their subjects.
The Zhou period is the next dynasty that has been recorded, which took place between 1100-221 BC. It was during this time that Confucianism arose, in addition to the “divine mandate”, which justified the right to govern by the morally just and upright – who were favored by the heavens. It was believed that the heavens expressed their disapproval through natural disasters and a direct result of the mandate of the unjust. During the Qin Dynasty (221-207 BC), the Chinese population was truly united for the first time. During this time the construction of the Great Wall was completed and the writing system was standardized.
-The conflicts occurred in the years of the Han Dynasty, which had a short duration of the years 206-220 BC. There were a lot of military conflicts that resulted in the division of the country into three kingdoms. As an interesting note, it was during this time that Buddhism and the arts began to flourish.
-The unit was restored once again during the Sui dynasty, in the years 589-618 AD. This union was completely achieved during the Tang Dynasty, in the years 618-908 AD. At present, this period is still considered one of the most glorious in the history of China. It was necessary to make military conquests so that the Chinese regained control of the silk routes, which resulted in an unprecedented international presence in the history of the country.
-The Confucianism had a rebirth during the years of the Song Dynasty (960-1279) and the trade acquired an even greater importance. Marco Polo commented on the impressive prosperity of China in the 13th century. Genghis Khan’s grandson, Kublai Khan, led the Yuan dynasty (1271-1368) and established the capital in Beijing, with a strong military administration. This was succeeded by the Ming Dynasty, established by the Buddhist novice Hongwu. The Ming Dynasty began in 1368 and lasted until 1644, at the time when Beijing and Nanjing were the capitals.
-The first Europeans to reach China were the Portuguese in 1516, who established a trade mission in Macao. However, it was not until two centuries later that other European powers became entrenched in trade with China, which took place in Guangzhou. The trade balance is in favor of China, as Europeans bought more Chinese goods, such as tea and silk, than the Chinese European products.
The British were the first to take action on the issue to correct the trade balance by officially promoting the sale of opium in 1773. China suffered humiliating defeats in the Opium Wars about 70 years later, which resulted in Hong’s concession Kong to the British. Other Western powers came to China, each creating its own domain on Chinese soil. Eventually, China yielded to the proposal of a commercial policy of “open doors” with the United States, which put an end to the Chinese colonial possessions.
Chaos reigned during the first half of the 20th century. Intellectuals were looking for a replacement for Confucianism and military leaders sought, on the other hand, imperial power. The Kuomintang, or Nationalist Party, led by Sun Yatsen, established a military base in southern China; while the Chinese Communist Party was formed in 1921 in Shanghai. All hope of unification by both parties was lost after the death of Sun Yatsen and Chiang Kaishek became the leader of the Nationalist Party, which was in favor of the capitalist system maintained by the military-type dictatorship.
-Under the leadership of Mao Tse-Tung, the Communists established a military guerrilla composed of about 40,000 soldiers in 1930, a number that was greatly increased by the peasants who joined during Mao’s Great March in 1934. During this time of social tensions, the Japanese took advantage of the country’s internal chaos and invaded Manchuria in 1931. By 1939 they had seized most of the eastern provinces of China. After the end of World War II, the country was in the midst of a civil war and, eventually, on October 1, 1949, Mao Tse-Tung declared the establishment of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and Chiang Kai-shek fled the country to form its own government in Taiwan.
In recent years, after the return of Hong Kong by the British and Macao by the Portuguese, the Chinese system of “one country, two systems” is in process. The forces of the free market can operate in these two Special Administrative Regions (RAS), but in other parts of the country the economy has a stricter control.
-China experiences all extreme climates. In the northern part of the country, the winter months, from December to March, are typically very cold. In Beijing, for example, temperatures are rarely higher than 0 ° C. As it advances to the northern region of the Great Wall and in Inner Mongolia, the temperatures are even colder, and can even drop to -40 ° C.
In contrast, the summer months in Beijing and other parts of the northern region can be suffocating with temperatures above 38 ° C. Spring and autumn are undoubtedly the best seasons to visit the attractions of northern China, as temperatures Daytime temperatures are usually in the 20-30 ° C range. However, nighttime temperatures may seem a little cold.
In southern China, the weather is usually hot and humid from April to September, particularly around Guangzhou. The rains can be abundant from July to September and there may be typhoons throughout the southeast of the country. The winters here are short and last from January to March, but they are not as cold as in the north. The months of spring and autumn are also the best to visit this area, with daytime temperatures that range between 20-25 ° C. If you visit the south or north during these months, it is a good idea to bring warm clothes, as the Nights can be a bit cool.
The central regions of China are typically hot and humid during the summer and, in fact, the provinces of Chongqing, Nanjing and Wuhan are the warmest of all, with temperatures that are usually above 40 ° C. In this area, the summers extend from April to October. Winters are short, but they can be a bit cold. Once again, the best time to visit the provinces of the center is during the spring and autumn.
TIPS FOR TRAVELING TO CHINA
You have to start by noticing that extreme temperatures can be tolerated in a matter of hours depending on the tourist routes of a country that is immense and enjoys (or suffers) a very varied climate … For the luggage then, little (you have to move usually a lot) and varied, it is the best advice.
Unless you want to make your trip to China one of your adventure trips, our recommendation is that you resort to travel offers organized with experienced agents who know how to navigate the institutional, political and bureaucratic complexity of this country. Remember that you will not always find people who speak English or who can be understood in a known language. This represents a great difficulty when it comes to moving on your own or autonomously in this country.
Shopping … Tour guides become a fundamental piece to travel to China. If there is luck, they can improve the trip. One can follow his advice for purchases of silk, pearls, enamels … But they can also be a factor of distortion and expense not very productive or advantageous. In view of the typical purchases mentioned, it should be noted that the Chinese are magnificent commercials and very skilled.
The circuit has its own rules and here the tour guides also play a relevant role … This is valid not only for purchases, but for specific visits and things like currency exchange or other services. All information is small, we recommend gathering information about destinations and tourist sites.
A reasonable minimum trip is about 10-12 days. Although a huge country like China would allow travel for months, without repeating landscapes or places. The tour packages already include the most attractive sites that can be covered during a trip of the aforementioned duration. Cities such as Beijing, Sanghai, Xian, Hagzhou, etc. And of course the Wall of China and everything that is put ahead.
A country so immense and of contrasts so intense in its temperatures allows to enjoy in different seasons of the year. However, three very good months to travel to China for the most popular conventional routes is during the months of April, May and June.
Chinese cuisine is one of the best in the world and you have to take advantage of it to enjoy it and delve into many of its specialties. We do not recommend the option of getting carried away by the guides, unless they have shown you that they can be trusted creditors. Another alternative option is to resort to the restaurants of the big hotels, which are generally excellent and collect a good gastronomic repertoire adjusted to what a trip can provide us.
Your culture, your history and your politics. To understand China, it is important to familiarize yourself with the trip beforehand with its geography, culture, history and current reality. This way you will get much more out of the trip.
China is a huge country. Where to start? What is worth visiting? Here is an emergency list of the most interesting places and things in China:
- The Forbidden City (Beijing, Beijing) or Palace Museum is located in the center of Beijing, north of the famous Tiananmen Square. It is about the imperial city, the Ming and Qing dynasty from 1420 to 1912, the date on which the last emperor, Pu Yi, abdicated. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1987.
- The Great Wall of China. It crosses China with an extension of about 6,700 km. The last stage of construction dates from the Ming dynasty in 1368, although its construction began more than two thousand years ago.
- Terracotta Warriors. Discovered casually in 1974 near Xi’an, Shaanxi province. Since 1987 they have been considered a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Buried in the year 210 a. c. in the mausoleum of the Emperor Qin. Two thousand life-size figures with unique faces, military graduations and other details. The army consists of more than 7,000 life-size figures of warriors and terracotta horses, who were buried with the self-proclaimed first emperor of China.
- Yangshuo: mountains carst. Some original and incredible reliefs originated by chemical weathering of certain rocks composed of water soluble minerals. Found in southern China, in Guangxi province, its best landscape view is from Yangshuo, a small town just outside of Guilin, the main city of Guangxi province.
- The dam of the three gorges of the Yangtze River. In the third longest river in the world, the largest hydroelectric project in China that is, at the same time, one of the most monumental in the world. The dam is an impressive construction: the longest in the world and offers a breathtaking view of the Yangtze River boat.
- Jiuzhaigou. The Jiuzhaigou Valley is a natural park located in Sichuan province. An example of the landscape variety of China. Jiuzhaigou is famous for its crystal clear blue waters of its lakes, waterfalls, waterfalls, fountains. It is populated by a number of small Tibetan villages where it is possible to appreciate the Tibetan culture.
- Polata Palace. It is now a museum, although historically it was the headquarters of the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of the Tibetan Buddhists. Famous for its imposing white walls that surround the interior of the red palace and located at 3,700 meters high. It is located in Lhasa, the capital of the Tibetan Autonomous Region.
- Bund – Shanghai. The most powerful business district and financial center of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries is located with the most emblematic buildings of the European colonial period. In it were located the main banks of European countries. Altogether they are 52 buildings of styles that go from the classic one to the Renaissance one. An illustrative building is that of the HSBC built in 1923 and that was said at that time to be the most luxurious building ever built between the Suez Canal and the Bering Strait.
- Giant pandas. Three hours from the outskirts of Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province in the Wolong Nature Reserve, is the largest reserve of pandas in China in an attempt to guarantee its survival. Tourists can observe the pandas in their natural habitat.
- Hong Kong. Modern China offers other perspectives by walking through Kowloon and observing the most beautiful architecture in China, dominating the buildings like the Bank of China tower designed I.M. Pei
Hay algunos eventos especiales a lo largo del año que quizás merezcan una especial atención e interés. Señalamos algunas de estas fiestas:
- Día Internacional del Trabajo. Una semana festiva en torno a esta celebración del primero de mayo.
- Año nuevo chino. Una forma a diferente de celebrar la llegada de un año nuevo.
- Hielo Harbin y el Festival de la nieve.
- Día Nacional de la República China (1 de octubre)
- Festival de medio otoño: celebración de la cosecha de la luna
There are some special events throughout the year that may deserve special attention and interest. We point out some of these parties:
- International work day. A festive week around this celebration of May Day.
- Chinese New Year. A different way to celebrate the arrival of a new year.
- Ice Harbin and the Snow Festival.
- National Day of the Republic of China (October 1)
- Mid-autumn festival: celebration of the harvest of the moon
Banks: 09:00 to 16: 00/17: 00, Monday to Friday
Department stores and Other stores: 09:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., daily
Offices: 08:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday to Friday
Because punishments of criminals are severe, tourists are unlikely to be victims of a crime. However, thefts of bags and purses can occur, although occasions are few and generally limited to busy places and at night. Tourists, in general, will feel safe walking alone on the street, even at night, but it is recommended that you leave your valuables, cash and credit cards in your hotel safe.
Resellers generally frequent areas where tourists are concentrated and offer excursion guide services or transportation to an attraction or other sites. It is advisable to avoid temptation and get away from them, as it is almost certain that the transport or the excursion is more expensive than the offer you negotiated.
Electricity: 220V AC, 50Hz. Narrow bipolar plugs are the most common, but there may be variations.
Travelers visiting China who have also visited an area infected with yellow fever less than a year before must show evidence of having been vaccinated against the disease. In addition, it is highly recommended that travelers receive vaccines against cholera and hepatitis A and B. Hygiene standards are usually high in most Chinese cities, so the risk of contracting an infectious disease is low. If you require medical treatment during your visit, most of the best hotels have a doctor or staff that can treat minor ailments.
It is advisable to avoid eating raw or uncooked foods, as it can result in intoxication, as well as avoid drinking tap water. It is recommended to take antidiarrheal medicines and tablets to treat discomforts of the digestive system. Almost all cities in the country offer immediate response to emergencies, although the same can not be said for rural areas. It is recommended to contact a hospital directly if necessary. Beijing United Family Hospital: +86 10 6433 3960/1/2/4/5 (number in service 24 hours). Emergency services: 120 (Beijing).
The Standard Chinese Mandarin, also known as Putonghua, is the official language and spoken by more than 70 percent of the population. There is also a number of regional dialects. Mandarin is the language of instruction in schools. The dialects that possibly during your visit are the Cantonese, the dialect of Shanghai and others.
While the yuan is strictly controlled and can not be changed outside of China, it is possible to do so within the country. Foreign currency and traveler’s checks can be exchanged for yuan at the Bank of China branches. A record is made for all transactions and you will be asked to show a receipt for the amount you initially changed if you want to change the yuan you did not use at the end of your trip. In general, state-owned stores and many tourist hotels accept the main Western foreign currencies for some purchases. Payments with credit cards are limited to luxury stores, hotels and restaurants in the main cities. ATMs are found in airports, main hotels and shopping centers.
Travelers visiting China will be able to bring up to 400 cigarettes and two bottles of alcoholic beverages (with a maximum of 0.75 each) free of taxes. It is also possible to bring a reasonable amount of perfume for personal use without having to pay taxes. Among the items that can not be entered into the country are: weapons, ammunition and printed materials that may be considered offensive. The list also includes fresh products and radio receivers and transmitters. There are restrictions on the import and export of antiquities and publications prohibited in China. It is important to declare all your valuables at the time of entering the country.
Chinese surnames are written before the names. Generally, travelers are registered in the hotels under their given name, unless they have clarified their surname by underlining it at the time of making their check-in at the hotel. When addressing a Chinese person, the surname and title should be used.
Hand grips are common in the country, although generally these last less than in the West. When engaging in a conversation, it is common for the participants in it to be very close physically to each other, even more so than in the West, which may make some travelers feel uncomfortable. Some find some Chinese as very formal and sometimes not very polite from a Western point of view.
Casual attire rather conservative is acceptable in almost the entire country, but the revealing clothing is not considered appropriate and may be offensive. It is recommended that travelers avoid expressing political or religious opinions, as they can make people feel uncomfortable.
When you are invited to dine with a Chinese host, you must wait until your seat is indicated and wait for your host to indicate that they can start eating. It is important to mention that the chopsticks should not be placed upright in the rice dish at the end, as this symbolizes death. It is common to make a toast at the beginning of the meal and even during the development of it. It is traditional to offer a gift to your host if the lunch or dinner takes place in your home, which can be a souvenir of your country of origin or fruit or desserts.
Usually, tips are not expected, although this practice is becoming increasingly popular and is suitable for tour guides, drivers, waiters of the best restaurants and staff of tourist hotels. In some of the main establishments a charge of 10 percent is usually added to the account.
All travelers visiting China, regardless of their nationality, must obtain a tourist or business visa, depending on the purpose of their trip. Although different types of visas are issued, the two most common are those of one entry and multiple entries. The entry visa is valid for up to three months from the date it is issued and allows entry to the country only once; while the multi-entry ticket allows unlimited access to the country – including travel between Mainland China and Hong Kong – only during the period specified in the visa.
Regardless of the type of visa you request, all passports must be valid for at least six months from the scheduled date of your visit and also have two blank pages for the visa and the entry stamps. It is recommended to bring a couple of passport-size photos with you during your trip.
The National Tourism Administration of China (ANTC) is regulated by the government and is in charge of developing and promoting the tourism industry in China. This entity offers information on tourist destinations in the country and assistance with travel planning. They can be contacted in Beijing by telephone at +86 10 6520 1114.