Travel Tips For Successful Trips to China

by Joe

Word 4 Asia has extensive experience arranging and leading group trips into China.  With all our experience in this area, we’ve amassed quite a list of useful travel tips on how to have the most enjoyable travel experience there.  Since we recently blogged about the experiences our Chinese counterparts have had traveling in our own fair country, we thought we’d share some of our favorite travel tips to those of you who may be planning your own trip to this exotic, and fascinating destination.  Bon Voyage!

Must See Sites

The Great Wall of China

If you are planning  your first trip to China, there are four “must see” destinations we recommend for you.  These include:  Beijing, Shanghai, Xi’an and Guilin.

Beijing is China’s capital city and here you can climb the Great Wall, one of the ‘eight wonders of the world’ and the only man-made feature visible from space.  No trip to Beijing is complete without taking in the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven or the Summer Palace.

Shanghai is the largest city in China and is a great example of China’s modern architecture.  There are also many historical sites there including Jing’an Temple, take the Huangpu River Cruise and ride an elevator to the top of the Pearl Tower, one of the tallest television towers in Asia and the world.  Also, don’t miss the Yuyuan Garden!

Xi’an is the birthplace of Chinese culture.  Rich in history and ancient architecture, visitors can see the Ancient City Wall, the Terracotta Soldier Tomb site (not Army) and Mount Hua.

Guilin is home to one of the world’s great national parks, the Li River Scenic Area.  It is resplendent in its graeful watery wonders with karsts, limestone cones, cylinders and hills, plus the unique multiple minority ethnic features and cultural sites. Giulin also has the magnificent Longji Rice Terraces.

Best Times of Year to Travel

Jiuzhaigou Scenic Area

If your schedule allows you to choose the time of year you might be able to travel to China, we would recommend going in either the Spring or Fall.  China’s summers can be extremely hot and humid and their winters are likewise very cold in the Northern regions.  On the other hand, we’ve arranged many pleasant trips to China in the March through May and September through November periods.

We highly recommend visiting regions south of the Yangtze River in March.  The spring flowers appear and the weather, although a little drizzly, make Shanghai, Yangzhou, Suzhou and Hangzhou beautiful and totally worth the visit.

Guilin, Xi’an and the Yellow Mountains are wonderful to visit in April.  It’s a time of blossoms, such as the peach blossoms which appear in Guilin during April.  Likewise, while you’re in the area, you’ll enjoy the karst landforms along the Li River which are naturally decked out in new shades of green from the rain.

In May, the Yunnan Province is a place where you can retrace ancient life, enjoy clean blue skies, visit mysterious Tibetan monasteries and take in the beauty of azaleas or the massive snow-capped mountains!

They grow delicious, mouth-watering melons and fruits in Xinjiang and these are at ripe perfection in September.

An October visit to the Jiuzhaigou Scenic Area is a memorable treat.  In October, its decorated with colorful trees whose leaves have turned golden, red, blackish green and yellow.  These stunning trees reflect off of the light blue pools there.  Breath taking!

If you’re in China in November, you should really visit Guizhou and be sure to stop in one of the Miao villages to experience their colorful customs and participate in the Lusheng Festival.

Visas

Tourist Visa to China

Visitors to China do require travel visas.  There are four different types; an F visa is used by business travelers.  Students require an X visa, tourists will require an L visa and crews of international airplanes, trains and ships must carry a C visa.  Likewise, there are three different types of entry/ re-entry privileges associated with each type of visa; single entry, double entry and multiple entry.  This last type of visa allows visitors to come and go at will during the life of their visa.  Visas extend from six months to as long as one year before their expiration.  It normally requires four days to process a tourist visa request and a there is a $140 processing fee.  Travelers to China should register with the US State Department before their trip in order to alert the local embassies that they are traveling in China.  On registering, you will receive a list of the US embassy or mission closest to your destination.

 

Language Barriers

Many Chinese citizens, especially in the urban centers, learn English as part of their education.  By speaking clearly and slowly, you should be able to conduct simple, basic communication.  However, for a successful trip, its also a good idea to equip yourself with these ten essential Chinese phrases.

How are you?

Chinese: Nǐ hǎo ma? (Nee-haoww-mah?) 你好

This literally means “You good?” (nǐ = you, hǎo = good, ma = ?). It can also mean “Are you ok?”

“Nǐhǎo” (no ‘ma’) is also common.  It typically means something like ‘It’s you — good.” or “Nice to see you.” It’s the most basic and standard Chinese greeting.

Wèi  (way) , mostly used on the ‘phone, is the closest Chinese to “hello” or “hi ”

 

Good or bad?

Chinese: Hǎobùhǎo? (haoww-boo-haoww)  好不好

Hǎo means ‘good’. Hǎo also means “ok”.

Bùhǎo means ‘not good’. (“Bu” means ‘no’ or ‘not’.) Chinese speakers use “hǎo” and “buhao” to say something is good or bad, and to signal agreement or disagreement.

Combining “hǎo” and “bùhǎo” gives “Hǎobùhǎo?”, which is a question. It means ‘Good or not good?’ or ‘Is it ok?’ After this or “Nǐ hǎo ma?” you can reply “hǎo” or “bùhǎo”.

 

Do you have …?

Chinese: Yǒuméiyǒu …? (Yoh-may-yoh) 有没有 …?

Yǒu means ‘have’, and méiyǒu means “to not have”. The word méi means lack. So the phrase “yǒuméiyǒu …” literally means “have or not have …?”

 

How much money?

Chinese: Duōshao qián? 多少 (Dwor-sshaoww chyen?)

The phrase “duōshao?” is composed of the words duō (much) and shǎo (few), and means “how much?” or “how many?” Qián means ‘money’.

 

Where is …?

Chinese: … zài nǎlǐ? (… dzeye naa-lee?) …在哪里

The three words are: zài (on or in), nǎ (where or which), and lǐ (inside or very roughly the word “place”). Put the name of the place or object you want to find before zài nǎlǐ.

 

I want to go to …

Chinese: Wǒ xiǎng qù… (Wor sshyang chyoo …) 我想去 …

The three words are: wǒ (I), xiǎng (want), and qù (to go). Then add the name of the place. This is useful for buying train tickets, taking a taxi, etc.

 

Bathroom

Chinese: Cèsuǒ. (tser-swor) 厕所

“Cè” means ‘toilet’. “Suǒ” means ‘place’.

 

Thank you

Chinese: Xièxie. (sshyeah-sshyeah)  

 

I’m sorry.

Chinese: Duìbuqǐ. (dway-boo-chee) 对不起

This phrase can be used both to apologize and to ask for repetition. It literally means “I didn’t begin correctly.” or “You’re right, that isn’t upright.”

 

What is that?

Chinese: Zhè shì shénme? (Jer shrr shnn-muh?) 这是什么?

This is a good way to both indicate your interest in an item and to learn a lot of new words.

The three important words are: Zhè (this), shì (is), and shénme (what). Combined with pointing, “Zhè shì shénme?” can be used to find out what things are called.

 

Whatever time of year you choose to visit China, having a trusted and experienced partner can make your trip  more successful.  Word 4 Asia has been conducting trips to China for large and small groups alike with great success.  We have an extensive network of China-based partners across mainland China, are experts in Chinese culture, have native language experts on staff and are ready to assist.   If you are interested in learning more about how Word 4 Asia can help your group make the most of your China plans, please contact us at gene@word4asia.com.

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