Geography: China is located in Asia, along the coast of the Pacific Ocean. It is the world's third largest country (after Russia and Canada). The country has great physical diversity and is borders the most countries of any country in the world: Russia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakstan, Mongolia, Korea, Vietnam, Myanmar, Laos, India, Bhutan, Nepal.
Notable topography: Due to its enormity, China has almost every conceivable type of topography: plateaus, basins, mountains and foothills. Much of the Tibetan Plateau has an altitude of well over 13,000 feet. The Yangtze River is the longest river in Asia.
Climate: Similar to its topography, the climate varies greatly. The north has winters with snow and the south of China is sub-tropical. Most travel experts suggest the best months to travel anywhere in China, despite the changes in climate, are the spring and fall.
Population: 1.4 billion
Official Language: Mandarin
Religion: There is no official religion, but the Communist Party recognizes the following five religions: Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholicism and Protestantism. Buddhism is practiced by the largest number of people in China (18%).
Politics: The People's Republic of China (the official name of the country) is a socialist republic run by a single party, the Communist Party of China. The Party maintains a monopoly on power and is intolerant of those who question its power.
Food: The food in China is just as varied as the geography and climate. Here are some of the notable provinces and food:
Sichuan Province has some of the spiciest food in China.
Xian is known for its dumplings and hand-pulled noodles.
Shanghai is home to soup dumplings which may be found at most restaurants from tiny take-out dives to the nicest establishments. One of our favorites is Din Tai Fung.
Places to Visit: Here are a few of the many places to visit in China. There are so many incredible, off the beaten path locales, but we cannot print them all here. Please contact Chow Fun Tours for suggestions.
Beijing: Beijing is the political and historical center of the country. The Great Wall has several places on which to enter and walk, all within two hours of the city. The farther you go from the city, the fewer the tourists and the greater the serenity. Visit the Forbidden City, where over 20 emperors lived and ruled, and Tiananmen Square, one of the largest public squares in the world. Beijing has Panjiayuan dirt market and 798 contemporary Art Zone. Beijing is greener than most travelers expect, with large green spaces and parks in every neighborhood.
Shanghai/Hangzhou/Suzhou: Shanghai is China's largest city and financial hub. The Huangpu River flows through the city, with the Bund on the west and the newer modern city on the east. Enjoy an evening boat ride on the river to witness the lights of the city. Visit the famous Yu Garden and Old Shanghai; meander through the many and varied neighborhoods. Hangzhou and Suzhou, each within two hours train ride from Shanghai, are two of the most beautiful towns in the country. Suzhou is called the "Venice of the East" and Hangzhou's West Lake and gardens have inspired poets, musicians and artists for thousands of years.
Xian: Xian is home to the Terracotta Warriors and Horses. These sculptures were buried with the tomb of Emperor Qin Shihuang in order to protect him in the afterlife. Although made over 2,000 years ago, they were discovered until the 1970's by a farmer digging a well. Other sites not to miss in Xian are the Muslim Quarter, the Great Mosque and the city wall, the largest intact city wall in China. The Tangbo Gallery offers free calligraphy lessons to patrons.
Guilin area: The Guilin area is one of the most beautiful in China. The karst peaks that dot the countryside and line the rivers are the inspiration for most Chinese landscape paintings. One of the top attractions is the Li River boat ride, during which travelers witness the beauty of the landscape. The ride ends in Yangshuo, a quaint town with lots of shops and cafes. The Longsheng rice terraces are not too far from Guilin and another source of unimaginable beauty. There are several small hotels in the rice terrace villages.
Chengdu/Sichuan Province: Chengdu is home to several panda research bases so visiting one of the bases is a must-do when in the Chengdu area. In addition to the pandas, most travelers enjoy Chengdu's parks, monasteries and temples. However, there is so much more to Sichuan Province and the Tibetan Plateau. Visit one of the beautiful mountains: Emei and its monkeys, Qingcheng and its Taoist serenity, or one of the six other mountains. There are several serene rural Buddhist monasteries to visit and possible nomadic family visits to encounter.
Vaccinations: There are no required vaccinations for China, but most travel experts highly recommend the Hepatitis A vaccination. Depending on where and when you are traveling, other vaccinations may be recommended, such as typhoid and Japanese Encephalitis.
Requirements for Entry:
Passport: A valid passport is required for entry and it must not expire within six months of your RETURN from China.
Visa: You must get a visa, issued by the Chinese embassy or consulate in the US, PRIOR to leaving the US. Getting the visa often takes a week or two if you go in person. Chow Fun Tours can procure visas for you. Contact us if you would like assistance.
Suggestions for Travel:
Pack light: Depending on your itinerary, you might be switching hotels every few days, bringing luggage in and out of ground, train and air transportation. Bring detergent to wash clothes in the sink and/or use hotel laundry service.
Clothing suggestions: Plan on packing layers of clothing for variable weather conditions. Dress is casually and comfortably
Things to know:
Cell service/Wifi: Most hotels in China have wifi and cell data works well almost everywhere. Contact your cell service provider to find out about data plans during your international travel experience.
Air conditioning: Most hotels in China have AC.
Adaptors: NO adaptors are necessary in China. Our plugs will fit into their outlets. This is true for all of China, but NOT Hong Kong. If you are traveling to HK, make sure to bring the correct adaptors.
Lauren Drazen Owner and Operator firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 860-833-2106