Tag: China

Beijing Travel Guide

Beijing Travel Guide

According to Countryaah, Beijing is the capital of China and represents both Chinese modernity and history. Beijing’s countless beautiful and fascinating attractions tell of the incredible history of ancient China.

Examples of Beijing’s most interesting destinations include:

Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City

Beijing

Tiananmen Square is a large square in the center of Beijing, especially commemorated by the 1989 protests. Today, life in the square is less dramatic.

The square is said to be large enough for a gathering place of as many as a million people. People gather in the square in the morning and evening to watch the rise and fall of the Chinese flag. There are several attractions in the square. For example, you can visit the mausoleum of Mao Zedong, where the embalmed body of a former Chinese leader still rests.

To the north of Tiananmen Square is the entrance to the Imperial Palace area, the Forbidden City.

The palace is reminiscent of the heyday of the Ming and Qing dynasties. The Ming and Qing emperors ruled the “Middle Kingdom” from this magnificent monument from 1420 until 1911, when the last dynasty was overthrown.

The palace was intended only for the use of the emperor, his family, and senior officials, and intrusion into the palace area resulted in the death penalty. This is why the palace area got its name “Forbidden City”.

The Forbidden City is one of the best preserved and most beautiful palaces in China. The palace is said to consist of as many as 9999 rooms. The number of rooms was deliberately limited to less than a thousand because there were believed to be a thousand rooms in heaven, and the emperor was feared to run into trouble with the gods if he dared to seek similar glory on earth.

Today, the entrance to the palace grounds is adorned with a portrait of the great President Mao, and the palace itself has been converted into a huge museum where you can see imperial buildings, throne halls and majestic gardens.

The great wall of China

Beijing Great Wall

The Great Wall of China runs north of Beijing and extends from the Yellow Sea in the east over the mountains to the vast Gobi Desert in the west.

The wall, which consists of several different walls of reality, is a unique gem of architecture and is considered one of the most impressive architectural achievements in world history. The Great Wall of China was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.

China’s first emperor Qin Shi Huang united the country in 221 BC. and founded the first dynasty. The separate smaller walls previously built by order of the emperor were merged into a single defensive wall against the northern Mongols. Many later dynasties continued to build the wall for more or less hundreds of years, until during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) the wall took its present form.

Today, the huge wall is largely ruined, but a lot of time and resources have been spent restoring certain sections.

Mutianyu is one of the best preserved parts of the wall. Here, the wall meanders along the mountain ridge, and can be reached either by walking or along the cable car by gondola lift. The scenery from the wall is breathtakingly beautiful.

Beijing parks

Beijing has several beautiful parks and recreation areas that serve as green oases amidst the hustle and bustle of the big city.

One of the most famous is the Temple of Heaven Park in eastern Beijing. The emperor and his court traveled here once a year, e.g. to sacrifice to the God of heaven and to pray for success in the harvest in the temple of heaven. At that time, a poor harvest could mean the extinction of the entire dynasty.

Beihai Park, located west of the Forbidden City, is one of the best-preserved imperial gardens. In the middle of the park on the top of a small hill stands a beautiful white pagoda, which is a symbol of the whole park. Lake Beihai covers a large part of the park area.

To the north of the Forbidden City is the Imperial Jingshan Park. The hill rising in the middle of the park is built entirely of muscle power, and from its top the Imperial Army was once able to keep an eye on enemies coming from the north. Jingshan Hill is the highest point in all of Beijing, and in clear weather offers spectacular views over the Forbidden City from its top.

Beijing’s parks are definitely worth a visit. In the parks you can see local taiji enthusiasts, singers, dancers and mahjong players. In the parks you can see a glimpse especially of the life of the older generation in the city.

Other experiences in Beijing:

Beijing has a huge amount to see and do for many days. Our tours include the following destinations:

  • A short distance outside Beijing is the picturesque, UNESCO-protected Summer Palace, an imperial park on the shores of Kunming Lake. During the Qing Dynasty, Emperor Hovi spent much of the year here. Attractions in the Summer Palace include beautiful temples, gardens and, of course, a lake that freezes in winter so that it is possible to walk on it.
  • The city is fascinating with hutongs that are worth exploring on a rickshaw ride. Hutongs are old blocks with narrow Chinese-style streets and alleys. While many hutongs have disappeared in recent decades, some have been refurbished into trendy shopping streets. One example of these is Nanluoguxian, which is full of charming cafes, bars and small shops selling e.g. clothing and arts and crafts.
  • Beijing offers countless culinary experiences. For example, try Peking duck, which is a local specialty. The tender duck meat with its crispy skins is cut into thin slices on the table and eaten with small pancakes, spring onions and a delicious sauce.
Practical information about China

Practical information about China

  1. China’s climate

According to Countryaah, China is one of the largest countries in the world that start with C, and therefore its climate is very different across the country. Northern China is located in a temperate climate zone, while the southern parts of the country have a subtropical or even tropical climate based on Bridgat.

China generally has the same four seasons as Finland:

  • Spring: March to May
  • Summer: June to August
  • Autumn: September to October
  • Winter: November to February

In practice, the duration of the seasons varies depending on the region.

Beijing:
Beijing is located in a temperate climate zone.

Winters are cold and dry, while summers are humid and warm. There is very little rain in spring and autumn and the temperatures are pleasant. January is the coldest month, and the wettest months are July and August.

Beijing weather statistics: OAK PEARL PAINTING APRIL MAY SUMMER HAY LIFE AUTUMN MUD MARRAS CHRISTMAS
Average. highest temperature 2 4 11 20 26 30 31 30 26 19 10 3
Average. lowest temperature -9 -7 -1 7 13 18 22 20 14 7 0 -7
Precipitation e.g. 3 6 9 26 29 71 176 182 49 19 6 2

Xi’an:
Xi’an is located in a temperate climate zone.

As in Beijing, in Xi’an the winters are cold, dry and occasionally foggy and the summers very warm and humid. Autumn and spring are usually relatively light rainfall, with most rains coming towards the end of summer and early autumn.

Xi’an weather statistics: OAK PEARL PAINTING APRIL MAY SUMMER HAY LIFE AUTUMN MUD MARRAS CHRISTMAS
Average. highest temperature 5 8 13 21 26 30 31 30 25 20 12 6
Average. lowest temperature -4 -2 3 9 14 19 21 20 16 10 3 -3
Precipitation e.g. 10 10 40 40 70 60 100 70 110 60 20 10

Shanghai:
Shanghai is located in a subtropical climate zone.

Winter is dry and cold in Shanghai, but not quite as cold as in Beijing. Although night temperatures often fall below zero, snow rarely rains. In summer, temperatures are very high, and every now and then the mercury pains up to 40 degrees. There are also heavy rainfall during the summer months. Autumn and spring are lightly rainy, respectively, and the temperatures remain at pleasant readings. Note that in the fall, temperatures can fluctuate quickly.

Shanghai weather statistics: OAK PEARL PAINTING APRIL MAY SUMMER HAY LIFE AUTUMN MUD MARRAS CHRISTMAS
Average. highest temperature 8 9 13 19 24 27 32 32 27 22 17 11
Average. lowest temperature 0 2 5 11 16 20 25 25 20 15 9 2
Precipitation e.g. 39 59 81 102 115 152 128 133 156 61 51 35

Chengdu:
Chengdu (Southwest China’s Sichuan Province) is located in a subtropical climate zone.

The climate is mild, and even the coldest months of the year are pleasantly warm here.

The weather is warmest and wettest in summer, especially in July and August, when the air can be even sweaty hot. Winters are not as cold as the rest of the country, but high humidity and fog can make the air feel really colder. Early spring is still cool, but temperatures are constantly rising towards summer. The high temperatures in early autumn, on the other hand, gradually cool as winter approaches. Spring and autumn have in common a variation of weather: there may unexpectedly be a few cooler days between warm days, and vice versa.

Chengdu weather statistics: OAK PEARL PAINTING APRIL MAY SUMMER HAY LIFE AUTUMN MUD MARRAS CHRISTMAS
Average. highest temperature 10 11 15 21 26 28 29 29 25 21 16 11
Average. lowest temperature 3 5 8 12 17 21 22 22 18 15 10 4
Precipitation e.g. 10 20 20 50 100 110 200 190 130 40 20 10

Yangshuo:
Yangshuo (in the province of Guanxi, one of the southernmost in China) is located in a subtropical climate zone.

Yangshuo’s climate is slightly warmer than Shanghai, but correspondingly much wetter. The winter months are the driest, and in winter the temperatures are pleasantly mild. In summer and mostly also in spring it rains a lot and often. Autumn is relatively warm, with little rainfall than in winter.

Yangshuo Weather Statistics: OAK PEARL PAINTING APRIL MAY SUMMER HAY LIFE AUTUMN MUD MARRAS CHRISTMAS
Average. highest temperature 11 14 17 23 28 30 33 33 31 27 21 15
Average. lowest temperature 4 8 11 16 20 23 24 24 21 17 11 6
Precipitation e.g. 53 81 114 224 312 293 200 186 83 85 69 44

Sanya, Hainan Island:

Hainan Province is located in the southernmost part of China.

The beach resort town of Sanya is located here in a tropical climate zone. Hainan, like mainland China, does not have four seasons, instead the year is divided into a dry season and a rainy season.

  • The dry season lasts from about November to May, when the weather is dry and evenly warm
  • The rainy season lasts from about June to October, when the weather is warmer but correspondingly wetter

Typhoons can hit the island from time to time, most often between July and September.

Sanya weather statistics, Hainan Island OAK PEARL PAINTING APRIL MAY SUMMER HAY LIFE AUTUMN MUD MARRAS CHRISTMAS
Average. highest temperature 26 26 28 30 32 32 31 31 31 30 29 27
Average. lowest temperature 17 19 21 23 25 25 25 25 24 22 21 18
Precipitation e.g. 8 13 19 43 142 198 193 222 251 235 58 11
Average seawater temperature 23 23 23 26 29 30 30 29 28 27 27 25
  1. When should you travel to China?

China is a year-round travel destination.

Popular tourist seasons in China are autumn and spring, when the weather is pleasantly warm and rains less frequent than in winter or summer. However, sandstorms can occur, especially during the spring months.

The resort town of Sanya on Hainan Island is warm all year round. If you want to avoid the rains, head to Sanya during the dry season, when the temperatures are pleasant and the rains are low.

  1. Languages

There are several recognized languages ​​in China. The most common of these is Mandarin Chinese, spoken by 70% of Chinese. The Chinese writing system is based on punctuation and is the same for all recognized languages. This means that Chinese can read the same newspapers regardless of whether they live in Beijing, Lijiang or Suzhou.

The Chinese are proud of their language, and it is especially gratifying to hear tourists use local words or sayings. By learning a few simple words like hello (nĭ hăo), thank you (xiè Xie) and goodbye (zài jiàn), you will almost guarantee your Chinese conversation partner to smile.

  1. Passport / visa

Passport:

As a Finnish citizen, you must have a valid Finnish passport. The passport must be valid for at least 6 months after leaving the country.

Please note that you may have problems entering if your passport is reported lost but found again later. In the worst case, entry into the country can be denied altogether. We therefore recommend that you obtain a completely new passport before your trip, if this has happened.

Visa:

Finnish citizens need a visa to China. Tourist visas must be applied for at the Chinese Visa Application Service Center in Helsinki and are valid for 3 months from the date of issue.

You can apply for a visa no earlier than 3 months before departure and no later than 1 month before departure.

Before applying for a visa, we recommend that you go through the application guide carefully step by step.

Please complete the following before starting the application process:

  • Passport
  • A digital passport photo that meets certain requirements.
  • An invitation letter will be sent to you at the same time as your booking confirmation

The visa application is completed online.

The application has 10 parts. You will need e.g. upload your digital passport photo, provide personal information and information related to your education and work, tell us about your previous trips, and provide the license number of our local partner and the addresses of your accommodations. This information can be found in your invitation letter.

Once you have completed the application, you must make an appointment at the Visa Services Center in Helsinki for a personal visit. You can book an appointment here . The address of the center is Salomonkatu 17 B, 3rd floor, 00100 Helsinki, and it is open for visa applications on weekdays from 9:00 to 15:00. Please note that the visa center is closed on Finnish and Chinese public holidays. Read more about opening hours and Chinese holidays here .

Be sure to print your visa application before visiting. In addition to the completed visa application, you will need confirmation of your time, a copy of your passport information and photo page, a physical passport photo (color photo), a copy of your invitation letter and a copy of your flight ticket.

Before you visit, you must also decide whether you want to pick up your completed visa yourself or whether it will be mailed to you. If you choose to send the visa by post, you will also need to bring an envelope with your name, address and tracking number, which has been prepaid.

When you arrive at the visa service center, go to the check-in desk first. You will receive a queuing number from the counter. When your number is dialed, go to the appropriate counter. At this point, it is important that you notify immediately if you wish to receive your visa in the mail and provide the officer with an envelope with your name, address, tracking number, and sufficient stamps. Once you have provided all the necessary documents and answered any questions, you will be fingerprinted if you are 14-70 years old and have not applied for a visa to China in the last five years. You will then receive a queuing number at the payment counter. Payment must be made on the same day you submit your visa application. You can pay either in cash or by card. After payment, you will receive a so-called “pick-up form” which you must bring with you when picking up your visa if you have not requested that the visa be sent by post.

If you are unable to pick up your visa yourself, a family member or friend can pick it up for you. To do this, you must write a power of attorney and give the collector a copy of the receipt required to obtain a visa. The visa collector must also present a photo ID.

When you receive your visa, check that all the information is correct.

Of course, you are always welcome to ask us as well.

  1. Currency

According to Countryaah, the official currency of China is the renminbi (CNY).  You can change money at home before you go or until you arrive. In this case, we recommend that you book US dollars with you in cash and exchange them at an official exchange point upon arrival in China. Credit cards such as Visa, MasterCard and American Express are only accepted as payment methods at hotels, so make sure you always have enough cash with you. There are cash dispensers (ATMs) in all cities where you can withdraw money with international cards. However, they are few and far between, and many vending machines only accept Chinese credit cards. International cards are accepted at ATMs of the following banks: Bank of China, China Merchant’s Bank and ICBC.

  1. Drink money

The provision of gratuities is common and is also expected to some extent. In general, tips are given according to the quality of the service.
Below are the indicative amounts:

  • Piccolo: 1-2 USD per room
  • Cleaner: $ 2 per day
  • Guides: $ 5 – $ 10 per day / person depending on service
  • Drivers: $ 2 – $ 5 per day / person depending on service
  • Drink money is not expected at small local restaurants and street kitchens, but at international restaurants, you can leave a drink at the table, which should be at least $ 1-5, when you leave.

In our gratuity guidelines, amounts are given in U.S. dollars, however, on-site gratuities are paid in local currency.

  1. Time difference

Despite its huge size, China has only one time zone. The time difference between China and Finland varies depending on whether Finland has summer time or winter time.
In summer +5 hours: when the clock is 12 in Finland, in China it is 17. In
winter +6 hours: when it is 12 in Finland, it is 18 in China.

  1. Electricity

In China, the mains voltage is 220 V, and sockets can be found at each output. So book with you an adapter that allows you to charge your mobile phone and camera, etc.

  1. Telephone and internet

According to AllCityCodes, China’s international area code is +86. In China, making and receiving a call can be expensive. Check your mobile phone coverage and prices with your mobile operator.

Larger cities have internet cafes, and most hotels have WiFi. Note that the internet is heavily censored in China, and many Western media services such as Google, Dropbox, Youtube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Vimeo, HBO and Netflix have been blocked. We recommend that you download a VPN service to your smartphone from the App Store or Google Play if you want to continue using your favorite pages during your trip.

The WeChat instant messaging app is a popular option in China, and it has become as important an online service for Chinese people as what Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube are in the West. The WeChat app is used to communicate with friends and co-workers, and the concept of email is slowly starting to lose its foothold in the country. WeChat differs from Facebook, for example, in that the app is linked to a user’s bank account, so it is also possible to pay for purchases with a QR code, which is a kind of barcode.

  1. Security

China is generally a safe country for tourists, and crime against tourists is usually limited to pickpocketing. Being a victim of theft is often avoided by following general caution and using common sense. Avoid using expensive jewelry and keeping large sums of money on display. Always follow the safety instructions in this guide.

  1. Meals and beverages

Chinese food culture is geographically divided into many different cuisines. In northern Beijing, hearty dishes are preferred, and the local specialty is Peking duck. The more southern Guangzhou cuisine, or Cantonese cuisine, favors colorful vegetables and a variety of meats, fish and seafood. Located in the East, Shanghai Cuisine is famous for its delicious fish and seafood dishes. Western Sichuan cuisine, on the other hand, uses a wide variety of strong spices.

In addition to Peking duck, popular dishes include dumplings, which are a Xian specialty, and Kung Pao chicken, which is native to Sichuan. Chinese cuisine is also known for tasty soups and fried noodles, which are seasoned with e.g. eggs, vegetables and meat.

China’s most popular drink is tea. You will soon find that many Chinese carry their own thermos, which they fill on the tea many times during the day.

Interpreting a Chinese restaurant menu can be difficult, as menus are not available in English in nearly all restaurants. Today, however, there are many different translation applications available that can be of great help during your trip. We recommend the Waygo app, which can “read” Chinese menus with your smartphone camera and translate them directly into English – and doesn’t even require an internet connection.

Food is inexpensive in China, and the price of a good meal at a local restaurant is usually from 2 euros upwards. A bottle of water costs about 30 cents, and for a glass of tea, juice or beer you only have to shell out just under or just over 1.4 euros.

  1. Toilet culture

Chinese toilet culture can be an experience in itself. Hotels and large / international restaurants have western toilets, but most public toilets (including trains) are traditional Chinese toilets, which are practically a “hole in the floor” type. There are lockable toilet cubicles in some places, but sometimes you may have to deal with a toilet where there is no door at all. Please note that toilet paper or soap is not always available, so we recommend that you bring toilet paper, wet wipes and hand towels with you.

  1. Your luggage

We use many different airlines on our trips to China, so the amount of baggage allowed can vary for both checked-in suitcases and hand luggage. Baggage information can be found on the flight ticket. You can also contact us if you have any questions about our luggage. If your trip includes an internal flight, the maximum amount of luggage is 20 kg.

Make sure you have all the essentials in your hand luggage. Essential goods include passports, airline tickets, insurance documents, credit cards, money, prescriptions and vital medicines. In addition, you should pack a camera, binoculars, computer and tablet, as well as chargers and adapters in your hand luggage.

Due to the air conditioning, it can get cold on the plane, so pack a warm sweater or windbreaker in your hand luggage.

  1. Airport transfers

When you arrive at the airport in China, you will be greeted by our local representative, who will be identified by a sign bearing your name in the Arrivals Hall. You will also be transported to the airport on the day of departure. The departure time of the shipment on the day of departure will be notified to you upon arrival in China.

  1. Etiquette and cultural differences

Experiencing cultural and etiquette differences is one of the pleasures of traveling, and it is important to respect these differences. The saying goes “in the country the way of the country,” and that’s why we’ve put together tips and tricks to help you get the most out of your trip to China.

  • If you’re angry, don’t let it show up. Showing irritation or frustration by shouting or rude behavior is extremely bad and degrading behavior, and it never results in any good.
  • Handshakes are rare, and instead are greeted with a little bow.
  • Always use either hand or just the right hand when handing something to the other or when you are being handed something. Never use only the left hand.

Practical information about China