China Travel Tips

Category:

Timing

  1. When to go?- China is a year-round destination, the months of May, September, and October are ideal months for travel anywhere in the country. In the north, the winters are cold, and summers are warm, with moist monsoon air streams making it hot (80% of China's rainfall occurs between late May and early October, mostly in the Southern regions). June through August is a good time to visit central and northern China. Spring and autumn are the best months for travel in Southern China. The months of March and April are the lower-priced shoulder season; while the lowest price, off-season travel, is from November through the winter months. This is when adventuresome travellers are rewarded with unbelievably low prices and far fewer fellow tourists.Best time to travel in China is May, September, October.

  2. Time to Avoid - The Golden Weeks of May 1~7 and Oct 1~7 are national holidays in China, in addition to the Chinese Lunar New Year (in Gregorian calendar, the date varies every year, but it’s between Jan. & Mar.), should be avoided if possible. As all the Chinese people have holidays then, they tend to travel to all the popular locations, so all these places will be packed with people. Avoid traveling to China at these times if you have a choice.

  3. Ideal duration - It is our considered recommendation that a month is the minimum amount of time for a worthwhile travel break. It sometimes takes up to a week to recover from jet lag, so you need this length of time to recoup and enjoy the remaining weeks. So take a month and enjoy it.

  4. Traffic rush hours - In China's big cities, such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen, the traffic is crazy during rush hours due to the mass movement of large populations. Travelers are advised to avoid the peak hours between 7-9am and 5:30-7:30pm. This will make for an easier and more pleasant journey.


Safety & Health

  • Robber / Thief / Pickpocket - Look after your belongings carefully. Try to avoid seats close to the door when taking a bus, robbers usually target on passengers whose location is convenient for them to run away. Thieves and pickpockets favor those crowded places, such as market, bus stations, squares. A waist pack is highly recommended  when walking to these sites.

  • Beggar - There are beggars everywhere in China, but most are either manipulated by somebody behind or just want to reap without sow. If you want to give out some money, make sure you have change somewhere easy to reach.

  • Water - In China, tap water is considered quite hard and needs to be boiled before drinking. Therefore, Tap water at most hotels in China is not drinkable unless you see a "drinkable" mark. Inquire with hotel staff members when you check in. If you are unsure it is recommended you drink bottled water only or cool boiled water offered by hotels, or boil some water by yourself in the room.

  • Trek safely - Don't  trek alone in mountainous areas. Join a group, even you don't understand each other. Outdoor enthusiasts are very open to make new friends.
  • Company - Select your tour guides or travel mates very carefully if you need to.

Misc.

  • Practicality - don't count on practical info. retrieved from guidebooks or websites so much, bearing in mind that vehicle schedule and price change seasonably. Also, regular price adjustment is carried out every year. For more accurate info., suggest you post a question in our forum.

  • Bargain - It's always worth asking for discount in China.  As a tourist, every vendor is going to try to make you overpay. To get a good idea of accurate pricing, pick an item that you want, and is common to many stalls. Call an absurdly low price (like 1-5% of the calling price) for it. When they say "No. Are you crazy?", look at the item a bit longer, and start to leave. They will call out progressively lower and lower prices for the item, the farther you get from them. Remember the lowest price they call out (they may even accept your "absurdly low" price). Go to the next stall, and repeat, with a price that is about 50-75% of the previous lowest. Eventually, you will find a fair price. You can obtain obscenely low prices this way, but don't abuse your bargaining power! Many people depend on making decent margins off of tourists to survive. It never hurts to pay a little more than the lowest price, and it might make all the difference to a poor merchant whose monthly rent or food costs may be little more than your purchase price.

    The Bible is  "Bargain, Bargain and Bargain"! Language is not a must, calculators are usually at hand to bridge the language barrier, or you can use your fingers and toes.

  • Shopping - We suggest you not shop in touristy areas, where goods are very expensive, especially for foreigners. You may find the same products much cheaper in the markets, or outside of the main attractions.  

Hotels

How to find acceptable accommodation in small cities and towns:  

  • Look for those newly opened hotels. Observe if the building and its windows look new.
  • No need to go to down town. Private hotels frequented by small businessmen near bus stations offer pleasant double rooms with hot shower and toilet at a very reasonable price. (Y40-Y80 per room depending on the region).
  • Always check the room to make sure that : 1) the flush toilet works; 2) there is hot water if the hotel claimed 24hour hot water availability; 3) sheets and covers are clean; ask the hotel staff to change them if otherwise.
  • Talk to fellow travellers on the route who can give fresh information on the places you plan to go.
  • Search the web, reliable information is dated less than half a year.

Source: Chinabackpacker.com


Essential Gears

The biggest mistake the new independent traveler ever makes is taking too much. Trying to be prepared for everything you will encounter in an extended period away, will mean that you have too much in your pack and are not prepared for the everyday reality of travel, when you have to carry that pack. Even if you are strong, a heavy pack will dig into your shoulders causing pain and backache a lot faster than you might imagine.

15Kg (33lbs) should be your maximum. Now that said, some people will of necessity carry more. The photographer, musician, or diving instructor will often take extra heavy but essential equipment. That's a decision for them and no doubt there will be days when the extra weight is quietly cursed.

Essentials:  

  1. Backpack or suitcase
  2. Clothing;(Hot/Normal Destination)
  3. Wind and waterproof jacket - try to get one of good breathability.
  4. Fleece, designed for under the jacket when cold and wet, or used on its own when just cold.
  5. 2x Lightweight shirts/blouses - long sleeves - for warm nights with mosquitoes about, and which can double up as slightly smarter wear.
  6. 2x Light weight travel trousers, long legs, suitable for trekking. Consider zip off trousers/pants that turn into shorts.
  7. 3x Tshirts, 2x shorts/skirts.
  8. Socks and underwear - matter of some debate, between 5 and 10 pairs.
  9. Shoes - designed for hiking/walking, but also not so shabby as to look out of place in a restaurant.
  10. Sandals - for when you're not wearing the shoes.
  11. Gloves/scarf/hat - depending on the weather and temperature at your destinations.
  12. Plastic slippers - known as thongs, flip flops as well, for use in showers or just lounging around.
  13. Respirator - highly necessary to shield terrible smells in a long-distance bus and screen dust from dirt road, especially in southwest China.
  14. Second bag - light weight, collapses down to a small size, designed to be packed away 90% of the time
  15. Teacup – most guesthouses offer fresh boiled water, besides sanitation, a sealable and light cup is especially practical for drinking coffee and tea.
  16. Duct Tape - essential, massively strong tape good for fixing just about anything. Black electrical tape, slightly different uses.
  17. Guidebook - maximum two - one for your destination and the next area, you'll have to pick up the rest as you go, carrying too many is crazy.
  18. First Aid Kit - bandages, disinfectant wipes, antiseptic cream, pain killers.
  19. Sun glasses - get a good quality pair that protects against UV in your home country, those on the streets often come from dubious origin and may not   protect your eyes again harmful UV rays.
  20. Swimming suits - even not in summer, for a hot spring bath on route.
  21. Sleeping bag - for the occasions where you don't have bedding provided, or you don't trust it.
  22. Silk or cotton sleeping bag insert.
  23. Earplugs - if you can wear these, they are an essential. You will be in dormitories where someone snores, where the doors bang, where the sound of the motorway next door is too loud for sleep. Earplugs will allow you to sleep when otherwise you can't.  

Nice to Haves:

  1. Fiction books - take two paperbacks, when you've read one, trade it for another - hostels often have a trade bookshelf.
  2. Music Player - CD Player, Ipod, Cassettes, Minidisk - what you take is up to you.
  3. Camera - SLR or digital - as long as you have something to record your adventures.
  4. Torch - small one - a LED head torch is perfect, as it allows your hands to be free when in use.

Simple tips: keep the heavy things towards the bottom of your pack, put the lighter stuff and things you'll need soonest nearer the top, not forgetting to make guide books easily accessible.

Day hikes and easy multi-day hikes, stay overnight at simple rural guesthouses:

  1. Sleeping bag: carry a light-weighted sleeping bag or just the internal liner.
  2. Torch or flashlight: very useful as some guesthouses or their toilets are not lighted during the night.
  3. Mosquito repellent

Multi-day hikes without lodging facilities:

  1. Tent: choose a three-person freestanding tent, preferably dome-tent. Reason is that the ground can be too hard to pitch a tent. Furthermore with a dome-tent, it can even be set up on rocks or cement surfaces (we stayed overnight at Tibetan families' big houses; we use the inner tent to keep out insects.)
  2. Sleeping bag: choose a sleeping bag with synthetic fibers, as the climate is quite humid in Southwest China. Down sleeping bags are not suitable for such conditions as it will turn damp.
  3. Mattress: a closed-cell foam mattress or a self-inflatable air mattress.
  4. Mess kit: lightweight aluminum pans are extremely cheap in China
  5. Stoves are not necessary if you have a local guide.

There is no need to bring all the hiking equipment from your home country especially if a short multi-day hikes is only part of a big circuit of China. Buy them in China when they are needed. They are extremely cheap (compared to your most countries) and their qualities are generally acceptable.

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