Know China: In-country travel

In-country travel

The train system is excellent – fast, fast, fast. Unfortunately the queues in stations are slow, slow, slow at most times, and gruesome during holidays.

A rail line crosses Xinjiang in China’s far west

 International driving licenses are not valid in China, so, unless you want to take a special computer test on the rules of the road, car hire is not an option.

City roads are crowded, but there is a network of fast roads across China, and rural highways are often quiet.

Wilder country
The regulation of popular and not-so-popular locations can seem over-protective. Official cautiousness is well-meaning.

Good maps to aid walking are not generally available.

Increasing prosperity means that more and more Chinese people can explore their own country.
Outdoor exploration including hiking, climbing and photography are ever more popular. However, individual adventure (as opposed to closely channelled visits to key sites) remains a minority activity.

For those with confidence and lots of research, and in some places local guides, there are stunningly beautiful wild places.

Internal flights are generally inexpensive, with very frequent service on major routes, so that the airspace over China is very busy (with a consequence that punctuality can be an issue).

Airports are usually modern, with good facilities (including expensive coffee etc). Planes and their service are like short-haul services anywhere (but note that because of the size of China some of these ‘short-haul’ flights take more than four hours).

Honeypots
The terracotta warriors, 2300 years old, at a site near Xi’an in Shaanxi Province, are a reason in themselves to visit China. But avoid the peak holiday times.
The Forbidden city in the heart of Beijing is certainly a place to learn of China's History.

A selection of Honeypot Sites

  • The Great Wall
  • The Summer Palace
  • Jiuzhaigou
  • Macao
  • Zhangjiajie
  • Guangxi rice terraces
  • Wutaishan
  • Ermei shan
  • Fenghuang old town
  • Harbin’s festival of ice sculpture
  • Xi’an and the Terracotta Warriors
  • The Forbidden City
  • Suzhou Gardens
  • Hong Kong
  • Lijiang and Dali
  • Hainan Island
  • Pingyao old town
  • Yangdanshan
  • Huang shan

These sites all have wonderful beauty or cultural importance. They are all worth visiting; our very strong advice is to avoid peak holiday times (National holiday at the start of October and Chinese New Year, or Spring Festival, which falls between late January and late February).

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