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25 October 2023
China is a great destination. Few places in the world feel quite as ‘other-worldly’; few places have a history and culture so different from our own. Yet planning a trip to this part of the world can be a little daunting – China is such a vast country, with countless cities and places you’ve not heard of. Here the TravelLocal team present their top tips for planning a trip to the Middle Kingdom.
1) Don’t try and do too much. To fly from Beijing to Hong Kong takes three and a half hours – this is a big country, with plenty to see and do. Better to make multiple trips to see the many different facets rather than exhaust yourself trying to see it all in one trip.
2) Use ‘open jaw’ airfares. An open jaw is when an airline lets you fly into one city and out of another. Most airlines allow this. For China, it means you can fly into Beijing, and out of Shanghai or Hong Kong, so meaning that you don’t needlessly backtrack.
3) To escape the crowds on a ‘classic’ trip is challenging. China is the world’s most populous country, and its people are just starting to be able to afford to see some of their own country. Expect sites like the Terracotta Warriors to be busy. If you only have two weeks, and want to see the main sites, then it’s tricky to get anywhere quiet/off the beaten track. If you have more time/are prepared to miss one or two of the obvious cities/sites, then there are some fantastic off the beaten track places to discover.
4) Internal flights in China are expensive. There’s no Chinese Easyjet or Ryanair yet, and most airlines are state owned. This means that internal flights tend to be pricey. The best way to keep costs down is to minimise the amount of flights you take, though a certain number is inevitable. Consider overnight trains, which are cheaper and a fun way to travel.
5) Choose your hotels wisely. There are Five Star hotels in Beijing located many miles from Tiananmen Square that are much cheaper than a Three Star hotel located a stone’s throw from it. State owned hotels tend to be more generous with their star ratings than western brands – a Five Star state owned hotel can in reality be little better than a Three Star. The TravelLocal team can advise on this.
Check out our China pages for details of what do and see. All trips created by our local travel companies are 100% bespoke and unique to you. To speak to someone in the TravelLocal office, please call +44 (0) 117 325 7898.