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China

China Travel Guide After years of hiding from western eyes, China has transformed itself into a true heavyweight on the global tourism scales. Welcoming more than 55 million foreign visitors each year, China is by far the most-visited country in Asia and one of the top travel destinations in the world. According to statisticians, it might well eclipse France as the world's most popular tourist destination by the year 2020. One of the most ancient civilizations on earth, China's heritage spans the ages and is home to Neolithic structures, the Silk Road, and more than 2,000 years of Dynastic reign. The country's long and proud cultural heritage is reflected by the fact that it is home to no fewer than 50 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. There are more 'must-see' cultural attractions in China than travellers could ever hope to experience in a single visit, including fascinating sights like the Summer Palace, the Stone Forest, and the Beijing National Stadium. Tourists to China looking to explore it’s incredible natural bounty will be particularly blown away by the Five Sacred Mountains, as well as the Jiuzhaigou Valley, a natural wonderland filled with snow-capped mountain peaks, crystal-blue lakes, cascading waterfalls, and lush vegetation; a prime example of the astonishing variety of China's natural landscape. China is an enigmatic and mysterious country, where modernity and tradition, as well as progress and conservatism, all coexist in a tumultuous morass. It is one of those countries that has tourists returning home filled with a far greater sense of wonder at the world than when they left. Best time to visit China Due to it’s enormous size, deciding on the best time of year to visit China will depend largely on which areas travellers wish to explore. In general, however, spring (April and May) and autumn (September and October) are probably the best months to visit China, as temperatures are mild, there is not too much rain, and peak tourist season (which is in summer, from June to August) can be avoided. What to pack If travelling in spring or summer, be sure to take a lightweight rain slicker along; if travelling in autumn or winter, travellers should make sure to pack a good coat or jacket. Anti-bacterial hand soap is a great idea, helping to stave off diseases which can spread from using public toilets or eating in local restaurants. What to buy Porcelain products and jade jewellery make very popular gifts. Eat Duck (kaoya) is generally a favourite among westerners, as are chive dumplings (jiucai jiaozi). A final word A mysterious and wonderful land where ancient history and hyper-modernity exist side-by-side, China is a challenging and deeply rewarding place to visit.

DISTANCE FROM AIRPORT TO CITY CENTRE: Beijing: 25 kilometres, Guangzhou: 28 kilometres, Shanghai: 32 kilometres, Hong Kong: 39 kilometres, Yinchuan: 25 kilometres, Zhengzhou: 25 kilometres | TIME ZONE: GMT +8 hours | CURRENCY: Chinese Yuan (CNY) and Hong Kong Dollar (HKD) | LANGUAGES: Official language is Mandarin Chinese while Cantonese is widely spoken in southern China |
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