China is fast becoming a popular and relevant tourist destination since it opened its doors to the world some 30 years ago.
Obtaining Your Chinese Visa
Be prepared to obtain a Chinese visa before leaving for your trip. You will want to apply for your visa at least a couple months before your flight departs. Visa’s can be obtained from your local Chinese consulate or you can hire a third party to deal directly with the consulate for you. Keep in mind that if you don’t live in a major city, you may not have a Chinese consulate near. The cost of a Chinese visa will run you anywhere from $150 to $300 depending on the method you choose to get one.
Caveat About the Air Quality
Before traveling to China, the air quality is something you may want to consider. The smog in urban China can be unbearable. The view from a high rise hotel in Beijing can be frustrating. On some days, you may have difficulty seeing the building across the street. It’s common to see many Chinese people wearing masks to protect themselves from the poor air quality.
Rummaging the Views in Beijing
Beijing is a must for anyone visiting China. Most of the important historic sites can be found in the city proper. Beijing is an ancient city with a very large population. You can travel the city cheap by taking the subway. Subway kiosks and signs all have English translation available making navigating through the city much more affordable and easier than taking a taxi or renting a car.
Points of interest in Beijing are The Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, The Summer Palace, The Great Wall, and The Temple of Heaven. You will have to pay an entry fee to visit any of these attractions. Guided tours are available for an extra of course. Beijingers (as they are called) spend a lot of their time outdoors socializing in the city’s parks. Don’t be surprised to see dozens of people practicing Tai Chi if you decide to stop for a stroll through the luscious parks sprawled throughout the city.
Shanghai Noons and Nights
Shanghai is known as the financial hub of China. This coastal city is the most populated and modern city in China. You can stroll down many of its streets shopping for high fashion or eating at a trendy café or restaurant. The city has a younger feel to it. In American it would be comparable to Manhattan. Most of its inhabitants can be seen zipping around on scooters wearing trendy designer duds. Shanghai is considered a much newer city when compared to Beijing. The hype of the city is attracting many to pick up and relocate there.
With more people coming to Shanghai everyday cars are becoming a problem. Expect to pay around $10,000 to register a vehicle in Shanghai. The high cost of registering a car in Shanghai was developed to keep the car population under control. License plates are designed to allow drivers to drive only on permitted days. For example if you plate ends in an odd number you can’t drive on a Monday.
Traveling on a Budget
There are plenty of affordable ways to explore China without breaking the bank. You may want to consider checking into travel packages. Typically the packages include airfare, some meals, and a guide. As mentioned earlier the best way to travel in the metro areas is via subway. For fewer than ten dollars per day you can travel throughout the city. Avoid eating and shopping in the “touristy” part of town.
China is a wonderful place to visit. Experiencing it provides the traveler with a great deal of knowledge and culture. If you enjoy different atmospheres and diverse culture China should be next on your list of places to visit.