China is a large and diverse country so while you do want to see some of the ‘must sees’ you also wanted to get to know the country by exploring deeper and getting off the beaten path a bit. It’s hard to get far off the track in a country with a billion people but take the time to see the places near the big sites and you’ll enjoy some peace from the crowded cities.
Do Your Research
As China is so large do your research before setting off. Work out how to get to your destination and an alternative route in case of delays or cancellations. Travelling during holiday times can be a nightmare so plan the timing of your trip well and consider hiring a local guide who can be your expert to ensure you see some new sights. If you’re short on time it’s worth looking at organised China tours so you know you will get to the places you’ve always wanted to visit.
The Great Wall
Everyone wants to see The Great Wall and so they should: it’s one of the Seven Wonders of the World and is the most enormous engineering and building project man has ever made. Apparently it’s a bit of a myth that you can see the wall from the moon, not that many of us will get to test this out, but it seems NASA now say you can’t make out much on Earth with the naked eye from the moon so the Chinese shouldn’t feel bad.
A 2009 study by the China’s State Administration of Cultural Heritage and the State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping discovered the wall is actually much longer than originally thought and they now reckon it’s an incredible 5,500 miles long. This includes a Ming-era section making the wall nearly 2,500 miles longer than we all thought.
Most people visit the section of the wall near to Beijing but as you can now realise there’s an awful lot to see so you don’t have to deal with the crowds to enjoy this marvel. A more peaceful section is known as the Tiger Mountain Great Wall near the city of Dandong, northeast of Beijing in the Liaoning province on the North Korean border. It’s been restored and doesn’t yet attract the hordes of tourists Beijing has to cope with.
Tiger Mountain, also known as Hushan Mountain, gets its name from the two towering peaks which are said to look like tigers ears pricked up towards the sky. Climb up to the top of the steps and the view is outstanding as you can see both China and North Korea and even the Yellow Sea in the distance.
Food & Water
Wherever you are in China follow the advice and don’t drink the tap water and don’t have ice in your drinks. There’s always bottled water on sale so stay healthy and drink plenty of clean, safe water.
Choose fruit you can peel, such as bananas and oranges, and avoid uncooked vegetables. Ensure all meals are piping hot and are freshly prepared and note the places that are busy with locals are probably the ones to eat at regularly. Noodles, rice and dumplings are available everywhere so you shouldn’t struggle to find decent food every day.