I remember Beijing well, so many places to explore, so much walking, so many activities, and the flu. That’s Beijing, it can really wear you out because it’s simply one destination that there is so much to take in, and so much to do. So, make sure to plan for a pitstop and some time for rejuvenation.
How? Here’s my tip, book yourself in for one night, at least, at a superb hotel that offers loads of amenities then sit back and chill. Don’t let fatigue destroy your plans or distract you from getting the most out of your time in the city.
If you are an international traveller this is one big pain in the butt, all the different types of sockets used around the world, and then the different voltages. Aggghhh!
Fortunately, with China it’s not too difficult, so let’s take a deeper look.
There are five types of sockets in use, one in Hong Kong/Macau, two in Taiwan, and the other two on mainland China.
Hong Kong Power and Macau Socket and Plug
In HK and Macau they use a UK style plug, completely different to the mainland China. If you land in HK without and adapter they can be a tad expensive from stalls in tourist areas, I found simple ones at Mong Kok computer market for 15HKD that worked a charm.
Ctrip has launched a new flight promo with the airline Nokscoot, fly from China to Bangkok with deals starting from 255 CNY, yes an international flight for under 40 bucks US. Visit CTrip and snag a cheap flight
Flights depart from Qingdao, Nanjing, Shenyang, Tianjin and Dalian.
If you are visiting, day touring or moving to Shenzhen for work or business then this is the must-have guide book, Essential Shenzhen.
At least I hope it is! Coz, I wrote it. I had a simple aim with this guide book, which was to give you the fast-track for getting the most out of your time in the city. I spent over four years in Shenzhen and have put all those discoveries into this book.
The eBook is available for download on Amazon Essential Shenzhen.
For example, here’s the index from the book
This extends on a question I recently answered on Quora, about alternative news in China. Included here is a huge list of news outlets, mostly in Chinese. For English versions, from within China and out, see the China news wall
All journalists in China must have a license, and in getting a license you must vow to uphold party values. Also, journalists are required to do a training session in party ideology. There are some recent new rules which are reviewed here at Xinhua. As for press freedoms, according to Reporters Sans Frontieres, they are ranked 176 out of 180 for press freedoms in the globe
Although there are many types of visa for China, the most common is the L visa for tourists, the M visa for business, and the Q1/Q2 for those with a Chinese partner and the Z visa for people with work contracts in China.
Visa durations are generally 30 days. You may be able to get an L visa with double entry, meaning you can stay 60 days in total, but, you will have to leave the country prior to the end of the first 30 days. Going to Hong Kong or Macau and back will suffice. Z visa is normally twelve months, although that may depend on the contract with your employer. I often hear of people getting multiple entry M visas. These durations and whether multiple entries were available was always in flux. You can only really only know for sure at the time of application.
Whether living in China or just holidaying, your probably going to turn a TV on at some time, so, here’s the big list of local Chinese TV channels. In the apartments where I lived the TV was set up through the internet. With a twelve month package, you could choose from different packages with more expensive packages offering extended channels which often include a select range of subtitled English programs. The different packages really depend on the local provider offerings.
If you are an expat, you will come across many people offering IPTV set-top boxes to access international content that’s not widely available by other means. There’s also satellite packages for sale too. You can also buy set-top boxes on Taobao which provide access to large range of on-demand movies and TV series. If I was setting up in China again for a long stay, that would be the way I’d choose.
Youtube’s Chinese equivalents were born on hosting ripped content from overseas, such as popular western TV series and movies, and grew from humble bootlegging websites into fully fledged internet companies.
So popular in fact, from tapping into a massive Chinese netizen audience, that many listed on the stock markets of the US (yes, there is a certain irony). Most content nowadays is licensed, and many of the popular sites are self-producing local shows. Of course, there’s still the regular uploads of daily life and crazy antics from Chinese netizens, news bulletins, documentary, opinion, DIY videos and everything you could imagine.
Here’s a list of over 50 unique destinations in China, from temples to remote villages, that will leave you simply amazed.
There are so many unique experiences in China. The country is so large, and so diverse, it really is like a whole collection of worlds in one. When itinerary planning for a China journey, you can shape any kind of experience that you want, it’s up to you.
For most people, they are happy to stick to the safety of standard tour-book experiences and the well developed, and well known major attractions, such as anything Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Macau or a even Yangzte River boat cruise. The slightly more adventurous will fit in Xi’an and the Terracotta Army, Chengdu Panda Base and so on. All of which are awesome and great places to get started, but, China offers so, so much more.
It’s quite amazing, one of the most asked questions on travel forums about China is about toilets. Questions such as “what are the toilets like”, or “Toilet Paper :} Is it really a problem?”, “No Western Restrooms in China! Yikes!”.
If you’re coming to China, it’s something you’re going to have to get comfortable with, the toilets are different. If you get familiar with the different style, truthfully, it’s not so bad. You can do it!
How much does it cost to go to China? Take a look on the travel forums and it’s one of the most common questions there is, so, let’s break it down.
Just like anywhere, there’s a big difference between holidaying and living for extended periods so let’s tackle it in two parts.
Holidaying in China: The Costs
It is a bit like how long is a piece of string, it depends on the level of comfort your seeking and where you want to go and what you’d like to see. For this example, lets’ focus on Tier One cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou.
A relaxed morning with a table full of delicious sweet and savory treats, with trolleys passing at regular intervals offering up even more, sound like your kinda thing? Then for sure you’ll be a fan of Dian Xin, also referred to as Yum Cha.
It’s a specialty of Guangdong province and it’s not to be missed. It’s also wildly popular in Hong Kong of course, but here’s a hot tip, head to Guangdong where it’s only part the price and sometimes twice as good. I’ll suggest a few places later in the post.
Guiyang, it’s shopping and eating, then, more shopping and eating. And that’s it. Oh, there’s banks in between the restaurants and stores, so you can get more money out and continue shopping and eating.
Guiyang is the capital of Guizhou and It’s one of the most unusual capitals that I had visited in all my time in China. It’s, well, different. It really has its own identity, but then it doesn’t, some call it a mini Hong Kong. and that’s probably the best way to describe it. It’s just a city full of people shopping and eating, threaded with peoples desire to be rich and be seen to be rich.
Looking for a nearby escape from the mega-metropolises of Shenzhen or Guangdong? Then this place is probably just for you. Fresh air, nature and simple laid back life make this small city a gem.
I shouldn’t say small, actually it’s quite large in size, being a prefecture-level city that has numerous other cities under it’s wing. The actual Qingyuan city is quaint and comfortable in many ways, it abounds with nature and features a beautiful river, the Beijiang, running through it’s center.
This simple dish is a real favorite of mine and a staple of the Cantonese breakfast scene. Take an early morning wander along the streets anywhere from Hong Kong to way out past Guangzhou and you wont be able to miss it.
Rice noodle rolls, or zhū cháng fěn (cantonese: chee cheong fun) which translates literally to pig intestine noodle, named so only due to its looks.
Every morning the steamer, specially for making rice rolls, is parked out front of the shop and the chef goes to work producing rice rolls fresh on demand as customers grab breakfast on their way to work.
Going to China and exploring the well worn tourist trails is one thing, it’s another thing again to live in one of China’s major urban cities for a period of time, and it’s very much another thing again, to live outside those urban cities. It’s a journey that can push you to explore all of your social conditioning and values, while considering those of people who have grown within different cultures.
1. A Hierarchical society – people have to work hard to claim a position in society and without it, it’s a VERY difficult life. To have wealth, or status that’s afforded by a high position in a company, especially within government, ‘greases the wheels’ and smooths the way of every step in life, and maintains your acceptance into groups, or your ‘Guanxi’ network. Everything is done by recommendation, without a network of friends, to find a job is difficult, to find a partner is difficult and so on through the steps of life. The more powerful your network, the smoother your existence. In a society that doesn’t have a well developed social system it can also mean the difference between eating from a table or eating from a bin, and at the extreme, life and death. I’ll never forget the facial expression of doctor I was visiting frequently while attending to some kidney trouble. Over tea, he explained that he had just witnessed a girl jump from the roof of the hospital. She was a cancer patient who didn’t have the money to stay in the hospital, when told of the costs the family simply walked away, without payment for the hospital bed, the staff had to ask her to leave. She walked to the roof. You’ll perhaps understand why Chinese are so determined when it comes to education, passing the all important entrance exam, Gaokao, which can mean the difference between a good life and a difficult existence, perhaps it also explains their ruthless determination in business, and get rich at any cost attitude. There isn’t a floor, unless you make it yourself.
Here is something YOU SHOULD try, when your Chinese friends take you to a beef hot pot restaurant, get ready for all kinds of offal and intestine, they love the stuff. And to be honest, it’s well worth trying and with the different sauces and condiments, it’s delicious, but some bits are a tad chewy… The restaurants in the city center or malls mostly use packaged or frozen goods, but, if your lucky, you can track down the odd place that butchers on site with a carcass delivered fresh every night. Unmissable experience, but vegetable hot pots are probably still the one for me.
As CNY comes to close, families make their return to the cities with the bounty of home town produce… anyway they can.
The Spring Festival Travel Season, or Chunyun (春运), is well underway as people race home to chow down on dumplings and set the country ablaze with crackers and fireworks.
Of course Spring Festival and Chinese New Year is much more than overeating and going deaf or possibly being blinded, but we’ll talk about that another day, today it’s all about travel chaos, as millions pour into China’s transport system try to make it home.
The 2016 Spring Festival travel period runs from January 24 to March 3, a total of 40 days with peaks around February 5 and 7, and again between February 11 and 13. Here’s a number to scare you, it’s expected that a staggering 2.91 billion trips will take place according to the NDRC (more here). It probably doesn’t scare ticket sellers or petrol station owners though.
Carrying a few extra pounds, I’m bypassing the local dim-sum restaurant and went on the hunt for local solutions for weight loss and here’s what I come up with.
Firstly, everyone agrees, you can’t put in more than you give out, meaning, you need to burn more calories than you eat. Damn, I really do have to do exercise.
Interestingly, I’m not a big eater, had dropped bread from the diet some time ago, don’t drink soda and stuck to just one or two cups of tea or coffee each day. Where was the weight coming from?
Tsim Sha Tsui is a popular location from which to base a Hong Kong trip, there are numerous attractions in the area such as the Star Ferry, Victoria Harbour, Museums, Mosque and endless shopping via the major malls, Ladies Market, Temple St Night Market and much more.
These top 15 accommodation options are based on primarily visitor reviews, but also value and location.
Philippine Hostel 1-star hotel
Area: Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
Located in Hong Kong, 109 yards from iSquare. It features air-conditioned rooms with free WiFi throughout the property. Each room includes a flat-screen TV.
Zhuhai is conveniently connected to Macau making it a popular destination wth travellers. It’s also a beautiful coastal city featuring attractions such as Chimelong Ocean Kingdom, Lovers’ Road, Imperial Hot Spring Resort, The New Yuan Ming Palace, Ocean Spring Resort, Jintai Temple, Mexi Memorial Arch, many islands and much more.
The Top 15 Hotels in Zhuhai (ranked by value, location, foreign friendly, review rating) :
Zhongshan Yihe Grand Hotel
Located in the vibrant Xingzhong Avenue within walking distance from entertainment and shopping options. It boasts 5-star facilities like an indoor pool, a spa and tennis courts.
Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province, features several quality hotels and here we have listed the top 13 based on suitability, value, visitor reviews and central location.
Wuhan features many attractions including Hubei Provincial Museum, Yellow Crane Tower, Villa of Chairman Mao Zedong, Guiyuan Buddhist Temple, Heptachord Terrace and East Lake to name some.
The Top Wuhan Hotels:
New World Wuhan Hotel
Area: Qiao Kou, Wuhan
A 10-minute walk from Zhongshan Park. It offers 5-star upscale accommodation and an outdoor pool. A fitness centre and an archery club are also available.
These hotels in Xiamen are picked based on their visitor reviews, location, suitability for a foreign guest and value.
Hotel Indigo Xiamen Harbour
Area: Siming, Xiamen
A 5 minutes’ walk from Huangu Ferry Marina, offers relaxing beachside living in modern guestrooms with free wired internet. All rooms offer wide windows that allow much natural light and the fresh ocean breeze in.
In this documentary series, the two vloggers ride their hand built 125cc bikes from Huizhou in Guangdong Province to Kunming in Yunnan Province. Along the way they tackle the toughest roads, meet fascinating locals, try weird food and witness breathtaking landscapes; it’s China like you’ve never seen it before.
According to Shenzhen Daily, editing should be completed by mid 2016 and hopes are for it to be picked up Nat Geo or the like. Can’t wait to watch the full adventure.
You can also find the preview/trailer on:
Central is the financial heart of Hong Kong, featuring not only the business district but also numerous attractions such as the Peak Tram, Hollywood Road, the Mid Level Escalators, world famous shopping and more.
JW Marriott Hotel Hong Kong 5-star hotel
Sitting at top the prestigious Pacific Place Complex. It has direct access to the Admiralty MTR subway station and Pacific Place Shopping Mall.
Conrad Hong Kong 5-star hotel
It has direct access to Pacific Place, a prestigious shopping and entertainment complex.
Hotels are chosen based on suitability, overall value, star rating, location and visitor reviews.
Shenzhen was a city that I spent a lot of time in, living there for more than two years. It’s convenient, with it’s metro system, and offers a lot of western comforts. It is mainly visited for it’s significant electronics industry, proximity to Hong Kong, and job opportunities but it also offers tourist attractions and value shopping.
The Top 15 Hotels:
Hilton Shenzhen Shekou Nanhai
Area: Nanshan, Shenzhen
Located in Shekou District, Shenzhen, offering outdoor pool and indoor pool. Free Wi-Fi access is available in all public areas.
The Top 15 luxury hotels in Hong Kong based on location, value, star rating and most importantly, visitor reviews.
Renaissance Hong Kong Harbour View Hotel 5-star hotel
Area: Wan Chai, Hong Kong
Featuring an award-winning restaurant overlooking Victoria Harbour. It’s a Marriott Luxury & Lifestyle Hotel in Hong Kong, on the scenic Wanchai Waterfront.
Grand Hyatt Hong Kong 5-star hotel
Area: Wan Chai, Hong Kong
Directly connected to the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (HKCEC) and a 5-minute walk from Wanchai MTR Station and Star Ferry Pier. It offers a 50-metre heated outdoor pool and a spa. Its elegant rooms overlook Victoria Harbour from floor-to-ceiling windows. Free WiFi is provided.
Chosen by value, suitability for foreign guests, proximity to city center and visitor reviews, we believe these are the best hotels in Shanghai.
I cannot say that Shanghai was my favorite city in China, I’m not a big city person, but I most certainly enjoyed the several visits there, enjoying the many tourist attractions and for trade shows.
Jing An Shangri-La, West Shanghai
Area: Downtown Shanghai, Shanghai
Located in the heart of Jing’an District, Jing An Shangri-La, West Shanghai. It boasts a spa and wellness centre, an indoor pool and gourmet cuisines across several stylish restaurants and bars. Free Wi-Fi is provided throughout the property.