If you like your walls great, your cities ancient, and your food weird and wacky, then China’s the place for you.
Just walking the iconic Great Wall of China alone would make a trip to this vast country worth it, but China is far from a one trick pony. There’s so much more to see and do.
It has some of the most ancient relics in the world – like the Forbidden City, Terracotta Army and a giant 71 metre (233 ft) tall stone Buddha statue – as well as some of the most futuristic and modern buildings you’ll ever see. Plus there’s the world’s tallest mountains and famous rivers, deserts, jungles and forests. Then there’s the food! So much more than just dim sum and dumplings, Chinese food is as diverse as it’s landscape.
So after you’ve checked the Great Wall off your bucket list, make sure you also gawk at Tiananmen Square, stare a Terracotta Warrior in the eye, hug a giant panda and get shanghaied by the amazing shopping and nightlife in Shanghai.
What people say
China is such a mix of history, culture and neon night life! You really do get a bit of everything when travelling in China. From climbing the Great Wall, walking around pristine gardens with historic temples, to eating dumplings from street vendors, china is a must see and I can’t wait to go back and see more!
China travel highlights
Great Wall of China
More than 2,000 years old and seemingly endless, this spectacular icon is a must-see. World leaders take note – the wall did not succeed in keeping out invaders like it was intended to.
Created to protect the tomb of China’s First Qin Emperor, the fascinating underground Terracotta Army was accidentally discovered by farmers digging a well in the 1970s.
With its art deco buildings, one-of-a-kind shopping, Michelin restaurants and stellar rooftop scene, this buzzling cosmopolitan city is like no other.
Bike through the city’s historic hutong neighborhoods – a maze of narrow alleyways and traditional houses – for a slice of old Beijing.
The inspiration for so many traditional Chinese paintings, Yangshuo’s meandering Li River, and karst-dotted landscape is so much prettier in person.
Get lost in the mystery and intrigue that makes up this sprawling palace complex and one-time home of 24 Chinese emperors. If only walls could talk…
Our China trips
Articles on China
China holiday information
Local culture of China
Food and Drink in China
Festivals and Events in China
Geography and Environment
Shopping guide to China
Transport in China
Why hail a plain old cab when you could ride a bike or jump onto a train? Half the fun of travel is experiencing a destination just like the locals – including how they get around. Wherever possible, Geckos Adventures uses local transport options and traditional modes of transport. This way we can reduce our environmental impact, support local operators and have a great time.
Overnight sleeper train:
Your overnight journey will give you plenty of time to finally learn how to play mah-jong, mingle with the locals or simply relax and watch the scenery whiz by.
In a country as large as China, sometimes a regular train won’t do. Time is precious and you have ancient sites to see and dumplings to eat! Cut down on travel time and speed from point A to point B in a super-fast bullet train.
Whether you’re peddling through narrow hutongs or wide-open countryside, there’s no better way to see the views of China than from the seat of your trusty bike.
China travel FAQs
Australia: Yes – required in advance
Belgium: Yes – required in advance
Canada: Yes – required in advance
Germany: Yes – required in advance
Ireland: Yes – required in advance
Netherlands: Yes – required in advance
New Zealand: Yes – required in advance
South Africa: Yes – required in advance
Switzerland: Yes – required in advance
United Kingdom: Yes – required in advance
USA: Yes – required in advance
Visitors from most nations are required to obtain a visa for trips to mainland China. Make sure to apply before leaving your home country or else your applications might be denied. You will need a Single Entry Tourist for your trip valid for 30 days.
Hong Kong is not considered part of mainland China for immigration purposes and most nationalities do not require a visa. Please check with you local embassy for specific requirements for Hong Kong and mainland China.
Information required for Chinese visa applications
1. List the destinations you will visit in China in chronological order on your application form. Do not mention Tibet anywhere on your application form, even if your tour goes here. You will be given a specific itinerary to use if booking a Tibet trip. While Tibet is not off limits to travellers, you must obtain a Chinese visa first, BEFORE we apply for your Tibet permit on your behalf.
IMPORTANT: Including Tibet on your visa application without being booked on a government arranged tour will lead to your visa being rejected.
2. Name of Host/Inviting Organisation: This will be supplied at time of booking.
3. Hotel List: This will be sent to you at time of booking. If you do not receive this, email us with your booking number and trip details.
4. Official invitation from licensed Chinese tourism company: This will be provided from us together with the Hotel List to all travellers regardless of whether it is required by the consulate or not and will assist with your application.
5. Itinerary: Print off a copy of your specific trip itinerary from our website and include it with your application, marking the dates you will visit each destination if required (exception applies to Tibet tours, please see relevant Essential Trip Information for more details)
6. Photocopy of your passport
7. Passport size photos (up to four may be required)
Please note that requirements can change at any time. Make sure to check your local consulate or embassy for any other specific requirements.
Tipping is not generally expected, although leaving spare change at restaurants is becoming more commonplace. Some restaurants automatically add a 10-15% surcharge to your bill, in which case there’s no need to add more.
Internet can be accessed at hotels and internet cafes in large cities and tourist areas, but is limited in rural and remote areas. Be aware that many popular websites are blocked in China including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
Mobile phone coverage is good in China’s cities, but may not be available in rural and remote areas. Ensure global roaming is activated with your service provider before leaving home.
Squat toilets are most common in China, though Western-style flushable toilets can sometimes be found in modern hotels and restaurants. Make sure to carry your own toilet paper and hand sanitizer, as these are rarely provided.
A cup of coffee = USD 1
Bottle of local beer = USD 1-1.50
A bowl of noodles with meat from a restaurant = USD 2.25
Dinner at a sit-down restaurant = USD 3-12.50
Drinking tap water isn’t recommended in China. For this reason, it’s a good idea to avoid drinks with ice and to peel fruits and vegetables before eating. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Instead, bring a reusable bottle and fill it with filtered water. Your leader or hotel can tell you where to find filtered water.
Major credit cards are accepted by large hotels, stores and restaurants, but may not be accepted by smaller vendors such and market stalls. Make sure to always carry some cash in case credit cards are not an option.
ATMs are widely available in larger cities but are less common in small villages or rural areas. Make sure you have enough cash before leaving urban areas.
Absolutely. All passengers travelling with Geckos are required to purchase travel insurance before the start of your trip. Your travel insurance details will be recorded by your leader on the first day of the trip. Due to the varying nature, availability and cost of health care around the world, travel insurance is very much an essential and necessary part of every journey.
For more information on insurance, please go to: Travel Insurance
Jan 1-3: New Year’s
Jan 29: Chinese New Year or Spring Festival (usually a week-long holiday)
Apr 3-5: Qingming Festival
May 1: Labour Day
May 30: Dragon Boat Festival
Oct 1-7: National Day
For a current list of public holidays in China go to: https://www.worldtravelguide.net/guides/asia/China/public-holidays/
Equal rights have a long way to go in China. The government heavily censors portrayals of same-sex relationships and, up until 2001, homosexuality was considered a mental illness. That being said, China is a relatively hassle-free destination for LGBTQI travellers who use discretion. People are generally tolerant and homophobic-related violence is incredibly rare. Low-key gay scenes can be found in larger cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong. While it’s common for friends of the same sex to hold hands, keep in mind any further displays of affection are frowned upon (this applies to heterosexual couples as well). As long as LGTBQI travellers use common sense, travel in China should not be a problem.