Tips on Travelling to China the First Time
1. Which cities are preferable for tourists to visit on their first trip to China?
What you see depends how long you can stay in China. Generally speaking，tourists should first visit cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Xi'an.
Beijing is a political and cultural center that offers some scenic attractions: Badaling which is a part of the spectacular Great Wall; Gugong (Imperial Palace) where emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties lived; Yiheyuan (Summer Palace) which is an imperial garden of the Qing dynasty; and Beihai, also an imperial garden used by successive emperors in the Yuan, the Ming and the Qing dynasties. There is more to Beijing than buildings; Foods such as authentic Beijing roast duck and instant-boiled mutton have proved popular with tourists as well.
Shanghai, a shopping center for best buys, is the largest city in China. Tourists will be satisfied with what the city supplies, from various snacks and cakes to handicrafts and textiles. Neighboring Suzhou and Hangzhou, only a couple of hours away from Shanghai by train, are two garden cities, each considered by Chinese to be "paradise on earth."
Xi'an, the starting point of the ancient Silk Road, was capital intermittently for many dynasties in the Chinese history. The life-size terra cotta soldiers and horses of the Qin dynasty (221-206B.C.), unearthed recently, are praised as the "Eighth Wonder of the World."
Other interesting sites in the vicinity are Dayan Ta (Great Wild Goose Pagoda) and Gu Lou (Drum Tower), both erected in the Tang dynasty; and the Huaqing Hot Springs where visitors may bathe in the warm mineral water. This site used to be the private baths for Yang Guifei, favorite concubine of the Tang emperor. If you are of Chinese descent, you may pay tribute to the tomb of Huangdi (Yellow Emperor), first Chinese emperor. In addition, tours will enjoy the pleasing Tang music and dance, as well as the duplication of fancy Tang dishes available there.
2. When is the best time for the trip? Where are the best places available in winter?
China is a vast land with great contrasts in landscape and climate. Consequently, tourists may pay a visit anytime. Spring and autumn are supposed to be the best times to tour cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Xi'an.
If you dislike the cold, you can visit Kunming, a Springlike City, in south China, which is known for its year-round spring weather. A closer look takes you to the Stone Forest and the Dianchi Lake. You can also go to Xishuangbanna to enjoy subtropic scenery. Guilin in south China lies on the banks of the Lijiang River. Down-stream Yangshuo stands by. The saying goes, “Guilin has the most beautiful scenery in China, while Yangshuo is the most fascinating part of a Guilin tour”, and so a tour of these cities will be a most rewarding experience for you. Harbin is particularly good for sightseeing in January and February. Those who have never seen any snow in Hong Kong or Macao may either view the ice festival or go skiing and skating in this world of snow.
3. What is well worth purchasing in China? Where are those things available?
China has won a worldwide reputation for handicrafts, silk, porcelain, carpets and textiles, all more reasonably priced and of greater variety than elsewhere in the world.Unique local creations are available in their own cities , such as Beijing’s cloisonne and carpets, Shanghai’s Chinese clothing and cotton textiles , Hangzhou’s silk, Suzhou’s antiques , and Xi’an’s three-colored glazed pottery of the Tang Dynasty and terra cotta figures. If tourists are not able to reach these cities, most of these products can be purchased in the Friendship Stores in big cities like Beijing and Shanghai. These stores will also help you transport what you have bought. Some tourists who are keen on art may wish to buy antique objects we well as Chinese calligraphy and paintings. Be sure to get your receipts and an identification seal（a red wax seal）before you go through the Chinese customs.