Useful Information

Geographical Location
China lies in the eastern part of Asia on the western shore of the Pacific Ocean. It backs on to the continent, fa­ces the sea and embraces both the seas and the land. The vast territory of China extends 5,500 km from the centerline of the main navigation channel of the Heilong River north of the Mohe Town in Heilongjiang Province to the Zengmu Reef of the Nansha Islands in the South China Sea. From west to east, it measures about 5,200 km, stretching from the Pamirs in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region to the place where the main navigation channels of the Heilong and Wusuli rivers meet.

Climate
China has a continental monsoonal climate. As China is so vast, spanning nearly 50 degrees latitude, its climate varies and is changeable. Most of China is in the tempe­rate zone. Its southern part is in the tropical and subtropical zones, and its northern part is close to the frigid zone. Tem­peratures differ therefore rather strikingly across the country. The northern part of Heilongjiang Province has long winters but no summers, and Hainan Island has long summers but no winters. The Huaihe River valley has distinctive seasonal changes, but on the south of the Yunnan­Guizhou Plateau, it is spring all the year round. The northwest inland has hot summers and cold winters. The Qinghai­Tibet Plateau in Southwest China has a low temperature all the year round, being the frigid area in China; and some deserts are dry in the four seasons. China’s variety of topography and climatic types has given birth to abundant scenic spots and places of cultural interest.

Land Area
China has a land area of about 9.6 million sq km, mak­ing up about one fourth of Asia, and one fifteenth of the total land area in the world. China is the third largest country in the world, only next to Russia and Canada.

Population
China is the most populous country in the world, and its popula­tion makes up about 21 percent of the world’s total. The plains on the lower reaches of the Yangtze River and the Qiantang River, the Zhu­jiang River Delta, the Sichuan Basin and the Huanghuai Plain have the highest population density.

Ethnic Groups and Religions
China is a united multi­ethnic nation of 56 ethnic groups, such as the Han, Mongolian, Hui, Tibetan, Uygur, Miao, Yi, Zhuang, Bouyei, Korean, Manchu, Dong and Yao people. The majority of the popula­tion is Han ethnic group, accounting for about 92 percent of the na­tion’s total population. China’s other 55 ethnic groups are customarily referred to as the ethnic minorities. No matter how large the popula­tion is, all ethnic groups in China enjoy equality.

China is a country with various religions. Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholicism and Christianity have all developed in China. The Chinese government adopts the policy that the Chinese people enjoy freedom of religious belief, and all normal religious activities are under the pro­tection of the Constitution and laws.

History
China, one of the most ancient civilizations in the world, has a re­corded history of over 5,000 years. The time­honored history has be­come China’s profound cultural accumulations, and created China’s splendid historical sites and remains.

In remote antiquity “Yuanmou Man” of 1.7 million years ago, “Lan­tian Man” of 800,000 years ago, and “Peking Man” of 700,000 years ago lived on this magical land, where they sowed the seeds of Chi­nese wisdom and civilization through slash­and­burn cultivation and procreation. Today, at the ruins of “Yuanmou Man”, “Lantian Man” and China Travel Guide 7“Peking Man”, tourists can feel the early civilization and life of the Chinese Stone Age.

After a long­lasting primitive society, China entered the slave society in the 21st century BC, and got into the feudal society in the Spring and Autumn period (770­476 BC) and the Warring States period (475­221 BC). Then China experienced a number of dynasties in suc­cession, such as the Qin (221­206 BC), Han (206 BC­220 AD), Tang (618­907), Song (960­1279), Yuan (1271­1368), Ming (1368­1644) and Qing (1644­1911). During this period, China created the world­renowned ancient civilization — the pride of mankind. Even today when the modern civilization is fairly advanced, people cannot help gasping in admiration at the ancient technology, handicrafts and architectures of China, such as high casting techno­logy of bronze wares, incomparable pottery and porcelain wares, the majestic Great Wall, the solemn and splendid imperial gardens, and civilian residences in various styles. They are still very attractive to the people with their eternal glamour today.

On October 1, 1949 the People’s Republic of China was founded. Since then China has started its brand­new course. Along with the passage of time, China has undertaken tremendous changes. In China the ancient and the modern are blended with each other perfectly, adding radiance and beauty to each other. Now China is sending out its unique glamour with each passing day.

Capital
Beijing is the capital of the People’s Republic of China, as well as the political, cultural and international exchange center of the country. Located in the north of the North China Plain, Beijing has a temperate semi­moist climate. With a long history, Beijing is one of the famous historical and cultural cities and one of the ancient capitals in the world. As early as 700,000 years ago, “Peking Man” lived in the primitive tribe Zhoukoudian Area near Beijing. Along with the rapid development of the economy and culture, Beijing has been marching towards the world step by step, and is becoming a world­famous modern metropolis.

Official Language
Chinese is the most commonly used language of China today, and one of the six work­ing languages designated by the United Nations. Now the official language in China is Mandarin (putonghua in Chinese).

Public Holidays and Main National Festivals

Public Holidays
  • New Year’s Day: January 1, one day off.
  • Spring Festival: The first day of the first lunar month (between late January and early March), three days off.
  • Pure Brightness Festival: About April 5, one day off. ⊙International Labor Day: May 1, one day off.
  • Dragon Boat Festival: The fifth day of the fifth lunar month (between late May and late June), one day off.
  • Mid-Autumn Festival: The 15th day of the eighth lunar month (be­tween early September and early October), one day off.
  • National Day: October 1, three days off.

Main National Festivals
  • Spring Festival: It falls on the first day of the first lunar month. Every year, when winter is at its end and spring is around the corner, people throughout the country happily celebrate the first traditional festival — the Spring Festival (or the Lunar New Year).

  • Lantern Festival: It falls on the 15th day of the first lunar month (between early February and early March). The Lantern Festival is ce­lebrated on the night of the first full moon after the Spring Festival. The Chinese people eat sweet dumplings made of glutinous rice our and appreciate colorful lanterns at the festival.

  • Mid-Autumn Festival: The Mid­Autumn Festival, which falls on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month, comes right in the middle of au­tumn, hence the name. In ancient times, people offered meticulously prepared cakes as sacrifices to the Moon Goddess on this very day. After the sacrificial ceremony, all the family members would sit around a table and eat the pastries known as the “moon cakes”, symbolizing the family reunion. This custom has been passed down until today.

Practical Information

Chinese Currency
The Chinese currency is called Renminbi (or RMB) issued by the Central Bank — the People’s Bank of China. The unit of Renminbi is yuan; and the subsidiary units are jiao and fen. One yuan can be divided into 10 jiao. There are paper banknotes and coins for yuan and jiao. There are denominations of coins: one yuan, five jiao and one jiao. The denominations of paper banknotes of yuan include: one yuan, two yuan, five yuan, 10 yuan, 20 yuan, 50 yuan and 100 yuan, in addition to the paper banknotes of jiao: one jiao, two jiao and ve jiao. The abbreviation for the Renminbi is RMB¥.

Currency Conversion
To provide convenience to tourists from foreign countries, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan to consume in the mainland of China, the Bank of China and other designated banks can convert foreign trave­lers’ checks, foreign credit cards, and 22 types of foreign currencies and New Taiwan dollars into RMB. In addition, tourists to China can also convert foreign currencies into RMB at some hotels, restaurants and shops. Before leaving China, they can change any leftover Chinese money back into their own currencies on the strength of the exchange receipts within the six months.

The following currencies can be converted into Renminbi in China: US dollars, British pound, European euro, Japanese yen, Australian dollar, Canadian dollar, Swedish krona, Norwegian krone, Singapore dollar, Malaysian ringgit, etc.

Credit Cards
At present, the following foreign credit cards are accepted in Chi­na: Master Card, Visa Card, American Express Card, JBC Card and Diners Card.

Holders of these cards can draw cash from the Bank of China or use the cards for payment in shops, hotels and restaurants desig­nated by the Bank of China.

Travelers’ Check
For the convenience of tourists, the Bank of China can cash trave­lers’ checks sold by international commercial banks and traveler’s check companies in the United States, Canada, Australia, Japan, Bri­tain, France, Switzerland, Germany, Hong Kong and other countries and regions. Also the Bank of China sells traveler’s checks of such banks as the American Express Company, the First National City Bank and the Swiss Bank Corporation.

Medical Service
To safeguard the rights and interests of foreign tourists, the Chi­nese government has worked out some management procedures on the collection of medical fees from foreign tourists, and set up special medical centers for foreigners with good conditions and environment in all large cities.

Communication
In general, the hotels in China have IDD telephones for guests to make phone call to other countries, and to Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan as well. The four­ and five­star hotels are equipped with the Broadband Internet Access, the phonetic message system and the video system, offering convenient and quick telecommunication service.

Time Zones, Time Differences and Work Schedule
China adopts “Beijing time” as the standard time for the whole country, which is the time of the Eighth Eastern Time Zone designated according to the time zone division system adopted at the 1884 In­ternational Longitude Meeting. Beijing time is eight hours earlier than Greenwich Mean Time.

The Chinese people work five days a week, from Monday to Friday. The work schedule for government organs is from 08:00 a.m. to 05:00 p.m., with one hour for lunch at noon.

Tourist Information

Air
Now China has opened more than 1,000 domestic air routes and over 230 international air routes. The domestic air routes are mainly distributed in the areas east of the
Harbin­Beijing­Xi’an­Chengdu­Kun­ming Line, with Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou as the hubs, linking all the large­ and medium­sized cities and coastal areas in China. The international air routes take Beijing as the center, and radiate to the east, west and south through the airports in Shanghai, Guangzhou, Urumqi, Dalian, Kunming and Xiamen. Scheduled planes fly from China to Japan, North America, Middle East, Europe, South Asia, Southeast Asia, Australia and other countries and regions regularly.

The information website of China civil aviation: http://www.airnews.cn

Railways
China has fairly developed railways. There are several kinds of trains for domestic rails: CRH trains (with a code of D), direct express trains (Z), extra express trains (T), express trains (K), air­conditioned trains (N), tour trains (Y) and temporary trains (L). There are also the in­ternational combined transportation trains. The trains in China provide two soft upper berths and two soft lower berths in each private room.

For the convenience of tourists, all the major cities in China have express trains, which leave in the evening and arrive in the morning; and the tourist trains go to all the main tourist cities regularly. There­fore, it is very convenient for tourists to travel in China by train. In 2007, China put into use more than 200 pairs of CRH trains with their speed reaching over 200 km per hour.

Now China has international combined transportation trains, which go to Ulan Bator, Moscow, Pyongyang, Hanoi and other cities regularly.

Chinese railway website: http://www.258.com.cn

Highways
China boasts dense highway networks, which radiate to all di­rections with Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou as the center. Now China is sparing no effort to develop expressways and the first­ and second­class highways. The work has made great achievements in many tourist cities, thus providing great convenience for tourists. The main highways include Shenyang­Dalian, Beijing­Tanggu, Beijing­Shijiazhuang, Nanjing­Shanghai, Shanghai­Hangzhou, Hangzhou­Ningbo, Xi’an­Lintong, Xi’an­Baoji, Guiyang­Huangguoshu, Yichang­Huangshi, Jinan­Qingdao, Guangzhou­Shenzhen, Guangzhou­Foshan, Guangzhou­Shantou, Chengdu­Chongqing, Fuzhou­Xiamen, Round Hainan Island, Guilin­Liuzhou and Luoyang­Kaifeng highways.

Waterways
With a vast sea area, China borders the Bohai, Yellow and East China seas in the east, and the South China Sea in the south. Along the undulating coastlines there are Shanghai, Tianjin Xingang, Guangzhou Huangpu, Yantai, Qingdao, Qinhuangdao, Dalian, Beihai and Hong Kong ports. These ports are vast and deep, with beautiful en­vironment. It is suggested that tourists go to visit these cities by pleasure ship.

  • International Sea Routes

China has many international port ci­ties, where ships can go to the port cities of foreign countries. Ships go from Shanghai, Tianjin and Dalian to Kobe, Osaka, Yokoha­ma and Inchon regularly. Many luxury ships go back and forth along these international sea routes.

  • Domestic Sea Routes

Domestic sea navigation routes connect all the port cities in China. The main routes include: Shanghai­Dalian, Dalian­Tianjin, Da­lian­Yantai, Shanghai­Qingdao, Shanghai­Guangzhou, Beihai­Guangzhou, Shenzhen­Zhuhai and Zhuhai­Hong Kong.

  • Inland River Routes

The mainland of China is crisscrossed by a great number of rivers with a total length of 226,800 km, of which 136,000 km are navi­gable.

  • Famous Inland River Routes for Sight-seeing

  • Tourists may travel by pleasure ship along the Grand Canal between Suzhou and Hangzhou, 146.6 km long. During a boat excursion, tourists will feast their eyes on the picturesque scenery of South China.

  • Tourists may get on a dragon boat or a pleasure ship in Nanjing, Wuxi or Yangzhou to take the Grand Canal­Yangtze River­Taihu Lake Tour, full of poetic flavor. Tourists can taste delicious local cuisine on the boat while appreciating the beautiful scenery.

  • Tourists may take an 83­km­long boat tour down the Lijiang River from Guilin to Yangshuo to enjoy the picturesque scenery and many historical sites on both banks of the river.

  • In Wuhan, tourists can appreciate the fascinating scenery of the Three Gorges on the Yangtze River by luxury pleasure ship.

Sightseeing
At the end of 2007, China had over 19,720 travel services, which have good facilities and offer excellent services. In par­ticular, the large travel services in China, with high­quality staff members and advanced marketing systems, can provide services to meet different demands of tourists. There­fore, letting a travel service to arrange a trip in China for you will be a good choice.

In addition, along with the promotion of diversified services by the hotels in China, many hotels offer tourism services too. Tou­rists may join a tourist group at the hotel, and do sightseeing according to the itineraries carefully arranged by the hotel. Some cities also have set up the sightseeing centers for the convenience of tourists.

Accommodations
The hotels in China are star­rated, and the five­star hotels are of the highest rank. By the end of 2007, China had more than 1614,000 star­rated hotels. Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Guangzhou, Jinan, Wuhan, Kunming and other tourist cities in China have a large number of star­rated hotels, which are known for their excellent facilities and service, in addition to various types of common hotels, such as hostels and youth inns, providing many choices for tourists.

Except accommodating tourists, the star­rated hotels also offer various services, such as 24­hour food delivery, newspaper delivery to the guestroom, laundry, hairdressing, beauty treatment, information, taxis, personal attendants and tourism­related services. With perfect communication, telecommunication facilities, and business meeting equipment, star­rated hotels provide advanced business services, such as secretary service, small meeting rooms, personal computers, surfing the internet and leasing cell phones.

All the hotel guestrooms are equipped with TV sets. Guests can watch English programs on CCTV and local TV stations as well. Over­seas television programs are also available in many hotels. Guests can nd the music bar, teahouse, bowling alley, electric game room, cinema, gym, sauna room, massage room, swimming pool and ball­room in many star­rated hotels.

Leisure and Entertainment
Chinese culture is extensive and profound; and the Chinese peo­ple are warm­hearted and hospitable. China offers a wide variety of recreational activities to tourists. Traveling in China, tourists can appreciate traditional Chinese operas, such as Peking Opera, Yueju (Shaoxing Opera), Chuanju (Sichuan Opera), Yuju (Henan Opera), and Jinju (Shanxi Opera); enjoy the performance of China’s tea ceremony; appreciate the performance of acrobatics which are world­renowned, and Chinese music and dances with strong traditional characteristics; participate in the celebration of various traditional festivals of the 56 ethnic groups in China; and experience different ethnic customs and life of the people in different places.

In addition, many cities have the skiing grounds, shooting ranges, golf courses and holiday resorts. Special activities, such as grass glid­ing, sand gliding and tour of hutongs or lanes, are also available.

Chinese Cuisine
With a time­honored history, Chinese cuisine is a gem in the cul­tural treasure house of the Chinese nation. Chinese cuisine, French cuisine and Turkish cuisine are known as the three most famous styles of cuisine in the world. Over the long­lasting development course, Chinese cuisine has formed colorful cultural contents and a strong and solid technique basis. A variety of local styles of cuisine, special dishes and snacks in China are attracting more and more fo­reign tourists with their boundless glamour.

Each local cuisine in China has its own characteristics, but Chinese cuisine as a whole is divided into four major schools — Shandong, Sichuan, Huai­yang and Guangdong cuisine. Four more schools are often added to the above­mentioned four schools. They are Fujian, Zhejiang, Hunan and Anhui cuisine. Sometimes, Beijing and Shanghai cuisine are also counted.

The special dishes contain the palace, vegetarian and Islamic dishes, as well as food cooked with medicinal herbs. The palace dishes, or the imperial cuisine, fea­ture well­selected and particular seasonal materials, meticulous preparation, high skills in the use of a kitchen knife, beautiful colors, fascinating aroma, delicious taste, elegant shapes, high­quality containers and poetic names. Diners eat according to traditional procedures. Vegetarian dishes, which are made of green vegetables, fruits, edible fungus, bean products and vegetable oil, are tasty, nutritious and easy to digest, in addition to the anti­cancer role. The dishes cooked with medicinal herbs are created on the basis of the theories of traditional Chinese medicines and through reasonable cooking. Such foods are good to the peo­ple’s health.

China also has a wide variety of local snacks. The snacks of South China are mainly prepared with rice, and those of North China are made with flour. Beijing is famous for sweet cakes; Guangdong, for Western­style snacks; and Jiangsu, for ex­quisite cakes served on the boat. The recent years have witnessed the rapid develop­ment of fast foods in large­ and medium­sized cities. Foreign fast food restaurants, such as McDonald’s, KFC and Pizza Hut, can be found all over the country to provide convenience to tourists.

Shopping
Thanks to its long history and splendid culture, China boasts a large number of me­ticulously made traditional arts and crafts, showing high craftsmanship. Folk arts and crafts rooted in the life are simple, unadorned and vivid, with profound connotations and ethnic characteristics. Buying tourist com­modities with artistic and practical value will help foreign tourists deepen their un­derstanding of China. The tourist souvenirs bought in China can be preserved by tou­rists, or given to friends and relatives as gifts. In addition, they will help tourists remember their wonderful trips to China forever.

China’s tourist commodities mainly in­clude silk products, embroideries, brocade, Chinese paintings and calligraphy, cloison­né, pottery and porcelain, carved works of art, woven products, lacquer ware, fans, the four treasures of the study (writing brush, ink stick, ink slab and paper), tea, wine, works of art made by the ethnic minority people, carpets, tapestries, West Lake silk umbrel­las, New Year pictures, paper­cuts, kites, folk costumes and toys. All of them are of high tourism commemorative value.
© 2012 China National Tourist Office (New Delhi). All rights reserved