Exploring China


Territorial boundaries: North – Mongolia, Northwest – Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Northeast – Russia, East – East China Sea, North Korea, South – Vietnam, Laos, Burma, Southwest – Bhutan, Nepal, West – India, Tajikistan, Pakistan, Afghanistan

Most important waterways: Yangtze River, Yellow River, Li River, East China Sea, Korean Bay, Yellow Sea, South China Sea

Area: China is the third largest country with an area of 9.6 million km2

Capital: Beijing

Important cities: Beijing, Shanghai, Chongqing, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Chengdu, Hangzhou, Suzhou

Highest point: Mount Everest (29,035 ft)

Lowest point: Ayding Lake (-505 ft)

Time zone: UTC +8 hours

Climate: North& Central – summers are hot, winters are cold and wet, with frequent rainfall. Northeast – summers are hot and dry, winters are cold and wet. Southeast – semi-tropical summers, cold winters with plenty of rainfall. Flooding can occur in the central, western and southern regions, and earthquakes can also occur throughout the country

Seasons: China has four seasons, much like Canada; summer (June-August) the rainy season, can be extremely hot and humid, autumn (September-early October) temperatures are cool, low humidity with limited amount of rain. In spring (April-may) average temperatures are between 12-14 degrees, it can get quite windy, dry, and sandstorms are common in the north. Winter (November-march) is usually cold with heavy snowfall in the north. Best time to visit is in the spring or autumn.

Geographical features versus the means of transportation: China is one of the most developed countries in Asia in terms of transportation. China has an excellent network of modern bullet trains, metro system, and buses that travel throughout the large cities. Travelling here is comfortable and affordable.

Fauna: Over 4,000 species of wildlife, consisting of more than 100 endemic species. Almost all endemic species in China are endangered, threatened or vulnerable to extinction. The most popular animals are the Giant Panda, Golden Monkey, Red Panda, Siberian Tiger, Red-Crowned Crane, and pink dolphin.

Flora: Over 3,000 endemic plant species, which represents an eighth of the world’s total plant species. China’s diversity consists of conifer forests (bamboo forests) and mountains in the north, subtropical forests in the south and center, tropical rainforests in the south and Hainan Island, and the Gobi desert in the north.

Environmental – current issues: habitat and biodiversity loss due to infrastructure development and overpopulation, air pollution in the major cities due to overpopulation and increase of demand in automobiles.

History: China has one of the longest recorded histories in the world. It is characterized by over 3,000 years of dynasties ruled by numerous emperors starting from 206 BC until 1911 when China became a republic.

  • Han Dynasty: first dynasty, spanning over four centuries. Qin Shi Huang unified the country and became the first emperor of China
  • Tang Dynasty: creating of the Silk Road, led to the opening of trade between the Far East and the west, China becomes influential in the western world
  • Ming Dynasty: Mongols expand empire; construction of the Great Wall begins to protect Silk Road from Mongols.
  • Qing Dynasty: last dynasty, China becomes republic in 1911 after years of conflict.
  • 1949: officially becomes a People’s Republic after Communist Party led by Chairman Mao Zedong wins elections.
  • As of 20th Century, China has become one of the fastest growing economies in the world.
  • 2008: China holds its first Olympic Games in Beijing

Political regime: social republic, Communist state

Population: 1,376,049,000 (2015) – largest population in the world

Language: Standard Mandarin, 525 living languages

Ethnic minorities: 91% Han Chinese and 56 minority groups.

Religions: Taoism/non-religious/Tradition worship/Confucianism (87.4%), Buddhism (6.2%), Christianity (2.3%), Salvationist religions (2.2%), Islam (1.7%), and other (0.2%)

Main source of revenue: mining and ore processing, machine building, textiles, consumer products, food processing, transportation equipment, telecommunications equipment, agriculture products, tourism.

Currency: Renminbi or Yuan – 1 CAD to 4.89 Yuan

Gastronomy: With its diverse landscapes, geography and climates, China has a variety of different cuisines. Most recipes and cuisines are known for its array of colours and distinct tastes (sweet-sour, spicy). Staple foods include rice, noodles, vegetables, and sauces.

Protocol: Like most Asian countries, Chinese people are very conservative, therefore dress appropriately, and public display of affection is frowned upon. Always use full titles when addressing someone (Mrs., Mr., Doctor). Treat the elderly with respect, and either bow or shake hands with everyone in the room starting with the more senior. Never discuss current issues or politics.

Main airports: Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chengdu are major hubs.

Main airlines: China Airlines, Air China, Southern Airlines, Eastern Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Korean Air, Delta, British Airways, Japan Airlines, Turkish Airliens, EgyptAir, Air Canada, Air France, All Nippon Airways, American Airlines, Asiana Airlines, El Al Israel Airlines. Lufthansa, Qantas.

Entry/Exit Requirements: Passport – valid 6 months after departure

Tourist Visa: prior to arrival – valid for 3 months from date of issue


Safety: China is relatively safe, especially in major cities. Petty crime such as pick pocketing, purse snatching and theft occur. Demonstrations can occur in major city centers. Be vigilant in tourist areas, and always keep your documentation in a safe at hotel.

Health issues:

Vaccins to consider: Hepatitis A&B, Influenza, Japanese encephalitis, Measles, Polio, Rabies, and Tick-borne encephalitis

Contaminated drinking water can contain diseases like cholera, hepatitis A, schistosomiasis and typhoid

Some insects can carry and spread chikunguya, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, dengue fever, leishmaniasis, Lyme disease and malaria.


Chinese New Year: Biggest and most important festival

  • Celebrated on the 1st day of the Chinese calendar for 15 days between January and February.
  • Many Chinese take this time off to travel
  • Red is the symbol of fire, which drives away bad luck, and is used throughout the festival

Lantern Festival: The last day of the Chinese New Year

  • Firework display, with different shaped and sized lanterns

Dragon Boat festival: Folk festival celebrated on the 5th day of the 5th month

  • Boats painted like dragons are raced by many teams
  • The winner is said to be given good luck for the following year

Mid-summer festival: Celebrated in September, on the 15th day of the 8th month

  • Two day holiday spent with family. Business are closed during this time


Classical-Cultural circuit :

Days 1-2: Shanghai / Yu Gardens & French Concession

Day 3: Shanghai / Guilin / The Bund & Nanjing Road

Days 4-5: Guilin / Xi’an / Li River, Yangzhou & Reed Flute Cave

Day 6: Xi’an / Terracotta warriors

Day 7: Xi’an/Beijing: Muslim Street, Great Mosque & Small Wild Goose Pagoda

Day 8: Beijing: City tour, Tian’anmen Square, Forbidden City & Hutongs

Day 9: Beijing / Great wall

Day 10: Beijing: Temple of Heaven

Not to miss:


Great wall: Beijing’s most popular attraction bringing in over 70,000 visitors a day. It is the longest wall in the world, measuring around 21,000 km and is Seven Wonders of the World. The wall was built over 2,300 years ago. It was designed as a defense against the raiding Hun tribes of Mongolia, to prevent invasion and to protect the Silk Road. It is a daytrip from Beijing, located 1 hour away by train, 1.5 hour by bus, and 45-60 minutes by car. The most famous section of the wall is Badaling, however it is very crowded. It is recommended to visit the Mutianyu section, as it is less crowded, but still easily accessible and incredibly scenic. Visitors can climb or take a cable car to the top, then take the cable car or toboggan down to the base. Visitors can hike in the surrounding forests


Terracotta warriors: the world’s largest collection of 2,000 year old life-size warriors and horses. Discovered in 1974, 35km east of the city, the army has become known as a Wonder of the World. The warriors are depicted to be the army of Qin Shi Huang – the first emperor of China. Each warrior has a different face, and they were buried with the emperor in 210 to protect him in the afterlife. As China is one of the oldest and biggest countries in the world, it has much to offer in the way of historical and cultural attractions. It is the home to numerous historical and cultural monuments, grottoes, carvings, monasteries, and cities. China is well known for its natural beauty as well, especially with its diverse landscape, national parks, lakes, gardens and mountains. The Huanghshan or Yellow Mountains are the most notable in the country and one of the most photographed as well. China is also one of the fastest growing economies in the world, and therefore has numerous modern cities, including Shanghai, Beijing, Hangzhou, and Shenzhen, were tourists can visit a number of museums, buildings; Oriental Pearl TV Tower, amusement parks; Window of the World and Disneyland, and go shopping on some of the most luxurious streets in all of Asia; Nanjing Road.

(Maria Langill)


One thought on “Exploring China

  1. I have personally never been, but after reading your article, I can now say how exciting it is to become that much more knowledgeable about a destination.
    A destination filled with history, culture is a life time experience I would truly love to experience.
    Thank you for this very informative research 🙂
    (Sarah Favreau)


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