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China , officially known as the People's Republic of China , is a vast country in Eastern Asia about the same size as the United States of America with the world's largest population, 1.34 billion according to the 2010 census. With coasts on the East China Sea, Korea Bay, Yellow Sea, and South China Sea, it borders 14 nations — Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam to the South, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan to the West, Russia and Mongolia to the North and North Korea to the East. This number of neighbouring states is equalled only by China's vast neighbour to the north, Russia. This article only covers mainland China. For Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, please see separate articles. (less...) (more...)

Population: 1,349,585,838 people
Area: 9,596,961 km2
Highest point: 8,850 m
Coastline: 14,500 km
Life expectancy: 74.99 years
GDP per capita: $9,300
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About China

History

Ancient China

The recorded history of Chinese civilisation can be traced back to the Yellow River valley, said to be the 'cradle of Chinese civilisation'. The Xia Dynasty was the first dynasty to be described in ancient historical chronicles, though to date, no concrete proof of its existence has been found. Nevertheless, archaeological evidence has suggested that a primitive bronze-age civilisation had already developed in China by the period described.

The Shang Dynasty, China's first historically confirmed dynasty, and the Zhou Dynasty ruled across the Yellow River basin. The Zhou adopted a decentralized system of government, in which the feudal lords ruled over their respective territories with a high degree of autonomy, even maintaining their own armies, while at the same time paying tribute to the king and recognising him as the symbolic ruler of China. During the second half of the Zhou period, China descended into centuries of political turmoil, with the feudal lords of numerous small fiefdoms vying for power during the Spring and Autumn Period, and later stabilised into seven large states in the Warring States period. This tumultuous period gave birth to China's greatest thinkers including Confucius, Mencius and Laozi, who made substantial contributions to Chinese thought and culture.

Imperial China

China was eventually unified in 221 BC by Qin Shi Huang, the 'First Emperor', and the Qin Dynasty instituted a centralized system of government, and standardized weights and measures, Chinese characters and currency in order to create unity. However, due to dissatisfaction with tyrannical rule under the Qin, the Han Dynasty took over in 206 BC after a period of revolt, ushering in the first golden age of Chinese civilisation. To this day the majority Chinese race use the term "Han" to describe themselves, and Chinese characters continue to be called "Han characters" in Chinese, with similar cognates in Japanese and Korean. The Han Dynasty saw the beginning of the Silk Road, and also saw the invention of paper.

The collapse of the Han Dynasty in AD 220 led to a period of political turmoil and war known as the Three Kingdoms Period, which saw China split into the three separate states of Wei, Shu and Wu. China was then briefly reunified under the Jin Dynasty, before descending into a period of division and anarchy once again. The era of division culminated with the Sui Dynasty which reunified China in 581. The Sui were famous for major public works projects, such as the engineering feat of the Grand Canal, which gradually developed into the Canal linking Beijing in the north to Hangzhou in the south. Certain sections of the canal are still navigable today.

In 618 A.D, the Sui were supplanted by the Tang Dynasty, ushering in the second golden age of Chinese civilisation, marked by a flowering of Chinese poetry, Buddhism and statecraft, and also saw the development of the Imperial Examination system. Chinatowns overseas are often known as "Street of the Tang People" (唐人街 Tángrén jiē) in Chinese. The collapse of the Tang Dynasty then saw China divided once again, until it was reunified by the Song Dynasty in 960 AD. In 1127, The Song was driven south of the Huai river by the Jurchens, where they continued to rule as the Southern Song based in Lin An (临安Lín'ān) (modern-day Hangzhou), and attained a level of commercial and economic development unmatched until the West's Industrial Revolution. The Yuan Dynasty (Mongol Empire) first defeated the Jurchens, then proceeded to conquer the Song in 1279, and ruled their vast Eurasian empire from Da Du (modern-day Beijing).

After defeating the Mongols, the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) re-instituted rule by ethnic Han. The Ming period was noted for trade and exploration, with Zheng He's numerous voyages to Southeast Asia, India and the Arab world. Famous buildings in Beijing, such as the Forbidden City and the Temple of Heaven, were built in this period. The last dynasty of the Qing (Manchu) dynasty (1644-1911), saw the Chinese empire grow to its current size, incorporating the western regions of Xinjiang and Tibet. The Qing dynasty fell into decay in its final years to become the 'sick man of Asia', where it was nibbled apart by Western powers. The Westerners established their own treaty ports in Guangzhou, Shanghai and Tianjin. China lost several territories to foreign powers; Hong Kong and Weihai were ceded to Britain, Taiwan and Liaodong were to Japan, parts of the North East including Dalian and parts of Outer Manchuria to Russia, while Qingdao was ceded to Germany. In addition, China lost control of its tributaries, with Vietnam being ceded to France, while Korea and the Ryukyu Islands were ceded to Japan.

The Republic and WWII

The two thousand-year old imperial system collapsed in 1911, when Sun Yat-Sen (孙中山, Sūn Zhōngshān) founded the Republic of China (中华民国 Zhōnghuá Mínguó). Central rule collapsed in 1916 after Yuan Shih-kai, the second president of the Republic and self-declared emperor, passed away; China descended into anarchy, with various self-serving warlords ruling over different regions of China. In 1919, student protests in Beijing gave birth to the "May Fourth Movement" (五四运动 Wǔ Sì Yùndòng), which espoused various reforms to Chinese society, such as the use of the vernacular in writing, as well as the development of science and democracy. The intellectual ferment of the May Fourth Movement gave birth to the reorganized Kuomintang (KMT) in 1919 and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), in the French Concession of Shanghai, in 1921.

After uniting much of eastern China under KMT rule in 1928, the CCP and the KMT turned on each other, with the CCP fleeing to Yan'an in Shaanxi in the epic Long March. During the period from 1922 to 1937, Shanghai became a truly cosmopolitan city, as one of the world's busiest ports, and the most prosperous city in East Asia, home to millions of Chinese and 60,000 foreigners from all corners of the globe. However, underlying problems throughout the vast countryside, particularly the more inland parts of the country, such as civil unrest, famines and warlord conflict, still remained.

Japan established a puppet state under the name Manchukuo in Manchuria in 1931, and launched a full-scale invasion of China's heartland in 1937. The Japanese initiated a brutal system of rule in Eastern China, culminating in the Nanjing Massacre of 1937. After fleeing west to Chongqing, the KMT realized the urgency of the situation and signed a tenuous agreement with the CCP to form a second united front against the Japanese. With the defeat of Japan at the end of World War II in 1945, the KMT and CCP armies manoeuvred for positions in north China, setting the stage for the civil war in the years to come. The civil war lasted from 1946 to 1949 and ended with the Kuomintang defeated and sent packing to Taiwan where they hoped to re-establish themselves and recapture the mainland some day.

A Red China

Mao Zedong officially declared the establishment of the People's Republic of China on 1 Oct 1949. After an initial period closely hewing to the Soviet model of heavy industrialization and comprehensive central economic planning, China began to experiment with adapting Marxism to a largely agrarian society.

Massive social experiments such as the Hundred Flowers Campaign (百花运动 bǎihuā yùndòng), the Great Leap Forward (大跃进 dàyuèjìn), intended to collectivize and industrialize China quickly, and the Cultural Revolution (无产阶级文化大革命 wúchǎn jiējí wénhuà dà gémìng), aimed at changing everything by discipline, destruction of the "Four Olds," and total dedication to Mao Zedong Thought, rocked China from 1957 to 1976. The Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution are generally considered disastrous failures in China.

Mao Zedong died in 1976, and in 1978, Deng Xiaoping became China's paramount leader. Deng and his lieutenants gradually introduced market-oriented reforms and decentralized economic decision making. Economic output quadrupled by 2000 and continues to grow by 8-10% per year, but huge problems remain — bouts of serious inflation, regional income inequality, human rights abuses, ethnic unrest, massive pollution, rural poverty and corruption. The former president and CCP General Secretary, Hu Jintao, had proclaimed a policy for a "Harmonious Society" (和谐社会 héxié shèhuì) which promised to restore balanced economic growth and channel investment and prosperity into China's central and western provinces. China continues to develop economically at a breakneck speed, and has overtaken Japan to become the world's second largest economy after the United States, cementing its place once again as a major political, military and economic world power, but what lies ahead for the Middle Kingdom is anybody's guess.

Activities

Massage

Massage is available all over China, often both high quality and reasonably priced. Expert work costs ¥20-80 per hour.

  • Almost any hairdresser will give a hair wash and head massage for ¥10. This often includes cleaning out ear wax and some massage on neck and arms. With a haircut and/or a shave, prices range ¥25-100 with prices higher in large cities and higher-class or tourist-oriented establishments.
  • Foot massage (足疗 zúliáo) is widely available, often indicated by a picture of a bare footprint on the sign. Prices are from ¥15 to about ¥60.
  • Whole body massage is also widespread, at prices from ¥15 an hour up. There are two varieties: ànmó (按摩) is general massage; tuīná (推拿) concentrates on the meridians used in acupuncture.

These three types of massage are often mixed; many places offer all three.

  • Massage is a traditional trade for the blind, and the best value is often at tiny out of the way places who have some blind staff (盲人按摩 mángrén ànmó).
  • The most expert massages are in massage hospitals, or general Chinese medicine hospitals, usually at around ¥50 an hour.

Some massage places are actually brothels. Prostitution is illegal in China but quite common and often disguised as massage. Most hot spring or sauna establishments offer all the services a businessman might want for relaxation. As for the smaller places, if you see pink lighting or lots of girls in short skirts, probably considerably more than just massage is on offer (and quite often they cannot do a good massage either). The same rule applies in many hair salons which double as massage parlors/brothels.

The non-pink-lit places usually give good massage and generally do not offer sex. If the establishment advertises massage by the blind, it is almost certainly legitimate.

It is possible to take a nap for a few hours in many massage places and even to spend the night in some. Hairdressers generally do not have facilities for this, but you can sleep on the table in a body massage place or (much better) on the couch used for foot massage. Fees are moderate; this is probably the cheapest way to sleep in China. Note, however, that except in high-end saunas with private rooms, you will share the staff's toilet and there may not be any way to lock up luggage.

Language for massage:

  • tòng (痛) and bú tòng (不痛) are "pain" and "no pain"
  • hǎo (好) and bù hǎo (不好) are "good" and "not good"; hěn hǎo (很好) is "very good" or "great"
  • yào (要) is "want", bú yào (不要) "don't want"
  • yǎng (痒) is "that tickles"

There are several ways a masseur or masseuse might ask a question. For example "does this hurt" might be asked as tòng bú tòng? or tòng ma?. For either, answer tòng or bú tòng.

Traditional arts

If you are planning to spend a longer time in China then you may want to consider learning some of the traditional arts. Travelling to China is after all a unique chance to learn the basics, or refine already acquired skills, directly from master practitioners in the arts' home country. Many cities have academies that accept beginners, and not knowing Chinese is usually not a problem as you can learn by example and imitation. Calligraphy (书法 shūfǎ), a term that covers both writing characters and painting scrolls (that is, classical landscapes and the like) remains a popular national hobby. Many calligraphers practice by writing with water on sidewalks in city parks. Other traditional arts which offer classes include learning to play traditional Chinese instruments (inquire in shops that sell these as many offer classes), cooking Chinese cuisine, or even singing Beijing Opera (京剧 jīngjù). Fees are usually extremely modest, and materials you need will not exactly break the bank. The only requirement is being in the same place for a long enough time, and showing sufficient respect; it is better not to join these classes as a tourist attraction.

Martial arts and Taichi

As with traditional cultural arts, those with the time and inclination may be interested in studying China's famed martial arts. Some, such as tai chi (太极拳 tàijíquán) can be studied by simply visiting any city park in the early morning and following along. You will likely find many eager teachers. Other martial arts require more in-depth study. A traditional classification breaks Chinese martial arts into two groups named for two mountain areas with monasteries which are centers of kung fu — Shaolin Temple on Mount Song and Wudang Temple in the Wudang Mountains. Shaolin are the hard or external styles emphasizing speed and power, while Wudang are the soft or internal styles emphasizing breath control and smooth movement. Other well-known centers of kung fu include Southern Shaolin in Fujian and Wu Wei Temple near Dali.

Shanghai has a martial arts museum at a Physical Education university.

Traditional pastimes

China has several traditional games often played in tea gardens, public parks, or even on the street. Players often attract crowds of on-lookers. Two famous strategy board games that originated in China are Go (围棋 wéiqí) and Chinese chess (象棋 xiàngqí). Mahjong (麻将 májiàng), a game played with tiles, is very popular and often (well-nigh always) played for money, although its vast regional variations mean that you will have to learn new rules everywhere you go. Among the most well known variants of this game are the Cantonese, Taiwanese and Japanese versions. Chinese checkers (跳棋 tiàoqí ), despite its name, did not originate in China but can be found. Many Chinese are skilled card (扑克牌 pūkèpái) players; Deng Xiaoping's love for bridge (桥牌 qiáopái) was particularly renowned.

Food

Food in China varies widely from region to region so the term "Chinese food" is pretty much a blanket term, just like "Western food." While visiting, relax your inhibitions and try a bit of everything.

Do keep in mind that undercooked food or poor hygiene can cause bacterial or parasitic infection, particularly during warm or hot weather. Thus it is advisable to take great care about (and perhaps abstain from) eating seafood and meat on the street during the summer. In addition, unless you're in Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai or other large cities, raw meat and seafood should be avoided. That all being said, the hygiene conditions of a restaurant are usually satisfactory which means that diarrhea is usually not a risk to most people.

Chinese gourmands place emphasis on freshness so your meal will most likely be cooked as soon as you order it. Searing hot woks over coal or gas fires make even street food usually safe to eat. Indeed freshly prepared street food, as noted by many travel writers, is often safer than food sitting on the buffet lines of 5-star hotels. China is no exception.

The two-menu system where different menus are presented according to the skin color of a guest remains largely unheard of in China. Most restaurants only have one menu - the Chinese one. Learning some Chinese characters such as beef (牛), pork (猪), chicken (鸡), fish (鱼), stir-fried (炒), deep-fried (炸), braised (烧), baked or grilled (烤), soup (汤), rice (饭), or noodles (面) will take you a long way. As pork is the most common meat in Chinese cuisine, where a dish simply lists "meat" (肉), assume it is pork.

Certain Chinese dishes contain ingredients some people may prefer to avoid, such as dog, snake or endangered species. However, it is very unlikely that you will order these dishes by a mistake. Dog and snake are usually served in specialty restaurants which do not hide their ingredients. Obviously, products made from endangered ingredients will have astronomical prices and would not be listed on the regular menu anyway.

Generally speaking, rice is the main staple in the south, while wheat, mostly in the form of noodles, is the main staple in the north.

Regional cuisines

  • Beijing (京菜 Jīng Cài ): home-style noodles and baozi (包子 bread buns), Peking Duck (北京烤鸭 Běijīng Kǎoyā), cabbage dishes, great pickles. Not fancy but can be great and satisfying.
  • Imperial (宫廷菜 Gōngtíng Cài): the food of the late Qing court, made famous by the Empress Dowager Cixi, can be sampled at high-end specialized restaurants in Beijing. The cuisine combines elements of Manchu frontier food such as venison with unique exotica such as camel's paw, shark's fin and bird's nest.
  • Cantonese / Guangzhou / Hong Kong (广东菜 Guǎngdōng Cài, 粤菜 Yuè Cài): the style most Western visitors are already familiar with to some extent. Not too spicy, the emphasis is on freshly cooked ingredients and seafood. Dim Sum (点心 Diǎnxīn), small snacks usually eaten for breakfast or lunch, are a highlight. That being said, authentic Cantonese cuisine is also among the most adventurous in China in terms of variety of ingredients as the Cantonese are famous, even among the Chinese, for their extremely wide definition of what is considered edible.
  • Shanghai (沪菜 Hù Cài): because of its geographical location, Shanghai cuisine is considered to be a good mix of northern and southern Chinese cooking styles. The most famous dishes are xiaolongbao (小笼包 Xiǎolóngbāo) and chives dumplings (韭菜饺子 Jiǔcài Jiǎozi ). Another specialty is "pulled noodles" (拉面 lāmiàn), from which Japanese ramen and Korean ramyeon are believed to be derived. Sugar is often added to fried dishes giving Shanghainese food a sweet flavor.
  • Sichuan (川菜 Chuān Cài): Famously hot and spicy. A popular saying is that it is so spicy your mouth will go numb. However, not all dishes are made with live chilis. The numbing sensation actually comes from the Sichuan peppercorn (花椒). It is widely available outside Sichuan and also native to Chongqing. If you want really authentic Sichuanese food outside Sichuan or Chongqing, look for small eateries sporting the characters for Sichuan cuisine in neighborhoods with lots of migrant workers. These tend to be much cheaper and often better than the ubiquitous up-market Sichuan restaurants.
  • Hunan (湖南菜 Húnán Cài, 湘菜 Xiāng Cài): the cuisine of the Xiangjiang region, Dongting Lake and western Hunan Province. Similar, in some ways, to Sichuanese cuisine, it can actually be "spicier" in the Western sense.
  • Teochew / Chaozhou (潮州菜 Cháozhōu Cài): originating from the Shantou area in northern Guangdong, a unique style which nonetheless will be familiar to most Southeast Asian and Hong Kong Chinese. Famous dishes include braised duck (卤鸭 Lǔyā), yam paste dessert (芋泥 Yùní) and fishballs (鱼丸 Yúwán).
  • Fujian (福建菜 Fújiàn Cài, 闽菜 Mǐn Cài): uses ingredients mostly from coastal and estuarial waterways. "Buddha Jumps over a Wall" (佛跳墙 Fó Tiào Qiáng) is particularly famous. According to legend, the smell was so good a monk forgot his vegetarian vows and leaped over the wall to have some. Fujian cuisine can be split into at least two distinct cuisines: Minnan cuisine from the area around Xiamen and Mindong cuisine from the area around Fuzhou.
  • Guizhou (贵州菜 Guìzhōu Cài, 黔菜 Qián Cài): combines elements of Sichuan and Xiang cuisine, making liberal use of spicy, peppery and sour flavors. The peculiar zhergen (折耳根 Zhē'ěrgēn), a regional root vegetable, adds an unmistakable sour-peppery flavor to many dishes. Minority dishes such as Sour Fish Hot Pot (酸汤鱼 Suān Tāng Yú) are widely enjoyed.
  • Zhejiang (浙菜 Zhè Cài): includes the foods of Hangzhou, Ningbo, and Shaoxing. A delicately seasoned, light-tasting mix of seafood and vegetables often served in soup. Sometimes lightly sweetened or sometimes sweet and sour, Zhejiang dishes frequently involve cooked meats and vegetables in combination.
  • Hainan (琼菜 Qióng Cài): famous among the Chinese, but still relatively unknown to foreigners, characterized by the relatively heavy use of coconuts. The signature specialties are the "Four Famous Dishes of Hainan" (海南四大名菜 Hǎi Nán Sì Dà Míng Cài): Wenchang chicken (文昌鸡 Wénchāng jī), Dongshan goat (东山羊 Dōngshān yáng), Jiaji duck (加积鸭 Jiājī yā) and Hele crab (和乐蟹 Hélè xiè).

Fast food

Various types of Chinese food provide quick, cheap, tasty, light meals. Street food and snacks sold from portable vendors can be found throughout China's cities. Wangfujing district's Snack Street in Beijing is a notable, if touristy, area for street food. In Cantonese-speaking areas, street food vendors are called gai bin dong; such ventures can grow into a substantial business with the stalls only barely 'mobile' in the traditional street food sense. Various quick eats available nationwide include:

  • Various, usually sweet, items from the ubiquitous bakeries (面包房, 面包店). A great variety of sweets and sweet food found in China are often sold as snacks, rather than as a post-meal dessert course in restaurants as in the West.
  • Barbecued sticks of meat from street vendors. Yang rou chuan (羊肉串), or fiery Xinjiang-style lamb kebabs, are particularly renowned.
  • Jiaozi (饺子), which Chinese translate as "dumplings", boiled, steamed or fried ravioli-like items with a variety of fillings. These are found throughout Asia; momos, mandu, gyoza, and jiaozi are all basically variations of the same thing.
  • Baozi (包子), steamed buns stuffed with salty, sweet or vegetable fillings.
  • Mantou (馒头), steamed bread available on the roadside - great for a very cheap and filling snack.
  • Lanzhou-style lamian (拉面), fresh hand-pulled noodles. This industry is heavily dominated by members of the Hui (回族) ethnic group - look for a tiny restaurant with staff in Muslim dress, white fez-like hats on the men and head scarves on the women.
  • In Guangdong and sometimes elsewhere, dim sum (点心). At any major tourist destination in China, you may well find someone serving dim sum for Hong Kong customers.
  • Jianbing (煎饼), an egg pancake wrapped around a cracker with sauce and, optionally, chili sauce.

The Western notion of fast food is arguably as popular as the domestic variety. KFC (肯德基), McDonald's (麦当劳), Subway (赛百味) and Pizza Hut (必胜客) are ubiquitous, at least in mid-sized cities and above. There are a few Burger Kings (汉堡王), Domino's and Papa John's (棒约翰) as well but only in major cities. Chinese chains are also widespread. These include Dicos (德克士) - chicken burgers, fries etc., cheaper than KFC and some say better - and Kung Fu (真功夫) - which has a more Chinese menu.

Etiquette

China is the birthplace of chopsticks and unsurprisingly, much important etiquette relates to the use of chopsticks. While the Chinese are generally tolerant about table manners, you will most likely be seen as ill-mannered, annoying or offensive when using chopsticks in improper ways. Stick to the following rules:

  • Never use your chopsticks to examine a dish piece by piece, making everyone taste your saliva. Implicitly use your eye to target what you want, then pick it.
  • Once you pick a piece, you are obliged to take it. Don't put it back. Confucius says never leave someone with what you don't want.
  • When someone is picking from a dish, don't try to cross over or go underneath their arms to pick from a dish further away. Wait until they finish picking.
  • In most cases, a dish is not supposed to be picked simultaneously by more than one person. Don't try to compete with anyone to pick a piece from the same dish.
  • Don't put your chopsticks vertically into your bowl of rice as it is reminiscent of incense sticks burning at the temple and carries the connotation of wishing death for those around you. Instead, place it across your bowl or on the chopstick rest, if provided.
  • Don't drum your bowl with chopsticks. Only beggars do it. People don't find it funny even if you're willing to satirically call yourself a beggar.

Other less important dining rules include:

  • Many travel books suggest that cleaning your plate suggests that your host did not to feed you well and will feel pressured to order more food. In general, finishing a meal involves a delicate balance. Cleaning your plate will typically invite more to be served, while leaving too much may be a sign that you didn't like it. When you're stuffed, you will please your host by lifting up a thumb, telling your host how much you enjoy it, and theatrically rubbing your belly to show that you're stuffed.
  • Communal chopsticks (公筷) are not always provided. Diners typically use their own chopsticks to transfer food to their bowl. While many Westerners consider this unhygienic, it is usually safe. However, if desired, it is acceptable to request communal chopsticks.
  • Making slurping noises when eating is common but could be considered inappropriate, especially among well educated families. However, slurping, like "cupping" when tasting tea, is seen by some gourmets as a way to enhance flavor.
  • Spoons are used when drinking soups or eating thin or watery dishes such as porridge. In China, the dish should be scooped towards you, and not away from you as done in the West, as the Chinese believe that this rakes in wealth.
  • If a piece is too slippery to pick, do it with the aid of a spoon; do not spear it with the sharp end of the chopstick(s).
  • All dishes are shared, similar to "family style" dining in North America. When you order anything, it's not just for you, it's for everyone. You're expected to consult others before you order a dish. When you're asked about your opinion, being overly picky is usually seen as annoying.
  • It is normal for your host or hostess to put food on your plate. It is a gesture of kindness and hospitality. If you wish to decline, do it in a way so that it does not offend. For example, you should insist that they eat and that you serve yourself.
  • Fish heads are considered a delicacy and may be offered to you as an honored guest. In truth, the cheek meat in some species of fish is particularly savory.

Who pays the bill

In China, restaurants and pubs are very common entertainment places and treating plays an important part in socializing.

While splitting the bill is beginning to be accepted by young people, treating is still the norm, especially when the parties are in obviously different social classes. Men are expected to treat women, elders to juniors, rich to poor, hosts to guests, working class to non-income class (students). Friends of the same class will usually prefer to split the opportunity to pay, rather than split the bill, i.e. "This is my turn, and you treat next time."

It is common to see Chinese competing intensely to pay the bill. You are expected to fight back and say "It's my turn, you treat me next time." The smiling loser will accuse the winner of being too courteous. All these dramas, despite still being common among all generations and usually played wholeheartedly are becoming somewhat less widely practiced among younger, urban Chinese.

Unless you only hang out with non-Chinese tourists, you will have fair chances of being treated. For budget travellers, the good news is that Chinese tend to be eager to treat foreigners, although you shouldn't expect much from students and grassroots working-class families and individuals.

That being said, Chinese tend to be very tolerant towards foreigners. If you feel like going Dutch, try it. They tend to believe that "all foreigners prefer to go Dutch". If they try to argue, it usually means that they insist on paying for your bill as well, not the opposite.

Eating at a restaurant

Chinese restaurants often offer an overwhelming variety of dishes. Fortunately, all but the cheapest restaurants have picture menus with photos of each dish, so you are saved from despair facing a sea of characters. Starting from mid-range restaurants, there is also likely to be a more or less helpful English menu. Even with the pictures, the sheer amount of dishes can be overwhelming and their nature difficult to make out, so it is often useful to ask the waiter to recommend (推荐 tuijian) something. They will often do so on their own if they find you searching for a few minutes. The waiter will usually keep standing next to your table while you peruse the menu, so do not be unnerved by that.

Dishes ordered in a restaurant are meant for sharing amongst the whole party. If one person is treating the rest, they usually take the initiative and order for everyone. In other cases, everyone in the party may recommend a dish. If you are with Chinese people, it is fine to let them choose, but also fine to let them know your preferences.

If you are picking the dishes, the first question to consider is whether you want rice. Usually you do, because it helps to keep your bill manageable. However, real luxury lies in omitting the rice, and it can also be nice when you want to sample a lot of the dishes. Rice must usually be ordered separately and won’t be served if you don’t order it. It is not free but very cheap, just a few yuan a bowl.

For the dishes, if you are eating rice, the rule of thumb is to order at least as many dishes as there are people. Serving sizes differ from restaurant to restaurant. You can never go wrong with an extra plate of green vegetables; after that, use your judgment, look what other people are getting, or ask the waiter how big the servings are. If you are not eating rice, add dishes accordingly. If you are unsure, you can ask the waiter if they think you ordered enough (你觉得够吗? ni juede gou ma?).

You order dishes simply by pointing at them in the menu, saying “this one” (这个 zhe ge). The way to order rice is to say how many bowls of rice you want (usually one per person): X宛米饭 (X wan mifan), where X is yi, liang, san, si, etc. The waiter will repeat your order for your confirmation.

If you want to leave, call the waiter by shouting 服务员 (fuwuyuan), and ask for the bill (买单 maidan).

Eating alone

Traditional Chinese dining is made for groups, with lots of shared dishes on the table. This can make for a lonely experience and some restaurants might not know how to serve a single customer. It might however provide the right motivation to find other people (locals or fellow travellers) to eat with! But if you find yourself hungry and on your own, here are some tips:

Chinese-style fast food chains provide a good option for the lone traveller to get filled, and still eat Chinese style instead of western burgers. Another upside is that food safety is generally not an issue. They usually have picture menus or picture displays above the counter, and offer set deals (套餐 taocan) that are designed for eating alone. Usually, you receive a number, which is called out (in Chinese!) when your dish is ready. Just wait at the area where the food is handed out – there will be a receipt or something on your tray stating your number. The price you pay for this convenience is that ingredients are not particularly fresh. It’s impossible to enumerate all of the chains (though look above for some examples), and there is some regional variation, but you will generally recognize a store by a colourful, branded signboard. If you can’t find any, look around major train stations or in shopping areas. Department stores and shopping malls also generally house chain restaurants.

A tastier and cheaper way of eating on your own is street food, but exercise some caution regarding hygiene and be aware that the quality of the ingredients (especially meat) may be suspect. Ask around and check the local wiki page to find out where to get street food in your city; often, there are snack streets or night markets full of stalls. Another food that can be consumed solo are noodle soups such as beef noodles (牛肉面 niuroumian), a dish that is ubiquitous in China and can also be found at many chain stores.

Bear in mind that even if it may be unusual to eat at a restaurant alone, you will not be thrown out and the staff will certainly try to suggest something for you.

Drinks

The Chinese love a tipple and the all-purpose word jiǔ (酒) covers quite a range of alcoholic drinks.

Toasting

Chinese toast with the word gānbēi (干杯, literally "dry glass"). Traditionally one is expected to drain the glass in one swig. During a meal, the visitor is generally expected to drink at least one glass with each person present; sometimes there may be considerable pressure to do this. To be polite, you should also initiate toasts with many of the company. It can be considered rude, at least early during the meal, if you do not make a toast every time you take a drink.

Exercise caution. Fortunately, the glasses are usually small — even beer is often drunk from an oversized shot glass. The Chinese liquor, baijiu, is definitely potent (up to 65% alcohol). Baijiu is often drunk in small shot glasses for a good reason. US president Nixon practiced drinking before his first trip to China to be ready to drink with Mao Zedong. Unless you are used to imbibing heavily, be very careful when drinking with Chinese.

If you want to take it easy but still be sociable, say suíbiàn (随便) before you make the toast, then drink only part of the glass. It may also be possible to have three toasts (traditionally signifying friendship) with the entire company, rather than one separate toast for every individual present.

Alcohol

Beer (啤酒 píjiǔ) is very common in China and is served in nearly every restaurant and sold in many grocery stores. The typical price is about ¥2.5-4 in a grocery store, ¥4-18 in a restaurant, around ¥10 in an ordinary bar, and ¥20-40 in a fancier bar. Most places outside of major cities serve beer at room temperature, regardless of season, though places that cater to tourists or expatriates have it cold.

The most famous brand is Tsingtao (青島) from Qingdao, which was at one point a German concession. Other brands abound and are generally light beers in a pilsner or lager style with 3-4% alcohol. This is comparable to many American beers, but weaker than the 5-6% beers found almost everywhere else. In addition to national brands, most cities will have one or more cheap local beers. Some companies (Tsingtao, Yanjing) also make a dark beer (黑啤酒 hēipíjiǔ). In some regions, beers from other parts of Asia are fairly common and tend to be popular with travellers — Filipino San Miguel in Guangdong, Singaporean Tiger in Hainan, and Laotian Beer Lao in Yunnan.

Locally made grape wine (葡萄酒 pútaojiǔ) is common and much of it is reasonably priced, from ¥15 in a grocery store, about ¥100-150 in a fancy bar. That said, most of the stuff bears only the faintest resemblance to Western wines. The Chinese like their wines red and very, very sweet, and they're typically served over ice or mixed with Sprite.

Great Wall and Dynasty are large brands with a number of wines at various prices; their cheaper (under ¥40) offerings generally do not impress Western wine drinkers. Chang Yu is another large brand; some of their low end wines are a bit better. If you're looking for a Chinese-made, Western-style wine, try to find these labels:

  • Suntime, with a passable Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Yizhu, located in Yili and specializing in ice wine
  • Les Champs D'or, French-owned and probably the best overall winery in China.
  • Imperial Horse and Xixia, from Ningxia
  • Mogao Ice Wine, Gansu
  • Castle Estates, Shandong
  • Shangrila Estates, from Zhongdian, Yunnan

There are also several brands and types of rice wine. Most of these resemble a watery rice pudding, they are usually very sweet and only have a very small amount of alcohol for taste. These do not generally much resemble Japanese sake, the only rice wine well known in the West. Travellers' reactions to these vary widely.

Báijiǔ (白酒) is distilled liquor, generally 80 to 120 proof, made from sorghum and sometimes other grains depending on the region. As the word "jiǔ" is often loosely translated as "wine" by Chinese beverage firms and English speakers, baijiu is frequently referred to as "white wine" in conversation, but "white lightning" would be a better translation. Baijiu will typically be served at banquets and festivals in tiny shot glasses. Toasts are ubiquitous at banquets or dinners on special occasions. Baijiu is definitely an acquired taste, but once the taste is acquired, it's quite fun to "ganbei" a glass or two at a banquet.

The cheapest baijiu is the Beijing brewed èrguōtóu (二锅头) (¥4.5 per 100 mL bottle). It comes in two variants: 53% and 56% alcohol by volume. Ordering "xiǎo èr" (Erguotou's diminutive nickname) will likely raise a few eyebrows and get a chuckle from working class Chinese.

Máotái (茅台), made in Guizhou Province, is China's most famous brand of baijiu and China's national liquor. Made from sorghum, Maotai and its expensive cousins (such as Kaoliang from Kinmen in Taiwan) are well known for their strong fragrance and are actually sweeter than western clear liquors as the sorghum taste is preserved - in a way. Most foreigners find baijiu tastes like diesel fuel, while a liquor connoisseur may find high quality, expensive baijiu quite good.

Chinese brandy (白兰地) is excellent value; as for grape wines or baijiu, prices start under ¥20 for 750 ml, but many Westerners find the brandies far more palatable. A ¥18-30 local brandy is not a ¥200+ imported brand-name cognac, but it is close enough that you should only buy the cognac if money doesn't matter. Expats debate the relative merits of brandies from French-owned Louis Wann, Chinese brand Changyu, and several others. All are drinkable.

The Chinese are also great fans of various supposedly medicinal liquors, which usually contain exotic herbs and/or animal parts. Some of these have prices in the normal range and include ingredients like ginseng. These can be palatable enough, if tending toward sweetness. Others, with unusual ingredients (snakes, turtles, bees, etc.) and steep price tags, are probably best left to those that enjoy them.

Bars, discos and karaoke

Western style pubs are becoming increasingly popular across the country. Especially in the more affluent urban centres such as Shenzhen, Shanghai, and Hangzhou one can find painstakingly recreated replicas of traditional Irish or English pubs. Like their Western counterparts most will have a selection of foreign beers on tap as well as provide pub food (of varying quality) and often feature live cover bands. Most of these pubs cater to and are frequented by the expatriate communities so you should not expect to find many Chinese in these places. Be aware that imported beer can be very expensive compared to local brew.

To just go out for a few drinks with friends, pick a local restaurant and drink beer at around ¥5 for a 600 ml bottle. It will be Chinese lager, around 3% alcohol, with a limited choice of brand and may be served warm. Most mid- to high- range restaurants will have small private suites for gatherings (usually offered free if there is more than around 5 people), and the staff will generally not try to hustle you out even if you decide to stay until closing time. Many residents frequent outdoor restaurants or roadside stalls and barbecues (shāokǎo - 烧烤) for a nice and inexpensive evening.

In discos and fancy bars with entertainment, you normally buy beer ¥100 at a time; this gets you anywhere from 4 import-brand beer (Heineken, Bud, Corona, Sol, ..) to 10 local beers. A few places offer cocktails; fewer have good ones.

Other drinks are sold only by the bottle, not by the glass. Red wine is in the ¥80-200 range (served with ice and Sprite) and mediocre imported whiskeys (Chivas, Johnny Walker, Jim Beam, Jack Daniels; extremely rarely single malts) and cognacs, ¥300-800. Both are often mixed with sweet bottled green or red tea. Vodka, tequila and rum are less common, but sometimes available. Bogus "brand name" products are fairly common and may ruin your next day.

These places often have bar girls, young women who drink a lot and want to play drinking games to get you to consume more. They get a commission on whatever you buy. In general, these girls will not leave the bar with you; they are professional flirts, not prostitutes.

Karaoke (卡拉OK) is huge in China and can be broadly split into two categories. More common is the no-frills karaoke box or KTV, where you rent a room, bring your friends and the house gives you a mike and sells you booze. Much favored by students, these are cheap and fun with the right crowd, although you need at least a few people for a memorable night. Bringing your own booze can keep the price tag down but must be done on the sly - many places have windows in the door so the staff can make sure you only drink liquor they sold to you.

Rather different is the distinctly dodgier special KTV lounge, more oriented to businessmen entertaining clients or letting their hair down, where the house provides anything and everything at a price. At these often opulent establishments — over-the-top Roman and Egyptian themes are standard — you'll be joined by short-skirted professional karaoke girls, who charge by the hour for the pleasure of their company and whose services may not be limited to just singing badly and pouring your drinks. It's highly advisable not to venture into these unless you're absolutely sure somebody else is footing the bill, which can easily run into hundreds of dollars even if you keep your pants on.

As elsewhere, never never accept an invitation to a restaurant or bar from an available-looking woman who just picked you up in the street sometime after sundown. At best, suggest a different place. If she refuses, drop her on the spot. More than likely, she will steer you into a quiet little place with too many doormen and you will find yourself saddled with a modest meal and beer that will cost you ¥1,000 or worse. And the doormen won't let you leave till you pay up. This is somewhat rare. But it does happen.

Tea

China is the birthplace of tea, and at the risk of stating the obvious, there's a lot of tea (茶 chá) in China. Green tea (绿茶 lǜchá) is served up for free in some restaurants (depending on region) or for a small fee. The most common types served are:

  • gunpowder tea (珠茶 zhūchá): a green tea so-named not after the taste but after the appearance of the bunched-up leaves used to brew it (the Chinese name "pearl tea" is rather more poetic)
  • jasmine tea (茉莉花茶 mòlihuachá): green-tea scented with jasmine flowers
  • oolong (烏龍 wūlóng): a half-fermented mountain tea.

However, specialist tea houses serve a vast variety of brews, ranging from the pale, delicate white tea (白茶 báichá) to the powerful fermented and aged pu'er tea (普洱茶 pǔ'ěrchá).

Tea in Chinese culture is priced like wine in Western culture; even the same type of tea will come in many different grades, much as there are many different burgundies at different costs. Always check prices carefully before ordering as some of the best varieties can be very pricey indeed. Most tea shops have some teas at several hundred yuan per jing (500 g) and prices up to ¥2,000 are not uncommon. The record price for top grade tea, both high quality and rare, sold at auction was ¥9,000 per gram.

Various areas of China have famous teas. Hangzhou, near Shanghai, is famed for its "Dragon Well" (龙井 lóngjǐng) green tea. Fujian has the most famous oolong teas, "Dark Red Robe" (大红袍 dàhóngpáo) from Mount Wuyi and "Iron Goddess of Mercy" (铁观音 tiěguānyīn) from Anxi. Pu'er in Yunnan has the most famous fully fermented tea, pǔ'ěrchá (普洱茶). This comes compressed into hard cakes, originally a packing method for transport by horse caravan to Burma and Tibet. The cakes are embossed with patterns; some people hang them up as wall decorations.

Most tea shops will be more than happy to let you sit down and try different varieties of tea. "Ten Fu Tea" is a national chain and in Beijing "Wu Yu Tai" is the one some locals say they favor.

Black tea, the type of tea most common in the West, is known in China as "red tea" (紅茶 hóngchá). While almost all Western teas are black teas, the converse isn't true, with many Chinese teas, including the famed Pǔ'ěr also falling into the "black tea" category.

Normal Chinese teas are always drunk neat, with the use of sugar or milk unknown. However, in some areas you will find Hong Kong style "milk tea" (奶茶 nǎichá) or Tibetan "butter tea". Taiwanese bubble tea (珍珠奶茶 Zhēnzhū Nǎichá) is also popular and widely available.

Coffee

Coffee (咖啡 kāfēi) is becoming quite popular in urban China, though it is nearly impossible to find in smaller towns.

Several chains of coffee shops have branches in many cities, including Starbucks (星巴克), UBC Coffee (上岛咖啡), Ming Tien Coffee Language and SPR, which most Westerners consider the best of the bunch. All offer coffee, tea, and both Chinese and Western food, generally with good air conditioning, wireless Internet, and nice decor. In most locations they are priced at ¥15-40 or so a cup, but beware of airport locations where they sometimes charge around ¥70.

There are also lots of smaller independent coffee shops or local chains. These may also be high priced, but often they are around ¥15 a cup. Quality varies from excellent to abysmal.

For cheap coffee just to stave off withdrawal symptoms, there are several options. Go to a Western fast food chain (KFC, McD, etc.) for some ¥8 coffee. Additionally, almost any supermarket or convenience store will have both canned cold coffee and instant Nescafé (black or pre-mixed with whitener and sugar) - just add hot water.

Cold drinks

Many drinks that are usually served chilled or with ice in the West are served at room temperature in China. Ask for beer or soda in a restaurant, and it may arrive at room temperature, though beer is more commonly served cold, at least in the summer. Water will generally be served hot. That is actually good, because only boiled (or bottled) water is safe to drink, but it's not pleasant to drink hot water in the summer.

You can get cold drinks from small grocery stores and restaurants, just look for the cooler (even though it might not actually be cool). You can try bringing a cold beverage into a restaurant. Most small restaurants won't mind—if they even notice—and there is no such thing as a "cork" charge in China. Remember that most people will be drinking tea, which is free anyway, so the restaurant is probably not expecting to profit on your beverage consumption.

Asking for ice is best avoided. Many, perhaps most, places just don't have it. The ice they do have may well be made from unfiltered tap water and arguably unsafe for travellers sweating bullets about diarrhea.

This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article China on Wikivoyage.

Popular cities in China

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Beijing is the capital of the most populous country in the world, China, and its second largest city after Shanghai. It was the seat of the Ming and Qing dynasty emperors until the formation of a republic in 1911. Beijing is the political, educational and cultural center of the country and as such it is rich ... (read more)

Interesting places:

  • Hall of Supreme Harmony
  • Forbidden City
  • Gate of Heavenly Peace
  • Tiananmen Square
  • Chairman Mao Memorial Hall
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Shanghai (local government) is the largest and most developed city in China, the country's main center for finance and fashion, and one of the world's most populous and important cities. Shanghai has existed for centuries but grew enormously after it became a major center of the China trade in the 1840s. By ... (read more)

Interesting places:

  • The Bund
  • Customs House
  • Oriental Pearl Tower
  • Waibaidu Bridge
  • Shanghai International Convention Centre
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Guangzhou is the capital of Guangdong Province in southern China. According to the 2010 census, it has a population of 12.7 million, making it the third largest city in China after Shanghai and Beijing. It is a part of the Pearl River Delta, which also includes Shenzhen, Dongguan, Hong Kong, Macau, Foshan, ... (read more)

Interesting places:

  • Guangzhou Opera House
  • Guangdong Museum
  • National Dr. Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall
  • Canton Tower
  • Canton Customs Building
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Shenzhen is one of the most populous and richest cities in China. It is situated in Guangdong, China on the Hong Kong border about 40 km north of Hong Kong Central and approximately 100 km south of Guangzhou. The city is on the list of UNESCO Creative Cities.

Interesting places:

  • Window of the World
  • Shenzhen Grand Theater
  • Lizhi Park
  • Shenzhen University
  • Shenzhen Museum
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Hangzhou (city government) is in Zhejiang Province, China. It is one of the most important tourist cities in China, famous for its natural beauty and historical and cultural heritages, and also blessed with delicious cuisine. It is the political, economic and cultural center of Zhejiang province as well. ... (read more)

Interesting places:

  • Solitary Hill
  • Xiling Seal Engraves Society
  • Zhongshan Park
  • Quyuan Park
  • Yui Fei Temple
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Suzhou (苏州; Sūzhōu) is a city in Jiangsu province. It is famed for its beautiful gardens and traditional waterside architecture. The Classical Gardens of Suzhou were inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1997.

Interesting places:

  • Suzhou Museum
  • Humble Administrator\'s Garden (Zhuozheng Yuan)
  • Lion Grove Garden
  • Tiger Hill
  • Hanshan Temple
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Chengdu is the provincial capital and largest city of Sichuan Province in southwest China.

Interesting places:

  • Tianfu Square
  • Wuhou Ci
  • Du Fu Caotang
  • Renmin Park
  • Sichuan Museum of Science and Technology
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Xian , is a historic city in Shaanxi Province in China.

Interesting places:

  • Xi\'an City Walls
  • Da Ci\'en Temple
  • Giant Wild Goose Pagoda
  • Drum Tower
  • Xi\'an Bell Tower and Drum Tower
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Nanjing (南京; Nánjīng), historically also Nanking, is the capital city of Jiangsu Province in the People's Republic of China. It is situated in the lower reaches of the Yangtze River and is the central city of the lower Yangtze Basin.

Interesting places:

  • Temple of Confucius
  • Nanjing Presidential Palace
  • Nanjing Drum Tower
  • Xu Garden
  • Zhonghua Men Gate
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Qingdao (青岛; Qīngdǎo; also known as Tsingtao), is regarded by some Chinese as one of the most beautiful and clean cities in China. With a population of around 3.5 million (8 million regional) it is one of the largest cities in Shandong Province. The name Qingdao means The Blue/Green Island. In 2008, Qingdao ... (read more)

Interesting places:

  • Zhan Qiao
  • May Fourth Square
  • Huashi Tower
  • Lu Xun Park
  • Number 2 Beach
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States in China

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Points of Interest in China

China's attractions are endless and you will never run out of things to see. Especially near the coastal areas, if you run out of things to see in one city, the next one is usually just a short train ride away.

Whether you are a history buff, a nature lover or someone who just wants to relax on a nice beach, China has it all from the majestic Forbidden City in Beijing, to the breathtaking scenery of Jiuzhaigou. Even if you live in China for many years, you'll find that there's always something new to discover in another part of the country. Perhaps unsurprising due to its sheer size and long history, China has the third largest number of UNESCO World Hertiage Sites, after Italy and Spain.

Karst scenery

The gumdrop mountains and steeply sloping forested hills with bizarre rock formations favored by traditional Chinese artists are not creative fantasy. In fact, much of southern and southwestern China is covered in strangely eroded rock formations known as Karst. Karst is type of limestone formation named after an area in Slovenia. As limestone layers erode, the denser rock or pockets of different stone resist erosion forming peaks. Caves hollow out beneath the mountains which can collapse forming sinkholes and channels leading to underground rivers. At its most unusual Karst erodes to form mazes of pinnacles, arches and passageways. The most famous example can be found in the Stone Forest (石林 Shílín) near Kunming in Yunnan. Some of the most famous tourist areas in China feature spectacular karst landscapes — Guilin and Yangshuo in Guangxi, and much of central and western Guizhou province.

Sacred sites

For sacred mountains, see the next section.

Several sites in China have famous Buddhist art:

  • Yungang Grottoes in Shanxi Province - more than 51,000 Buddhist carvings, dating back 1,500 years, in the recesses and caves of the Yangang Valley mountainsides
  • Mogao Caves in Gansu province - art and manuscripts dating back to the 4th century
  • Dazu Rock Carvings near Chongqing - dating from the 7-13th century
  • Longmen Grottoes near Luoyang - 5-10th century

Mountains

China is home to many sacred mountains.

The Five Great Mountains (五岳 wǔyuè), associated with Taoism:

  • Mount Tai (泰山), Shandong Province (1,545 meters)
  • Mount Hua (华山), Shaanxi Province (2,054 meters)
  • Mount Heng (Hunan) (衡山), Hunan Province (1,290 meters)
  • Mount Heng (Shanxi) (恒山), Shanxi Province (2,017 meters)
  • Mount Song (嵩山), Henan Province, where the famous Shaolin Temple (少林寺) is located (1,494 meters)

The Four Sacred Mountains (四大佛教名山 sìdà fójiào míngshān), associated with Buddhism:

  • Mount Emei (峨嵋山), Sichuan Province (3,099 meters)
  • Mount Jiuhua (九华山), Anhui Province (1,342 meters)
  • Mount Putuo (普陀山), Zhejiang Province (297 meters, an island)
  • Mount Wutai (五台山), Shanxi Province (3,058 meters)

The three main sacred mountains of Tibetan Buddhism:

  • Mount Kailash, Tibet (5,656 meters), also known as Gang Rinpoche in Tibetan, also one of Hinduism's holiest mountains visited by many Hindu pilgrims
  • Kawa Karpo
  • Amnye Machen

There are also several other well-known mountains. In China, many mountains have temples, even if they are not especially sacred sites:

  • Mount Qingcheng (青城山), Sichuan Province
  • Mount Longhu (龙虎山), Jiangxi Province
  • Mount Lao (崂山), Shandong Province
  • Mount Wuyi (武夷山), Fujian Province, a major tourist/scenic site with many tea plantations
  • Mount Everest, straddling the border between Nepal and Tibet, world's highest mountain
  • Mount Huang (黄山) (Yellow Mountain), in Anhui province, with scenery and temples
  • Mount Wudang (武当山), near Danjiangkou in Hubei, Taoist mecca, birthplace of taichi and Wudang kung fu
  • Changbaishan/Paektusan (Chinese:长白山 Korean:백두산), the most sacred mountain in the world to both ethnic Manchus and Koreans, located on the border with North Korea

Revolutionary pilgrimage sites

  • Shaoshan (韶山) - First CCP Chairman and Chinese leader Mao Zedong's hometown
  • Jinggangshan (井冈山) - The first CCP rural base area after the 1927 crackdown by the KMT
  • Ruijin (瑞金) - Seat of the China Soviet Republic from 1929 to 1934
  • Zunyi (遵义) - Site of the Zunyi Conference where Mao Zedong joined the Politburo Standing Committee
  • Luding (泸定) - Site of a famous forced crossing of a high mountain river
  • Yan'an (延安) - Primary base area for the Communist Party from 1935 to 1945
  • Wuhan - Site of the 1911 Wuchang Uprising that led to the fall of the Qing Dynasty and the establishment of the Republic of China
  • Guangzhou - Site of the Whampoa Military Academy where both KMT and Communist leaders (Chiang Kai Shek, Zhou Enlai, Mao Zedong) trained and led troops and political study groups before the Northern Expedition of 1926-27.

Itineraries

Some itineraries cover trips that are entirely within China:

  • Two weeks to a month in China
  • Along the Yangtze river
  • Along the Yellow river
  • Along the Grand Canal
  • Yunnan tourist trail
  • Overland to Tibet
  • Long March

Others are partly in China:

  • Europe to South Asia over land
  • Silk Road - ancient caravan route from China to Europe
  • Karakoram Highway - Western China to Pakistan through the Himalayas
  • On the trail of Marco Polo
  • Overland Kunming to Hong Kong

The Bund - Shanghai

Hall of Supreme Harmony - Beijing

Potala Palace - Lhasa

Guangzhou Opera House - Guangzhou

Solitary Hill - Hangzhou

Xi\'an City Walls - Xi'an

Temple of Confucius - Nanjing

Wang Gu Lou - Lijiang

Suzhou Museum - Suzhou

Xinghai Square - Dalian

Tianfu Square - Chengdu

People\'s Liberation Monument - Chongqing

Window of the World - Shenzhen

Customs House - Shanghai

Forbidden City - Beijing

Oriental Pearl Tower - Shanghai

Gate of Heavenly Peace - Beijing

Tiananmen Square - Beijing

Waibaidu Bridge - Shanghai

Shanghai International Convention Centre - Shanghai

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