To many, China is still a country that is mysterious and intriguing. Its long history is a fascination to many as are many of its sites such as the Great Wall of China, Xian’s Terracotta Army and the Forbidden City of Beijing.

As the world’s most populated country, China is incredibly diverse. From the northern flat grasslands to the western deserts, from the southern mountain peaks and their holy sites to the east coast modern cities, China holds delights for every traveller.

China is currently undergoing social and economic development with its emphasis today on tourist facilities and infrastructure. It is becoming more open to visitors, openly displaying its wealth of historical and cultural treasures. The major cities such as Beijing and Shanghai are modern hubs offering fast food and chic stores juxtaposed with centuries-old historical buildings and traditional eating houses.  

The countries rapid economic growth can be seen in places like Shenzhen. In 1980 this became the first Special Economic Zone of China. Situated on the east coast, Shenzhen doesn’t have as many historical attractions as other famous cities in China but it has created a number of excellent theme parks which entertain while teaching visitors about China and the world.

This mystical land is sure to captivate the hearts of any traveller who visits. There are few places on earth that can offer such history, myth, legend, archaeological wonders and modernity.

The currency in China is the Renminbi Yuan (CNY). Trade in CNY is not permitted outside China but foreign banknotes and travellers cheques can be exchanged in The Bank of China. American Dollars are universally preferred to any other currency, and carrying some dollars in reserve is advisable.

Large establishments in China's major cities will usually offer facilities to use international credit cards such as Barclaycard and American Express. In rural areas you will not be able to use your cards easily and you should carry sufficient cash in CNY for your needs.

Remember to retain all your exchange receipts during your stay in China as they will be needed if you want to change your Renminbi back into foreign currency before departure.




Beijing (formerly Peking) is the capital of the People's Republic of China. It is situated in northern China close to Tianjin Municipality and also, in part, surrounded by Hebei Province.

Home to nearly 14 million people, it is a bustling modern city. However despite its international hotels and high-rise buildings, it is also home to many attractions, historical and cultural.

When many people think of Beijing they think of the Great Wall of China, The Temple of Heaven, the Summer Palace and the Forbidden City. The latter lies at the heart of Beijing with the rest of the city radiating out from it in a grid pattern. This incredible palace was home to numerous emperors and functioned as the administrative centre of the country. Overlooking Tiananmen Square, it is the epitome of the city.

The city underwent numerous modernisations for the 2008 Olympics making improvements to the public transport system as well an environmental clean-up.

With history, culture, modernity, fantastic shopping and a buzzing nightlife, Beijing is an incredible city just waiting to be explored.  

See & Do

There is an incredible amount of sights to see in Beijing. There are too many to mention here, but listed below are just some of the amazing possibilities that await you.

  • The Forbidden City
  • Temple of Heaven (Tian Tan Park)
  • The Summer Palace (Yi He Yuan)
  • Dong Yue Temple
  • Hou hai (old Beijing)
  • Bei Hai Park (bei Hai Gong Yuan)
  • Tiananmen Square
  • Mao’s Mausoleum
  • Lao She’s Beijing residence (Lao She Ji Nian Guan)
  • Chairman Mao Memorial Hall
  • Museum of the Revolution
  • Great Hall of the People
  • Lama Temple
  • Beijing Zoo
  • Marco Polo Bridge
  • 798 Space (Contemporary Chinese Art)
  • Great Bell Temple
  • The Underground City
  • Beijing Aquarium
  • Beijing National Stadium
  • Great Wall of China
  • Five Pagoda Temple
  • Beijing Happy Valley (amusement park)
  • North Putuo Film & TV City
  • Taoranting Park (Joyful Park)



If you love shopping, you’ll fall in love with Beijing. Unlike many cities, just because it has a wealth of culture and history doesn’t mean that there is alack of shopping opportunities. The main area is Wangfujing Dajie where you’ll find numerous outlets for clothing, souvenirs, department stores and the Oriental Plaza Shopping Mall.


If your pocket can stretch to it, the China World Centre, Penninsula Hotel Plaza and Guomao Shopping Mall (which includes a basement ice rink) are home to the more upmarket stores.


Beijing Curio City is the place to go for antiques and curios whereas in south Beijing, Liulichang is a wonderfully atmospheric area for antiques, art and calligraphy.


For the bargain hunters amongst you, Xiu Shui Jie Shopping Mall and Xiu Shui Market are great for affordable holiday shopping.


Food & Drink

Beijing is certainly not lacking in eateries. Dining features heavily in the lifestyle of the Chinese so there are literally thousands of restaurants and food outlets in the city. Whether you are looking for fast food, International restaurants or traditional Chinese food (and of course the ‘must try’ Beijing Roast Duck) there is something to suit all tastes.


There is no specific ‘gastronomic’ area in Beijing. Restaurants are dotted all over the area. The best way to find a good restaurant is to find a crowded and noisy one.

Here are a few of the best that you might like to try.

  • Fangshan, Xicheng District
  • Celestial Court, Chaoyang District
  • Xiao Wang Fu, Chaoyang District
  • Yi Yuan/Hua Jia Cai, Dongcheng District
  • Xinjiang Red Rose, Chaoyang District
  • Quanjude Roast Duck Restaurant, Xicheng District
  • Lotus Root, Xicheng District
  • Matsuko, Chaoyang District
  • China Grill, Chaoyang District
  • The Courtyard, by the Forbidden City
  • Li Jai Cai, Xicheng District
  • Red Capital Club, Dongcheng Distict
  • Huang Ting, Dongcheng District
  • Made In China, Dongcheng District


The most famous place for bars and pubs in Beijing is in Sanlitun (North Bar Street). Here are a few names you might like to look out for:


  • Jazz Ya, Chaoyang District
  • Boys & Girls, Chaoyang District
  • The Tree (Belgium Beer Bar), Chaoyang District
  • No Name Bar, Xicheng Distrct



Entertainment in Beijing can be divided into 2 categories – there is the traditional opera, music and acrobatic shows, and the modern clubs and bars.

If you enjoy the more traditional delights, the tea houses in Beijing are growing in popularity as venues for traditional music and entertainment. The Tianqiao area in particular is well worth a visit, especially Tianqiao Theatre and Tianqiaoe Tea House in the Xuanwu District. Other venues worth a mention are (details about what’s on can be found in Beijing This Month):

  • Laoshe Tea House
  • Liyuan Theatre
  • Wansheng Theatre, Xuanwu District (especially for acrobats)
  • Huguang Huiguan Ancient Opera Building, Xuanwu District
  • Beijing Concert Hall, Xicheng District
  • Beijing People’s Art Theatre


For those looking for a livelier night-scene, the Sanlitun Pub Street (Chaoyang District) is the place to go for pubs and bars (also the up and coming Hou Hai Bar Area). Some names to look out for are:

  • VICS, Chaoyang District
  • JJ Bar, Dongcheng District
  • Hugo Club, Haidian District
  • Banana, Chaoyang District
  • Rock n’Roll, Chaoyang District
  • Club Fusion, Chaoyang District


There are also several events that happen throughout the year such as:

January/February – Beijing Longqing Gorge Ice & Snow Festival

February – Chinese New Year

April – Chi’ng Ming (Qingming)

June – Dragon Boat Festival

June/July – Daxing Watermelon Festival

September/October – Mid Autumn Festival (Moon Festival)

October – Double Ninth Festival and Beijing International Marathon



Beijing is a captivating city with numerous things to see and do during your stay. However you may wish to explorer afield during your stay and see what else this part of China has to offer. Here are just a few highlights you could enjoy during your stay.


  • The Great Wall of China
  • Ming Tombs
  • Chengde
  • Zhoukoudian Cave
  • Fragrant Hills


Health & Safety

You will be expected to pay for any medical treatment you undergo whilst in Beijing therefore you are strongly recommended to ensure you have sufficient medical insurance in place before travelling.

The tap water is not considered safe to drink and you are therefore advised to drink bottled water. Crime is not considered a major problem but you should take the usual precautions when in busy areas.



Shenzhen is in the southern part of the Guangdong Province neighbouring the Pearl River Delta and Hong Kong.

It began life as a small fishing village but in 1980 Beijing awarded it Special Economic zone status and began pumping money into it. Consequently in the space of 20 years it rapidly developed into China’s richest city,

But this rapid economic growth has led to over crowding (with a population of approximately five million) and a shortage of land. In fact much of the industry that helped Shenzhen accumulate its wealth is already moving out to less developed regions in China where land and wages remain low.

However what Shenzhen lacks in historical attractions, it more than makes up for in its modern attractions. Most people come here for its well deserved reputation as a shopping haven. To attract more tourists there are also now a selection of luxury hotels, bars and restaurants as well as a number of excellent theme parks that are designed to entertain as well as teach abut China and the world.  


See & Do

If you have come to Shenzhen for historical sights then you will be disappointed. It is not a city full of ancient wonders, however it does have superb shopping and entertainment facilities. Here are just a few things to keep you entertained during your stay.

  • Splendid China – theme Park that takes you on a tour of China
  • China Folk Culture Villages (theme park)
  • Window of the World – theme park showing replicas of the wonders of the world
  • Happy Valley – Disney style theme park
  • The Botanical Gardens
  • Nan’ao Bay- beach area with water sports
  • Da Meisha & Xiao Meisha – beaches
  • Meridian View Centre (with 15 entertainment areas)
  • Minsk World – theme park based on a real aircraft carrier
  • Shenzhen Safari Park
  • Xili Lake Resort



If you are looking for fake designer goods at bargain prices, Shenzhen is the place for you. There are also plenty of places to buy electricals, perfumes, bags, watches and DVDs (fake ad genuine). But Shenzhen is also a great place for tailor-made clothes and Chinese handicrafts.

The main area is Lo Wu Commercial City which is full of department stores and shopping centres. Certain areas are good for certain products so Dongmen Pedestrian Street is great for a variety of shops, restaurants and cinemas, Hua Qiang Bei is a good area for electricals, Women’s World is ideal for clothing and Chinese and English Street in the Yantian Distict is a must because it it’s a tax-free street!


Food & Drink

The local cuisine is Guangdong (Cantonese) style but most Chinese regional cooking can be found along with other Asian styles such as Thai, Korean, Vietnamese and Japanese. It is also becoming more common to see western style restaurants.

As you may expect, due to its location, seafood features heavily and is a speciality. There are thousands of restaurants in the city so it is impossible to name them all here, so here is a selection of some of the best.

  • Shenyun Chaozhou Porridge – Louhu & Futian Districts
  • Ke Jia Wang – Louhu & Futian Districts
  • Keija City – Futian District
  • Ying Hai Yu Gang – Luohu District
  • Dan Gui Xuan – Louhu District
  • Ba Shu Feng Yue – Futian, Nanshan, Luohu & Central District
  • Xiang E Qing – Futian & Nanshan District
  • Raindrops Western Food Restaurant – Louhu, Nanshan, Futian & Yantian Districts
  • Dengpin Vegetarian Shop – Luohu District



Much of the entertainment in the area is based around the theme parks and golf. There are numerous golf courses in the area.

Other than that you can also enjoy classical music and opera at the Shenzhen Grand Theatre and there are also numerous cinemas.

If you are looking for bars and clubs then the best areas are Huaqiao City and Sea World Square of the Shekon District. You could try out the True Color Bars (Futian & Luohu Districts), Lao Dou bar (Futian District) or Base Bar (Shangbu & Nanshen District).



There are many theme parks in Shenzhen to visit (see & do section) however if you want to see what else this area of China has to offer you may like to visit one of these attractions:

  • Dafen Oil Painting Village
  • The Forbidden City, Beijing
  • The Great Wall of China
  • Shenzhen Garden & Flower Exposition Centre
  • Terracotta Warriors and Horses
  • Hong Kong


Health & Safety

Medical treatment can be expensive therefore you are strongly advised to ensure you have sufficient medical insurance in place before travelling.

The tap water is not considered safe to drink and you are therefore advised to drink bottled water. Crime is not considered a major problem but you should take the usual precautions when in busy areas.







Shanghai is China's largest. It is situated in the centre of the coastline where the Yangtze River meets the East China Sea. Its name means 'on the sea', and most of the city (including Chongming Island) is only a few metres above sea level.

Once recognised for it’s rather seedy reputation as the opium hub of the world, modern Shanghai shines once more as it has rejuvenated itself and attracted a wealth of foreign investors and tourists. The Shanghai of today has been completely rebuilt – new high rise buildings are springing up everywhere. However the past hasn’t been forgotten as among the back streets, you'll still find traditional Chinese gardens and temples.

Shanghai wears many guises; it is China's industrial and commercial capital, a busy seaport, a science and technology centre, and home to a vibrant business community.

Those travellers who come here don’t come for its scenic beauty or history but rather for entertainment and relaxation. Walking through the streets it is an amazing experience just to soak up the vibrant atmosphere whilst marvelling at the hidden temples, gardens and museums.

Shanghai is fast becoming an international destination on many people’s ‘wish lists’. In 2004, the year it hosted the inaugural Chinese Grand Prix, Time magazine called it the world's most happening city.' It is set to take centre stage again in 2010 when it hosts World Expo.


See & Do

Most attractions are in the area west of the Huangpu River making sightseeing an easy pastime. There are many things to see and do in the city and it is impossible to list everything here. So, here are just a few of the most popular sights to be seen.

  • People’s Square (Renmin Guangchang)
  • Shanghai Museum
  • Lu-Xun (Hongkou) Park
  • Lu-Xun Museum
  • Jade Buddha Temple
  • Longhua Temple
  • Nanjing Lu
  • Pudong Financial District
  • Yuyuan Area & the Yu Gardens
  • Nanjing Road (main commercial area)
  • Shanghai Zoo
  • Shanghai World Financial Centre Observation Deck
  • Century Park
  • Changfeng Ocean World
  • Dino Beach
  • Jinjiang Amusement Park
  • Natural Wild Insect Kingdom
  • Shanghai Art Museum
  • Shanghai Ocean Aquarium



Shanghai has everything for every type of shopper – whether you enjoy top of the range shops, middle of the road or traditional markets you are sure to find the perfect shopping experience.

The most popular shopping area is NanjingLu which provides a run-of-the mill shopping experience with everything from clothing to general souvenirs. If you are looking for something a bit more unique and atmospheric, head for the Yu Gardens area.

Shopping malls are everywhere but the biggest, which just happens also to be the largest in Asia, is Super Brand Mall in Pudong. But if you are looking for something a bit more upmarket, the best place for western clothing and furniture (and department stores) is Huaihai Lu.

Haggling is the name of the game when visiting Shanghai’s markets. These are full of colour and life giving you the opportunity to shop and mingle with the locals. The biggest and by far the best market is Xiangyang but it can get very crowded and you need to be aware of pick pockets. Also worth a visit are the Jin Wen flower market and Dongtai Lu antique market.

Food & Drink

Shanghai’s cosmopolitan culture and large ex-pat community have lead to a mind blowing array of international dining experiences within the city. Pick any world cuisine and you’ll probably be able to find it.

Restaurants in the city cater for all budgets from the street stalls selling dumplings, fried bread and barbecued meats to gourmet restaurants. The street stalls are quite an experience but be careful, if it looks as though the food has been hanging around a while, don’t buy it. However these stalls are a great introduction to traditional foods but they are slowly being overtaken by western style fast food outlets.

There are far too many restaurants to name them all here, so listed below is just a selection of the best you might like to try:

  • Mei Long Zhen, West Nanjing Lu
  • Sichuan Court, Hilton Shanghai
  • Favourable Wind (Shunfeng), North Huangpi Lu
  • China Moon, West Nanjing Lu
  • Bifengtang, West Nanjing Lu
  • Duck King (Ya Wang), Zhaojiabang Lu
  • Simply Thai, Hengshan Lu
  • Tandoor, Maoming Nan Lu
  • Mon the Bund, The Bund
  • New Heights, The Bund



Shanghai’s nightlife is vibrant and colourful – mainly because of the neo lighting that abounds. It really is quite something to see.

Bars and clubs tend to come and go quite quickly in Shanghai making it difficult to recommend anywhere. However what we can recommend is the areas of the city that provides most of the entertainment venues.

The most popular areas, the most colourful after dark, are Xintiandi and The Bund. Xintiandi is an entertainment area that has been made to look like Old Shanghai. It sounds a bit tacky but works well and is ideal for drinking, dancing and people watching.

The Hengshan Lu area is much louder and busier. Here there are numerous cafés, bars, tea rooms, restaurants and karaoke bars. The main ex-pat hangout of the city is Maoming Lu.



Despite the wealth of things to see and do in Shanghai you may want to make the most of your time in this beautiful part of the world. Below are just a few nearby places you might like to visit to enhance your visit to Shanghai.

  • Hangzhou – one of China’s designated 7 famous ancient capital cities
  • Zhouzhuang – an ancient town often likened to Venice
  • Suzhou – 2,500 year old city on the edge of Lake Taiho
  • Songjiang


Health & Safety

You should check with your GP about any recommended vaccinations before travelling. Medical treatment can be expensive therefore you are strongly advised to ensure you have sufficient medical insurance in place before travelling.

The tap water is not considered safe to drink in China and you are therefore advised to drink bottled water. Crime is not considered a major problem but you should take the usual precautions when in busy areas.






Xian is the urban capital of the Shaanix Province. Its picturesque location sees the Qinling Mountains to the south and the Weihe River to the north. Known as Changan in ancient times, it was an important trade centre for silk.

As with many cities, Xian has become synonymous with its most famous attraction – the Terracotta Warriors. However they are actually housed some 30km away from the city so if you were planning just a fleeting visit you may well miss out on the other attractions Xian has to offer.

The sights of the city are quite spread out so unless you are planning a stay of several days, a bus tour of the city would be the best way to ensure you don’t miss out on any of the amazing sights the city has to offer.

Today Xian is a highly industrialised and economically strong centre. It offers tourists culture, history, great shopping and a buzzing nightlife.  Although a 12 hour train ride from Beijing, Xian is a city that should be on your itinerary when visiting China.


See & Do

Xian has a lot of sights and activities to offer tourists. To make the most of the city you should try and stay at least a couple of days to ensure you see everything. It is impossible to list every attraction in the area, but here are some of the best that shouldn’t be missed:

  • The Terracotta Warriors
  • Banpo Village Museum
  • The Huaqing Pool (hot springs & Imperial Summer House)
  • Xian City Walls
  • Great Goose Pagoda
  • Bell Tower
  • Drum Tower
  • Great Mosque
  • Shaanix Province Museum
  • Temple of the Eight Immortals
  • Forest of Stele Museum
  • Da Ci’en Temple
  • Folk House
  • Tang Dynasty Arts Museum
  • Tang Paradise Theme Park
  • Muslim Street
  • Green Dragon Temple (Qinglong Temple)
  • Qinling Zoological Park





Xian has been taken over in recent years by a large number of shopping plazas and the Bell tower has become surrounded by them. By far the largest is on the corner of Nan Dajie which is a colossal seven storeys.

The main items for sale in the city are cheap pirate copies of western brands. However if you want something a bit more upmarket and exclusive you can always try the Century Ginwa Shopping Mall. For those with a slightly more limited budget, across the street is the Kai Yuan Shopping Mall which is one of the most popular with tourists and locals. Other good department stores are Minsheng Department Store, Parkson Shopping Centre and the Wenbaozhai Tour Shopping Centre.

An altogether more fun experience is a visit to the bazaar in the Old Muslim Quarter. Admittedly some of the ‘antiques’ aren’t particularly authentic, but if you haggle hard you can still pick up a bargain or two.

For great souvenirs head for a narrow alley called Xiyang Shi or Shu Yuan Men, also known as The Arts Street.


Food & Drink

There are a vast number of regional cuisines available in Xian along with a few western outlets. Of course, as you may expect with a popular tourist destination, the city has been infiltrated by McDonalds and KFC to satisfy the cravings of tourists and locals alike.

The city is full of restaurants that cater for all budgets – from the fantastic street food of the Old Muslim Quarter to the most exclusive place to dine, The Pavilion (Hyatt Hotel).

Here are just a few names that you might like to look out for during your stay:

  • Bell Tower Hotel
  • Dé Fācháng
  • King Town No 1
  • Lăo Sūn Jiā
  • Grand Hong Kong Abalone Shark Fin Restaurant
  • Zijinghua Seafood Restaurant
  • Guoli Renhe
  • Máogōng Xiāngcàiguăn
  • Wŭyī Fandian
  • Tong Sheng Xiang
  • Jia Brothers’ Restaurant



Xian’s nightlife may not be the most vibrant in the world, but it does have something for everyone.

The main visual treat for any visitor is the illumination of the Bell tower and Drum tower creating an amazing atmosphere on the area and lighting your way to finding the perfect restaurant.

There are several options for your evening’s entertainment. Many people view their evening meal as the main entertainment however you could also sample the cabaret at the Tang Dynasty Restaurant (Changan Lu), the Fountain and Music Show at the Big Goose Pagoda or the Shaanix Grand Opera House.

If you are looking for a livelier evening, many of the students hang out in bars along the lively East Da Jie. But of its singing and dancing that you are after go to the 1+1 Disco Bar (1km from the Bell Tower on Dong Dajie) or one of the many KTV venues in the city such as Real Love (Nan Erhuan Lu) or Xialudi KTV (4th floor of 23 Yanta Bei Lu).



There are plenty of attractions to see and do whilst staying in Xian, however should you wish to travel further afield to see what else this area has to offer, here are a few suggestions.

  • Huaqing Hot Springs
  • Hua Mountain
  • Terracotta Warriors and Museum
  • Xian Qianling Mausoleum
  • Famen Monastery


Health & Safety

Medical treatment can be expensive therefore you are strongly advised to ensure you have sufficient medical insurance in place before travelling. You should always check with your GP about any recommended vaccinations before travelling.

The tap water is not considered safe to drink in China and you are therefore advised to drink bottled water. Crime is not considered a major problem but you should take the usual precautions when in busy areas.


ACCEPT COOKIESTo give you the best possible experience, this site uses cookies. Using this site means you agree to our use of cookies. We have published a cookies policy, which you should read to find out more about the cookies we use. View cookies policy.