Escorted tours to China
Language: The official language in China is Mandarin, although different varieties are spoken.
Time Zone: China Time = GMT+8
Tipping: Generally no one tips in China, apart from to group tour guides.
China - an introduction
The Mystical East, home to the world's largest dinosaur fossil site at Zhoucheng, the Terracotta Warriors and a Forbidden City, China tours attract visitors of all ages so captivated by its spell that they return again and again to discover more.
China effortlessly encapsulates the old with the new making escorted tours here exciting for the intrepid explorer. Visit the famous skyline of Shánghǎi filled with stunning skyscrapers brushing the clouds above in Pǔdóng and explore the famous Bund. But if you venture down the alleyways and backstreets you will uncover Old Shánghǎi where there's an abundance of temples, street markets and stunning tranquil gardens, perfect for meditation or yoga.
When you visit China you will see the country's best-preserved collection of imperial architecture on a tour of The Forbidden City so called because for over 500 years, no one was allowed to visit. Back in the day, if you turned up uninvited, you would be executed. Aside from its complicated history and previous Byzantine rule, you will find beautifully preserved ancient buildings such as the restored Meridian Gate, the terraces of The Three Great Halls and the spectacular Dragon Throne found inside the Hall of Supreme Harmony.
There are some truly amazing sights to see on China tours but out of all of them, make sure you see the motionless warriors of the Terracotta Army in Xiān, gaze in awe at the mighty Great Wall, relax on a cruise of the River Li or Yangtze, take a tram to the top of Victoria Peak in Hong Kong or follow the hiking trail through the rainforests of Yúnnán.
China escorted tours typically include; return flights, accommodation, meals and a variety of included or optional excursions so you can really see the best of the resort you're visiting. Do not leave China without experiencing local cuisine from Peking Duck to Lánzhōu Noodles and tsampa (roasted barley flour porridge). All of which will taste exceptionally better than your local takeaway down the road!
Things to do
China arguably has some of the most amazing sights in the world so whether it's these you want to see or you just want sample local tea, China is the ideal place for you:
This city is growing day by day, developing into something modern yet it's riddled with ancient history. You may want to explore the Old Town area and the Yu Yuan Gardens. The Huangpu River is at the centre of the city, with its famous riverside, the Bund, lined with impressive buildings and architecture. People's Square and Nanjing Road provide a haven for shopping lovers.
The Forbidden City is home to many spectacular palaces and gates. Nearby, is the famous Great Wall of China, and it would be impossible to go to China without a trip to this iconic structure measuring 3,800 miles. Beijing city itself is a bustling environment, at the centre of which is the largest public square in the world, Tiananmen Square.
This city is perhaps most famous for its nearby Terracotta Army at Li Shan Mountain. The life-size warriors each have individually carved heads and it really is a remarkable scene. You may also like to visit the Small Wild Goose Pagoda close by and experience the wonders of a Tang Dynasty show.
The Chéngdū Panda Breeding Research Centre enables you to observe these adorable endangered animals. In the busy Jinli Street you can have a taste of traditional Síchuān foods and teas. Visit the bustling side streets where you'll come across plenty of gingko trees and hibiscus flowers. Meander through parklands and watch the locals walk their songbirds or compete heavily with their neighbour in a game of chess.
Thinking of travelling to China? Check out the average temperatures for when you plan to visit courtesy of BBC Weather
Tips & Advice
The beauty of travelling in an escorted tour is that you'll be in the safest hands when it comes to holidaying in foreign lands.
To help you have an enjoyable holiday in China, take a look at these useful tips and advice provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO):
Health and Travel Insurance
When you plan to travel to China it is always wise to check whether you need any vaccinations or medication before travelling. The medical care provided is generally of a good standard, however the hospitals can be crowded. Healthcare is not free of charge in China and can be quite expensive. Make sure you have comprehensive travel insurance which covers the cost of treatment, evacuation and repatriation should it become necessary. Most tours offer the chance to purchase one-trip travel insurance at the time of booking.
Only drink bottled water, never tap water.
If you need to contact the emergency services whilst you are in China, you should dial 120 and ask for an ambulance.
Foreigners are a common target for theft of personal items, in particular in tourist areas. Places to watch out for are street markets, Beijing International Airport, major international events and popular bar areas at night. Report to the nearest police station or Public Security Bureau if your passport gets lost or stolen. Do not struggle against robberies.
Serious crimes against foreigners have occurred, but are very infrequent. Sexual assaults and robberies have happened to foreigners, particularly in taxis in major cities at night. Should you require a taxi, only use official taxis, take note of the number and ensure someone knows where you are at all times. Only travel in meter taxi's and pay the meter fare, as there have been reports of taxi drivers who claim the passenger misunderstood the fare. Get a receipt from the driver, where the taxi number should also be printed. This can be used to lodge a complaint to the police should you need to.
There has been an increase in counterfeit banknotes. To avoid detection these are usually crumpled. Traders may swap your bank notes for counterfeits so be aware when taking notes.
The 'tea tasting' scam is common in tourist areas. This is where a foreign national is invited to a bar, shop or café but is then demanded an excessive fee, usually payable by credit card. Threats of violence or credit card fraud can result.
Isolated areas should not be explored alone. Leave your itinerary, mobile number and return time at the hotel if you do decide to venture off without your group.
The borders of Siberia, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Vietnam, Laos and Burma are weakly policed. Drug trafficking is on the up in Yunnan Province and there can be risks of attack from armed bandits in remote areas.
Local Laws and Customs
If you are suspected of a crime, police are able to arrest, retain or withhold your passport. You can be detained for many weeks or months before charges are laid, and foreigners aren't usually granted bail.
Some lawyers may choose not to take on cases with foreigners. If you come across difficulties, contact the British Embassy or Consulate.
Drug offences can result in severe penalties including the death penalty. A British national, along with other foreign nationals, have been given the death penalty for drug offences in China.
China doesn't recognise dual nationality. The British Embassy cannot give consular assistance to those entering on a Chinese passport or identity card. It will be assumed that you have Chinese nationality if born in China to a Chinese national parent. You may also be assumed a Chinese citizen if you hold British passport and hold Chinese citizenship. You should bring proof if you have formally renounced Chinese citizenship.
Foreign nationals, above the age of 16, must carry their passport with them at all times. Random checks may be carried out by police, particularly when there is increased security and significant sporting or political events. You may get a fine or detention, if you cannot produce your ID when requested. If renewing your passport whilst in China, the new passport must be registered with the authorities immediately or this could result in being fined.
Gambling is illegal in mainland China.
Some religious activities such as preaching are prohibited. The Falun Gong movement is banned in China.
Same sex relationships are not against the law in China, but there are no laws to protect the rights of LGBT.
To enter China, British nationals require a visa to visit the mainland (including Hainin Island) before arrival, but not Hong Kong or Macao. Contact the nearest Chinese Embassy or Consulate for information on entry requirements. Some tour operators offer this service but may charge an administration fee. If unsure, check on booking.
Do not overstay your visa or work illegally. Regular checks are carried out and not conforming to your visa conditions can result in a fine or detainment. A residence permit may be required if staying in China for more than 6 months.
Your passport must be valid for a minimum 6 months from when you apply for your visa. You should be able to enter China for the full length of your visa even if there is less than 6 months left on your passport. In order to do this, your visa must be valid.
If travelling through countries with a risk of yellow fever, a yellow fever vaccination is needed.
UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from China. However, if you have lost your passport, you may be asked for a police report that should contain details of how you lost it.
An exit visa from the Public Security Bureau will be required before you can travel out of China, if your ETD has been issued in China. This can take up to 5 working days. The ETD can be used for a return journey back to China as long as you have evidence of residence within China.
Within 24 hours of arrival, registration of your place of residence if required with the local Public Security Bureau. Regular spot-checks of foreigners' documentation are carried out. Registration is done on your behalf as part of the check-in process if you are staying in a hotel.
If you plan on gaining employment, studying or staying for private purposes over six months, you have to have a health certificate, including a blood test for HIV, legalised by the Chinese Embassy.
If you wish to return to mainland of China, after travelling to Hong Kong, you need a visa that allows you to enter twice into China.
If you are travelling through Beijing Capital International Airport or Shánghǎi and onto a third country, you may enter China visa-free under a 72-hour visa waiver. You must stay in either Beijing or Shánghǎi city and have proof of your onward journey. Check with the Chinese Embassy or visa application centre for more information. If you need to leave the airport terminal, you will need a transit visa for the outward and return journeys. You don't require a transit visa if staying within the airport for 24 hours or less.
Any other nationality looking to visit China must contact the local embassy to check visa requirements.
To find out more about visiting China, check out their official tourism website at cnto.org