I only spent 11 days in China, therefore I can only tell you a little piece about this huge country. But I can still tell you the top things to do in China, especially Shanghai, Hainan and Guangzhou.
Top things to do in China
Shanghai (4 days)
Wow. Shanghai has for me one of the best, if not the best, skyline in the world! From the so called “Bund” you have the best view to the Shanghai skyline. At night all the buildings are lightened up as well as the boats on the river. The famous Oriental Pearl Tower, Shanghai Tower or Shanghai World Financial Center are just a few buildings to mention. I recommend to go up an observation deck from where you have an amazing view over the city and the other tall buildings (if is is not a day full of smog).
Nanjing Road is the main shopping street of Shanghai and is one of the world’s busiest and expensive shopping street. Another day you can visit the Yuyuan Garden and the Jade Buddha Temple. Check out my Shanghai City Guide for more details and stunning pictures.
No, I was not the only one there 😉
Hainan Island (5 days)
Hainan is a Chinese vacation island. I stayed in Sanya at the Dadonghai Beach. There were not many foreigners on the island which was nice. Therefore, it was “easy” to get in contact with locals. I say “easy” because most of them couldn’t speak any English, but that’s what travelling makes interesting. Dadonghai Beach is a crowded local beach, but if you take a shuttle to the nice Yalong Bay Beach and walk a little bit on the beach you have it for yourself!
If you want to party you can head to Sanya city to the “bar street” whith many bars and nightclubs. From Sanya City you can also see the futuristic Phoenix Island.
Insider Tip: From Sanya to Guangzhou I recommend to take the 15 hours train ride, which is a unique experience.
You go with the whole train onto the ferry (from Hainan island to the mainland)! The train drives onto the ferry (as the ferry has train tracks on it) and then each wagon is separated to have enough space on the boat. On the mainland in Guangzhou they out all wagons together again to a full train. So cool! The price of 75$ is not cheaper than a flight, but it’s all about the adventure.
Guangzhou (2 days)
Guangzhou is another big, major and booming port city in China. It is located 2 hours next to Hong Kong with the train. Guangzhou is China’s leading transportation and manufacturing hub. Walk around the busy streets and see people trading all kind of stuff, stroll along the beautiful riverfront and green parks and visit ancient temples.
On the other hand the main attraction for me is the 600 meters tall Canton Tower. At night it looks amazing with its colorful lights from the bottom to the top.
Transportation in China
The transportation I have used in China was plane, train and ferry. And we went literally with the train on to the ferry. How cool is that!
Best time to visit China
Shanghai: March until May and September until November
Hainan and Guangzhou: October until April
You need a visa for visiting China and you need it before you are going there. China has no visa-on-arrival or something like that.
Don’t worry, it is pretty straight forward to obtain for a Chinese visa. You need to fill out the Chinese visa form, have a return or onward flight ticket out of China and a hotel reservation. The visa form, flight ticket, hotel reservation and your passport need to be sent to the Chinese embassy in your home country or to a China Visa Center in the country you are staying in.
If you don’t have an onward flight ticket out of China yet, you can see how to make a free “flight ticket as proof of onward travel“.
VPN – It is almost a must
Install a VPN (Virtual Private Network) app on your phone or VPN client on your Notebook to surf public Wi-Fi with more security. Furthermore, the VPN can get you around firewalls and most important it can be used to overcome regional restrictions for all kind of purposes.
As you might know, China has huge censorship on internet traffic. Facebook, Google, Google Play Store, Instagram, WhatsApp, YouTube and many other common apps or internet pages are blocked in China.
When I went to China I didn’t had any VPN application installed on my phone or tablet (I literally didn’t thought about it). Of course I survived without a VPN client, it was just a little bit annoying sometimes, but I was only there for 11 days. If you stay longer in China it’s almost a must to have a VPN app installed on your phone and computer. Remember that you install a VPN client or app BEFORE you are heading to China, as it is very likely that it’s impossible to download any VPN client when you are already in the Country (happened to me).
For Android phones I can recommend the “Turbo VPN” app and for the Chrome Browser on your notebook the “hola!VPN” plugin. Simply download, install and activate it. That’s it. Happy surfing 😉
- Check out my Ultimate Travel Apps for more helpful apps while travelling.