You could travel for a lifetime in China and there would still be more to explore, taste and experience.

Neon cities, remote villages, deserts, smoky markets and ancient artefacts – there’s adventure waiting at every corner. So, where to start? How about taking a walk along the iconic Great Wall, away from the larger crowds; wandering through the ancient royal residence of the Forbidden City; seeing the immortal Terracotta Army for yourself or standing in front of the largest Buddha statue in the world. The mix of old and futuristic will keep you in awe. Then there’s the food! Dumplings forevermore…

Top China travel deals

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Travel lightly with Intrepid. We’ve offset the main sources of carbon emissions from this trip on your behalf, including transport, accommodation & waste. Read more

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Articles on China

China travel highlights

Transport in China

Intrepid believes half the fun of experiencing a new country is getting there, and getting around once there! Where possible, Intrepid uses local transport options and traditional modes of transport - which usually carry less of an environmental impact, support small local operators and are heaps more fun.

Depending on which trip you're on while in China, you may find yourself travelling by:

Cycling tourist looking at green mountain landscape of Yangshuo in Guilin China

Bicycle

Cycling through China is a great way to see the country from ground level. Whether you're pedalling through the hutongs or the countryside, you'll see the sights and get to meet locals along the way.

South China: Hike, Bike & Kayak

China: Great Wall Hike, Bike & Kung Fu

Chinese bullet train

Bullet train

Speed across China in a super fast bullet train. It's one of the most effective ways to cover long distances in a short time.

China Highlights

Explore China

China Family Holiday

Boats on the Yangzi River, China

River Boat

Cruising down the Yangzi River is a quintessential China travel moment. Take in the scenery and bask in the epic glory of the dramatic Three Gorges.

China Experience

Accommodation in China

Travelling with Intrepid is a little bit different. We endeavour to provide travellers with an authentic experience to remember, so we try to keep accommodation as unique and traditional as possible.

When travelling with us in China you may find yourself staying in a:

Overnight sleeper train

Overnight Sleeper Train

Your overnight journey will give you plenty of time to finally learn how to play mah-jong, mingle with the locals or simply relax and watch the scenery whiz by.

China's Silk Road

China Experience

Beijing to Hong Kong

A Monastery in China

Monastery

Enjoy the simpler things in life, waking up to the sound of monks chanting amongst peaceful mountain scenery. Staying in a monastery is truly an unforgettable experience.

China Experience

Explore China

China holiday information

At a glance

Best time to visit China

Culture and customs

Eating and drinking

Geography and environment

History and government

Top 10 Must-See Icons of China

Shopping

Festivals and Events in China

Health and safety

Further reading

China travel FAQs

Visitors from most nations are required to obtain a visa for trips to mainland China. Make sure to apply before leaving your home country – if you don’t, your applications might be denied. You will need a Single Entry Tourist for your trip valid for 30 days.
Hong Kong is not considered part of mainland China for immigration purposes and most nationalities do not require a visa to go there. Please check with you local embassy for specific requirements for Hong Kong and mainland China.
Information required for Chinese visa applications:

1.    List the destinations you will visit in China in chronological order on your application form. Do not mention Tibet anywhere on your application form, even if your tour goes here. You will be given a specific itinerary to use if booking a Tibet trip. While Tibet is not off-limits to travellers, you must obtain a Chinese visa first, before we apply for your Tibet permit on your behalf.

IMPORTANT: Including Tibet on your visa application without being booked on a government-arranged tour will lead to your visa being rejected.

2.    Name of Host/Inviting Organisation: This will be supplied at the time of booking.
3.    Hotel list: This will be sent to you at the time of booking. If you do not receive this, email us with your booking number and trip details.
4.    Official invitation from licensed Chinese tourism company: This will be provided from us together with the Hotel List to all travellers regardless of whether it is required by the consulate or not and will assist with your application.
5.    Itinerary: Print off a copy of your specific trip itinerary from our website and include it with your application, marking the dates you will visit each destination if required (exception applies to Tibet tours, please see relevant Essential Trip Information for more details)
6.    Photocopy of your passport
7.    Passport size photos (up to four may be required)

Please note that requirements can change at any time. Make sure to check your local consulate or embassy for any other specific requirements.

Generally, tipping is not expected on mainland China, although leaving spare change at restaurants and giving a small amount to porters or bar staff is becoming more commonplace (although not mandatory). Some large hotels and restaurants may already include a 10%-15% surcharge within the bill. The culture of tipping is different in Hong Kong, where taxi drivers and restaurants will usually round up the bill, and service staff like porters will generally expect a tip.

Internet can be accessed at hotels and internet cafes in large cities and tourist areas but is limited in rural and remote areas. Be aware that many popular websites are blocked in China including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Mobile phone coverage is generally very good in China's cities, and even in remote and rural areas. Ensure global roaming is activated before leaving home if you want to use your phone.

Squat toilets are most common in China, though Western-style flushable toilets can sometimes be found in modern hotels and restaurants. Make sure to carry your own toilet paper and hand sanitizer, as these are rarely provided.

Subway ride = 3 RMB
Can of soft drink = 3-5 RMB
Bottle of beer = 7-10 RMB
Basic lunch = 15 RMB 
Basic rice or noodle dinner 25 RMB
Three-course dinner = 80 RMB

Drinking tap water isn't recommended in China. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Fill a reusable water bottle or canteen with filtered water. Ask your leader where filtered water can be found; some hotels we stay in may have drinking water available, often boiled to use for tea. It's also advisable to avoid ice in drinks and peel fruit and vegetables before eating.

Major credit cards are accepted by large hotels, stores and restaurants, but may not be accepted by smaller vendors such and market stalls. Make sure to always carry some cash in case credit cards are not an option.

Travellers will be able to access ATMs in China's large cities and regional centres. Rural and remote areas will have less ATM access so ensure you have other payment modes before venturing out of the city. Not all Chinese ATMs will accept foreign cards.

Absolutely. All passengers travelling with Intrepid are required to purchase travel insurance before the start of their trip. Your travel insurance details will be recorded by your leader on the first day of the trip. Due to the varying nature, availability and cost of health care around the world, travel insurance is very much an essential and necessary part of every journey.

For more information on insurance, please go to: Travel Insurance

  • 1-3 Jan: New Year’s
  • 4 Feb: Chinese New Year or Spring Festival (Eve of first lunar month)
  • 5 Apr: Qingming Festival
  • 1 May: Labour Day
  • 7 Jun: Dragon Boat Festival
  • 30 Sept: National Day

For a current list of public holidays in China go to: https://www.worldtravelguide.net/guides/asia/China/public-holidays/

 

Equal rights have a long way to go in China. The government heavily censors portrayals of same-sex relationships and, up until 2001, homosexuality was considered a mental illness. That being said, China is a relatively hassle-free destination for LGBTQI travellers who use discretion. People are generally tolerant and homophobic-related violence is incredibly rare. Low-key gay scenes/communities can be found in larger cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong. While it’s common for friends of the same sex to hold hands, keep in mind any further displays of affection are frowned upon; this applies to heterosexual couples as well.

For more detailed and up-to-date advice, we recommend visiting Equaldex or Smartraveller before you travel.

Responsible Travel

Intrepid is committed to travelling in a way that is respectful of local people, their culture, local economies and the environment. It's important to remember that what may be acceptable behaviour, dress and language in your own country, may not be appropriate in another. Please keep this in mind while travelling.

Traveller meeting locals in China

Top responsible travel tips for China

  1. Be considerate of China’s customs, traditions, religion and culture.
  2. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Fill a reusable water bottle or canteen with filtered water instead.
  3. Always dispose of litter thoughtfully, including cigarette butts.
  4. When bargaining at markets, stay calm, be reasonable and keep a smile on your face. It's meant to be fun!
  5. Learn some local language and don't be afraid to use it - simple greetings will help break the ice.
  6. Shop for locally made products. Supporting local artisans helps keep traditional crafts alive.
  7. Refrain from supporting businesses that exploit or abuse endangered animals.
  8. Please ask and receive permission before taking photos of people, including children.
  9. When on community visits or homestays, refrain from giving gifts or money to locals.

The Intrepid Foundation

The Intrepid Foundation provides travellers with an opportunity to give something back to the many wonderful communities we travel to. By donating to The Intrepid Foundation you can make a difference in local communities - in health care, education, human rights, child welfare and the protection of wildlife and the environment.

In China, The Intrepid Foundation proudly supports:

Xi'an Huiling

Xi'an Huiling

Providing skills, training, employment services and housing assistance, this organisation works to better the lives of disabled people in Xi'an by increasing the amount of opportunities available to this marginalised section of the population.

Image supplied by Xi'an Huiling.

To learn more or donate, go to: www.theintrepidfoundation.org