TOP 12 TIPS FOR TRAVEL TO CHINA
A vast country with dynasties of history, an abundance of natural beauty and a uniquely eastern way of life - nothing quite prepares you for the enigma that is China! It is a country full of contrasts – thriving cities like Beijing and Shanghai alongside rural and coastal towns, ultra-modern development among ancient eastern architecture, rapid advancement versus ageless traditional ideals. Not to mention, it’s guaranteed that during your visit, you will have to deal with smog, chopsticks, and government bureaucracy!! This is a country alternating between the developed and developing world, but offers a mysterious and captivating allure for any adventurous traveler. Follow us on our week long journey and discover our top 12 tips for travel to China! (The writers were our very own Visual Memories team travelling independently in this exciting destination in 2018).
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Part 1. Shanghai: Culture shock
9am. The adventure begins in Shanghai, one of China’s most visited cities!! First impressions? In a word – chaos!! Stranger still? It’s organized chaos! China’s largest city of 25 million people is a bustling metropolis of non-stop energy. Sensationally cosmopolitan, Shanghai is like the future – full of the exciting promise of the unknown and like nothing you have seen before!
11am. The quiet tranquility of YuYuan Garden is the ideal setting for my first dumpling meal, so yum! The charming zigzag bridges teem with tourists but the sun is shining in a clear blue sky (in Shanghai? Yes indeed!!) so we walk, walk everywhere - from People’s Square (grand architecture!) to the perpetually jam-packed Bund (amazing skyline views!). A quick ferry trip across the Huangpu River to the Pudong side and the home of the 121st floor Observation Deck in the recently opened ‘green’ Shanghai Tower, to gasp at the vastness of this amazing city. It’s the highest deck in the world with the fastest elevators, offering us an almost god-like perspective, but more importantly, it represents China’s new commitment to environmental friendliness with an incredibly hi-tech and innovative design. Outstanding!
2pm. Hit up the nearest Starbucks (yes, even in China it’s on almost every corner!) in the shadow of the iconic Pearl Tower for an afternoon caffeine fuel and a welcome respite for my feet from the hustle and bustle. A stoic young boy quietly relaxing with his daddy at the adjacent table bravely looks up at me from his fallen lollipop with sad eyes. Yup, it’s a goner, gobbled up by the dusty floor that’s been trodden by countless coffee-lovers feet. Awww, better luck next time little dude! Time to keep exploring!!
5pm. Riding in a taxi in China is akin to offering to play ‘Chicken’ with every other car on the road. Nevertheless, feeling brave, we hail a cab and race through manic Shanghai traffic to the Tianzifang area for a peek into a wildly hip and very cool madhouse! Alley’s filled with noise and excitement, shopping, art and food – ohhh the food! Monster fries and noodles for dinner. East meets West in a culinary marriage of deliciousness! A brisk walk through the still bustling streets with the faint echo of KTV in the air (the Chinese love their karaoke!!), finally brings us back to our temporary home. Instant sleep follows when head meets pillow. My, how I’ve missed you!
Suzhou: Another world
8am. A new morning brings with it a train adventure to Suzhou! Known for its old water towns on the Yangtze River and beautiful gardens, we whiz past the Shanghai outskirts (after finally making our way through the hordes of fellow train goers and very tight security at the station) to arrive in Suzhou 40 minutes later. A baby boy stares curiously at me over the top of the seat in front during our journey. How strange I must look to him? We play Peek-a-Boo to pass our time.
10.30am. So close to bustling Shanghai…. yet another world away!! Suzhou’s ancient water town area features a quaint cobblestone street meandering along a canal dotted with traditional wooden boats. Listen to the boat captains serenade their customers as they float past. On a cold but clear morning, we take our time exploring gorgeously quaint artisan boutiques accompanied by the enticing smell of traditional Chinese treats. A young bride’s billowing red & white dress sweeps past as her traditionally outfitted groom chases after her. They are being closely followed by a photographer! No, she’s not running from the altar, she’s chasing the perfect wedding photograph in China’s burgeoning billion dollar industry that is the pre-wedding photoshoot! On this crisp Sunday morning, we notice many, many couples with that same thought! We take a moment to pause, and cheerfully observe the unfolding spectacle like captivated theatre patrons.
1pm. A leisurely wander through the city, interspersed with cautious dodging of the numerous bike riders scattered along the streets like busy ants (word of warning, the pedestrian is certainly not king of the roads in China!), leads us to the famed Lion’s Grove Garden. Behind the innocently deceptive front entrance, lies the most entertaining garden in Suzhou! Beautiful pavilions and temples are the hidden gems discovered as you traverse an incredible rock maze! What fun!! Caves, different levels and pretty peaks within meticulously sculptured Chinese-style gardens are perfectly integrated. Entertainment AND harmony – awesome!!
4pm. Back to the station and the fast train returns us to Shanghai for a mouthwatering dinner, on a very mild Autumn night, in the delightfully European-style Xintiandi area. Finish with a relaxing massage for the perfect end to another amazing day in China!
Part 2. Xi’an: A melting pot!
5.30am. An early start to the airport for an exciting day! I have longed to see the Terracotta Warriors located in Xi’an in China’s Shaanxi province!! The site of thousands of life-size clay representations of ancient Chinese warriors from the Qin dynasty, is a UNESCO World Heritage protected landmark and considered one of the greatest archaeological sites in the world. And one of the greatest discoveries of the 20th century! Can’t sit still on the plane!!
12pm. The Qin Tomb Terracotta Warriors and Horses is situated 70km (44 miles) from Xi’an’s international airport and we have organized a local guide with expert knowledge of the area to assist us with transport and a tour of the facility. Our guide, Mary, meets us at the airport and we load up the car and are on our way! Mary patiently describes the background of the Warriors and the surrounding area. We are fascinated by Xi’an’s history – it was the original capital city of ancient China and home to First Emperor Qin (/chin/) from whom China gets its name. The Emperor was the first to bring peace and unity to the warring states of China and bond them as one. His earthly glory in life was honored in the afterlife with the creation of the terracotta army who would safeguard his tomb for an eternity (earlier rulers had used human sacrifices for this, yikes!). It took 720,000 workers over 40 years to build this astonishing military battalion and, as each mile passes, we inch ever closer. It’s a 1½ hour journey to the Museum site - perhaps it’s the rhythmic swaying of the car that is to blame for my heavy eyelids? A nap it is!
2pm. The Museum complex is vast with over 1 million tourists visiting the Warriors every year. Entering the remarkable structure (it’s the size of an airplane hangar!) housing the primary vault, Pit 1 (the museum contains a total of 4 pits) and taking our first peek over the edge of the barrier is exhilarating! Over 2,000 warriors and horses stand tall and stare rigidly back at you - eerily life-like, the army is a masterpiece of realism. Every figure differs in facial features and expression, clothing, hairstyle (indicating their military position, Mary explains), gestures and weaponry. The pits are thought to contain another 6,000 warriors and horses which remain buried beneath the Chinese soil for their protection and preservation. “Did you know the Warriors used to be brightly colored?” Mary asks. After 2,200 years buried underground, excavation and exposure to the sun and air have caused the original colors to fade or peel off, leaving only the terracotta behind. Hours later, with worn-out feet and depleted camera phone batteries, we say our goodbye’s to the magnificent army (and to the farmer who discovered the site and now signs souvenir books as a celebrity!) and finally make our way into the ancient walled city of Xi’an.
6pm. Quick rest stop after checking in and we’re off to explore again! Historically, Xi’an was the origin of the infamous silk trade linking China with the Roman Empire. Everywhere, the influence of the Persian traders and Muslim population which made Xi’an its home, is evident – but nowhere more so than at the aptly named Muslim Quarter. Tucked behind Xi’an’s jaw-dropping and magnificently lit ancient Bell Tower (more on that later), the Quarter is ALIVE with a raucous riot of sound, color, energy, neon lights and street hawkers. Bustling with bemused onlookers and incredible food, the evening atmosphere is festival-like and a veritable extravaganza for the senses - see and smell everything! Fire, steam, grilling meats, nutty sweets, juicy pomegranate and exotic spices. I love it!! We wander the character-filled, bluestone-lined alleys, curious and just as bemused as our fellow onlookers sharing in the crazy spectacle of this fervent melting pot! But all good things must come to an end, time for rest!
Mount Hua: Sacred heights
8am. No more rest for the wicked! On our agenda today are the precipitous peaks of Mount Hua, one of 5 sacred mountains in China. A quick breakfast fuel-up and we’re ready to meet another Xi’an local who will be our driver and guide. “Ni hao, my name is (insert very confusing Chinese name), but you can call me, Wally” (one of the quirkier aspects of Chinese popular culture is the practice of choosing Western names for themselves!). Animated and personable, Wally provides an informative and amusing ride to Mount Hua, located 120km (75 miles) east of Xi’an. He navigates the chaotic traffic and chats to us about the mountain and the various trails for hiking. Unlike other mountains, Mount Hua’s jagged peaks are spread out over 5 directions – East, West, North, South and Central Peak. “In Chinese ‘Hua’ means blossoming flower, for that is how the mountain looks from above”, says Wally. Soon, the traffic and ever present apartment buildings diminish as we pass through countryside and climb higher ground toward the mountain. Peeking out of the car window, we look dubiously at the blanketing cloud cover and foggy road ahead and wonder what visibility (if any) will be possible from the top of the mountain. Time to take advantage of a 2 hour journey, full tummy and quiet drive – yes, I may have napped again!.
10.30am. At over 2,000m in elevation, we begin our ascent with a short cable car ride to the entrance of the North Peak. As the cable car pushes over the valley and gains altitude, we break through the cloud cover to blue skies – amazing! Impossibly steep pathways have been carved into the rocks and our trek leads us from the North Peak, through the Central Peak adorned with Taoist temples, to South Peak (the highest) with the infamous ‘Plank Walk in The Sky’. The climbing is hard work (just think of those rock-hard quad muscles you will take home from China, I tell myself!), clutching at chains while navigating steep stairs, vertical ascents, and rock faces. Each step requires effort and vigilance with sheer drops plummeting into the jagged rocks below. In all directions, impossible summits no longer shrouded in mist, offer us impressive vistas – it feels is as if we have reached the top of the world. With the blue sky above and snow on the ground we head to West Peak. The chains leading our way are adorned with thousands of golden padlocks glinting in the sun and a sea of red ribbons with gold Chinese characters. They wave to us in the breeze, left behind with the wishes of their owners for good fortune and health. After 4½ hours of precipitous climbing and weaving over the mountain, we reach the West cable car for our descent and return voyage to Xi’an.
6pm. We reach the city centre after dark, my favourite time, when the city lights look so appealing. So let’s do more exploring!!! Xi’an City Wall is one of the largest ancient military defence systems in the world - it is also the most complete wall that has survived in China. Fourteen kilometres long and with four main access gates, it fiercely encircles the old city. The most beautifully decorated of the gates is the South Gate and is positioned in close proximity to The Bell Tower (oh yes, I promised you more - it is the grandest of its kind in all of China and features large bronze bells from the Tang Dynasty).
During the day, the wall is teeming with cyclists exploring it from end to end. Tonight, our walk is quiet and peaceful as we pass the eerily still rows of bikes and bask in the red glow from the countless lanterns that light our path, enjoying this unique city one last time.
Part 3. Beijing: Duck!
8am. Bullet train time again - and we have Beijing in our sights! From China’s ancient capital, we hurtle Northeast at 300km p/h (180 mph) toward its modern-day capital city….
2.30pm. Arriving late in the afternoon, it’s a mad dash to The Forbidden City before closing time. Luckily for us, our guide Leo, (also friend and Beijing resident), is prepared!! With tickets in hand, we shrug off the city’s thick haze which blankets it’s well known and ancient structures and marvel at its wonders. Beyond Tiananmen Square, lies the palatial heart of Beijing. The Forbidden City (phew!! Made it just in time!) is an enormous micro-city within a city with miles of red walls and yellow-glazed roof tiles. The countless palaces that once held court to Imperial Emperors, now silently watch over a staggering 14 million visitors per year. Amazing!!
A brisk walk to Jingshan Park’s hilltop affords a bird’s eye view of the huge complex and Beijing beyond.
5pm. Taxi please! Soon, we arrive in the timeworn hutong area. Our tuk-tuk driver pedals quickly and maneuvers expertly through the crisscrossing alleys, old courtyards and tiny dwellings which house relatives of some of the original residents of Beijing. It’s a sight to see!
7pm. Dumplings, fried rice and an utterly mouth-watering Peking Duck (Beijing’s specialty) for dinner, with a quick stop at Dairy Queen for ice-cream treats, pleasantly finishes off the day.
Badaling: Imperial wonder!
8am. This is the day - The Great Wall awaits!
9am. The Imperial Summer Palace, only 30 minutes from Beijing, is a masterpiece of landscaped gardens, open air pavilions and stunning temples. This beautiful retreat lives up to its Chinese namesake (Nourishing Peace Garden), designed to achieve harmony with nature, to soothe, and to please the eye. Strolling through its quietly regal gardens is the perfect prelude to the anticipation of the strenuous climbing (don’t listen thighs) of The Great Wall – our next adventure!
11am. Destination – Badaling! The Great Wall at Badaling is only 70km northwest of Beijing (making it very popular with tourists!) and stretches for 12km (7½ miles) across mountain ridges with a total of 43 watchtowers. In ancient times, this placed it in a strategic position as the first line of defense between Beijing and the invading Mongol tribes from the North. On average it stands 8m tall and 6m wide which allowed 5 horses to gallop abreast or 10 men to march shoulder to shoulder. Quite the intimidating sight to any would-be invaders! (Except perhaps Genghis Khan who led his Mongol Army to breach the Great Wall several times!). Nowadays only 4km (2½ miles) and 19 watchtowers (7 to the South and 12 to the North) are open to visitors like me, yippy!
12pm. Chairman Mao once proclaimed “He who has never been to The Great Wall is not a true man”. The Badaling section is one of the best preserved and most magnificent surviving today and proudly features an engraved stone with this very decree. Well Chairman, I’m about to man up! Time constraints dictate the ascent to the North section will be via the cable car rather than walk (my feet and thighs are happier that way also!) and we arrive at No.8 North Tower. To the left lies Tower 9 winding up and down the mountainous ridges to Tower 12, the furthest point in this section. The path between the two is steep, uneven and oftentimes difficult with almost 45 degree slopes. But the most challenging task proves to be circumventing the congestion of tourists in the tricky up and down climbs and keeping the bitterly cold wind at bay! The views, however, are spectacular and it’s difficult to truly capture this ancient feat of engineering in photos. We spend several hours walking the entire section before returning to the cable car for our descent. Another China bucket list item ticked off the list, thank you very much!
5pm. Back in the car for the return trip to Beijing airport. Our next, and final, destination is popular with locals escaping the overbearing summer heat, but largely unknown to Westerners. Only 1½ hours flight from Beijing, the seaside resort of Weihai in Shandong province in northeast China, is surrounded by the Yellow Sea on three sides and mountain ranges on the other, offering ample water activities and hiking. In close proximity to South Korea and Japan, it’s an important port for international trade, but if you mention Weihai to a Beijinger, their immediate response is…. seafood!! Weihai’s fisheries distribute fresh seafood across the country and its beach is well known as one of the best bathing beaches in all of China. With a flourishing auto parts industry and growing tourism, its residents enjoy low unemployment and great livability. Cleanliness, nice weather and a precedence for green open spaces is our ticket to relaxation!
Part 4. Weihai: a Northern gem.
10am. Weihai Park ‘s beautifully landscaped and well maintained gardens line its magnificent promenade for miles along the bay, flowing in harmony with the gentle white sand slopes of the beach. The promenade beckons us enticingly this morning. Great for walking, biking or jogging it’s full of life yet so peaceful, and so far removed from yesterday’s chaotic and crowded China. Here, you can enjoy the clean sea air while you watch the mesmerizing flow of ships continually crossing the bay, or sit at park benches and watch the fishermen cast their line with a view of Heiyue Island. Local families bring their children to run and jump in the playgrounds, while young and elderly couples alike stroll (or briskly walk on a cold day) hand in hand. Discover the lavish and amazing sculptures that adorn the gardens along the way - my favorite is the positively ENORMOUS rectangular picture frame held by a pair of hands erupting from the earth. Depending on where you’re standing, it’s a framed portrait of the beach from one side, and the city from the other – so clever! We amuse ourselves by finding the perfect angle to take a selfie capturing us as the portrait! The unhurried pace of life is temptingly enjoyable in this little corner of China.
12pm. With the wind in our hair from the sea breeze along the beach, we join the locals lining the street at the bus stop and travel downtown for 1RMB (or 20 Australian cents!!) passing by Weihai’s landmark city gate, known as The Happiness Gate. It fleetingly reminds me of La Grande Arche in Paris so far away – very ultra-modern! Off the bus and time for a quick explore of downtown’s sights and a well-deserved dumpling lunch (you can never have too many of those little parcels of delicious goodness)!
3pm. The color and vitality in this city is simply lovely!
Wandering through the supermarket for supplies, my eyes widen at the extensive variety of brightly colored fresh fruits and vegetables, seafood that customers can select directly from water tanks as if straight from the sea, countless varieties of fresh noodles and more assortments of rice than I have ever seen before! Not to mention dozens of beautifully baked artisan breads and bakery items baked fresh every day (I’m eyeing off the delectable egg custard tarts here!!). Yes, there are some weird and wacky items that are utterly unfamiliar to me, so I bypass these with baffled curiosity. Chinese cuisine is regionally based with distinctive flavors but the most important common denominator is wonderfully fresh ingredients available in abundance. We make our purchases quickly - I have to save room for our Korean BBQ dinner in Koreatown tonight (the city’s proximity to South Korea has resulted in a large Korean population and influence!).
7pm. I’m stuffed full. THE most scrumptious Korean BBQ ever!! Enough said.
9am. Outside the window the sun rises in a blue sky and shines over the beach, and I’m lulled by the warmth of the sun’s rays. However, as Autumn changes into Winter, the air is crisp and cold (it will start snowing in the next few weeks) so we wrap ourselves in warm layers and head out for a day at Weihei’s Shendiaoshan Wildlife Park. The park is a short drive from Weihai centre and is built into the rugged hills around the bay offering beautiful scenery and a somewhat exertive hike around the vast grounds. There’s a wide range of animals, from all the usual suspects you might expect to find in a Western zoo, through to all variety of big cats, wolves, bears, birds of prey and even Australian wildlife! But I’m excited to see the zoo favorite, the playful Giant Panda! He lounges comfortably in his house-fort today. With rotund tummy heaving, this adorably chubby fellow scarfs down bamboo with voracious speed and gusto! Quite likely, that’s exactly how I looked to the other diners in Koreatown last night!!
11am. A children’s petting area and pony rides will delight the littlest visitors but we wander leisurely from enclosure to enclosure, mostly enjoying the entire zoo to ourselves this cold morning. The small monkey enclosure is completely open to visitors, with no cages and a lone keeper watching over its cheeky inhabitants. We’ve bought treats with us today (peanuts!) and the very un-shy rascals have no qualms accepting them from your hands (or attempting to steal them when you’re not looking before running off to enjoy their illicitly gained spoils!!). We move on to the orangutan we name Ralph (he looks like my Uncle Ralph!). As we catch Ralph’s eye, he looks beseechingly up with raised palm politely asking if we have any treats remaining for him. Why yes we do Ralph! The most amusing however, is Henry the chimpanzee (no reason, the chosen moniker just seems to suits him!!). As he sits watching and sucking on his thumb, he contemplates you with his wise brown eyes. If deemed worthy, he forgoes the thumb and dances wildly, jumping exuberantly about his enclosure! After his enchanting performance, Henry claps for himself and waits (not quite as politely as Ralph but somewhat patiently) for his well-deserved reward to be offered! Who can resist such gentlemen!
Following the path down a steep hill we come across the marine exhibits where dolphins play. Across the rocky shore, the path continues and the seal enclosure is seemingly built right into the sea with the crashing waves spraying us! The Park is one of the largest and most diverse reserves in China, and interacting with our friendly primates has been a highlight!
2pm. The afternoon is a great time to enjoy a soothing foot massage in town after the morning’s epic zoo visit, followed by a little (ok, maybe quite a bit of) shopping. I’ll be back in a few hours!.......
7pm. It’s Teppanyaki on the menu tonight, thanks again to the influence of the nearby Japanese islands, before hitting the sack with a satisfied smile on the dial…
And so ends our incredible Chinese adventure, but, as Arnie says, “I’ll be back”. One day.
Part 5. What have I learnt? Top 12 Tips for travel to China!
Top Tip 1: Language
While English is slowly becoming universal, especially in the cities, many Chinese people cannot speak it, so it can be helpful to learn a few phrases in the language. A friendly ‘Ni hao’ (hello) and ‘Xiexie’ (thank you) goes a long way. Consider an online translator app and be sure to keep a business card from your hotel handy to show to taxi drivers or in case you get lost while exploring!
Top Tip 2: The Great (Fire) Wall
When in China you will undeniably encounter The Great Wall… no, not THAT one, The Great Firewall!! Censorship is difficult to avoid in China. Everything from media to the internet is blocked, so you won’t be able to access sites like Facebook, Instagram and Google applications. If this is an issue for you make sure to get a VPN on your devices before leaving to be able to keep sharing your photos with those back home!
Top Tip 3: Sightseeing
In most countries of the world, if you are not a resident, legally you need to carry your passport with you. While it’s unlikely you will be asked for your identification by police in China, to purchase tickets for entry into sites such as the Forbidden City, for entrance to the airport or train station, and for entrance to some major museums, you will require your passport. You never know when you will need it so carry it along, but do remember to keep a copy of it and your visa just in case!
Top Tip 4: Health
Although the Chinese government is taking measures to reduce air pollution, it remains an issue to take into consideration in many cities and masks may be required to protect your lungs if you have breathing issues. Also, avoid drinking the tap water in China (bottled is the only way to go) but it is safe to use for washing and brushing your teeth.
Top Tip 5: Food, glorious food
Chinese food is considered to be one of the most complex and diverse cuisines in the world, and for good reason! China is made up of numerous provinces and even more ethnic groups with their own style of cuisine. Each cuisine has different flavour profiles, traditional ingredients, and cooking methods specific to the region they are from. What does this mean for us travellers? A wealth of amazing and delicious and yes, sometimes, the downright weird and bizarre, dishes to try - from fried rice to noodles, dumplings, soups and hot pot, to wonderful fruit and vegetables! Be sensible when buying food from street vendors but be open to experiencing food and flavours that you’ve never come across at home – remember, the Chinese believe fresh is best! And don’t forget to practice using chopsticks!
Top Tip 6: Cash is King!
Visa who? Mastercard what? Foreign credit cards are not widely accepted in China but, as the country rapidly modernizes, various payment methods have become possible for international travellers including using debit cards at local ATMs. While walking around you will see QR codes for mobile payment methods everywhere, like AliPay and WeChat, from taxis to food stalls and stores. However, these platforms do not currently support foreign credit and debit cards (they are only accessible to locals with Chinese bank accounts) so it’s easiest to stick to cash.
Top Tip 7: Etiquette
There is no such thing as personal space in China – it’s is a crowded place, and the locals have become accustomed to a much smaller personal space than we are accustomed to in the west. Be patient, but don’t be surprised if you’re jostled or shoved when queuing – it’s just part of Chinese culture. As is spitting….
Top Tip 8: BYO toilet paper & hand sanitizer!
Many toilets in China are squat toilets without any paper. It’s kind of tricky to get used to but being prepared is good advice (as is trying to use the hotel toilet before heading out!!). Just remember, pack tissues, ‘go’ before you go and bring some hand sanitizer along with you! Then all you have to do is think of the uber strong thigh muscles you are developing!
Top Tip 9: Travel in China
Airports are like the big cities - chaotic and crowded with the added burden of strict security to navigate. Get there early and expect delays. Train stations are similar but while train travel can be fast and easy, they are, conversely, strictly on time! Don’t be even 60 seconds late or you will only get to see the back of your train departing from the platform! Taxis are super cheap (even if you get caught in horrendous traffic) but make sure you have your destination in Chinese, taxi drivers do not speak English remember!
Top Tip 10: Be the tourist attraction
Outside of the main cities like Beijing and Shanghai, the locals are not used to seeing Westerners. You may find that people stare at you and even take photos of you – smile cheerfully! Don’t take it personally, as most people are just curious. Be polite to strangers, but, like everywhere, keep your wits and street smarts in your back pocket – petty theft can be an issue.
Top Tip 11: Be guided
China can be a confusing and difficult place to get around for Westerners, as much for the language barrier as for the sheer size of the cities. However, the advantage of having a Guide is significant for all their knowledgeable insights. The Chinese are an intriguing and ancient culture and take pride in showing you their country. Consider hiring a local guide to really make your experience seamless and extraordinary!
Top Tip 12: Off the Beaten Track
Contemplate the size of this amazing country. There is so much to see and while the big cities like Beijing and Shanghai are a must, smaller cities off the beaten track can have tremendous appeal! It’s a different way of life away from the mega-cities - different cultures, languages, food and customs and you may just find a hidden gem!
And finally….don't forget to capture the contrast!
The things that seem mundane and every day to a local, are strange and exciting for visitors to China. Don’t be afraid to snap lots of pics of the extraordinary landmarks and landscapes (watch out for the oodles of adjacent selfie sticks!!), but also pay attention to the contrasts! Take travel photos that reveal the details - admire the profusion of lanterns hanging everywhere, recognise the artistic beauty of Chinese characters, capture the incredible details of traditional architecture and celebrate the arrays of amazing food! Every small detail will enhance the memories of walking the Great Wall or visiting The Forbidden City (for more detailed travel photo advice, check out our Click Tips blog!). On your return home, remember to share these amazing experiences with family and friends with a customised Visual Memories Worth Keeping travel photobook or wall set. Which is exactly what we did!