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China

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China, Chinese (Pinyin) Zhonghua or (Wade-Giles romanization) Chung-hua, also spelled (Pinyin) Zhongguo or (Wade-Giles romanization) Chung-kuo, officially People’s Republic of China or Chinese (Pinyin) Zhonghua Renmin Gongheguo or (Wade-Giles romanization) Chung-hua Jen-min Kung-ho-kuo, country of East Asia. It is the largest of all Asian countries and has the largest population of any country in the world. Occupying nearly the entire East Asian landmass, it covers approximately one-fourteenth of the land area of Earth. Among the major countries of the world, China is surpassed in area by only Russia and Canada, and it is almost as large as the whole of Europe.



China has 33 administrative units directly under the central government; these consist of 22 provinces, 5 autonomous regions, 4 municipalities (Chongqing, Beijing, Shanghai, and Tianjin), and 2 special administrative regions (Hong Kong and Macau). The island province of Taiwan, which has been under separate administration since 1949, is discussed in the article Taiwan. Beijing (Peking), the capital of the People’s Republic, is also the cultural, economic, and communications centre of the country. Shanghai is the main industrial city; Hong Kong is the leading commercial centre and port.

Q. What is the best time to visit China?
A. It is not enough to simply shortlist from a lineup of China tour packages, you need to also be mindful of the time of the year the weather is most conducive for a holiday in China. But since China is one giant country, it experiences diverse climates. However, it is the spring and the autumn months that are most desirable to travel within the country. Choose the window between March and May and then between September and early November to explore pretty much anywhere in the country.


Q. What is the time difference between India and China?
A. Just as you finalise one of the China travel packages, you need to be aware of the time zone you are entering and your comfort level with the same. China is in the GMT+8 time zone, and is 2.5 hours ahead of India.


Q. What are China’s most popular tourist destinations?
A. In the process of chalking out your holiday, as you go through a bunch of China packages, it is imperative you know the places the country is famous for. Beijing, the Chinese capital for its well-preserved relics and landmarks; Xi’an, the ancient capital known for its terracotta army dating back to 206 BC; Shanghai, one of its largest city, glitzy and atmospheric with a stunning skyline; Guilin known for its karst landscape; Chengdu, the home of the Giant Pandas; Hangzhou, its lakes, temples and an ancient water town; Suzhou, for its architecture, traditional Chinese garden and calligraphy; Huangshan, ancient dwelling and jagged cliffs; Hong Kong for some shopping and exploring a colonial history; Lhasa, the gateway to Tibet.


Q. Is the local tap water safe to drink in China?
A. The tap water is not at all safe for drinking. In a dire situation you can always boil it before drinking, but you are advised to buy packaged water from supermarkets to wherever you are travelling. This applies to the mountain region or any other big city of China you are travelling to. At restaurants you are usually served warm water before your meal, and that you can happily consume. The only exception is places like the Hangzhou West Lake and Shanghai Disneyland that have drinkable tap water at no extra cost.


Q. What is a good season to travel to Tibet?
A. Tibet is meant for winter travelling as you can truly enjoy the beauty of the landscape in this season. The hotel prices are reasonably lower and you can explore the Potala Palace at your own pace, free of the crowds that frequent it. Also, Tibet’s capital, Lhasa compared to China’s capital, Beijing, has comparatively warmer winters. Since the crowds are thinner in the winter, it is easier to get permits to enter the region.


Q. What is the currency of China and how easy is it to change money there?
A. The official Chinese currency is called Renminbi which can be abbreviated to RMB; CNY (Chinese Yuan Renminbi) is its other abbreviation. 1 CNY is equivalent of 10 INR. The Chinese currency may not be freely available in your own country, so it is advisable to take a few hundred US dollars worth of your own currency with you. From the same you can exchange some of the money into CNY right at the airport because you will not get the best exchange rate there. This is just for your taxi ride and probably a meal, later you can get your local currency exchanged at a Chinese bank or one of the currency exchange kiosks found in hotels too.


Q. Are there direct flights from New Delhi to the Chinese cities?
A. There are direct flights from New Delhi to Guangzhou aboard China Southern among other airlines taking approximately 5 hours to complete the journey. For Shanghai, you can take the non-stop Air India flight from New Delhi covering the distance in around 6 hours. There are multiple other airlines like Malaysia Airlines, Thai Airways, Singapore Airlines, Sri Lankan Airways that make the journey after a stopover. Air China among other airlines have direct flights from New Delhi to Beijing taking about 6.5 hours.


Q. Where can I see pandas in China?
A. Giant pandas, the favourite Chinese mascot roam about in the wilderness of Chengdu, the capital of the Sichuan province of China. Chengdu is home to the Dujiangyan Panda Base which is a Giant Panda breeding and conservation centre; it offers you a chance to participate in the volunteer programme to care for the pandas. You are free to cuddle a panda and click photographs with them. Chengdu is also the place to enjoy the most authentic form of Sichuan cooking.


Q. What is the procedure to get a China visa?
A. Indians need to obtain a China visa ahead of entering the country. The single-entry visa allows you a maximum stay of 30 days in China. Indian citizens can apply for the visa online considering their passport has a validity of a minimum of six months. There are China Visa Application Centre (CVAC) in Mumbai, Kolkata and New Delhi where you can carry out the application process offline. Applications are typically processed within four working days.


Q. What are the attractions in the Chinese capital, Beijing?
A. The inevitable first stop in China, Beijing has a very rich imperial history that goes back to several centuries. Spend about 2 to 4 days here and head out to explore the iconic The Great Wall of China. Add the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace, and the Temple of Heaven to your itinerary. Take time out for a meal of sumptuous Peking duck roast at a city restaurant, ride a rickshaw through the medieval alleys called hutongs, and spare an evening to watch the famous Beijing opera.

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