If you are looking for a travel destination that is features an exotic variety of sights and unforgettable experiences, China is best place to go. The country is an amalgamation of modern life and ancient tradition, so you will definitely get the best of both worlds here. Chinese culture and tradition are also vastly different from that of the Europeans, so if you would like to acculturate yourself and learn more about a new culture, you and your travel buddies should definitely book trips to China in 2023, ASAP!
First Off, Are Tourists Already Allowed to Travel to China Again?
Yes! China has already opened its borders to tourists starting March 15, 2023. That said, travelers can now enter China normally with a valid China visa of any type. Visa-free transit policies are also reinstated.
You can enter China as long as you are:
- Holding a valid China visa (any type, even if applied before March 28, 2020).
- Holding valid Chinese residence permits for work, study, reunion, and personal matters.
- Holding valid APEC business cards.
- Qualify for the China visa-free transit policy.
Also, starting from January 8, 2023, China no longer requires mandatory centralized quarantine or home quarantine. Nucleic acid testing is also no longer mandatory.
Now, onto the Main Question: Why Visit China?
There are lots of fascinating things, places, cultures, and traditions to learn and discover in China but among the top five are its delicious cuisine, interesting ancient heritage, fascinating culture and tradition, spectacular sceneries, and last but never the least, they have adorable pandas!
The Chinese Cuisine is Top-Tier
This one is pretty self-explanatory. The Chinese cuisine is simply top tier! Authentic Chinese food is brimming with all sorts of flavors imaginable–with umami being the dominant one. From salty, sweet, sour, spicy, and savory, the Chinese foods got them all. Not to mention, the food here is generally inexpensive, so you can eat to your heart’s content without hurting your wallet. That said, it should be no surprise that Chinese food is famous worldwide. And to discover the delights of authentic Chinese food with its wide variety of ingredients, there is no better place to try it than in China. Forget about whatever Chinese food you have been eating in Europe because the real deal is a thousand times better!
Each region has its own unique dishes, but of course, you won’t be able to try them all—or can you? So, just be sure to try their specialties such as the famed Beijing roast duck, Shanghainese soup dumplings, spicy hotpot in Chengdu, rice noodles in Guilin, dim sum, Ma Po tofu, Scallion pancakes, Sweet and sour pork, and Wonton soup in Hong Kong.
Impressive Ancient Heritage
China is one of the Four Ancient Civilizations alongside Babylon, India and Egypt, which is where humankind’s culture continuously developed and evolved from. With its colorful and tumultuous history dating more than 3,000 years back, China has one of the richest heritages worldwide. In fact, there are arguably more ancient treasures in China than in any other country on earth. These vary from city walls to buried armies, temples, pagodas, and even giant Buddhas.
Some of the most interesting historical landmarks in China include the 7 Ancient Wonders of China:
- Qin Shi Huang’s Mausoleum, where there lies the Terracotta army that united China
- The Great Wall of China, which is often dubbed as the greatest human feat in the history
- The Forbidden City, which is the world’s largest ancient palace
- The Hangzhou–Beijing Canal, which is the world’s grandest canal
- The Dujiangyan Irrigation System, which showcases the Chinese ancient agricultural ingenuity
- The Sanxingdui and Jinsha Relics, which exhibits the artistically advanced civilization of China; and
- The Dali Pagodas, which are considered China’s elegant and enduring landmarks
The other honorable mentions include the Summer Palace, Potala Palace and the Longmen Grottoes.
Fascinating Culture and Tradition
China boasts the world’s richest breadth of culture that is unique, yet harmoniously blended, making it an invaluable asset to the world. Not only do they have a profound culture which has given rise to ancient poetry, opera, porcelain, and calligraphy. China is also home to hundreds of ethnic minorities, each of them with their own culture and traditions.
There are 55 ethnic minorities in China and over 500 people groups, all of them practicing a multitude of different cultural customs. If you would like to know more about China’s minority culture and tradition, there are four major places must visit: Yunnan, Guilin, Guizhou, and Tibet.
As with most Asian countries, Chinese households are largely patriarchal. But if you go to Lugu Lake in Yunnan, you can explore and go on a cultural immersion in the world’s last matrilineal society: the Mosuo people. Alternatively, you can also catch a glimpse of the Zhuang people’s traditional wooden stilted houses, or the record-breaking long-haired Yao women. You can also try local bamboo-tube rice in Guilin’s Longji Rice Terraces, or you can visit a Miao village, hear their mountain songs, and see their silver crowns, as well as the traditional way of making paper from trees—the Guizhouan way. Lastly, you can walk through Lhasa’s pilgrim streets and mountain monasteries to meet the devout people of Tibet.
Spectacular Natural Wonders
Beyond the hustle and bustle of China’s modern cities, it hides away natural landscapes that are among the most breathtaking natural wonders you will possibly lay your eyes on. In fact, these majestic mountains, lush forests, and small towns and villages seemingly untouched by the modern society are only a couple of hours away by train!
The Yunnan province is a tropical, green paradise, whereas the Xinjiang province is sandy, deserted desert, with people who identify more with the Turkic and Muslim cultures of the countries it borders. Meanwhile, the south hosts karst topography and towering mountains. If you are a mountain hiker, China has the Himalayas Range, which is home to Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak. You can also climb the much more accessible yet equally exquisite mountains of Huangshan and Taishan. Or you can relax and take a river cruise down the Yangtze or Li River. You can also visit and witness the jaw dropping rice terraces that have been farmed for thousands of years.
It will be impossible to explore all of China’s natural wonders, unless you are planning to spend years traveling all around China. So, if you have limited time, be sure to explore these must-see places: The Yellow Mountains, the Tiger Leaping Gorge on the Yangtze River, the Zhangjiajie’s ‘floating’ peaks which inspired the movie Avatar, the Li River karst scenery in Guilin, the rainbow hued ponds and glaciers in Jiuzhaigou.
Pandas, Pandas, Pandas!
The last but never the least reason to visit China is that they have adorable pandas there! And not just any pandas—we’re talking about giant pandas!
Ailuropoda melanoleuca—the cute giant panda—lives nowhere else in the world outside captivity. That said, it is the world’s most treasured endangered species. Arguably one of China’s national treasures, the giant panda woos onlookers with their cute and cuddly appearance as well as lackadaisical demeanor.
If you go to one of their Panda tours, you can get up close and personal with these adorable pandas and experience the life of panda keeper–albeit for a short while. You can even go visit these pandas in their natural habitat.