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China Travel Guide

Chinese written history dates back over 3,500 years, so there's no shortage of ancient landmarks to explore. Here's everything you need to know about your trip to China, from modern cities to the Great Wall.

What you'll find in this guide:

Top things to do in China

Practical info

Facts about China

Getting to China

Getting around China

China for LGBTQI+ travellers

Top things to do in China

  • Terracotta Warriors Museum Entrance Ticket

    Terracotta Warriors Museum Entrance Ticket

    Skip the line and see the unique Terracotta Warriors, part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

  • Early start guided tour to the Great Wall at Mutianyu

    Early start guided tour to the Great Wall at Mutianyu

    Avoid the crowds by arriving early at the Great Wall, learning all about its history with a local guide.

  • Guided Tour of Tian'anmen Square and the Forbidden City in Beijing

    Guided Tour of Tian'anmen Square and Forbidden City

    Wander through Tian'anmen Square and marvel at the gardens and buildings of the UNESCO-listed Forbidden City.

  • Best of Shanghai day tour

    Best of Shanghai day tour

    See the best sights of Shanghai, including the Yuyuan Gardens and Shanghai old street, and enjoy a delicious traditional Chinese lunch.

  • Private Night Sightseeing Tour of Beijing

    Private Night Sightseeing Tour of Beijing

    See Beijing's top sights and learn more about its history, development and architecture.

What time zone is China in?

GMT +8

What currency do they use in China?

Renminbi (RMB)

What languages do they speak in China?

Mandarin and others

What power adaptors do you need for China?

Type A, C and I

What is the average flight time to China?


Some facts about China

China is one of the world's oldest civilisations, with written history dating back over 3,500 years. In that time they've come up with important inventions from papermaking to the compass, as well as arguably the most impressive architectural feat ever – the Great Wall of China. While reports that it can be seen from space with the naked eye aren't true, it's still pretty huge and stretches to around 21,196km long if you count up all of its branches.

With all that history there's plenty of ancient landmarks to explore, including the Terracotta Army. Discovered in the 1970s in Xi'an, the Terracotta Army is a collection of terracotta sculptures depicting the armies of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China. The site is part of a much larger necropolis which features over 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses, and 150 cavalry horses, none of which are identical.

Practical Info

Important things to know before you visit China

China ranks 137th in our Good Trip Index, our guide to travelling ethically, sustainably and well. To help make travelling responsibly less of a hassle, we pulled together seven of the definitive country-level indices that cover the main ethical issues UK holidaymakers told us were important to them when deciding where to go on holiday, including women's rights, LGBTQI+ rights and quality of life.

China is generally safe for tourists to visit, as long as you're aware of local laws and cultural differences. China is ruled by a single political party, who keep a close eye on foreign influences. Some websites are censored, including Google, Facebook, X (formerly Twitter) and YouTube, news reporting is controlled and public surveillance is quite common. You should avoid demonstrations or large gatherings, as public order is enforced strictly and you could get arrested. You could attract more attention from the authorities if you're travelling to 'sensitive' areas, particularly when taking photos or engaging with political groups, charities or ethnic minority populations.

The Good Trip Index

China ranks 137th on the Good Trip Index

This score is calculated based on Sustainability, Human Rights, Women's Rights, Press Freedom, Quality of Life, LGBTQI+ Rights and Animal welfare

Find out more

Culture and etiquette


Religion in China is very diverse, and most people either aren't religious at all or practice a combination of Buddhism and Taoism, known collectively as Chinese folk religion.

China is officially an athiest state, and the government controls which religions can be practiced and how they are practiced. Five religions are formally recognised (Buddhism, Catholicism, Islam, Protestantism, and Taoism), and only officially registered religious organisations can carry out religious activities.


Tipping isn't very common in China, and can even come across as rude, but it is becoming a little more common. Some restaurants in tourists areas might add a service charge to the bill.


Smoking is banned in most indoor public places, including bars, restaurants and public transport.

Personal ID

Make sure to always carry your passport with you, as you could be fined or arrested if you don't. It needs to be the original document, not a photocopy.

Jabs, visas and other advice

You'll need a special permit for travel to Tibet and the Tibet Autonomous Region, which you'll need to visit as part of an organised tour. In this region, as well as Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and the China-Myanmar border, there's an increased risk of violent protests and conflict and a large security presence.

For up-to-date advice on jabs, visas, safety and other foreign advice, we recommend following the government's website.

Emergency numbers

Ambulance: 120. Fire: 119. Police: 110. Traffic Police: 122. Maritime Search and Rescue Centre: 12395.

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    China Airport Transfers

    Book your China Airport transfers, with free cancellations.

  • China Car Hire

    China Car Hire

    Book your China car hire, with free cancellations.

  • China experiences

    China Ultimate Experiences

    Make the most of your trip and book China's top experiences before you go.

  • China Travel Insurance

    Travel Insurance for China

    You'll want a reliable travel insurance policy for your trip to China.

Getting to China

The quickest and easiest way to get to China from the UK is to fly. Flights from London to Beijing take around 10 hours.

You'll also find cruise terminals in Shanghai, Qingdao and Tianjin if you fancied visiting the country as part of a cruise.

Getting around China

You've got a few options if you wanted to travel around China. Most people make use of China's excellent train network – trains are cheap and comfortable, but can take a fair while depending on where you want to go. Long-distance coaches are even cheaper and a good way to visit more remote parts of the country. Internal flights are available too. They connect major cities and are the quickest option, but are a bit more expensive.

You need a Chinese driving license to rent a car in China, so car hire isn't an option for most tourists. It's possible to hire a car with a driver though, which is another good option for visiting remote areas.

If you're staying in a city, the public transport is likely to be excellent. You'll find everything from subways, trams and buses to taxis and bike-shares in most major cities.

Is China safe for LGBTQI+ travellers?

While same-sex relationships are legal in China, same-sex couples can't get married or adopt children and there aren't any laws protecting LGBTQI+ people from discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation. Same-sex relationships are heavily censored by the government, attitudes towards the LGBTQI+ community in China tend to be less tolerant than in the UK, and displaying public affection could attract unwanted attention.

If you'd prefer to visit somewhere that's more welcoming of the LGBTQI+ community, take a look at some of our favourite destinations for LGBTQI+ travel.