Ever wanted to travel to China? This week we speak with Coley Dale, who has been living and travelling in China for seven years.
Coley describes a China of amazing diversity, both physically and culturally. We talk about China’s most well-known cities, then head west to get away from the big smoke and into the countryside.
Currently hosting the World Expo, Shanghai isn’t a typical tourism destination. It’s a cosmopolitan city with a variety of Asian and European colonial influences, such as the French Concession, plus a modern, commercial district.
Coley recommends spending 2-3 days wandering around and enjoying the street food. It’s easy to walk through a large area of the city, and metro stops are plentiful if you get tired.
China’s capital, Beijing, is packed with tourist opportunities: the Forbidden City, Summer Palace, Tiananmen Square … it’s where to be a tourist in China.
It’s big, sprawling and fast-paced. Give yourself enough time to do all the cultural sites, but also spend a bit of time exploring the city via public transport.
Although it’s “one of the most natural places in China”, Yunnan’s people and food really stood out for Coley. Bordering Thailand and Burma in China’s west, it also has Tibetan influences and the expectedly beautiful mountains, rivers and valleys to explore. Kunming and Lijiang are the two cities to start from.
Xinjiang (far west)
Like Yunnan, Xinjiang is rich with ethnic minority groups, creating a very different China from the one you might expect. Rich landscapes and friendly people make this an area that’s both unusual and accessible for an adventurous traveller.
Coley described local food as a cross between Turkish and Chinese; something that has to be tasted to be understood.
Although all visitors to China need visas, they are reasonably easy to get, with same-day service from most embassies. The Chinese Embassy in the US has a break-down of visas (and lovingly calls everyone aliens).
WorldNomads.com provides great value global travel insurance. You can buy, extend and claim online, even if already travelling. All World Nomads get free travel blogs, safety advice and language guides for your iPod. You can also support a Footprints community development project when you purchase online. WorldNomads.com – keep travelling safely.