5 Places Not to Miss in China

China is full of noteworthy places, both old and new. And, when you’ve gone through the cost and hassle of obtaining a Chinese visa, you want to be sure not to miss any of the best spots, be they ancient temples, breathtaking vistas, or modern marvels.

Xi’an

Home of the famed terra cotta warriors, Xi’an has a lot to offer. An ancient capital of China which served as home for 73 emperors over 1,000 years, Xi’an has a veritable wealth of ancient Chinese cultural artifacts, including the old city walls which you can bike around and the tomb of Emperor Jingdi, amongst many, many other sights.

The Great Wall

Arguably the most famous sight in all of China, the Great Wall spans much of the northern border of ancient China. Originally built to protect from northern intruders, the Great Wall still exists in varying states ranging from completely derelict to over-restored. Find a rural, un-refinished area for a true sense of the ancient landmark.

The Forbidden City

Within Beijing, the Forbidden City looms large in both local and international thought. The former home to the emperors of the Qing dynasty, this sprawling complex is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and visitors can wander the once-forbidden rooms and courtyards for hours on end.

Huangshan

For those looking for the iconic mist-covered mountains of Chinese artistry, look no further than Huangshan. Visitors can hike up the mountain’s side, or else take a gondola ride in either or both directions. A spiderwebbing of paths run along the top, making an easy, mostly horizontal hike to emblematic trees and ancient rock faces a great way to spend a day.

Hong Kong

Though classified as a Special Administrative Region of China, and with a history of independence and connection with the United Kingdom, Hong Kong’s mixed cosmopolitan atmosphere makes it a must-see for visitors to China. Extra visas can usually be acquired at the border from China, allowing travelers to see the bustle of Hong Kong while on their trek through China. Just make sure your Chinese visa allows reentry!

The lush diversity of China should not be missed by anyone. From Xi’an to Huangshan, The Great Wall to Hong Kong, China has any number of unbelievable sights. Begin with these, and you won’t be disappointed.

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4 Things to Remember When Eating in China

When you travel to another culture like China, it’s crucial that you do a little research into their table manners. How you eat, where you eat, and what you do while you eat can be the difference between you being labeled a clueless foreigner and being respected as a foreign friend. Knowing the basics of Chinese meals will help you as you explore the country with your Chinese visa.

Use Chopsticks

Most places you go in larger urban areas, you will quickly be supplied with Western-style utensils, whether or not you ask for it, if you look out of place. Fight this conception of travelers by mastering chopsticks. They’re easier than they look: just rest one stick in between the thumb and index finger in your dominant hand, with the stick resting further down on your middle finger, to serve as a base. Hold the other stick between your thumb and index finger tips, and use that to clamp down on food.

Use Chopstick Etiquette

Using chopsticks in China comes with its own set of protocol. For instance, tempting though it may be, especially as you learn, be careful not to mindlessly click the chopsticks together. Doing this is roughly akin to pounding on the table, demanding to be served immediately. Another big no-no is how you place your chopsticks when they are not in use: Do not stick them upright in your rice, as this resembles incense sticks and sends the message that you wish your host were dead.

Don’t Eat it All

In Chinese culture, it is a sign of shame if your guests are able to eat all of their food—it means yo,u as a host, have failed to provide properly. So eat until you are finished, but do not finish everything. Leaving some behind honors your host by showing that he or she is rich enough to be able to waste some food.

Plan to Share

Often, meals in China are served family-style, with each person taking from communal dishes. Only take what you will eat, and don’t be too freaked out by the sharing. Sometimes there will be serving chopsticks, but other times you will use your personal ones—be sensitive to this in how you serve yourself, but also be aware that, if used properly, chopsticks don’t touch your mouth, so it is more hygienic than it appears.

Eating in China means more than just heaps of delicious food, though that is definitely part of it. By eating, not just well, but properly, will help make your trip to China unbelievably great. Eat well while in China, and avoid foreign disgrace by following these tips.

Best Chinese Foods

In the West, Chinese food has a reputation for being that greasy, bland stuff that comes in waxed paper boxes from the local shop and may or may not make you sick. For the most part, Chinese food in the West has been customized to Western palates, and you may be surprised at the delicious differences in genuine Chinese food. Make sure you make the most of it, though, and eat all the best foods.

Street Foods

Much of the best food you will get in China will be bought off a street cart. Popcorn chicken and green onion pancakes are among the best of these by Western standards, but pigs’ blood and rice is another common food, as is—especially in the south—seafood. Look for a clean area, but go for it—you won’t regret trying it.

Not Your Local Chinese Food

While Western Chinese food often focuses on deep-fried meats and carbs, real Chinese food is much more diverse. Noodle- and rice-based dishes are common, but multiple stir-fried vegetable dishes, together with non-fried meat dishes (if you’re dining well) will also be all over your table. Don’t be looking for familiar dishes, but don’t worry: everything you try will be even better.

Get Used to Warm Foods

With the exception of fruit, most Chinese food is served hot. From vegetables to soup to tea to water, and no matter the weather, your meals in China will almost certainly all be warm. Even in the sweltering Chinese summers, warm water and hot tea will be standard fare to help cool you down. And, as a word for the wise, if you really want something cold, the Mandarin word for ice is “bing.”

In China, Chinese food will shock and awe you. Far from the standard fare of the West, Chinese food in China is hugely varied in flavor and type, and might just prove to be the best part of your trip. With street food around every corner and tables full of meat and vegetable stir-fries, you will never go hungry.  Surprising and flavorful,  genuine Chinese food is one of the best things about China, and must not be missed.

Need more information how to get a Chinese visa, please visit Travel Visa Pro China visa page.

Visa requirements for U.S. citizens traveling abroad

U.S. citizens do not need a U.S. visa when traveling, but may need visas for countries they plan to visit. Understanding visa requirements can be one of the most complicated aspects of traveling. Not all countries require U.S. citizens to obtain a visa before entering, but some do. You may need a visa, not only for countries you are visiting, but also for countries you are transiting on the way to your destination. Any time you are entering or exiting a country by any port of entry, land border crossing or airport, for whatever reason, you may be required to present a visa.

Visa requirements differ by country, nationality of the traveler or nationality of the passport, and reason for travel among other things. Requirements for obtaining visas are also subject to change at any time, so having up to date information before you travel is vital. Fortunately, there are plenty of resources available for determining if you will need a visa when you travel.

Some things to take into account when deciding if you need a visa are:

  • What is the reason for your visit? Tourism? Business? Be prepared to explain the purpose of your visit very clearly when applying for your visa.
  • What is your national and resident status? Are you a citizen of the country where you live? What is the nationality of your passport?
  • Is your passport current and valid? Some countries require a passport to be valid for a certain amount of time before and after the beginning and duration of your stay. For example, in some cases, if your passport is due to expire in less than six months after your expected length of stay in a given country, a visa application might be denied.
  • Do the countries on your itinerary even require a visa?

To determine whether you will need travel visas for any of the countries you are planning to visit, U.S. citizens can visit the State Department’s official Travel Website. Information on exactly how to apply for a visa can often be found on a destination country’s website, but, your best bet is still the embassy or consulate for each country you are considering visiting. You can find help with the application process for each visa from embassies or consulates, or from reputable services such as Travel Visa Pro.

Make sure to plan ahead. Travel prepared to make sure all your surprises are happy surprises!