As the most populous nation in the world, it's no surprise that China is a land of true variety and incredible cultural significance. From breath-taking historic and natural attractions to incredibly modern shopping centres and restaurants, it boasts an astounding range of features to guarantee a fascinating holiday.
Few destinations achieve such a simultaneous grasp upon the past and future, with unique landmarks such as the Great Wall and Forbidden City existing within the very same cities as cutting-edge commercial districts and nightlife centres. China also offers stunning sites of natural beauty, including Hangzhou's expansive, tranquil West Lake, and the unforgettably unique scenery of the Yellow Mountains.
Further evidence of the country's amazing diversity can be found in its various distinct cuisines, only two of which are widely practiced in the Western world. Due to its amazing versatility, China is the perfect destination for those seeking new experiences - whatever they may be.
Due to its vast size, China has a wide range of weather conditions. It is therefore best to tailor the time of your stay to the specific regions you intend to visit. Generally speaking, the country enjoys its most moderate weather during early Autumn - although it's best to avoid the first week of October's national holiday, as transport, hotels, and popular attractions will all be incredibly crowded.
Those in search of historical landmarks should head for Beijing; China's capital is home to various relics of the imperial age, including a section of the Great Wall and the opulent Forbidden City. A taste of cutting-edge modernity can be found in Shanghai, the country's biggest city and prime destination for shopping, clubbing, and socialising. Additional cities of interest include Chengdu, home of the globally famous giant pandas, and Huangshan, renowned for its unrivalled natural beauty.
China has eight recognised cuisines, each originating from one of the country's 22 provinces. As well as the two most familiar to the Western world (Sichuan's bold, spicy style and Guangdong's distinctly sweeter recipes), many of the other culinary styles are well worth a try. Seafood lovers will enjoy Zhejiang-style freshwater fish, while Jiangsu is regarded as the prime cuisine for soups.
Shanghai is unquestionably China's prime destination for those in search of vibrant nightlife, hosting a wide range of sophisticated clubs and upmarket bars. Beijing offers a slightly more unique experience, many of its drinking establishments existing within renovated ancient buildings - some as much as 500 years old.
It is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct travel insurance and vaccinations and / or special medication for your destination. Please consult your GP for advice at least one month ahead of travel. It is essential that you meet the visa and passport requirements for your chosen destination. Visit the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (http://www.fco.gov.uk) website for up to date entry requirements listed by country.