Exploring China for the First Time

Exploring China for the First Time

Written By: Sharky

For most travelers, a trip to China is typically on the list of places to visit, but it is also one that seems to be intimidating and overwhelming to plan. One of the most fascinating destinations I’ve ever visited, even being familiar with Asian culture and history, it is still quite a transition and could be a culture shock for most travelers.

Traveling is supposed to invigorating and enlightening – but it can also be a stressful experience especially when traveling to foreign destinations like China. The language, cuisine and even the way of life is vastly different from most destinations around the world. For that reason, I thought I would put together a guide that will help you explore China for the first time and have a fun and stress-free experience.


Before you start planning any of your travel arrangements, be sure to check the Chinese travel requirements. The country requires most travelers to have a visa -- if you don’t have one at all you’ll need to give yourself plenty of time to complete the application and have it approved well in advance. If you already have a visa, make sure that everything is set and all of your information is up-to-date at least two months before your departure. There’s nothing worse than having all of your arrangements and accommodations in place and then realizing you cannot go because your visa or passport is expired.

If you’re traveling to China for the first time, I often recommend visitors going through a travel agency or similar visa service to help keep the process going smoothly and stress-free, especially since you need to work with an embassy or even the Consulate General.


As is the case with any travel destination, the time in which you visit the country has a lot to do with what kind of experience you will end up having. Visiting any country in the summer has its definite drawbacks -- in the case of China, the heat can become quite overwhelming and humidity levels are off the charts. Unfortunately, most tourists only get summer time off from work, which means many of the traditional tourist sites China are often at capacity.

If you have the opportunity to visit China during the off-season, which runs between October and March, you’ll experience more refreshing and cool weather, not to mention the crowds will be substantially smaller. To ensure that the weather is as nice as it possibly can be, I recommend trying to book your trip for October, as it is less busy and the weather is still perfect.


With a country as large as China, it is often difficult to figure out what exactly you want to see and do during your travels. The length of time that you’re visiting China also has a major impact on what you can do while you’re there! There are many tourist destinations to add to your itinerary, the most popular being Shanghai and Beijing which feature quite a number of historical and cultural points of interest, which you’ll certainly want to check out during a trip to China.

Keep in mind that each of these cities is located in a different region of the country, which means that weather patterns can change and festivals or other activities could influence the number of tourists an area. More remote destinations and cities will also allow you to interact more with the locals, which is something to think about if you are nervous about making a trip to China and wanting to assimilate into the culture during your stay.


I always recommend learning a few of the most common words or phrases in the language of the country you’re visiting. There are two major languages spoken in China, which include Mandarin and Cantonese. If you’re visiting a city like Hong Kong, you will be more exposed to Cantonese than Mandarin -- something to keep in mind as you try to learn a few of the universal phrases like thank you, hello and goodbye.

Though English is often spoken in places around the world and is becoming more of a universal language, the Chinese have been especially slow to adapt that policy and it’s rather difficult for them to speak English, so you will need to be the one learning some Mandarin or Cantonese.

Visiting China for the first time is definitely a culture shock, but it’s a welcome one. One of the most fascinating countries in the world, China has it all – from thousands of years of history to technologically advanced wonders and innovations.

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Countries: China
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