A holiday in China is a must for anyone curious about one of the most vibrant and important countries in the world. When it comes to tourist attractions, it's hard to know where to begin. There's the Great Wall of China, of course, and the palatial, jaw-dropping opulence of the Forbidden City in central Beijing. Nature lovers will be in their element in Jiuzhaigou, where giant pandas roam and where there are well over 100 shimmering, mirror-like lakes and cascading waterfalls. And let's not forget Hong Kong, which is almost a world in itself.
A number of different airlines offer indirect flights to China from major UK airports. Air China and British Airways offer direct flights to Beijing Capital International Airport, with an average journey time of around 10 hours. The airport itself is around 32 kilometres from the city of Beijing, and express rail service can get you to the capital within 20 minutes. China has a sophisticated rail network, including high-speed bullet-style trains, which offer a very slick and swanky way of getting around.
Having said that, the fact remains that this is a truly colossal country, and if you really want to make the most of your China holiday then domestic flights are the only viable way. Fortunately there are plenty of cost-effective carriers available, and it's not difficult to find significant discounts by using booking offices and travel agencies in the country. Pedicabs - or, as most people still know them as, rickshaws - are a great way of getting around in cities while you're on holiday in China, although you do run the risk of being ripped-off if you use them in tourist hotspots. It's always a good idea to agree the fare beforehand.
Arriving in Beijing, or even a mid-sized Chinese city, can be a daunting (if exciting) experience, so it's always a good idea to sort your accommodation out well beforehand. One thing to bear in mind when looking for a cheap hotel in China is that mid-range hotels are often open to a bit of haggling - you can actually reduce the stated rate if you ask them for their lowest possible price.
In fact, haggling is the norm when it comes to just about anything, from paying for a restaurant meal to purchasing souvenirs. If you know you're in a particularly tourist-heavy area, then you can confidently expect to get almost 50% knocked off souvenirs - but don't go quite so overboard if you're in a quieter place where locals actually shop. When it comes to food, China is famed for street snacks that are as cheap as they are delicious - the Wangfujing district in Beijing is just one of the areas celebrated for the wealth of quick, authentic Chinese food on offer.
Updated 19th June 2013
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