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Cheap flights to China

nǐ hǎo, and welcome to China. Not only is this one of the biggest countries in the world, but also it’s one filled with adventure, history, and tones of unique scenes and sites.

China is currently the most populous city in the world, with a population of over 1.35 billion citizens. Beijing, the country’s capital, first bought the country to light in 2008 when the Olympic Games were hosted here, and since then their tourism industry has been steadily growing – but you still wouldn’t call it a holiday hotspot. China is the largest importer and exporter of goods in the world, and if you venture into Beijing, Shanghai or hong Kong, you’ll see their thriving business districts full of multinational companies.

But you probably didn’t come to China for that. The Great Wall of China is an epic feat at the top of everyone’s bucket list, with archaeologists guessing it’s earliest foundations date back to 7th Century BC, and measuring over 21,196 km in length. The Forbidden City is another must see whilst you’re here, it’s a truly impressive imperial palace used by both the Qing and Ming Dynasties. This is just one of the 47 UNESCO World Heritage Sites that you can find in China.

However, you don’t have to travel far and wide to get a real taste of Chinese culture. Their cuisine is far form the MSG filled salty snacks we eat in the Western world, although you won’t have to go far if you do fancy some crispy duck. Their staple foods are noodles, rice, and dumplings, and of course, they use garlic, chili and spring onions in most meals. Contrary to popular belief, cat and dog dishes are a rarity here (but you can make sure you’re not eating Mittens by sticking to veggie dishes).

Travelling in China can be a very daunting prospect, considering for many it is a venture into the unknown. However, the rich cultural heritage and history dating back 5000 years had made this into a civilization worth discovering.

What you need to know

There are usually a few stopovers on routes to China. You can fly from any airport in Ireland to London, where you can catch another plane leading onto China. You can fly into 18 major airports in China, including Beijing, but considering the size of the country it really does depend on where you are going.

If you want to travel within China, there are bus, train, boat and plane services, however car and motorbike rentals are advised against.

Currency

The official currency of China is the renminbi. One yuan (like 1 Euro) can be divided into 10 jiǎo, and 1 jiǎo can be divided into 10 fēn.

Visas

You will need a visa to enter mainland China, and rules around different provinces and regions change. For the L Visa (Tourism), you will need to present your flight itinerary or hotel reservations when applying, and a separate entry permit is required for Tibet. There are different regulations for different municipalities in China, so please check with the Embassy first.

Laws

You can be fined for stopping on a pedestrian crossing, and it’s illegal to share the secrets of how they make silk in China – in case you were wondering. You could fill a book with Chinese customs, however if you pay attention to the notions of face and politeness in China, you’ll find it much easier going. Never place your chopsticks up right in your bowl, and make sure not to point – use your hand instead.

Best time to visit

China is huge, so the climate varies in the cities, mountains and countryside. Generally Spring and Autumn are the best times to visit as you avoid the extremes, but you could also check out some of the festival dates too. Obviously, Chinese New Year is a great time to be here, but it can get pretty pricey. 

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Images by Flickr/JULIAN MASON

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