China is a land of immensity, where superlatives come thick and fast: the world's biggest population, its highest peak, Everest, and Asia's longest river, the 6,300-kilometre-long Yangtze, are all found here and can be seen on a holiday in China. There are fertile plains, mountain plateaux, arid deserts and bamboo forests, home to some of the last remaining giant pandas in the wild.
This is a land that has nurtured empires and witnessed great advances in science and the arts. A China holiday also gives you the chance to see some of the finest sights in the whole of Asia, from the Terracotta Warriors and Tiger Leaping Gorge to the mesmerising cities of Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong, where the pace of change is perhaps more evident than anywhere else on the planet.
"There lies a sleeping giant," said Napoleon of China. "Let him sleep! For when he wakes he will move the world." Take a tailor-made China holiday to see this slumbering giant for yourself.
When to go
Spring and autumn are generally the best times to visit. The summer months can be wet and humid, especially in southern and central areas. Winters can be bitterly cold, particularly in the north, west and Tibet, but there are fewer tourists and the Great Wall and other attractions look beautiful in the snow.
Size: 9,596,960 sq km
Language: Mandarin Chinese is the official language. Large groups speak Cantonese, Shanghainese, Fuzhou and Taiwanese, while regional languages include Mongolian, Uighur and Tibetan.
Population: 1.344 billion
Religion: The People's Republic is officially atheist, but Buddhism, Taoism and Christianity are widely practiced. There are around 100 million Buddhists, 60 million Muslims and 10 million Christians. Confucianism is also firmly embedded in the nation's psyche.
Currency: Renminbi (CNY; symbol ¥), meaning ‘the people's currency' is the official name of China's currency.
Time zone: GMT +8 hours. Despite being a vast country that geographically covers several time zones, China uses a single time zone, China Standard Time, year-round.
Flight time: Travelling from London to Beijing or Shanghai takes around 10 hours. Direct flights to Hong Kong take around 12-13 hours
The Spring Festival, mentioned above, is a wonderful time to visit China. It's celebrated nationwide and marked by visits to temples, street processions involving paper dragons, drummers and acrobats, and the setting off of firecrackers.
If you're interested in experiencing China's tribal culture, meanwhile, then timing your visit around a regional festival is definitely recommended. In Guizhou province the festivals are held at times of the year when there was traditionally less to do in the fields but plenty of food to go around. One of the most fascinating festivals is the Sisters' Meal Festival in April, when many of tribal youngsters choose a partner. Visit at this time and you'll see Miao people in decorated jackets and fine silver jewellery coming together to sing, play drums and enjoy dragon lantern dancing.
If food is your thing, then the Hong Kong Food Festival in August is a mouth-watering prospect. The action is focused on Lang Kwai Fong, a district of busy restaurants and inexpensive bars.
Please note that entry requirements and visa regulations can change often and at short notice. We can provide general information about the passport and visa requirements for your trip and this information may be included after the itinerary section of your quotation. Your specific passport and visa requirements and other immigration requirements are your responsibility and you should confirm these with the relevant Embassies and/or Consulates. Neither we nor the principal(s) or supplier(s) accept any responsibility if you cannot travel because you have not complied with any passport, visa or immigration requirements. Please call your WEXAS specialist if you wish to discuss entry requirements.
Visa applicants are required to have a passport with at least six months validity from their planned arrival date in China.
The mainland Chinese currency is the renminbi (RMB), also called the yuan (¥, the main unit of the renminbi currency). One yuan equals 10 jiao.
Paper money was invented in China and is still the main form of exchange, although you can often use credit and debit cards in most international-standard hotels, as well as in shops and restaurants in Beijing, Hong Kong, Shanghai and other major cities, and at major tourist attractions.
Chinese banknotes, featuring the portrait of Mao, come in the following denominations: ¥100, ¥50, ¥20, ¥10, ¥5 and ¥1.
Banks are often open seven days a week, except during public holidays. ATMs are also increasingly prevalent and are the easiest way to get hold of quick cash.