Guest Blog - Six Reasons to Visit China

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

I’ve had the pleasure of living in China for nearly 9 months now. I’ll be honest; at first, it was a massive culture shock. If you recently heard the Queen calling the Chinese Delegation “rude”, this probably isn't a country that has been added to your bucket list.

The truth is that China is unlike anywhere else I’ve ever been to. It’s not only very different to Western cultures but also other places in Asia. What’s more, the country is so huge that you’ll find differences between the cities, towns, and villages within China itself. Food, cultural attitudes, and language (spoken and written) are all totally different. However, it’s for these reasons that I believe you should visit China. Travelling is about seeing new places and learning things, and that’s why China is ideal. 

Here are my top 6 reasons why you should visit China!

1. Diversity of places to see

As you can imagine, a country of one billion people isn’t exactly small. The landscape changes dramatically. You’ll notice a stark difference in wealth and ways of life, from thriving cities of about 21 million inhabitants (Shanghai), to small and remote villages unknown to most travellers.

No matter what kind of places you like to visit while travelling, you can be sure to find it in China. Beaches, cities, mountains, hiking trails, rivers, lakes, islands, historical towns, and a GREAT WALL! You will be sure to find it here.

The beautiful Yuangshuo and the Li River

2. Affordable to travel around

You can very easily travel around China on a budget. Bigger cities will of course be more expensive, and some of the attractions are expensive to see. But, depending on the city and time of year, you can find some amazing deals on accommodation with hostel dorms as low as £5 (around AUD$13).

Eating in China is cheap if you eat locally. A hearty noodle or rice dish can cost as little as £1.50 ($3) and street food snacks can cost as little as 15p (30c). 

Travelling around China is easy and affordable too. High speed railways link a lot of the cities, buses are cheap, and if you book a little bit in advance, you can even get some cheap flights as well. Do consider the environment though. Flying from place to place is not good for sustainable travel. From my experience, the trains are reliable, comfortable, and a much more eco-friendly way to see the country.

3. Safe for solo travellers 

You need to be aware of safety in any country you visit, even in my hometown of Bristol you have to be aware of personal safety. On the whole, I feel very safe in China. I once had a Chinese woman point at my pocket to let me know I had some money poking out, so I quickly put it back in. She nodded and gave a thumbs up. She was looking out for me, which I appreciated.

You need to take care of your belongings and not bring loads of cash out wherever you go. But in terms of walking around in places and feeling safe, on the whole – I feel very comfortable doing this in China (on my own or with a group).

4. Diverse and "proper" Chinese cuisine

When the time comes for me to head back to England, I don’t know if I’ll be able to eat Chinese food in the same way. There is some Westernised Chinese food in England, though nothing will beat the fresh dumplings made below my flat or the home-made noodles from the Muslim restaurant. Visit China and you will have proper Chinese food.

Trying some local crab at my school
What’s more, food varies from region to region. Which means there is loads of different stuff to try. Some of it may not be to your taste (chicken feet), others you may want more and more of (silk potatoes, nom nom nom).

5. Tourist destinations lack Western travellers

Many places in South East Asia have become popular backpacker routes and destinations. These places are cheap and good to visit if it’s your first time travelling. You can be sure there will be some  English speakers and you can congregate with other Western travellers.

China doesn’t have a backpacker route because it’s so big. In the bigger cities and more touristy places, you will of course see westerners or expats, but in other places you’ll find predominantly Chinese tourists. For me, I sometimes enjoy not seeing other Westerners and I like the fact that the tourist industry is for the Chinese.

That said, these places can get very busy! If you plan your trip well and don’t travel during any Chinese holidays, some of the touristy spots will be relatively quiet. 
We were some of the only Westerners in Nanjing
6. Different people and culture

China is one of the largest countries in the world for production, it’s run by a communist party who has strict internet regulations, and up until recently it had a ‘One Child Policy'. The people you meet here will not be like you. They have lived a different life with different values and cultures.

Some aspects of China you may not like, such as spitting, lack of road rules and limited customer service. But the people you meet will be incredibly interesting. Many will not speak English, which can make trying to talk to them all the more fun through miming (or using broken mandarin).

Despite the Queen calling the Chinese delegation “rude”, I have experienced some wonderful hospitality from the Chinese. If you take some time while travelling to talk to local people, you will learn a lot.

A local girl in Tunxi taught me to write my name in Chinese
Some final tips: If you really do want to travel to China (and I think you should), learn some basic mandarin (numbers, yes/no, water, staple dishes), it will all go a long way. Download the app Pleco – it’ll help you A LOT. Be opened minded to accepting the different culture, and most importantly, see some wonderful parts of the world. Happy travels!

About the Author - Helen

Helen currently lives in Hangzhou, China, working as an English teacher in a primary school. With a love of both travelling and writing, she shares her thoughts and adventures through her blog Bristolian Backpacker

You can find out more about Helen and read more fantastic blog posts by following her on Twitter!

Interested in joining our Guest Blog Series?

I am always looking for new and exciting ideas and articles from all types of travel bloggers, whether you're just starting out or have been in the industry for a while. If you would like to feature in the Guest Blog Post Series here at A Girl Who Wanders shoot me an email at and let me know your topic ideas! Look forward to chatting :)

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