China has one of the world's oldest civilizations with a recorded history dating back 5,000 years. Its most famous national treasures are almost as old. The Great Wall was first built in the 7th century, the Terra-Cotta Warriors were buried in 210BC, and Suzhou, China's Venice, is 2,500 years old. In recent years, China has been modernising at breakneck speed, and more and more airlines have been offering airline tickets to China for business and leisure travellers.
China's neon-bathed cities - Beijing and Shanghai in particular but Hong Kong too - are the ones to seek out for the best in new design, restaurants, bars, shops, galleries and hotels.
Outside the cities, nature reserves and national parks show China's diversity of landscapes. From plateaus and mountains in the west to lower lands in the east and huge rivers, the landscapes provide habitats for its animals, most famously the Wolong Nature Preserve, China's largest panda reserve.
China is an emerging superpower, but it is also an empire with a mouthwatering variety of food - in the south rice and prawns, in the west spicy lamb and in the north, duck. More than a country, China is a feast for the senses.
China insider information
China’s official currency is the yuan, which is divided into 10 chaio or jiao or 100 fen. You can only exchange yuan within China’s borders, so make sure you change all your money back before leaving. You can change money and traveller’s cheques, preferably in US dollars, at the Bank of China, which is closed weekends. Major credit cards are usually accepted in major cities, but outside the cities acceptance is limited. ATMs are hard to find outside of a major city. Friendship Stores accept most western currencies.
Canadians need a passport and visa to enter China.
China has hundreds of local dialects, but the country’s official language is Mandarin Chinese.
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