China Adventure Tours
The enormous size of China dictates that it is inevitably composed of a number of smaller climatic microsystems. With the exception of rain which falls largely in the summer months, it is more useful to break the country down into roughly four regions:
Winters in the north fall between December and March - they are cold, although quite pleasant due to the abundance of sunshine and the dry ness of the air. Summers here are from May to August, and the temperature in Beijing can easily reach 30 degrees centigrade. Because of the extremes, spring and autumn are the most pleasant times to visit the north.
In the Yangtse River Valley area summers tend to be longer and more humid. One can also expect very high temperatures between May and September. Winters on the other hand are shorter than in the North.
Around Guangzhou (Canton), the summers are hot and humid with the likelihood of heavy rains. The winters are mild and pleasant. Once again autumn and spring are the most pleasant with day time temperatures averaging around the mid-20s. It is often said that Kunming in the South West has the best climate in China. It is universally known as the 'Spring City', because the winters are extremely mild with plenty of sunshine, and even during the rainy season which lasts from May to September there is sun between the showers on most days.
The North West
If one word could capture the climate of this vast region it would be 'extreme'. The majority of the Silk Road has a severe desert climate. June, July, and August are hot. There is very little rain, and the air which hovers around the 30C mark, is dry. Alternatively the winters are severe, with an average temperature in Urumqi of around -10 C, and -4 C in Xi'an. Spring and autumn are consequently the most comfortable seasons for travel.
During the summer light cotton garments as well as a thin sweater and a rain cover are essential. Strong robust shoes are recommended over sandals which are not always comfortable. In the winter warm layers, thermal underwear, and a thick (down) jacket/wind breaker is required. Gloves, woollen hats, and thick socks are also recommended. Other items include: sun glasses, sunscreen, lipcream, and shampoo. A First Aid kit and a multipinned adapter are also useful.
For city tours and road trips we use the Toyota Mitsubishi, and Nissan Minibus. These are comfortable vehicles with air conditioning and music, and large windows affording good views. For longer distances by train we reserve 'Soft Class', and for the night trains we sleep in the 4-birthed sleepers reserved for foreigners.
Except in one or two of the remoter towns money is easily changed. Although tipping is officially not practiced, it must be said that local guides and drivers are most happy to receive a small sum (around $1 US per day) directly from your clients. In addition travellers are advised to carry small amounts of cash for refreshments and souvenirs. Credit cards, although still not used in the shops, are now more widely accepted by the hotels.
You should apply for your China visa through the normal channels. Groups will be issued with one group visa and the individual passports will not normally be stamped. If the Chinese Embassy in your country requires an invitation from us to confirm the tour we can quickly arrange this as soon as we have received your deposit. In such cases we must have a complete list of names for the group, as well as their basic details: age, sex, nationality, passport number, occupation, and address, preferably 45 days prior to departure. This procedure, however does not exclude the possibility of late bookings. (see 'Deadline' under 'General Conditions').
Our prices include three meals a day in China as well as 'farewell' banquets at the end of the tour, and in many cases 'welcome' banquets at the beginning. As part of the pleasure of travel in China lies in the discovery of its colorful cuisines, we will have the chance to taste a wide variety of local specialities. We generally begin each day with a western style breakfast of eggs, breads, jams, and tea or coffee. Lunch and supper is generally composed of 5 or 6 different dishes in the tradition of the local flavour, and where possible we prefer to eat these meals outside the hotel in one of our specially chosen restaurants.
Beer, soft drinks and mineral water are usually served with the meals. While in the larger hotels tea and coffee, and all the usual drinks including a good selection of alcoholic beverages are widely available. For long train rides and for use in the hotel rooms, your clients may choose to carry a supply of instant coffee with them.
Pekinese & Shandong
The great speciality is Peking Duck, eaten with pancakes and plum sauce. This reflects the tendency in the north to favour wheat products (bread, noodles etc.) over rice. Often regarded as the least interesting style of cooking, the region nevertheless boasts some delicious plates, among them: Beggar's Chicken, Mongolian Barbecue, Bird's Nest Soup, and Sweet-and-Sour Yellow River Carp.
Characterized by lots of steaming and boiling, this style is perhaps the healthiest and the most widely known outside China. Plenty of seafood, fresh vegetables, roast pork and chicken.
This is the spiciest of all the styles, and is characterized by heavy usage of chillies, ginger and garlic. Some of the favourites include an excellent fish in spicy bean sauce, Double Cooked Pork, shrimps with salt and garlic, aubergines in garlic, and spiced bean curd.
Although Yunnanese cuisine is not widely known, it does in fact offer some excellent dishes. The region abounds in fresh vegetables; among them lotus root, bamboo shoots, pea-sprouts, broccoli, garlic shoots, and mushrooms are a common sight all year round. Specialities unique to the region include a superb hot pot in the Mongol style, and the famed 'Steam Pot Chicken'. During their stay we will make sure that your group has the chance to taste Yunnan's most famous dish, 'Crossing the Bridge Noodles'.
Shanghainese & Jiangzhenese
A style of cooking noted for its use of seafoods, it is somewhat heavier than Pekinese or Cantonese. Popular dishes include 'Drunken Chicken' cooked in a potent wine, Ham and Melon Soup, Tientsin Cabbage, Crab, and various cold meet-and-sauce plates.
On the Silk Road traditional turkik foods offer a pleasant alternative to mainstream Chinese dishes. In Xinjiang Province, home to the Uygur people, these include the famed 'whole roast sheep', mutton shiskebab, pilau rice, excellent noodles, and very good freshly baked bread.
No vaccinations are required for China, however travellers going to the extreme southern regions of Xishuangbanna may want to take malaria tablets. Altitude is not a problem unless one is travelling into the mountainous regions of the West. Immodium, Tetranidazol, and some laxatives are helpful for the gut, while a general combination of vitamins is also a good idea. Your clients are advised not to drink tap water. Boiled water is available everywhere, and mineral water is becoming more and more common.
Foreigners are generally not subject to more than perfunctory baggage checks on entering and leaving China. However certain items such as antique objects, statues, or jewellery which were made before 1959 can be difficult to bring out. Sixteen mm movie cameras are not allowed.
Basic films are commonly available, however, groups may want to purchase more specialised films before arrival. Those entering through Hong Kong can take the opportunity to stock up there. In the larger tourist sites a fee (occasionally rather high!) is sometimes demanded. While 16mm movie cameras are strictly not allowed, 8mm and Super 8 along with home video equipment is usually no problem.
For diapositives, Kodakchrome gives excellent results, although one may want to include either a roll of Tungsten film or a bluish filter, to balance the high proportion of orange light found inside temples where flashguns are seriously not recommended ! A dust brush and a 'skylight' filter are also indispensable.
Copyright ©1998-2002 Golden Bridge International. All rights reserved.