China, officially the Peoples Republic of China (PRC), is a sovereign state located in East Asia. It is the worlds most populous country, with a population of over 1.35 billion. The PRC is a single-party state governed by the Communist Party, with its seat of government in the capital city of Beijing. It exercises jurisdiction over 22 provinces, five autonomous regions, four direct-controlled municipalities (Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, and Chongqing), and two mostly self-governing special administrative regions (Hong Kong and Macau). The PRC also claims Taiwan - which is controlled by the Republic of China (ROC), a separate political entity - as its 23rd province, a claim controversial due to the complex political status of Taiwan and the unresolved Chinese Civil War.
When to go:
Anytime, though the spring and autumn months are ideal for travelling, with little rainfall and a pleasant climate. In winter, temperatures drop dramatically, in Beijing and Xian.
Average monthly temperature (°C)
Timezone (GMT): +8 hours.
Language: Mandarin Chinese.
British passport holders are required a visa to enter China, which you can apply for from the Chinese Embassy or Consulate.
A full ten-year passport is essential, valid for at least six months after your return to the UK. Visas are required by all travellers to China and must be issued in the UK. Hepatitis A, Polio, Typhoid and Malaria immunisation are recommended and Yellow fever immunisation is required if arriving from an infected country or area. Please contact the China Tourist Office on 0891 600 188 for up to date country information.
Beijing can be reached on national carrier - Air China with daily departures from London Heathrow. British Airways operate to both the cities of Beijing and Shanghai whilst Virgin Atlantic operates direct to Shanghai. Average journey times to China are 10hrs. Indirect carriers include Emirates and Cathay Pacific offering the flexibility of multi centre combinations with China. KLM also offer regional airport departures from the UK via Amsterdam.
For the latest update-to-date China travel advice, click here.