With coasts on the East China Sea, Korea Bay, Yellow Sea, and South China Sea, in total it borders 14 nations. It borders Afghanistan, Pakistan (through the disputed territory of Kashmir), India, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam to the south; Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan to the west; Russia and Mongolia to the north and North Korea to the east. This number of neighboring states is equaled only by China’s vast neighbor to the north, Russia.
China’s attractions are endless and you will never run out of things to see. Especially near the coastal areas, if you run out of things to see in one city, the next one is usually just a short train ride away.
Gays are getting a name in China. Both Shanghai and Hong Kong hold annual Pride marches. Although more prominent in first-tier Chinese cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen, gay clubs, bars, tea houses, saunas, and support centers are also becoming more widespread in second-tier cities like Xi’an, Dalian, and Kunming.
Whether you are a history buff, a nature lover or someone who just wants to relax on a nice beach, China has it all from the majestic Forbidden City in Beijing, to the breathtaking scenery of Jiuzhaigou. Even if you live in China for many years, you’ll find that there’s always something new to discover in another part of the country. Perhaps unsurprising due to its sheer size and long history, China has the third largest number of UNESCO World Hertiage Sites, after Italy and Spain.
The gumdrop mountains and steeply sloping forested hills with bizarre rock formations favored by traditional Chinese artists are not creative fantasy. In fact, much of southern and southwestern China is covered in strangely eroded rock formations known as Karst. Karst is type of limestone formation named after an area in Slovenia. As limestone layers erode, the denser rock or pockets of different stone resist erosion forming peaks. Caves hollow out beneath the mountains which can collapse forming sinkholes and channels leading to underground rivers. At its most unusual Karst erodes to form mazes of pinnacles, arches and passageways. The most famous example can be found in the Stone Forest (石林 Shílín) near Kunming in Yunnan. Some of the most famous tourist areas in China feature spectacular karst landscapes — Guilin and Yangshuo in Guangxi, and much of central and western Guizhou province.
Several sites in China have famous Buddhist art:
Yungang Grottoes in Shanxi Province – more than 51,000 Buddhist carvings, dating back 1,500 years, in the recesses and caves of the Yangang Valley mountainsides
Mogao Caves in Gansu province – art and manuscripts dating back to the 4th century
Dazu Rock Carvings near Chongqing – dating from the 7-13th century
Longmen Grottoes near Luoyang – 5-10th century
Some itineraries cover trips that are entirely within China:
Two weeks to a month in China
A week near Hong Kong
Along the Yangtze river
Along the Yellow river
Along the Grand Canal
Yunnan tourist trail
Overland to Tibet
Others are partly in China:
Europe to South Asia over land
Silk Road – ancient caravan route from China to Europe
Karakoram Highway – Western China to Pakistan through the Himalayas
On the trail of Marco Polo
Overland Kunming to Hong Kong
Massage is available all over China, often both high quality and reasonably priced. Traditionally, massage is a trade for the blind in Asia. Expert work costs ¥15 to ¥30 an hour.
Almost any hairdresser will give a hair wash and head massage for ¥10. This often includes cleaning out ear wax and some massage on neck and arms. With a haircut and/or a shave, ¥15 to ¥25. In large cities, expect to pay ¥40 or more for a cut and wash.
Foot massage is widely available, often indicated by a picture of a bare footprint on the sign. Prices are from ¥15 to about ¥60.
Whole body massage is also widespread, at prices from ¥15 an hour up. There are two varieties: ànmó is general massage; tuīná concentrates on the meridians used in acupuncture. The most expert massages are in massage hospitals, or general Chinese medicine hospitals, usually at ¥50 an hour or a bit more. The best value is at tiny out-of-the-way places some of whose staff are blind.
These three types of massage are often mixed; many places offer all three.
The non-pink-lit places usually give good massage and generally do not offer sex. If the establishment advertises massage by the blind, it is almost certain to be legitimate.
It is possible to take a nap for a few hours in many massage places and even to spend the night in some. Hairdressers generally do not have facilities for this, but you can sleep on the table in a body massage place or (much better) on the couch used for foot massage. Fees are moderate; this is probably the cheapest way to sleep in China. Note, however, that except in high-end saunas with private rooms, you will share the staff’s toilet and there may not be any way to lock up luggage.
If you are planning to spend a longer time in China then you may want to consider learning some of the traditional arts. Traveling to China is after all a unique chance to learn the basics, or refine already acquired skills, directly from master practitioners in the arts’ home country. Many cities have academies that accept beginners, and not knowing Chinese is usually not a problem as you can learn by example and imitation. Calligraphy, a term that covers both writing characters and painting scrolls (that is, classical landscapes and the like) remains a popular national hobby. Many calligraphers practice by writing with water on sidewalks in city parks. Other traditional arts which offer classes include learning to play traditional Chinese instruments (inquire in shops that sell these as many offer classes), cooking Chinese cuisine, or even singing Beijing Opera. Fees are usually extremely modest, and materials you need will not exactly break the bank. The only requirement is being in the same place for a long enough time, and showing sufficient respect; it is better not to join these classes as a tourist attraction.
As with traditional cultural arts, those with the time and inclination may be interested in studying China’s famed martial arts. Some, such as tai chi can be studied by simply visiting any city park in the early morning and following along. You will likely find many eager teachers. Other martial arts require more in-depth study. Famous martial arts programs include those at the Shaolin Temple on Mount Song and Wu Wei Temple near Dali.
China has several traditional games often played in tea gardens, public parks, or even on the street. Players often attract crowds of on-lookers. Two famous strategy board games that originated in China are Go and Chinese chess. Mahjong, a game played with tiles, is very popular and often (well-nigh always) played for money, although its vast regional variations mean that you will have to learn new rules everywhere you go. Among the most well known variants of this game are the Cantonese, Taiwanese and Japanese versions. Chinese checkers, despite its name, did not originate in China but can be found. Many Chinese are skilled card players; Deng Xiaoping’s love for bridge was particularly renowned.
Most of the above information comes from http://wikitravel.org/en/China