Actors perform a fire dragon dance in a shower of molten iron at the Volga Manor in Harbin, northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, Jan. 29, 2024. (Xinhua/Zhang Tao)
China is embracing a tourism boom during the upcoming eight-day Spring Festival (Chinese New Year) holiday, falling on Feb. 10 this year.
Which attractions are worth exploring in China during the festival? What should foreign visitors pay attention to while traveling across the country? Below are some tour recommendations and tips.
FACILITATED ENTRY POLICIES
-- China adopted a visa-free policy for ordinary passport holders from France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Malaysia on a trial basis last year.
-- A set of measures to facilitate the entry of foreign nationals for business, education and tourism have also been rolled out since last month.
-- China and Thailand signed a mutual visa exemption agreement at the end of last month, which will come into effect on March 1. The number of countries that have such entry policy with China has increased to 23, including Thailand, Singapore, the Maldives, and the United Arab Emirates.
Visitors watch a firework show during the opening ceremony of the 40th Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival at the Harbin Ice-Snow World in Harbin, northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, Jan. 5, 2024. (Xinhua/Wang Jianwei)
WHAT YOU MUST SEE
-- When it comes to the festive atmosphere, some of the liveliest temple fairs during the holiday are held in the Chinese capital Beijing, notably at Ditan Park and Longtan Park.
-- The ancient city of Pingyao in north China's Shanxi Province, boasting over 2,700 years of rich history, is renowned for its impeccably preserved ancient architecture. Strolling through the streets and pavilions adorned in traditional Chinese styles, visitors can relish a captivating glimpse of the city's cultural heritage.
-- The lantern show featuring zodiac dragon lanterns in Yu Garden in Shanghai started on Jan. 21, and will continue until the end of February.
-- Nestled amidst the embrace of mountains on three sides and graced by the shimmering Dianchi Lake on the other, "Spring City" Kunming, capital of southwest China's Yunnan Province, greets winter with the arrival of black-headed gulls, a migratory bird species flying in from the Siberian region.
-- Guangzhou, capital of south China's Guangdong Province, is set to host events such as dragon and lion dance parades. Particularly noteworthy is the fireworks display scheduled for the first day of the Spring Festival.
An aerial drone photo taken on Oct. 1, 2023 shows tourists going sailing in Sanya, south China's Hainan Province. (Xinhua/Guo Cheng)
WHAT YOU MUST TRY
-- The Harbin Ice-Snow World, a renowned theme park located in "ice city" Harbin in the northernmost Heilongjiang Province, provides a range of entertainment activities like ice biking, snowmobiling and ice slides.
-- Located at 42 degrees north latitude, Changbai Mountain in the adjacent Jilin Province boasts abundant powder snow, providing an optimal playground for freeskiers. Beyond the thrill of winter sports, visitors can also engage in the exhilarating experience of canyon rafting.
-- Quanjude, one of China's best-known roast duck chain restaurants, could be a preferred choice for savoring Beijing Roast Duck, also known as Peking Duck. In the Qianmen commercial district, local delicacies should not be missed.
-- For foreign tourists who enjoy spicy hot pot, it is advisable to seek the most authentic cuisine in southwest China's Sichuan Province and Chongqing Municipality, both renowned for their spicy offerings, with restaurants serving such dishes scattered throughout these regions.
-- As one of the four major Chinese cuisines, Cantonese cuisine, or Guangdong cuisine, such as dim sum, boiled shrimp, roast goose, bite-sized wontons and steamed spareribs with pickled plums, is sure to tantalize the taste buds of diners when they tour the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.
-- Recommended activities in the tropical coastal city of Sanya, located in the southernmost Hainan Province, include sunbathing on the beach, relishing the sunset, engaging in underwater adventures like diving, and strolling along the skywalk in the tropical forest to inhale the fresh, invigorating air.
This photo taken on Nov. 25, 2023 shows people enjoying winter sports at Lake Songhua Resort in Jilin City, northeast China's Jilin Province. (Xinua/Xu Chang)
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW
-- Use Trip.com app or Qunar.com app for hassle-free bookings of group tours, airline and railway tickets, hotels, and various performances. For assistance, tourists can contact the customer helpline.
-- Explore a plethora of dining options with helpful reviews on Meituan or Dianping apps, China's leading online platforms, covering everything from upscale restaurants to hidden gems.
-- Navigate China confidently with the Baidu Map mobile app, which can also be used to hail cabs, similar to Didi, a prominent ride-hailing service in the country.
-- Make payments with ease through Alipay or WeChat Pay, China's major online payment service providers that now accept international bank cards.
-- To avoid peak travel time, plan your trip for the middle period of the holiday. Check the opening hours of scenic spots and restaurants during the festival to avoid any potential closures.
Editor: Lyu Yun