Curious about China
Curious about China? Then you've come to the right place. We'll provide you with tips here about everything you need to know before your trip. For example, did you know that you can fly non-stop to as many as three Chinese destinations from Stockholm Arlanda?
“If you want to get to know China, you should visit Hong Kong”
Hong Kong in southern China always fascinates visitors – Marie is no exception. During the more than a year that she has lived and worked in this former British colony, she has managed to explore everything from top-rated restaurants to the best hiking trails.
"Hong Kong has everything. It's warm and beautiful, a lovely city with a lot to do."
The best time to travel there is in the spring or autumn.
"In the summer, it can be really humid."
As a Swedish citizen, you do not need a visa to visit Hong Kong. Once you're there, it is easy to get around with Google Maps using local transport and taxis. One of Marie's tips is to buy an Octopus Card when you're at the airport which you add money to and can use for trains, buses, trams and more.
"You pay cash for taxis. Otherwise, charge cards work for almost everything. There are plenty of ATMs all over Hong Kong," says Marie.
Hong Kong is a world-class city for food, where East and West, traditional and innovative come together. You can eat cheaply in restaurants but also pay more than you ever have before if you want – there is an abundance of Michelin-starred restaurants. Marie suggests dumplings, which are a typical dish. If you buy something at a street stand, it costs almost nothing.
Prices are about the same as in Sweden, and as a visitor to Hong Kong you don't need to worry about culture clashes. Marie describes a clean, well-maintained setting where she has never been worried about being out after dark.
"It feels safe and secure, for example, to ride the underground at night. I have lived there on my own as a single woman but have never been afraid. It feels really safe in Hong Kong.
Marie’s best Hong Kong tips
1. Try to get up to The Peak if the weather is clear. Once there, you can walk the Morning Trail (2.8 km), which has fantastic views. All the classic photos of Hong Kong are taken from here.
2. On Wednesday evenings, it's horse racing in Happy Valley – a great experience that could possibly be combined with a little gambling culture. The entrance fee is only HKD10.
3. Sailing on a Star Ferry is a must in order to see Honkers from the sea. If it rains, I can recommend the Hong Kong Museum of History (in Kowloon).
In order to enter China, you need a visa. As a Swedish citizen, you do not need a visa to enter Hong Kong if your stay is 90 days or less.
You can apply for a tourist visa via the Chinese Visa Application Service Center. You must plan to visit one of their offices, either in Gothenburg or Stockholm.
- You submit an application via their homepage, where you also upload a photo. The application is in English.
- You book a time for a personal visit to provide your fingerprints and passport. Fingerprints are required for travellers aged 14 to 70.
- When you visit, you also pay for your visa.
- After about four working days, you can pick up your passport and visa. If you need your passport sent to you, there is an additional fee.
The currency in China is called the yuan but is often called the renminbi, the people's currency. It is best to buy Chinese money in Sweden. Hotels and their restaurants, bars, shops, large restaurants, special shops for tourists and modern department stores usually accept payment cards such as American Express, MasterCard, Eurocard and Visa. You should still expect to pay cash for most shopping.
There are great variations in the climate in different parts of China. Beijing has cold winters, and it may snow. Further south, the winters are milder – the winters in Shanghai are as mild as in southern Europe, for example, and in Hong Kong the winters are comparable to Swedish summers. The Chinese summer is often very warm but humid with a lot of rain.
It is most comfortable to travel in March-April and September-October. That is when the days are usually warm, it is less humid and is cooler in the evening and at night.
The Chinese New Year, or Spring Festival, is celebrated between January 21 and February 20. The timing of the Spring Festival varies from year to year, but it usually falls in February. During the Spring Festival, the doors of homes are decorated with pieces of red paper containing wishes and expectations for the coming year.
The Lantern Festival takes place on the fifteenth day of the first month, in February or March, according to the lunar calendar. Red lanterns are hung, and dragon dances and fireworks are arranged.
October 1 is China’s National Day, commemorating Mao Zedong’s declaration of the founding of the People’s Republic of China on October 1, 1949, in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. Most people usually have off October 1-2.
Other holidays are the Dragon Boat Festival in June and the Lunar Festival in the autumn. Businesses and department stores are generally open on holidays, except the first day of the Chinese New Year.
Taxis can be found at hotels, airports and railway stations. Every taxi has its rates indicated on a sticker in the windscreen.
All taxis have a meter. Ask the driver to turn it on. Almost no drivers speak English so make sure you have the address written down in Chinese.
Cities such as Beijing and Shanghai have underground rail service. It costs almost the same to ride the bus and they are usually not as crowded. You buy your ticket in an automated machine or a manned kiosk. To buy a ticket, you need the number of the route and the name of your station. There are also underground maps in English.
As a foreign citizen, you are not allowed to drive a car in China without having been issued a special driving licence. However, you can hire a car with a driver, which is easiest to book via your hotel. If you hire a car with a driver for a full day, you need to remember to also provide lunch for your driver.