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A family holiday in China is not only educational, but also character-building. It can promote mutual understanding and interaction between you and your children, and a foreign culture. China has some great destinations for family holidays, which are fun, safe and full of interesting and child-friendly activities to keep the children entertained.
Follow these 7 steps and make your family trip to China exciting, memorable, and hassle-free.
It’s hard to settle the date for a longer family trip when your kids are in school and you have a limited holiday allowance. Schools will recommend you plan your family trip for school holidays. You can enjoy a trip to China whatever the season.
If you don’t like crowds don’t go during China’s major holidays: school summer holidays (July and August), Labor Day (May 1–7), and National Day (October 1–7). Most famous attractions will be over-crowded with Chinese tourists during these holidays.
For where to visit in different seasons, see best times to travel to China.
If you have no idea about where to visit with your kids, we have recommended seven cities full of interesting activities for families.
1) Beijing: Besides the awesome Forbidden City, you can explore the Great Wall and toboggan down with your kids. It’s interesting to take a rickshaw in the hutongs (old alleys).
2) Shanghai: There are some of the world’s tallest buildings and traditional water towns in Shanghai. You can also experience the super-fast bullet trains.
3) Hong Kong: Enjoy stylish oriental shopping in Hong Kong, beaches, mountain trails, and have fun at Disneyland with your kids.
4) Guilin: Appreciate the beautiful natural scenery by cruise, raft, biking, and hiking. Visit the breathtaking Li River and rice terraces.
5) Xi’an: Visit the Terracotta Army; you can even make a mini terracotta warrior there. Enjoy a Chinese medieval banquet and entertainments, and learn the ancient art of paper-cutting.
6) Chengdu: There are many lovely giant pandas in Chengdu. Meet them, take a photo with a cub, or even look after them on a volunteer program.
7) Dengfeng: If you are interested in martial arts, Dengfeng is the ideal place for you. You can watch Kungfu shows and also take a kungfu class in the world-famous Shaolin Temple.
See more details about The Top 7 Family Tour Destinations in China.
It might be stressful, and sometimes it can be a challenge to your patience, when traveling with kids. However, you can find some fun things to entertain them and make your family trip happier.
You can taste strange snacks at snack streets. Experience rickshaw-riding in the hutongs and toboggan at the Great Wall. A bit of cycling will blow the cobwebs from your family tour. You can take your kids to make some handicrafts, such as paper-cutting, opera face mask painting, T-shirt painting, and Chinese calligraphy.
The main international hubs of China’s air travel are Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Hong Kong. You can take a flight to one of these cities and begin your tour. From there you can take flights to all major domestic cities.
For some cities in China the bullet train network rivals flights for speed and convenience. You can see more of China if you take a train.
Acquaint yourself with policies that concern children, such as visas, passports, and insurance. In most countries, children no longer share passports with parents, and their passports expire faster than adults’.
Children need their own visa on their passports. (Check the latest information with the China embassy or visa center in your country). Read more about how to apply for a China visa.
Congratulations! Now you're almost ready for China, and a wonderful journey is already over halfway there. Here are some travel tips to make your trip a perfect one!
Contact your travel advisor or the hotel in advance, and discuss any special requirements your children need, such as an extra bed or crib.
Familiarize your children with hotel facilities and emergency procedures. Put away any dangerous items that may harm your children.
Never drink tap water in China: You can use a kettle for boiled water, or buy bottled water from supermarkets. Recommended brands are Wahaha, Nestle, Watson's, Robust, and Nongfu Spring. There are also some imported foreign brands of bottled water available in larger supermarkets.
Food allergies: If you or your children have allergies to certain foods, tell your travel advisor, your guide, and the restaurants. More on Traveling in China with Food Allergies.
Don't let your children eat food purchased from street vendors if their stomachs get upset easily.
There are KFCs and McDonald's in almost every city, and the tastes will be fairly familiar for your kids if they grow tired of Chinese meals.
Never let your children go anywhere alone, especially at tourist attractions or on crowded streets. Let your children carry a note (in Chinese) in case they do get separated from you. The note should have on it your name, phone number, your hotel's name, address and phone number, your tour guide’s name and phone number.
When you need to cross the road, hold your child's hand and wait for the green light. Always check both ways, even when the green light is on.
You kids will be happy to get a gift during the trip. There are many souvenirs bringing Chinese culture to life, like a qipao or kungfu outfit, a toy panda, a Beijing opera doll, etc. If you would like more ideas on what to buy for your kids, check out Chinese gift ideas for children.
Check out preferential measures and discounts on transport fares and admission fees for families. Contact your travel advisor to discuss and arrange for the special needs of your children.
The following list may give you some reference on what to pack for daily excursions in China. Ziplock bags are very useful. You can put dirty clothes and wet washcloths in them.
More tips on what to pack.
Now you are mostly prepared for your family China trip, you may wonder whether to travel alone or with a tour guide. We recommend you have a private tour with your own guide and driver for a well-managed and relaxing trip. Avoid being part of a large group tour, where you will have to work hard to keep up with everyone else.
Your tour guide can suggest more fun things to do during your trip. He/she can help you balance the itinerary for you and your kids, and steer you away from stressful situations, like getting lost and tourist traps. Let the guide manage your tour, giving you more time to look after and be with your kids.
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