Gong Xi Fa Cai!

Chinese Spring Festival, also known as the Lunar New Year or Chinese New Year is around the corner and is ushering in the Year of the Snake! It is the grandest and the most important festival for the Chinese people.

Gong Xi Fa Cai is often used as the new year greeting. It literally means “may you make a lot of money” or “wishing you prosperity” .

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Within China, regional customs and traditions concerning the celebration of the Chinese new year vary widely. But it is generally the time of the year for the whole family to get together, buy a ton of presents, eat, drink and complain to the unmarried progeny about being married!

The Chinese New Year is a one week affair (in some places extending to 2 weeks!), when everything is pretty much closed and everybody is traveling back to their homes. The public transport system, extensive as it is, will groan under the weight of 500 million people traveling during that week!

Every family does a thorough house cleaning and purchases enough food (it would seem to feed the entire town!), including fish, meat, roasted nuts and seeds, all kinds of candies and fruits for the festival period. New clothes must be bought for everyone. Red scrolls with complementary poetic couplets, one line on each side of the gate, are pasted at every gate.

Dumplings and the reunion dinner are indispensable at this time. Cold and hot dishes are all served and fish is always an important dish!

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Going by the amount of money the Chinese people spend on New Year, it would be apparent to any outsider that a lot of Fa Cai is, indeed, needed!

Wherever you are, we wish you a happy and prosperous new year!

Gong Xi Fa Cai

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CRH – China High Speed Train Timings

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We are pleased to publish the train timings of CRH (China High Speed Rail timetable) in English.

We had taken the original timetable in Chinese, translated it to English, removed redundancies, sorted it by city and arrivals/departures and marked interchange stations!

http://www.gorealchina.com/train.html

If you find it useful, please take a moment to Like us on Facebook!

We’ll soon add a search features with automatic connection finder! So, stay tuned.

 

 

China Visa for US Citizens

All travelers to China need a valid China Visa to travel in China. You will have to get the visa in your home country before you travel. The good news is, getting a visa to China is relatively easy!

To apply for a China Visa, you need to:

  1. Confirm your travel dates and get an invitation letter and itinerary from the travel company
    • if you are traveling by yourself, you will need to show hotel reservations, confirmed tickets and some proof (like a bank statement) that you will be able to take care of your expenses while in China
  2. Take these documents along with a completed visa application form, cover letter, a valid passport and fees to your nearest Chinese Embassy
  3. If it is not the first time applying for a tourist visa, the reasons for revisit and the places you have visited last time and the places you will visit this time should be included along with the cover letter
  4. If you cannot go in person, you may entrust someone else or a travel agent to drop off your application at the Embassy which holds consular jurisdiction over the state where you reside. No appointment is required. Mailed applications are not acceptable and will be returned.

That’s it! If all goes well, you should get back your passport with the stamped visa in about 7 working days.

You can find more information and the visa application form here:
http://www.china-embassy.org/eng/visas/adr/

Embassy Locations:

Chinese Embassy, New York
520 12th Avenue, New York, NY 10036
Tel: 212-2449392 / 212-2449456

Visa Office, Chicago
1 East Erie Street, Suite 500
Chicago, IL 60611
Tel:  312-453-0210

Consulate Office, San Francisco
1450 Laguna Street, San Francisco, CA 94115
chinaconsul_san_us@mfa.gov.cn

Visa Office, Los Angeles
3rd Floor, 500 Shatto Place, Los Angeles, CA 90020
Tel:213-807-8088

Visa Office, Houston
3417 Montrose Boulevard , Houston , Texas 77006
Tel: 713-520-1462

You can find more information and Chinese Embassy websites for other countries at our website:
http://www.gorealchina.com/china_visa.html

The single traveler!

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Two of the questions we get asked the most :

1) I am a single traveler, would travel be dull ?

2) Why are your trip costs on the higher side compared to other travel companies?

Both are very valid questions and are in fact, related! We realize that many travelers from the West travel solo and would still like to retain a certain level of privacy and exclusivity. That is why, unlike other tour companies in China that quote all price for groups sharing accommodation, our packages are priced for individual travelers for exclusive use of accommodation and transport. However, we do offer deep discounts when you travel with a spouse or family and share accommodation and transport!

As regards the first question: quite a few people enjoy traveling single and some describe their first solo trip as almost a religious experience!! That said, traveling is probably the best way to meet and make new friends and there is a good probability you might meet someone on your travels, be it co-travelers or locals in the country you visit!

We have known people who had booked independently and met on tours to form lasting friendship, business partnership or even get married!

So, may we suggest that you enjoy the journey and let your travels unwrap whatever gift they has in store for you? You may be pleasantly surprised by  serendipity!

However you decide to travel, we wish you good luck & safe travels!

Go Real China

We are happy to announce the launch of our travel website, www.gorealchina.com

Go Real China offers several travel related services for people from various countries who want to visit China. From providing travel related information, hotel bookings, local travel and transport to guiding you to the best attractions and cuisine in each city, we provide all the services that a traveler from a different part of the world would look for in China!

Go Real China, however, is better known for taking travelers inside the real china, to explore the places off the beaten track and experience the local culture, heritage and the oriental magic – with our English speaking guides who accompany you throughout your travels inside China.We provide a fine selection of tour packages that offer the best cultural and culinary experience of a particular region.

The Exquisite East China tour package

The Exquisite East China travel package takes you through the scenic cities of the south east, where the emperors of old China themselves vacationed! The cities, which are several hours by road from Shanghai, offer the best of Chinese culture, tradition, scenery and cuisine!

The trip starts from Hangzhou, but you can choose to fly into Shanghai if you so desire (Hangzhou is a 45 minutes high-speed train ride away from Shanghai). The trip typically covers Hangzhou, Qiandao, Wuzhen and Zhoushan, but can be customized to your taste!

The Rustic North travel package takes you through the ancient Silk route of Xinjiang, with its striking desert landscape, rich folk customs and and an unique cuisine influenced by its nomadic past!

The trip starts from Urumqi and typically covers Urumqi, Turpan, Korla, Kuqi, Aksu and Hotan. Urumqi has an international airport. It is best to fly into Hong Kong and take a connecting flight to Urumqi.

You can optionally add a visit to the ancient desert city of Niya, about 3:30 hours by road from Hotan. This tour package requires a lot of travel by road, some as long as 7:00 hours through the beautiful desert highway of Taklamakan.

Xinjiang has a unique style of cooking drawn from its nomadic heritage and heavily influenced by the Islamic culture. The cuisine is marked by the delicate use of herbs and spices and a variety of barbecued meat! Pork is generally not consumed in this part of China.

The Mystic West tour package

Tibet, the mystical land of mountains, monks and spirituality, lies along the Himalayas (literally, abode of the snow). Tibet is home to some of the world’s tallest mountains – Mount Everest at 8,848 metres is the highest mountain on earth!

It is said that some come to Tibet for the scenery. Some for the majestic Mount Everest. Some come there for the wisdom of the Buddha. Some come there in search of peace. Some to meditate and discover their true self. However, nobody leaves Tibet empty handed!

Our Tibet tour package takes you through this “Land of the Gods”, starts in Xining and covers Xining, Lhasa, Shigatse and ends in Lhasa. The package include a trip by the Qinghai-Tibet railway that stretches from the ancient city of Xining in Qingha Province to Lhasa. This is the highest-altitude railway ever constructed. It traverses unbelievably harsh terrain and utilizes some of the most complex technology available – making it a the first and only railroad of this nature in the entire world!

The Ethnic South tour package

The Ethnic South travel package takes you through the province of Hunan, known for its picturesque landscape and its own distinct style of cooking! A journey to fulfill every gourmet’ss dream and fill every sense with delight!

The trip starts from Changsha, and typically covers Changsha, zhangjiajie, fenghuang and shaoshan, but can be customized to your taste!

Hunan has its own distinct style of cooking. Xiang cuisine, as it is called, is known for its richness and fragrant herbs, combined with the delicate use of chili! Duck cooked Xiang style is an internationally known delicacy, local to Hunan!

All our packages include pick up and drop from airports, 4 star hotels, local travel by bus or taxi, complimentary breakfast and a traditional Chinese lunch. An English speaking guide will accompany you throughout your travels!

Please visit us at www.gorealchina.com or contact us at sales@gorealchina.com for more details.