Approximately 300 million Chinese people use the bicycle as their
main means of transport and, not surprisingly, bicycle rentals can
be found everywhere, even in smaller towns. Visitors should be aware
that car traffic has increased in China, especially in Beijing,
where pollution and traffic levels are high. Major roads outside
cities are also busy.
China’s main natural attractions are its
waterfalls, scenic mountains, , caverns
and great lakes and rivers. Permits are not required
for hiking, however a trekking permit is mandatory (and pretty expensive)
for visiting more remote areas. For additional information about
individual hiking or trekking and for a list of specialised tour
operators, contact the China National Tourist Office
(see Contact Addresses section).
The Qinghai-Tibet Plateau (also called the ‘roof
of the world’) is among the world’s most famous
mountaineering destinations. Some of the world’s tallest mountains
define the southern border of Tibet, including Mount Everest
(or Qoomolangma), 8848m (29,021ft), Namcha
Barwa, 7756m (25,445ft), around which
the Brahmaputra River carves an amazing gorge to
enter India, and Gurla Mandhata, 7728m
(25,355ft). Of the 14 peaks on earth above 8000m, five are in Tibet.
The Tibetan approach to Mount Everest offers much better views than
the Nepal side. About 27,000 square km around Everest’s Tibetan
face are designated as the Qoomolangma Nature Reserve.
For foreign travellers, the Everest Base Camp is
the most popular trekking destination in Tibet. The two access areas
are Shegar and Tingri, on the Friendship Highway to Nepal, however
visitors should be aware that these treks are very difficult and
that the altitude requires some acclimatisation. Four-wheel-drive
vehicles can also transport visitors to the base camp along the
Shegar track. For details on how to enter Tibet, see Tibet in the
Resorts & Excursions section or the Visa
- Passport section.
Ice skating is possible on Beijing’s lakes
during winter. Downhill and cross-country
skiing is offered in the North-east provinces.
The ancient ‘shadow art’ of Tai
Chi, a sequence of connected movements performed in a slow
relaxed manner using the entire body, while focusing the mind, is
a traditional practice in towns all over China, especially in the
early morning hours, and visitors wishing to learn or participate