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Peking-Xian-Pingyao-Datong, a trip to the north of China

A travel of 19 days in August in China with my girlfriend was fabulous, our starting city was Peking then Xi'an, Pingyao and Datong then back to Beijing.

To prepare our travel, we were reading on internet as you are doing right now :-D so based on the information we found, we decided:

  • to be vaccinated
  • to bring FFP2 masks for the pollution. In all visited cities, there was a high level of pollution covering the city, there were only few days that we got a very clear blue sky
  • to bring mosquito sticks

  • to bring hygienic papers. Most of the toilets are public (including some eating places, you will have to go to the public ones because they don't have one) and no papers.
  • to download in pdf the metro map of Peking, also known as Beijing, with European and Chinese names.

Of course, to go to China, you will have to ask a visa in the embassy of China. Living in Barcelona (Spain), I went to the consulate of China (carrer lleó XIII 34 – opening hours: monday, wednesday and thursday from 9h30 until 13h30) and you should bring:

  • your passport and a photocopy of your ID card
  • a paper showing your home (I brought a photocopy of my electricity bill and my girlfriend the register of inhabitants paper)
  • a photocopy of your flight tickets
  • a photocopy of all hotel reservations in China
  • the visa form filled up (you can download it here or you can fill it directly at the consulate)
  • an identity photo like the one of your passport

For European citizen (not Spanish), you have to bring also:

  • a photocopy of your life insurance
  • a photocopy showing that you work in Spain

For people who don't have the Spanish but an European passport, they have to pay 10 euros more. Once you gave all the papers, the Chinese employee will give you a paper with an internal number showing the amount to pay at the bank BBVA by transfer. The delay for the visa is 1 week so for instance, I went on Thursday to the consulate and next Thursday I went back to take my visa.

Note: during the payment, don't forget to put the internal number paper and once you did the payment, keep the receipt because you will need it to take your visa.

Since our holiday finished, I will give you those following advices if you plan to go:

  • to have in Mandarin names of all places you want to visit including hotels
  • to have some Mandarin words like toilet, bus station, train station, ticket, water, etc that you may think useful

The local food is spicy so if you don’t like this kind of food, I will suggest you to have “no spicy” translated it in Chinese. Of course, if you know the language, forget about those advices.

For the metro and bus, it will be best to buy a pass card called Yikatong (北京市政交通一卡通), the card allows to put credit so you don’t need to think about change. If not, to have your wallet ready each time you will buy a single ticket. The price depends on where you are going and the distance. For the metro, each station has a security control so if you bring something dangerous, you won’t pass except if you will give it to the security guy.

For the train, you will need your passport if you will buy a ticket to go to the different cities so don’t put it somewhere very difficult to find and also to show it to the security control.

With all that, we were ready for our adventure in China, so our first stop, Beijing with its Great Wall of China.