Backpacking in China

Backpacking in China offers an adventurous and eye-opening experience for travelers seeking to immerse themselves in a rich and diverse culture. With a history dating back thousands of years, China presents an intriguing blend of ancient traditions and modern developments that make it a unique destination for backpackers worldwide.

China has a long-established tradition of backpacking, often referred to as “hiking culture.” The concept of backpacking originated in the early 1900s, when Chinese students started exploring remote and rural areas of the country. These early pioneers laid the foundation for the popularization of backpacking, which gained momentum in the 1960s and 1970s.

Today, backpacking in China has become increasingly significant due to the country’s booming tourism industry and improved transportation infrastructure. China offers a wide range of options for backpackers, from hiking the Great Wall and exploring the mystical landscapes of Zhangjiajie to venturing into the lesser-known regions of Yunnan and Xinjiang.

To make backpacking in China more accessible, the government has made efforts to improve tourist facilities and provide information in multiple languages. This includes the introduction of English signage and the expansion of budget accommodation options. As a result, backpackers can now explore remote areas without worrying about language barriers or accommodation availability.

A compelling statistic further emphasizes the popularity of backpacking in China. According to the China Tourism Academy, more than 150 million domestic backpacking trips were made in 2019, indicating a substantial growth in this form of travel. The statistic highlights the eagerness of both locals and international travelers to explore the vast and diverse landscapes that China has to offer.

Backpacking in China also presents an opportunity for travelers to connect with local communities and gain a deeper understanding of Chinese traditions and customs. Many backpackers choose to engage in homestays, volunteering, or participating in cultural exchange programs to enrich their experience. Such activities enable backpackers to establish meaningful connections with locals, fostering cultural exchange and promoting sustainable tourism practices.

Beyond the cultural aspect, backpacking in China allows travelers to witness the country’s rapid modernization and economic growth firsthand. China’s bustling metropolitan cities, such as Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou, stand as symbols of its rapid progression into global economic powerhouses.

In summary, backpacking in China offers an immersive and rewarding experience that combines ancient traditions with modern developments. With the government’s efforts to improve tourism infrastructure and the growing popularity of backpacking among both domestic and international travelers, the significance of this form of travel in China continues to grow. Through exploration, cultural exchange, and connectivity with local communities, backpackers can delve into the true essence of this vast and diverse country.

What are the advantages of backpacking in China?

Backpacking in China offers numerous benefits to adventurous travelers. From stunning landscapes to rich history and culture, exploring this vast country on a backpacking trip allows you to immerse yourself in its vibrant atmosphere. Discover the awe-inspiring Great Wall, indulge in mouthwatering cuisine, and interact with friendly locals. Moreover, backpacking is an excellent way to experience China’s diversity, from bustling cities like Shanghai to serene countryside villages. In the next section, we will delve into the various advantages of backpacking in China and how it can be an unforgettable journey.

Backpacking in China

Backpacking in China

Embarking on a backpacking adventure can be an exhilarating way to explore a new country. With its rich history, diverse landscapes, and vibrant culture, China offers an incredible experience for backpackers. Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or a first-timer, backpacking in China has something to offer for everyone.

The Great Wall of China

No trip to China is complete without a visit to the Great Wall. Spanning over 13,000 miles, this architectural marvel is an iconic symbol of China’s ancient civilization. Backpackers can hike along various sections of the Great Wall, immersing themselves in breathtaking views and centuries-old history. Whether you choose to explore the well-preserved sections near Beijing or venture to more remote areas, the Great Wall provides a truly awe-inspiring experience.

The Terracotta Army

Located in the city of Xi’an, the Terracotta Army is a must-see for any backpacker in China. Discovered in 1974, this archaeological wonder consists of over 8,000 life-sized terracotta soldiers, horses, and chariots. Each figure is intricately detailed, representing the army that protected China’s first emperor, Qin Shi Huang, in the afterlife. Exploring the excavation site and marveling at the craftsmanship of these ancient sculptures is a captivating experience that shouldn’t be missed.

Panda Conservation Centers

China is the natural habitat of the giant panda, a beloved and endangered species. Backpackers can visit various panda conservation centers across the country to observe these adorable creatures up close. Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding is one of the most popular destinations, allowing visitors to witness pandas in their natural habitat and learn about ongoing conservation efforts. Volunteering opportunities are also available for those who wish to contribute to panda conservation.

The Zhangjiajie National Forest Park

For nature enthusiasts, the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park is a backpacker’s paradise. This UNESCO World Heritage site is famous for its dramatic sandstone pillars, lush forests, and breathtaking mountain views. The park served as inspiration for the movie “Avatar” due to its otherworldly landscapes. Hiking trails lead visitors through mesmerizing scenery, perfect for exploring and taking awe-inspiring photographs.

Local Cuisine and Street Food

One of the best ways to experience the culture of a country is through its food, and China is no exception. Backpackers can savor a diverse range of regional dishes, from spicy Sichuan cuisine to delicate Cantonese dim sum. Exploring street markets and night markets allows travelers to indulge in a variety of mouthwatering street food, such as dumplings, grilled skewers, and steamed buns. Eating like a local adds an authentic flavor to the backpacking experience in China.

In conclusion, backpacking in China offers a wealth of captivating experiences for travelers. From exploring the Great Wall to witnessing the Terracotta Army, immersing in panda conservation, marveling at the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, and indulging in local cuisine, backpackers are sure to create memories that will last a lifetime.

According to recent statistics, China welcomed over 55 million international tourists in 2019, highlighting the country’s popularity as a backpacking destination.

Backpacking in China FAQ

Q1: What are the essential items to pack for backpacking in China?

When backpacking in China, make sure to pack essentials such as a good quality backpack, comfortable walking shoes, portable charger, universal adapter, toiletries, sunscreen, insect repellent, travel documents (passport, visa), and a durable raincoat.

Q2: How should I handle the language barrier while backpacking in China?

While English isn’t widely spoken in China, you can overcome the language barrier by carrying a pocket guidebook with essential phrases, using translation apps like Google Translate, learning basic Mandarin greetings and phrases, and having a translation card for important details (hotel address, dietary restrictions) written in Chinese.

Q3: Is it safe to drink tap water in China?

No, it is not recommended to drink tap water in China. Stick to bottled water or opt for boiled water that has cooled down if necessary. Ensure the seal on bottled water is intact before consumption.

Q4: What transportation options are available for backpackers in China?

China has an extensive transportation network. Backpackers can utilize trains, buses, domestic flights, and subways to travel between cities. It’s advisable to book train tickets in advance for popular routes and consider using metro cards for convenient subway travel.

Q5: Can I use my credit/debit card while backpacking in China?

Major cities and tourist areas in China accept international credit and debit cards. However, it’s recommended to carry some cash (Chinese yuan) for smaller establishments or rural areas that may not accept cards. Inform your bank beforehand about your travel plans to avoid any issues with card usage.

Q6: Are there any visa requirements for backpacking in China?

Yes, most travelers to China require a visa. Check the Chinese embassy or consulate in your country for specific visa requirements. Tourist visas are usually valid for 30 days, but longer durations are possible with extended visas.

Q7: What are some budget-friendly accommodation options in China?

Backpackers can choose from a variety of budget-friendly accommodation options in China. Hostels, guesthouses, and budget hotels are popular choices. Online platforms like Hostelworld and Airbnb also offer affordable stays for travelers on a budget.

Q8: How can I stay connected to the internet while backpacking in China?

Obtaining a SIM card in China is a convenient way to stay connected to the internet. SIM cards can be purchased at airports, convenience stores, or mobile network shops. Alternatively, you can use public Wi-Fi available in hotels, cafes, and some tourist areas.

Q9: What are some must-visit destinations for backpackers in China?

China offers a plethora of amazing destinations for backpackers. Some popular ones include the Great Wall of China, Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, Terracotta Army in Xi’an, the ancient town of Lijiang, Yangshuo, Chengdu’s Giant Panda Base, and the bustling city of Shanghai.

Q10: How should I handle street food and dietary restrictions in China?

China is famous for its street food culture, but it’s important to be cautious. Look for busy stalls with freshly cooked food, avoid raw or undercooked items, and practice food hygiene. If you have dietary restrictions, it’s recommended to learn specific phrases and carry a translation card explaining your requirements.


Backpacking in China offers a unique and enriching experience for adventurous travelers. In this article, we explored the rich cultural heritage, stunning natural landscapes, and fascinating history that make China a top destination for backpackers. We discussed the importance of careful planning and research before embarking on a backpacking trip to China, highlighting the need to obtain necessary visas and permits, learn basic Mandarin phrases, and consider the best times to visit different regions of the country. Additionally, we emphasized the advantages of backpacking in China, such as its affordable accommodation options, diverse cuisine, and efficient transportation networks.

Furthermore, we delved into some of the must-visit destinations in China for backpackers, including the mystical Zhangjiajie National Forest Park with its Avatar-like landscapes, the ancient city of Xi’an with its famous Terracotta Army, and the vibrant metropolises of Beijing and Shanghai. We also explored how backpackers can immerse themselves in traditional Chinese culture by visiting traditional villages, hiking along the Great Wall, and experiencing traditional tea ceremonies. Moreover, we provided useful safety tips for backpackers, such as being aware of scams, carrying a reliable map or GPS system, and respecting local customs and traditions.

In conclusion, backpacking in China offers an incredible blend of natural beauty, rich history, and cultural experiences, making it an ideal destination for adventurous travelers. By properly navigating the logistics, understanding the local culture, and embracing the unique opportunities that China has to offer, backpackers can create lifelong memories and gain a deeper understanding of this vast and diverse country. So pack your bags, prepare for an adventure, and set out to discover the wonders of backpacking in China.

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