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The best way to visit China – Avoid Shanghai and Beijing

So you want to see the real China then? Well read on for a bit of decent advice into how to properly dip your toes into the world’s largest country by population. One thing you need to know first is that visiting Shanghai and Beijing are not really visiting China. The reason is these places now have street signs in English, an influx of foreign workers and they are well connected with internet, telephone and all modern communications. To see the real China you need to avoid those two big cities and get out into the obscure countryside where China breathes the way it really lives.

For the basis of this article I’m talking about mainland China except Tibet. To me that is the real China. So just fornow let’s leave Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan out of this. To all intensive purposes they are separate countries in their own right. Shanghai and Beijing are great cities – don’t get me wrong but they are just not Chinese enough to get a real flavour for this country. The reason is they have street signs and maps written in English. They have Italian restaurants. They have American restaurants. For a start if you see a McDonalds then you are not in the real China. To see what this ancient country is all about you need to head way off the beaten track and out into the glorious countryside.

Until you sit down in a village that nobody has ever heard of, to eat food you’ve never seen, miles from any major city and with no other foreigners or foreign writing in sight, then you haven’t really seen China!

Leave behind the cities and head to obscure, unknown villages to see the real China. If you have experienced these things then you have seen the real China:

1. Nobody speaks a word of English (or even Chinese – only local dialect is used).

2. You cannot understand the bus timetable and end up in the wrong village.

3. There are more chickens than there are cars in the place you are staying in.

4. There is absolutely no internet anywhere, nor computers, nor mobile phones!

5. Nothing on sign posts is written in any language other than Chinese.

6. You eat food without ever knowing (or wanting to know) what is in it!

If you’ve ticked those 6, then congratulations you have seen the real China! If you haven’t, please grab a bit of what you’re missing, you will love China. China is the world’s largest country by population and the travel possibilities are completely and utterly endless. China surprises me on every visit. It actually astounds me that in the list of the world’s leading travel bloggers, loads of them either haven’t been to China, or have only been to Beijing, the Great Wall or Shanghai. Get out and see China – it’s an amazing place.

For more knowledgeable articles like Backpacking in China visit Jonny Blair’s popular travel website Don’t Stop Living – a lifestyle of travel for more information and stories.