China travel development currently is fast in both international and domestic tourism. While there have been gradual improvements in the quality of tourist services, some of the remoter sights can still be difficult to reach independently, and most accessible sights get very crowded, especially during the summer season. In the larger cities the tourist infrastructure, including transportation, hotels, and restaurants, is on a par with international standards. The remoter areas, however, provide fairly basic accommodations. English is not spoken widely and its usage is generally restricted to tour groups, four- and five-star hotels, and restaurants catering to tourists.
Although there are great climatic disparities within China, spring and fall are generally the best months to travel. The peak tourist season, however, is during summer (June to September), best avoided if you don’t like the heat – it is baking hot in North China, steamy in the Yangzi region, and sweltering in South China. Winter is fiercely cold in North China, particularly in the northeast. Winters in South China are more pleasant, especially on the perennially warm Hainan Island and parts of Yunnan province. Planning a trip to coincide with the holiday and festival periods can lead to a fun and colorful trip experiencing China at its liveliest. However, tickets for air, train, and bus transport can be very difficult to acquire, as half of China will be traveling as well. Tourist sights are swamped with local sightseers, and most hotels and guesthouses raise their rates.
The clothes you need will depend on the time of year that you visit. In northern China, from November until March, you will require a down jacket, gloves, sweater, warm socks, thermal leggings, sturdy footwear, and lip balm. During the same season in the south, you still need a sweater and warm clothes, even as far south as Hong Kong. In summer, across most of China, you only need loose-fitting shirts or t-shirts, and thin trousers. Shorts will also do, though not many Chinese wear them. Bring a first-aid kit, raincoat, sun hat, deodorant, pocket knife, flashlight, and some good reading material.
Advance Booking of hotel rooms is only necessary during the peak holiday periods between May 1 and October 1, and perhaps during the Chinese New Year. Nonetheless, booking in advance using the internet can secure you good deals on accommodations. Unless traveling on short intercity routes, train tickets should be bought a few days before travel, as seats can be in short supply. Train tickets can only be purchased up to five days in advance of the day of travel. Bus and air tickets need not be booked in advance, although airplane tickets can become scarcer during major holiday periods.