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Sport & Activities
  • Cycling: An estimated 300 million Chinese people use the bicycle as a means of transport and, not suprisingly, bicycle hire shops can be found everywhere, even in smaller towns. Visitors should note that car traffic has been increasing in China. Major roads outside cities also tend to be busy.

  • Hiking and Trekking: China's main natural attractions are its scenic mountains, waterfalls, caverns and great rivers and lakes. No permit is required for hiking, although a trekking permit is compulsory (and fairly expensive) for visiting more remote areas. For details of the necessary practicalities for individual hiking or trekking and for a list of specialised tour operators, contact the China National Tourist Office. The Qinghai-Tibet Plateau (also known as the 'roof of the world') is one of the world's most famous mountaineering destinations. Some of the world's highest mountains define the southern border of Tibet, including Mount Everest (8848m/29,021ft), Namcha Barwa (7756m/25,445ft), around which the Brahmaputra River carves a fantastic gorge to enter India, and Gurla Mandhata (7728m/25,355ft). Among the 14 peaks on earth above 8,000 metres, five are located in Tibet. The Tibetan approach to Mount Everest provides far better views than the Nepal side. Some 27,000 sq km around Everest's Tibetan face have been designated as the Qoomolangma Nature Reserve. For foreign travellers, the Everest Base Camp has become the most popular trekking destination in Tibet. The two access points are Shegar and Tingri, along the Friendship Highway to Nepal, but visitors should note that these treks are very demanding and that the altitude requires some acclimatisation. Four-wheel-drive vehicles can also take visitors all the way to base camp along the Shegar track.

  • Wintersports: Ice skating is possible on Beijing's lakes during winter. Downhill and cross-country skiing can be practised in the North-east provinces.

  • Martial Arts: The ancient 'shadow art' of Tai Chi, a series of linked movements performed in a slow relaxed manner using the entire body whilst focusing the mind, is traditionally practised in towns throughout China, particularly in the early morning hours, and visitors wishing to learn or participate are welcome.
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