Shaolin Temple: Travel to the Mecca of Chinese Kung Fu

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Today’s article is dedicated to the Shaolin Temple, an emblematic place for Chinese Kung Fu. Here you can find all the information you need to visit this place and much more. Let’s get started!

The Shaolin Temple

Who hasn’t heard of the Shaolin Temple? However, how many people know where it is?
Personally, I have to admit that two years ago, I didn’t even know that it still existed. [Read more…]

Street Merchants of Kashgar, in Xinjiang (Photo Essays)

Sacks of pepper in the Old City

Market of Kashgar

The melon seller

During my sojourn in Kashgar, which lasted only five days, every day I stopped at the night market on Jie Fang Bei Road to buy a slice of hami gua melon (a melon from the xinjianese province of Hami) from the man in the photo below that, despite looking calm in the picture, never stopped shouting for even a second. [Read more…]

10 places to visit in China that you might not know about

10 places to visit in china

When people ask me about China, I always like to make the analogy that it is like a bigger version of Europe. China is a country which is much more culturally diverse than we think in the West.

The majority of international tourists who travel to China do what is called the golden triangle; that’s to say, Beijing, Xi’an and Shanghai. There are also some who visit Guilin, which is famous for its landscapes, Datong or Pingyao. Panda-lovers may also visit Chengdu. However, China offers many other places that are equally or more spectacular than these ones.

In this article, I have selected 10 places little-known by international tourists, which are very different from one another and which you might include in your trip. [Read more…]

VPN for China: How to access Facebook and Youtube behind the Great Wall

Facebook China

The first part of this article explains what a VPN is and how it can be used to access Facebook, YouTube and the other websites that are currently blocked in China.

The second part is a comparative review of VyprVPN, StrongVPN and ExpressVPN, which are in my opinion, the three best VPN services in China. We’ll compare prices, functionality and the performance of the three VPNs.

Click here if you want to jump directly to the comparison!

What is a VPN and why do I need it in China?

As you probably already know, the internet doesn’t work like we wish it did in China and a large number of websites are blocked by the Great Firewall. Among the websites that you can’t access there are Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Google+.

There are many other blocked websites, and depending on what you do, it will be virtually impossible for you to work in China without a VPN (Virtual Private Network) from China. The most striking case is probably given by, which often returns an error message when used from within the Middle Kingdom.

But there is still hope…

In order to solve this problem, you can install a VPN, which masks your I.P. address so that your laptop appears to be connected from the U.S. or Japan even if you are in China.

[Read more…]

Chinese With Mike – Video course review

Chinese with Mike

I “discovered” the videos of Mike Laoshi, at the time Mike Hainzinger, in 2012, a few months after I began writing here on SDC. I spoke well of him on various occasions and a few months ago, John Murray Learning, the English publishing house that has published the course, has asked me if I was willing to review “Chinese with Mike”. I said yes.

So they sent me a copy of the DVDs and textbook that goes along with the video course. If you want I send it to you… just joking, if you’re interested the course is available on, you’ll find it here.

Why is “Chinese with Mike” not just another video course?

If you watch the above trailer (it only lasts 30 seconds) you’ll see that Mike Laoshi is an unconventional teacher to say the least. In fact it was just that which struck me about his lessons: he manages to explain Chinese grammar without boring you. Since I believe boredom is the greatest danger when one takes on learning Chinese, this is not a minor detail. Below you’ll find one of the few lessons available on the Youtube channel Chinese with Mike:

[Read more…]

Interview with GAS: A Western band that sings in Chinese

interview GAS Western band that sings in Chinese

In today’s interview, we talk to GAS, a band from Barcelona that just released this month Everlasting Freshman, their first studio EP with six original songs sung in Chinese.

In 2012, GAS posted a YouTube video of the first rehearsals of the single 永远的初学者 (Eternal newcomer), making them the first Spanish band to sing in Mandarin. The video was a success, with almost 50,000 views and more than 600 comments from people all around the world. [Read more…]

Borders: From Zhuhai to Macau (Photo Essays)

Borders Zhuhai Macau

Despite not being as well known as the one between Shenzhen and Hong Kong, even less-famous Zhuhai has its border checkpoint, Gonbei Port, from which it’s possible to get to Macau (or enter China from Macau). Actually, between Zhuhai e Macau there’s also a second checkpoint, Hengqin, which is mainly just used for the transport of goods.

In recent years, travel to and from Macau has grown, and in the last year alone, about 100 million people passed through Gonbei checkpoint.

Who goes to Macau? Besides Chinese tourists full of cash who are looking to gamble it all away in the Las Vegas of Asia, from what I saw there are tons of farmers and small-time merchants who shuttle across to sell their products in much wealthier Macau. But there are also students, businessmen and foreigners looking to renew their visas who make the crossing.

This photo gallery is dedicated to them and the variety of trades that operate near the borders. Enjoy! [Read more…]

Moving to China to Work or Study

moving to china to work and study

This article is a quick guide to everything you need to know to prepare before moving to China to live and how to take your first steps once you have arrived. Keep in mind that many of the subjects included here have been covered in much more detail in our free e-Book or in other articles.

In this article, I will discuss the following aspects (you can click on any of them to skip directly to the section that interests you).

Before moving: Relocation agencies, finding a job, visas, vaccines, money and cards, plane tickets, documentation, health insurance, finding lodging for the first days, what to bring, sending your things, finding a school for your children, pets.

First steps in China: Registering with the local police, residency permit, registering with your consulate, opening a bank account, driver’s license, phone cards and internet, finding a place to live.
[Read more…]

Business visas for China – The complete guide

Business Visa for ChinaThe old commercial visa (F visa), now called M visa

The business visa (or M visa) is issued to those coming to China for commercial activity. In the course of the article you’ll find answers to the following questions:

  • What is required to obtain an M visa?
  • How long is the M visa good for, and how many entries can I get?
  • Where can I apply for an M visa?
  • Can I renew my M visa in China?
  • How much does an M visa cost?
  • How can I read an M visa?
  • How can one get an M visa on arrival at the Shanghai Airport?
  • How can one get a 5 day visa on arrival at the border between Hong Kong and Shenzhen?
  • Can I work in China with an M visa?

If you’re interested in finding out more about tourist, student or work visas, click here to read our guide to Chinese visas. If instead you’re interested in a visa to visit relatives (your husband, son, etc) then click here. If you’re interested in obtaining a visa for Taiwan, click here. [Read more…]

Moving out of China -The Complete Guide

moving out of china

On this site, we have written many articles and even a free e-Book on how to move to live and work in China, but, what happens when you decide to go back to your country or go to another place? Today’s article is dedicated to all of the people that have decided to move away after living for a time in China.

In this article, I will cover the following subjects (you can click on them to jump directly to the section that interests you):

[Read more…]