The capital of Liaoning province, Shenyang is a huge city of over 8 million people. It was once an imperial capital of the Manzu (Manchu) empire, and the Shenyang Imperial Palace is a UNESCO world heritage site. Aside from the Imperial Palace (which will disappoint anyone who has seen the Forbidden City in Beijing), there is little of interest in Shenyang, which is a rather grim and ugly industrial city.
China has three "Golden Week" holidays per year. People get a mandatory two or three days off work for each holiday, and workers' companies can grant them the rest of the week off, making each holiday a total of 7 days. As you can imagine, having almost 1.4 billion people with the same days off can make travelling at these times arduous to say the least.
Travelling during the Spring Festival/Chinese New Year is incredibly difficult. Chinese New Year is China's Christmas, so the millions of migrant workers and students flood back to their home towns. Everybody else takes the opportunity to spend their hong bao (gifts of money traditionally given at CNY) and go travelling. Most of the time, since you are only allowed to purchase train tickets 6 days in advance and must be present in the city of origin, sometimes only standing room tickets are available. Be aware! The Spring Festival is undoubtedly the busiest time for the Chinese transportation system. Flying will avoid the crowded trains, but book early and expect to pay higher prices. All the main tourist attractions will be crawling with tourists (worse than usual), so unless you like crowds, it's best to avoid it altogether.
Chinese New Year is based on the lunar calendar, so the date changes each year. The Chinese New Year/Spring Festival holiday is 7 days long and usually starts on New Year's Eve.
The two other national holidays are October 1st, National Day, celebrating the founding of the People's Republic of China and May 1st, which is International Labor Day. Almost all Chinese get the two holidays off and many take the opportunity to travel. If you want to avoid the crowds, fly, but it should get a lot less busy towards the end of the week.
Shenyang has a humid continental climate. Summers from June to mid-September see average maximum temperatures between 25 °C and 29 °C and lows between 16 °C and 20 °C. Winters from December to February have highs of around -1 °C to -5 °C and lows between -12 °C and -16 °C. April/May and September/October are by far the best months weatherwise for a visit, with usually dry and nice and warm weather without the heat, humidity or cold. Average precipitation is around 700 mm a year, nearly half of that falling in the months of July and August. Snow is common in winter.
Shenyang Taoxian International Airport (SHE) is the main gateway to Shenyang (and Liaoning for that matter). Like many airports in China it has seen enormous growth during the 21st century and although it mainly serves other Chinese airports, there are international connections to Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, Pyongyang, Busan, Seoul, Taipei, Singapore, Ulan Ude and Irkutsk.
Shenyang is the railway hub of northeast China and has connection to Beijing, Dalian, Changchun, Harbin and Fushun. The city is also served by the Qinshen Passenger Railway, a high-speed railway connecting Shenyang and Qinhuangdao. Work has started on the Harbin-Dalian high-speed passenger railway, which is expected to be completed in 2013 and will connect Shenyang with other major cities in northeast China: Harbin, Changchun and Dalian.
Shenyang has a new metro system, operating since 2010. It has a coverage of 40 stations on 2 separate lines.
|Shenyang Sanpi Youth Hostel||No.21 Yalu River Street Yuhong District||HOSTEL||-|
|Hi Inn Sanhao Street||No.55 B Sanhao Street||HOSTEL||-|
|Hi Inn Taiyuan Street||No.180 South Taiyuan Street||HOSTEL||-|
Wangba (联网) means internet bar in Chinese. Almost every town will have an internet bar or gaming center. The best way to spot an internet bar is to look for the 网(ba) character, which means net, and large digitized images of computer game characters. Often, there will be a sign saying Green Power in English at the entrance. Most gaming centers cost about RMB3 an hour. You prepay at the main desk and are then given a plastic card or a piece of paper. Once you are done you return the card or piece of paper and get reimbursed for the money you didn't spend. Be prepared for a place that might be dingy, basic and messy. Internet bars in China tend to get crowded starting in the late afternoon to the late evenings.
Some hotels provide access from the rooms that may or may not be free; others may provide a wireless service or a few desktops in the lounge area.
Also, quite a few cafes provide free wireless Internet service. Some cafes, even provide a machine for customer use.
See also: International Telephone Calls
The country calling code to China is 86. To make an international call from China, the code is 00.
When making international phone calls it is best to buy an IP card. They typically have a value of ¥100 but sometimes can be had for as little as ¥25. The cards have printed Chinese instructions, but after dialing the number listed on the card English-spoken instructions are available. As a general indication of price, a call from China to Europe lasts around 22 minutes with a ¥100 card. Calls to the U.S. and Canada are advertised to be another 20% cheaper. There is no warning before the card runs out of minutes.
If you already have a GSM 900/1800 cellphone, you can roam onto Chinese networks, but calls will be very expensive (¥12-35/minute is typical). If you're staying for more than a few days, it will usually be cheaper to buy a prepaid Chinese SIM card; this gives you a Chinese phone number with a certain amount of money preloaded. Chinese tend to avoid phone numbers with the bad-luck digit '4', and vendors will often be happy to offload these "unsellable" SIM-cards to foreigners at a discount. If you need a phone as well, prices start around ¥100/200 used/new. Chinese phones, unlike those sold in many Western countries, are never "locked" and will work with any SIM card you put in them. China's two big operators are China Mobile and China Unicom. Most SIMs sold by the two work nationwide, with Unicom allowing Hong Kong/Macau/Taiwan usage as well. There is usually a surcharge of about ¥1/min when roaming outside the province you bought the SIM, and there are some cards that work only in a single province, so check when buying.
China Post (中国邮政) is the official postal service of the People's Republic of China, operated by the State Postal Bureau of the People's Republic of China (website in Chinese only), and has more details about price to send letters, postcards and parcels, both domestically as well as internationally. The Chinese postal service is very good. Remember that in more remote places usually only one post office in a city can handle sending international boxes or letters. Also many times it might be worth having the name of the country you are trying to send to in Chinese characters, because small town people might not know what Estonia is in English. Post offices have a striking green logo and can easily be found everywhere in the cities. They are mostly open every day (including weekends!) from 8:00am to 6:00pm, though small offices might have shorter opening times, while the bigger ones in central and touristic areas are sometimes open during evenings as well.
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