For general information before you go, including advice on tours, insurance, and safety, call or visit the website of the China National Tourist Office.
The two best-known Chinese travel agencies are the state-run China International Travel Service (CITS) and China Travel Service (CTS), both under the same government ministry. Although they have some tourist information, they are businesses, so don't expect endless resources if you're not purchasing a tour or flight. In theory, CTS offices offer local sightseeing tours, and CITS arranges packages from overseas; in reality, their services overlap.
The Hong Kong Tourism Board has heaps of online information about events, sightseeing, shopping, and dining in Hong Kong. They also organize tour packages from the United States, and local sightseeing tours.
China International Travel Service. 626/568–8993; www.citsusa.com.
China National Tourist Office. 212/760–8218; www.cnto.org.
China Travel Service. 800/899–8618; www.chinatravelservice.com.
Hong Kong Tourist Board. www.discoverhongkong.com.
Online Travel Tools
The websites listed in this guide are in English. If you come across a Chinese-language site you think might be useful, copy the URL into Google, then click the "Translate this page" link. Translations are literal, but generally work for finding out information like opening hours or prices.
All About China
The excellent China Digital Times tracks China-related news and culture. The Oriental List has extremely reliable information about travel in China. A detailed database on Chinese art, film, literature, and more is available at China Culture. Information about all of Hong Kong's arts and cultural programs is available at the Hong Kong Leisure and Cultural Services Department.
China Digital Times. www.chinadigitaltimes.net.
China Culture. www.chinaculture.org.
Hong Kong Leisure and Cultural Services Department. www.lcsd.gov.hk.
The Oriental List. www.datasinica.com.
China Business Weekly is published by the China Daily newspaper.
China Business Weekly. www.chinadaily.com.cn/english/bw/bwtop.html.
Asia Expat gives advice and listings from foreigners living in Beijing, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, and Shanghai. Asia City is an online version of quirky weekly rags that give the lowdown on everything happening in Shanghai and Hong Kong.
Asia Expat. www.asiaxpat.com.
Asia City. www.asia-city.com.
China Daily is the leading English-language daily. The English edition of China's most popular—and most propagandistic—daily is called the People's Daily. Hong Kong's leading English-language daily is the South China Morning Post.
China Daily. www.chinadaily.com.cn.
People's Daily. www.english.peopledaily.com.cn.
South China Morning Post. www.scmp.com.
Great Chinese Reads
Big Name Fiction: 2012 Nobel Peace Prize winner Mo Yan’s The Garlic Ballads; A Thousand Years of Good Prayers by Li Yiyun; The Civil Servant’s Notebook by Wang Xiaofang; Northern Girls by Sheng Keyi; Gao Xingjian's Soul Mountain.
China 101: Tiger Head, Snake Tales by Jonathan Fenby; The New Emperors by Kerry Brown; China in Ten Words by Yu Hua.
About Mao: Dr. Li Zhisui's The Private Life of Chairman Mao; Jung Chang’s Mao The Unknown Story; Great Leap Forward edited by Chuihua Judy Chang, Jeffrey Inaba, Rem Koolhaas, Sze Tsung Leung.