The People's Republic of China is located in eastern Asia, on the western shore of the Pacific Ocean. It is the third largest country in the world with an area of nearly 6 million square miles. The extensive coastline of China is populated with more than 5,000 islands - Taiwan and Hainan are the largest. China has land borders with Korea, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan, Burma, Laos and Vietnam.
Mountains, hills, highlands, plains and basins make up the diverse land topography, with over 60% being highland regions. There are many tourist attractions, from visiting scenic canyons and snow-covered mountains, to discovering tropical rainforests and deserts. The Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and the Himalaya Mountains are very popular amongst tourists.
China has a long and fascinating past with countless sites of cultural and historical interest for visitors; the Great Wall, Terra Cotta Warriors, and the Forbidden City are some of the attractions not to be missed on land. The 56 different ethnic groups in China have created a diversified culture, which visitors can learn about through the numerous folk pageants and regional activities. The Yangtze River is the longest in China, providing river cruises to visit the holy Potala Palace and see snow-capped Mount Everest.
Due to the wide-ranging landmass, China is classed as having a continental climate - its southern section is in the tropical and subtropical zones, and its northern section is in the frigid zones. Scuba diving is mostly conducted in the warmer southern region, where divers will find coral reefs and tropical marine life, similar to those found in Indonesia.
Visitors may find the language barrier in China to be challenging. However, English is becoming more widely understood and spoken in tourist areas. The main languages are Mandarin and Cantonese.
In the southernmost part of China lies the island of Hainan. Sanya is the most well known coastal city for tourism, and is also an important cultural and foreign trade port. It has a tropical coastal monsoon climate with warm weather year-round, making it the perfect destination for beachside holidays and scuba diving vacations.
Sanya is very popular among scuba divers due to its good visibility, warm water, and abundant coral and marine life. Average water temperature is 28 Celsius, and the dives range in depth from 4 to 18 meters. Visibility changes according to the season - the best time to dive in this area is from April-October. Divers can expect to see lobsters, sea urchins, hermit crabs, and starfish.
The whole area is surrounded by coral reefs that are protected under the Hainan Sanya Natural Coral Reef Nature Reserve. The reserve also includes two other reef areas - Yalong Bay and the Xi Mao and Dong Mao Islands, in Sanya Bay. Yalong Bay and Dadonghai are said to have the best diving in the area, with Baifu Bay and Sun Bay being the most popular sites reachable by boat.
The diving from Pak Sha Wan in Hong Kong is good but can vary according to weather conditions. However, in good conditions, visibility can reach 20 meters, with water temperatures up to 30 Celsius. There are around 15 dive sites in this region, ranging from shallow training areas to pretty coral reefs. The government has protected many areas of Hong Kong, with designated marine reserves to protect both the marine life and the vast amount of healthy hard corals. The macro diving at Sharp Island (especially at night) is very good and includes a wide variety of species like leaf fish, frogfish, octopus, seahorses, invertebrates and crustaceans, as well as all the tropical reef fish.
The Great Wall of China also has a submerged section that is dive-able. In 1981, the Chinese government flooded an area of the Great Wall in response to water shortages. It lies underwater between depths of 5-35 meters. Visibility usually isn't great but divers can find shrimp and follow them along. Check out the YouTube video in the links!
China has recently modernized its domestic air, train, and highway systems to match the increase in tourism. This means there has been a great improvement in the ease and cost of domestic travel throughout the country. China is now linked internally by several domestic airlines - new aircrafts from Boeing, McDonnell Douglas, and Airbus are used on most flights within the country. All major cities have airports and the Phoenix International Airport in Sanya is a busy airport.
The old Chinese train systems have been replaced in most areas. Travelers can take long-distance or short inter-city journeys. Travelers should note that the trains in China are exceptionally punctual so personal timeliness is important when traveling. Taxis and bicycles are other good choices for transportation within the cities.
Red Coral Water Sports Center in Sanya, on Hainan, is a PADI dive operator offering the full range of certification courses from beginner upwards. Guided scuba diving trips run daily throughout the year. Snorkeling, shore diving, and boat diving are available, as well as other water sports such as jet skiing, parasailing, boating and paddle boarding.
Based in Hong Kong, Mandarin Divers offer the complete array of recreational, technical and instructor level dive training through PADI, IANTD and RAID. They can teach in English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Spanish, Dutch, French, German and Japanese - but pre-booking is essential. Diving trips, locally and abroad, are offered for both recreational and technical divers, and local night dives run every two weeks. Mandarin Divers have a fully stocked retail shop and equipment servicing facilities. They have three dive boats - two large and spacious custom-designed cruisers (63 and 45 feet) and a smaller 20-foot powerboat. All of the vessels are equipped with the latest safety and communication equipment.
Dragon Diving is a PADI 5 Star IDC Center in Beijing. Founded in 1995, they focus on high quality scuba training and certification courses. Dragon Diving is affiliated with PADI, CMAS, NAUI and ADS. There have a resident PADI Course Director, and they offer courses from beginner up to instructor levels. The club organizes overseas diving trips to places such as Malaysia, the Philippines, and the Maldives.
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