TravelTraveling to China as a Canadian: Ottawa-Beijing similarities and differences

Traveling to China as a Canadian: Ottawa-Beijing similarities and differences

Traveling to China as a Canadian: Ottawa-Beijing similarities and differences

It may come as a surprise to many Canadians that there are approximately 1.8 million Chinese Canadians living all across the country. Mandarin and Cantonese are Canada's third and fourth most widely spoken languages.

Tourism is a vital component of Canada's economy, representing two per cent of our GDP, and is an important source of jobs, a driver of entrepreneurship and the largest employer of youth. Canada’s reputation as a multicultural and tolerant nation is a major selling point when marketing the nation to prospective tourists and students from China. Canada is seen as a safer and cheaper alternative to the United States. Chinese visitors come to see everything that Canada has to offer—from the northern lights to the amazing East Coast, from our rich cultural heritage in our diverse cities to the unique and unforgettable experiences offered by Indigenous operators across the country.

China remains Canada’s second-largest trading partner and is still the fastest-growing source market for international students and the third-largest source of tourists. According to Statistica.

China is the world's largest tourist source market. The number of international outbound tourists from China more than doubled between 2008 and 2015, from 47.7 million tourists to 128 million.

In 2018, nearly 700,000 Chinese tourists visited Canada. In 2016, Chinese tourists spent an estimated $1.5 billion while visiting Canada. China remains a popular tourism destination for international travelers and the Chinese government continues to promote and market China’s burgeoning tourism industry with a focus on its cultural experiences, history, and natural beauty. In 2018, mutual visits topped 1.6 million people between the two countries with Canada being the 12th-largest tourist market for China.

While tourism travel between the Canada and China has been paused due to a combination of Covid-19 and the political controversy over the Meng-two Michael’s affair, it is expected travel will continue to ramp up again as things move back to normal.

If you plan to visit China, you will need to get a China Visa. The Byevisa page about travel authorization for China is a great source to visit to learn everything you need to know about travelling to the People’s Republic. In total there are 16 types of visa to enter China, issued to everyone from international crew members and permanent immigrants to this famously populous Asian country, to people who intend to study there for less than six months and those who plan to study there more long term. In short, there are visas for every sort of life situation you might expect. The site also has information on the two most commom types of passes to visit the Red Dragon country: for tourism and business. 

Any trip to China should include visiting a bustling metropolis like the capital Beijing, or the famous business city Shanghai, even the growing metropolises of Wuhan, Shenzhen, and Canton. For Ottawa residents who visit, you might be interested to know that Canada’s capital city is much more expensive than Beijing, so you are savings money by just showing up!

In fact, the cost of living in Ottawa (Canada) is 47% more expensive than in Beijing (China)

Food is 58% cheaper in Beijing, housing is 34% cheaper and public transit and transportation in general cost a whopping 117% less than in Ottawa. Personal Care is also 28% less expensive and entertainment and exhibits on average cost 14% less in Beijing than similar items in Ottawa.

Of course, there are many differences including with the weather, which is 7°C higher (average maximum temperature. 17.9°C vs 10.9°C). The winters in Ottawa are much colder but this, of course, is part of Ottawa’s charm. Ottawa has two universities and one college and a population of just over 1 million whereas Beijing has 66 universities and 20 million inhabitants.

All that to say China’s capital, Beijing, and Canada’s capital, Ottawa, are the seat of their respective national governments but they are like night and day when it comes to everything else. Most importantly, both cities are great travel destinations, but for quite different reasons.


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