I went to China shortly after I finished college to teach English to Elementary school children for 2 months. Hangzhou was the town I lived in which is about an hour and a half from Shanghai. While those where the only two cities I saw it was more than enough to have quite a culture shock into Chinese culture. I never made it to Beijing even though I initially planned to. It was way too far from where I was living and working six days a week made a weekend trip literally impossible. Since my return ticket was already bought at the end of my stay in China I was ready to go home anyway, so I just let Beijing and the Great Wall go. It wasn’t such a big deal since I saw so much sightseeing in Shanghai and in particular Hangzhou.
Overall, there seem to be mixed feelings about China from others I have spoken too whom visited there. From pollution, infrastructure and food, leaves a lot to be desired. Living there even for a couple months like I did and working there is quite a lot to adapt to I must say and a a couple of other young people I was working at the same school with had quite an unhappy time with the adjusting. Then again if one were to visit there just for a short time primarily just to tour around and go sightseeing staying in westernized hotels may have a different experience. However staying in hostels which are for the most part not quite westernized one may have more of ‘culture’ experience.