China is a huge tourist and business destination. As both play two of the largest roles in the Chinese economy, every effort has been made to make every guest to this country comfortable and safe. Do not take the following tips as warnings, only advice, remember being a knowledgeable traveler is a big step to a successful vacation. Some of the rules and regulations implemented in China are found nowhere else in the world so it's a good idea to become acquainted with the following tips.
When to go
Passports and Visas
Health Requirements and Hospitals
Currency Credit Cards Foreign Currency and Traveler's Cheques
Crime and Safety
Public Conduct & Dress Code
China is often a place of mystic for the westerner especially so as it’s culture is so different to that of the west. One good thing is that Chinese people are friendly and travel is easy. The only problem that is encountered particularly so outside the major metropolitan areas is that any language other than Chinese is difficult to find. But that can be part of the fun. Travel is not difficult and even getting to the most remote parts of China can be accomplished either by plane or train. The following are tips for the general traveller and business visitor to this fascinating country as well as information that will help make your trip here as simple as a click of your ‘mouse’ button.
When to Go
Spring (March-April) and autumn (September-October) are the best times to visit China. Daytime temperatures range from 20 to 30 degrees Celsius in these seasons, but nights can be bitterly cold and it can be wet and miserable. Major public holidays, in particular Chinese New Year, are best avoided as it's difficult to get around and/or find accommodation.
Passports and Visas
All citizens, infants included, need a valid passport with a tourist visa stamped in it to enter China for stays of up to 90 days.
Visas are required for all foreigners.
Application of a tourist visa requires travel information including return airline ticket, hotel booking and itinerary in China.
A single or double entry visa is usually valid for entry within 3 months from the date of issue.
Multi-entry visas are normally valid for 6 months and only issued according to official invitation letters for business visitors.
Health Requirements and Hospitals
Immunization is not required for visitors to China except for yellow fever if coming from parts of Africa and South America. Rabies, bilharzia, dengue fever, malaria and cholera are all present. Immunisation against cholera, hepatitis A and B, Japanese encephalitis, polio, rabies and typhoid is considered essential but is not required. The common cold is of particularly high incidence in China and visitors are advised to bring along a few cold remedies.
Medical services are generally cheap in China and foreigners are likely to get better service than regular Chinese patients.
Urban and rural medical services differ a lot from each other. If travelling in the countryside, there may be no appropriate medical services beyond primary health care. Some hospitals in cities have special sections for foreigners and English is spoken there. Doctors may be found in many of the large hotels in China. Payment must be made on the spot for treatment, medicine and transport. If planning to visit areas outside of Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Hong Kong, emergency evacuation insurance is advised.
In general, towns, institutions, public transport and sights offer little accessibility for the disabled. Modern hotels are well equipped; airlines and airports have made efforts to improve their facilities and wheelchairs are available. Information about special trips for the disabled are offered by the China National Tourist Offices.
The Bank of China issues Renminbi (RMB) or "People's Money" notes in denominations of
2, 5,10, 50 and 100 yuan and notes in values of 1 yuan, 5 jiao and 1, 2 and 5 fen. Currently you cannot change RMB back into foreign currency in China, so change only as much money as you will need for the duration of your stay.
The official currency of China is the Renminbi (RMB).
The basic unit is known as the yuan.
A yuan is divided into 10 jiao.
A jiao is subdivided into 10 fen.
Foreign Currency and Traveler's Cheques
They can be changed at the main branches of the Bank of China, major hotels, Friendship Stores, and major department stores.
Exchange receipts should be kept to enable the conversion of any remaining RMB at the end of your trip.
The exchange rate for travelers’ cheques is more favorable than that of cash.
Thomas Cook, American Express and Bank of America are generally accepted.
Credit Cards are now more and more popular in China. People gradually accept this method of payment. Nowadays, in most of the big stores and big shops, credit cards are quite acceptable. In most of the areas in the countryside or in some remote areas, this way of payment is still not popular.
We do not recommend you to pay your China Tour fee with credit cards. Because there is always a service charge of 4%-5% out of the total amount by Bank of China, which we think it is unfair and not reasonable for you to do so.
The widely used credit cards in China are Master, Visa and American Express.
Government stipulated working days are from Monday to Friday. Banks, offices, government departments and public security bureaus open 08:30 to 18:00, with a lunch break from noon to 14:00. Stores usually remain open every day, including public holidays. Opening hours are usually from 9:00 to 21:00. Monuments and museums usually are open seven days a week. Restaurants and bars stay open later at night. It is possible to eat late at 22:00. Some open-air restaurants even stay open into the small hours. Times are approximate and subject to local variations. In western China, for example, because of time difference with the Beijing time, offices often open later.
The airport tax or the airport construction fee is aready included in the airfare when a air ticket is purchased.
There is no sales tax. Hotels have a room tariff of 10% for service charge plus 5% tax.
Tourist guides and bus drivers accept tipping. Hotel porters will usually happily accept a tip. Tipping is still not accepted in most restaurants and hotels, although it is common in the top-class hotels and restaurants. So ask the hotel or your guide whether a tip is necessary and how much. Sometimes it may be part of the ritual that any gift or tip will, at first, be firmly rejected.
Consumer taxes are included in the price tag of goods but big hotels and fine restaurants may charge a service tax of 10% or more.
Tip only upon receiving the service.
As a foreigner, the locals may overcharge you.
Bargaining is expected almost everywhere except in larger stores.
8 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (+8 GMT). Daylight Saving Time is not observed.
The national language of China is Mandarin, known in China as Putonghua. Nearly everyone speaks Mandarin, but many also speak a local dialect that uses the same characters as Mandarin but whose pronunciation can vary greatly. Chinese appreciate your making the effort to speak a few phrases. Try "Hello" - "Ni hao" (nee how); "Thank you" - "Xie xie" (hsyeh, hsyeh); and "Good-bye" - "Tsai jian" (chai chiyan). You can usually find someone who speaks English in the major cities.
220 volts, 50 cycles. There is no standard electrical outlet, although the outlet or three-prong plug is the most common in hotels. Hotels usually have prong adapters but no voltage transformers.
Although cabs are the simplest way to get around the city, getting into a taxi in China requires some preparation. Because cab drivers do not speak English, make sure you get the address or exact location of your destination written down in Chinese and have handy a map in English and Chinese so that you can point to for your driver's reference.
Bottled mineral water, is widely available in all stores and street kiosks and sometimes provided free by the hotel. Potable water is available only at a few of the better hotels. Visitors should always ask to make sure. Water in thermos bottles in rooms is non-potable tap water.
Crime and Safety
China has a low crime rate; however it has increased in the past few years principally in the major cities.
Pick pocketing and bag snatching are fairly serious problems. It is wise to remove any jewellery that may draw a thief's attention. Never wear a bag or purse on your street-side shoulder in order to avoid becoming a victim of the "snatch-and-ride." Be especially cautious when entering a marketplace or other busy district. If you are robbed, it is inadvisable to pursue the thief, as many assailants carry knives.
Theft is the most common crime affecting visitors and occurs most frequently in crowded public areas, such as hotel lobbies, bars, restaurants and tourist and transportation sites. The loss or theft of a passport should be reported immediately to the local police and to the nearest foreign embassy or consulate. Police reports of the theft are required before travelers may obtain new visas from Chinese authorities. Chinese authorities require that travelers have valid visas to exit China and even to travel and register in hotels within China.
When you've lost something, notify the hotel, tour group leader, transportation authorities and the police. If credit cards or traveler's cheques have been stolen, inform the issuer as soon as possible. If in serious difficulty, get in touch with your embassy.
Foreign-language newspapers and journals, including the International Herald Tribune, The Times, Asian Wall Street Journal, Time, Newsweek, Far Eastern Economic Review, and many more are available at most large hotels. The overseas edition of the party newspaper Renmin Ribao (People's Daily) is also sold there.
The CNN world service may be received in all hotels expect the remotest corners of China. China Daily, an English-language newspaper, is published in China daily except on Sundays. It is informative. Often obtainable from the big hotels for free, it contains the television schedule and a diary of cultural events in Beijing. Unfortunately, same-day editions are available only in large cities; elsewhere, they'll probably be several days late. Two other English-language publications, the Shanghai Star and Shanghai Talk, are also available.
Taking photographs or videos of military installations is prohibited. Most museums, palaces, or temples will not allow photograph to be taken, notably the main pit of the Terracotta Warriors, but some institutions permit it on payment of a fee in advance. As the atmosphere in China is often hazy, filters are advisable. Color print film is widely available, black and white or slide film much less so. Video film can be found but not always readily. All security X-ray machines on Mainland China and at Hong Kong airport are film-safe. Cameras must be declared when arriving in China. If video or movie cameras are for professional use, special permits must be claimed.
Designer luggage with fine leather isn't suitable. Take sturdy luggage. This is especially recommended if traveling independently or away from the catered tourist venues. Sometimes luggage is required to be lockable for transport.
Domestic mail delivery is exceedingly fast and cheap. Within some cities, offer same-day delivery; between large cities, delivery is usually overnight.
International mail, too, is efficient. Postal services are usually provided at hotel desks. Large hotels have mailboxes and sell stamps for letters, post cards and parcels. Post offices, with eye-catching green emblems, are usually found on main streets, at railway stations, the airport and major scenic spots. They are open seven days a week from 9:00-17:00. DHL, UPS, EMS, TNT and FedEx provide express mail services for urgent documents, parcels and other items to more than 10,000 cities in 170 countries and regions. EMS is the only official one in China that can handle private letters and has particular advantage handling mail within China. Many express delivery services have offices in major hotels and office buildings. Check the building directory in the lobby for their locations please.
In the hotels are usually free of charge. Like many nations expanding their domestic telephone networks, China's telephone numbers change often, so don’t be surprised if the number you dial, doesn’t get a response.
Direct long-distance dials (DDD) can be made from most hotels to some 2,000 localities throughout China.
International calls made from hotels typically have high surcharges, from 10 to 20 percent, added to the already high IDD rates. Alternatively, you may look for roadside kiosks with the IDD and DDD sign. Most post offices provide the IDD and DDD service. If your call between 21:00 and 07:00 the next morning, it is just half the daytime price. Country code for China is 86. To call abroad, dial 00, then the country code and telephone number.
May have suffixes to indicate north, south, east or west, and additionally, to indicate the middle section. The middle section is called zhong; nan means south; bei, north; dong, east and xi, west. A main road is lu or dao, smaller is jie. A small lane is named xiang.
Traveling with children in China is not difficult. If with toddlers or babies, note that disposable nappies and baby food in jars are not readily available. Big hotels offer childcare for a fee. On trains and planes, children travel at reduced cost.
Student cards of foreign students studying in China are usually recognized, students studying in China may travel at a reduced cost. Other international students will not benefit from the student card when traveling in China.
Public Conduct & Dress Code
Remove your shoes before entering Buddhist pagodas. Don’t let the soles of your feet face any sacred monument, such as a statue of Buddha.