Guidelines
Dinning Etiquette
Travel Tips
Terms
China Geography
China History
Chinese Zodiac
Finance and Taxation
Population and Ethnic Groups
Economy

  Travel Tips

Time Zone

Despite its massive size, China is all on “Beijing Time.”  That means that no matter where you go in China it will be the same time everywhere else in China.  This is very convenient when traveling.

Food and Drink

China is a developing country and we recommend that you do not drink water directly from the tap.  Bottled water is a cheap and reliable solution.  The standard of hygiene in restaurants varies and before you pick one, judge for yourself if it is suitable.  Remember that cooked food is always safer than the uncooked food. Street food is always a risk, but sometimes an irresistible one.  If you are dying for a snack, use discretion.

 

             

 Safety

Most parts of China are very safe for travelers.  Nevertheless, when wandering in unknown territory, it is better to go with at least one other person.  Although you are usually safe from physical harm, pick-pocketing is a specialized art in China In crowded areas, always be careful to protect your belongings. Do not let your bags out of sight in train stations, airports, public places, etc. 

Emergency Numbers:

 

 Police – 110

 

 Medical Emergency – 120

 

 Fire Department – 119

 

 Operator – 114

 

 Traffic accident – 122

 Transportation

China’s big cities have excellent public transportation systemincluding taxis, buses, and in some cities, subway and tram networks.  If you choose to use one of these, make sure you bring a hotel name card so you can be sure to get back without trouble.  You should also have the written address for your destination.

By Air: There are four Chinese national airlines: China Southern, Air China, China Eastern and Hainan Airline, all of which fly some international routes, most notably to Japan, Southeast Asia, North America, and Western Europe. Service and safety standards are fairly good on these international routes, although you may wish to fly a more reputable international carrier to China.

By Rail: Trains connect Shanghai and Beijing, and points in between, with Hong Kong. Tickets can be purchased at any train station along the lines (at least where the trains stop) and at any KCR station in Hong Kong.

 

This is the best value mode of transportation in China, and the network is extensive. Because of this, it’s a popular way to go, and tickets tend to have to be booked well in advance. You’ll generally be out of luck if you try to book with short notice on irregular runs or during the peak holiday seasons. All towns served by rail have a booking office of some sort, but the best way to purchase a seat or berth is through a travel agent. This saves you valuable time, as well as helping to maintain your sanity. Removing the arduous task of lining up at the station and trying to buy tickets while people crowd in around you and try to butt into line is quite a load off a weary traveler's back.

 

                                                                                  

 There are three classes on Chinese trains: soft sleeper, hard sleeper and hard seat. The first is a comfortable, cushioned bed with clean linens in a four-bed, private compartment, usually next to the dining car (and with rights to the meal’s “first sitting”). This comes with a somewhat higher price than the hard sleeper, which offers second crack at meals and a bed in more open, dormitory-like sleeping cars (triple tiered, for 6 beds a section – though there is no door at the end). The hard seat is just what it suggests and is not really an option for long-distance journeys, unless you’re short on cash. The high traffic, short distance lines such as that running between Kowloon, Shenzhen and Guangzhou have quite comfortable seats for a decent price.

Food on the trains: the dining car is not open whenever you feel the urge to eat. There are pre-set times for breakfast, lunch and dinner. At all other times, hungry travelers will have to make do elsewhere, so be careful if you’re going to take an extended nap! Many veteran travelers bring their own supply of snacks. You’ll also find plenty of vendors hawking food at most any stop, however – boiled eggs, peanuts, instant noodles and such are usually on offer. Hot water is readily available on board the train; each compartment should have a thermos full of hot water, which can be refilled from the water heater at the end of the train car. Be careful when filling the thermos, as the water is literally boiling and the steam moves around with the jarring motions of the train.

By Road: Buses are the cheapest way to get around the countryside, are frequent, and are sometimes, though not normally, faster than the train. Expressways run between selected major cities whereas the rest of the roads are of lesser quality and size, making the train a somewhat safer option. Most towns have a bus station where tickets can be purchased well in advance, or they can be paid for on the bus itself. If you don’t speak Chinese, there’s often a travel agency in or around hotels which can arrange tickets for you. Sometimes hotel desk staff will do the same.

 

By Water: Jetfoils and turbo-cats make regular runs from Hong Kong to Macau and Guangzhou. Some slow ferries also service this route. Ferries between Shanghai or Tianjin and Kobe or Osaka run weekly two-day trips which are less comfortable, and obviously slower than the plane, but much more affordable. Consult your travel agent, or a respected travel guide for more information.

 Changing and Using Money

Renminbi (RMB), the basic unit of Chinese currency, is also called “yuan” or “kuai,” which is divided into ten “jiao” or “mao,” which is in turn divided into ten “fen.”

 

Currency upon arrival and departure: You cannot secure Chinese currency outside of China, but you will be able to exchange currency in the airport lobby (at either an ATM or a bank window) upon arrival. When you leave China, your excess Chinese currency may be reconverted to foreign currencyTo reconvert Chinese currency into foreign currency, you must present receipts for the original exchange from foreign to Chinese currency, so be sure to keep these receipts in case you need them upon departure.

 

Access to funds in China: MasterCard and Visa can be used at nearly any ATM. Be sure to check with your local bank or card carrier and notify them that you will be traveling abroad in order to avoid complications. ATMs are becoming more common in China, but not all foreign ATM cards work on these machines (even when the banks at home insist that they work in China), so be sure to check before leaving for China. We recommend that you use MasterCard or Visa as they are widely accepted throughout China.

Language

 

In Beijing and Shanghai, it is not uncommon to find somebody on the street who speaks English.  However, outside of these cities there is little chance that somebody will speak English.  This is especially true in the countryside where people will often not speak standard Mandarin, let alone English. 

 Cultural Customs

On our trips you will witness customs and habits that you have not seen before.  You must be tolerant and open-minded when these customs contradict your own.  Do not be critical; instead, try to imagine some of your own habits and customs from Chinese eyes.

Chinese Golden Weeks

 

There are two major Chinese Holidays that are referred to as “Golden Weeks.”  They are the Spring Festival, also known as the Lunar New Year that falls in January or February but changes each year. The second Golden Week is October 1 – 7.  These are the primary times for Chinese to travel.  Air and Train tickets are in high demand.  Hotels and tourist sights are packed with people.  The service quality in restaurants can drop a little.  For these reasons we do not recommend traveling during the Golden Weeks. 

 

                

Bargaining 

 Bargaining is a common and necessary practice in China.  Bargaining is especially necessary in tourist areas, flea markets, and small street shops.  Large shopping centers do not permit bargaining.  Keep in mind that the vendor’s first price is greatly inflated because he/she expects to bargain. Do not be bashful about bargaining, you will not hurt their feelings.

Clothing & Laundry

 

China is a huge country with every climate imaginable.  The regions and seasons all affect what you should bring.  Please consult us regarding your specific trip to decide what kind of gear to bring.  Most hotels provide a laundry service that is not included in the trip price.  They charge by the garment and by the time required.

Electric Voltage

China standard electric voltage is 220v and many countries in the west use 110v.  We recommend that you bring a voltage converter to avoid frying any electronics that you bring (camera, music player, shavers, etc).

Weights and Measures

Weight multiply by

 Pounds to kilograms: 0.45

Kilograms to pounds: 2.20        

Chinese: 1Jin eq.1.102 lb.

 Length

Feet to meters: 0.30

Meters to feet: 3.28

Chinese: 1 li eq. 0.311 mile

1 chi eq. 1.07 feet

 Capacity

 Chinese: 1 sheng eq. 0.22 gallon

 Temperature

 To convert °C to °F multiply by 1.8 and add 32

 To convert °F to °C subtract 32 and multiply by 5/9(.555)

 A temperature converter for Celsius and Fahrenheit F= C*9/5 + 32 

 Documents needed for Travel 

 Passport

When you visit China, a valid passport is required. Your passport must be valid for at least six months after your last day in China and with at least one blank visa page available for visa stamp(s). Making a copy of the identification page and carrying it separately will be helpful in case it is lost or stolen. 

 

Visa

 A Chinese visa is a permit issued to a foreigner by the Chinese visa authorities for entry into, exit from or transit through China. The Chinese visa authorities may issue a diplomatic, courtesy, service or ordinary visa to a foreigner according to his identity, purpose of visit to China and passport type. Hereunder is an introduction to the ordinary visa and its application procedure: 

Visa F: Issued to an applicant who is invited to China for a visit,  a study or lecture, business tour, for scientific-technological and cultural exchanges, for short-term refresher course or for job-training, and for a period of no more than six months. To apply for a Visa F, the invitation letter from the inviting unit or the visa notification letter/telegram from the authorized unit is required. 

Visa L: Issued to aliens who come to China for sightseeing, visiting relatives or other private purposes. For a tourist applicant, he/she must provide evidence of his/her financial capability of covering the travelling expenses in China, and when necessary, provide the air, train or ship tickets to the heading country/region after leaving China. For applicants who come to China to visit relatives, some are required to provide invitation letters from their relatives in China. 

Visa G: Issued to aliens who transit through China. The applicants are required to show valid visas and on-going tickets to the heading countries/regions.

Most of you hold a single “F” visa with 180 days of permitted stay in the P. R. China. You have to leave the country before your visa expires. Your arriving date + 180 days = the visa expiring date.

 

Monitor your visa status carefully. You will be fined 5000 RMB at customs with an expired visa. A worse scenario is that you might be put on “the black list” and can never set foot in China again! During the summer, if you go to places such as HK, Macau, or Taiwan, you must get a return visa before you return to China. We recommend that you do this before you leave China.

 

               

 

Cell Phones, Phone Cards and Skype

 Setting Up Your Cell PhonePhone service in China operates on an essentially pre-paid system. Cell phone use should be reserved primarily for local calls because making direct international calls from your cell phone is expensive. Additionally, there are two options for cell phone use in China: you can either bring your own phone from home or buy a cell phone once you get to China.

 If you plan to use your own cell phone, you must first “unlock” the SIM card code that keeps you from using other carriers. Most cell phone companies use SIM cards, so you can just take out your old SIM card and use a Chinese SIM card. Before the new SIM card will function, however, you must “unlock” your phone by inputting a special code that will allow you to use another phone company’s SIM card. To do this, call your phone company’s customer service line and tell them you are going abroad and wish to use the same phone. They should give you the code free of charge. Record this code and bring it with you to China where the employees in a cell phone store will input the code after inserting the new SIM card.

 You may also buy a cell phone in China. To set up a phone number, you can visit just about any cell phone store. The cost of the phone number usually includes a 100 RMB phone card. The phone company will alert you once you have used almost the entire 100 RMB in phone calls and text messages (note: sending a text message is usually cheaper than calling someone). Save your SIM card in case you return to China in the future.

 SkypeThis is the least expensive way to keep in touch. If you have not already downloaded the Skype application, do so now. Invest in a microphone or a web camera with built-in microphone and you can communicate immediately with your friends and relatives – all for free if you have the application installed.

 Electrical Appliances

 The electric current in China is 220 volts, 50 cycles. Therefore, if you bring appliances from the country which electric current is 110 volts, you will need a voltage converter to convert your equipment from 110 volts. Electrical outlets in China are also much different from outlets in some countries, so you may need adapters for your various appliances. These are widely available in China, but you may also find them at Radio Shack and most stores that specialize in electrical appliances.

Please remember to make photocopies and bring any insurance/warranty information for your electronics. This will come in handy when dealing with the company overseas.

What to Pack

   Try not to over pack; it’s expensive to pay for excess baggage. Also, pack a change of clothes in carry-on luggage in case of luggage delay.

 Basic classroom supplies (legal pads, pens, pencils, highlighters, etc.)

 Business attire. You will visit courtrooms and meet local attorneys.  

Casual clothes to wear in the classroom.

Comfortable shoes. You will most likely be doing a lot of walking on your trip. Waterproof or leather shoes are best.  

Copies of your passport and visa, kept in a separate place.

Electric adapter, converter, and/or batteries to use your electric appliances in China.

Glasses and/or contacts and a spare pair and/or your prescription in case you need to replace them.

Light jacket/raincoat, or ideally a raincoat with a zip out lining.  

Light sweater.

 Medications. Bring all that you will need for your entire stay in Asia. Carry all medication in your carry-on luggage.

 Phone card. 

 Small umbrella (or wait and buy one when you get there).

Toiletries (travel kit). Important: If you pack your toiletries in your carry-on baggage, the airport requires that you pack them in no larger than 3 oz. plastic containers.

Emergency Contact Card.

  

Back to top