China

China Travel Tips  

Time Zone

China operates on GMT + 8 hours. Despite its size, every place in China falls under one time zone.

Language

The official language in Mainland China is Mandarin Chinese. In Hong Kong, Cantonese is spoken.

English Mandarin

Good morning

Zao An

Good evening

Wan An

Goodbye

Zai Jian

I'm fine

Wo Hao

Excuse me

Bu Hao Yi Xi

Thank you

Xie Xie

Please

Qing

Yes

Shi

No

Bu Shi

Toilet

Xi Shou Jian

Water

Shui

How much?

Duo Shao Qian

That's expensive!

Ti Gwei Le!

   
   

 

Currency

The currency used in China is the Renminbi (RMB) and the basic unit is the Yuan.

Money Matters

Foreign currency can be exchanged in banks or licensed moneychangers.

Each time you exchange currency you will be issued a Receipt of Exchange. Please retain your receipts as any excess RMB you may be holding at the end of your visit cannot be exchanged without your receipts. Government Currency Law permits you to change into foreign currency up to 50% of the amount on each Receipt of Exchange held. Please note that exchanging money on the black market is a criminal offence.

Due to the large volume of counterfeit currency in China, unofficial exchanges usually result in travellers losing their money and possibly left to face charges of breaking foreign exchange laws. Please therefore use only licensed moneychangers and banks.

Credit cards are widely accepted in major establishments such as hotels, restaurants, and shops in big cities in China. However, credit card transactions are not always convenient outside big cities. It is also recommended to advise your credit card company at home prior to departure with regard to your travel itinerary so as to avoid your card being denied.

Tipping

Tipping is entirely discretionary. However, due to the rapidly rising cost of living in China, we would recommend travellers to tip guides and drivers. When giving a monetary tip, please put it in an envelope. In hotels, porters expect gratuity. Give them US $1 per checked baggage. You are not expected to tip restaurant waiters and taxi drivers.

Weather

For full details on climate, please see Best Time to Go.

Clothing

When in China, dress for comfort and with consideration for the local population's penchant for modesty. If dining in fine restaurants of international hotels, smart casuals or jacket and tie is appropriate.

Pack lightweight, dry cottons for summer, and prepare for weather extremes in spring and autumn. Layers are a good idea, as is a light raincoat. Warm night clothes are strongly recommended in Tibet.

China entails a great deal of walking so sensible, comfortable footwear is essential. All hotels offer same day laundry service. Self-service type facilities are uncommon.

Health

Travel in China, especially Tibet, can be arduous. Consult a physician and get a complete check up before your trip.

It is advisable to carry a personal medical kit which includes: any prescription medicines (more than duration of trip), aspirin (or any other pain relief), a laxative, band-aids/plasters, antiseptic ointments, sun block, hand wipes and soap.

It is important to drink only bottled water and avoid ice in drinks (unless staying in 5-star hotels).

For up to date information on latest health and vaccination recommendations, please contact your doctor.

Electricity

The electric current in China is 220 Volts/50 Cycles. 

If purchasing an adapter make sure it has different plug sizes as they vary from city to city in China. Most hotels bathrooms have a 110 volts flat pin (US style) outlet for electric shavers.

Arrival and Departure Formalities

In most cases, visitors to China require a valid visa to enter the country. However, there are certain exemptions applicable to some countries. Please consult with the embassy of People's Republic of China for information on exemptions that apply to your country.

Visas can be obtained through proper application from any embassy of the People's Republic of China or consular office empowered to grant visas.

Single entry visas for China are valid for 30 days. Double entry and multiple entry visas (valid for 3 or 6 months) are also available.

Please note that China and Hong Kong have separate visa regulations.

Local Food

China has many distinct regional styles of cooking:

Sichuan/ Hunan: Noted for piquant, zesty dishes. Chili peppers and garlic are two staple ingredients flavouring most dishes.

Huai/Hai/Hu: The Yangzi River Valley's close proximity to the East China Sea enhances its reputation as China's most important area for seafood. Sweet saucy dishes are the most distinctive feature of Hu cooking. Dumplings are considered a specialty.

North China: Peking (Beijing) Duck is perhaps the most well known dish distinctive of the north.

Local Handicrafts

China offers a wide variety of goods for shoppers. Items can be purchased in department stores and government friendship stores, or at the free shops and markets. Textiles, precious stones, embroidery and minority handicrafts are among the most typical souvenirs.

We strongly recommend that you do not purchase items that require overseas shipping when in China as delivery is not guaranteed. Read credit card charge slips carefully and compute the exchange rate before signing. Keep all sales receipts for items bought throughout your trip and try packing any items you will need to declare separate from your other belongings.

Other Notes

Taxis are available in all major Chinese cities. Passengers can hire taxis at hotels, train stations and airports. There are also often taxis for hire at major Friendship Stores. Unless otherwise specified, taxis should be metred in all major cities Taxis are relatively inexpensive and drivers courteous. It is advisable to have your guide or the hotel concierge write out the destination (in Chinese and English) and any other instructions you may have for the driver.

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