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China travel tips on money saving, personal safety, sightseeing, and enjoying your trip to the fullest from InfoHub suppliers and community members.

VISA Requirements & Departure Taxes
Submitted by M16534 on 2007-07-13
To enter China you will require a passport valid for at least 6 months beyond the date of entry with at least 2 blank pages. A visa will need to be organized prior to your arrival. For this you will require a completed ... view more application form with one passport photo (two for US citizens) and your passport. Allow 5-10 working days for processing. It is your responsibility to ensure all visa and entry requirements are met prior to arrival in China.

Tibet is a part of China and as such the normal China tourist visa applies for Tibet. In addition to the China tourist visa, permits are required for visits to each region of Tibet. Note that permits are arranged by tour company for client travel to Tibet and thus do not need to be arranged by the client or the agent.

Visitors from most countries, including citizens of the European Union, Australia, New Zealand, the USA, Canada and Japan, can enter Hong Kong (a Special Administrative Region of China) without a visa for periods of 90 days to six months, depending on nationality. Check with any Chinese embassy or consulate for the latest status.

The Top Four Tourist Cities in China
Submitted by M14943 on 2008-03-05
The Top Four Tourist Cities in China.

Beijing, Xian, Guilin and Hong Kong are the most visited cities in China. A lot of people refer it as the 'golden route' or 'presidential route' after Bill ... view more Clinton visited these cities in 1998. Certainly the golden route has a good combination of everything: great historical heritages, beautiful landscape, delicious Chinese food, great shopping and so on.

To visit Beijing you would need at least four nights to complete what you need to see and do. Great Wall of China - the longest man-made architecture on earth. This should be your number one destination in Beijing. Forbidden City - the former palaces and offices of Ming and Qing Dynasties. It is currently a museum with countless treasures.

Summer Palace - the most well preserved royal resort of Qing Dynasty. Temple of Heaven is the symbol of Beijing. Ming and Qing emperors worshipped Heaven here. Please do include a hutong tour in order to have an old Beijing feel. After all, don't forget a Beijing duck feast.

Tip: Beijing travel requires a lot of walking. Please be prepared for it.

Xian. Everyone should visit Xian at least once in life, Chinese and foreigners alike. Guilin is ranked second on Chinas list of top 10 tourists destinations.Don't forget to make a day trip to Yangshuo where the best hills and waters are.

Chinese Currency
Submitted by M17827 on 2008-04-12
The monetary unit of Renminbi in China is Yuan, together with the Jiao and Fen as the units of fractional currency. 1 Yuan is divided into 10 Jiao, while 1 Jiao is divided into 10 Fen. Colloquially in Chinese, the Yuan ... view more is called Kuai, and the Jiao is called Mao.

At present, the currency in circulation has 12 kinds of par value, including 1, 2, 5 Fen; 1, 2, 5 Jiao; 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 Yuan. However, the Fen notes have been withdrawn from circulation and are now seldom accepted.

Foreign currency and traveler's cheque exchange is available in most of China's cities. Banks, hotels, aiports, even the shopping malls will provide such service. In some of the places, the self-service facilities are also equipped to cope with overseas tourists.

All the state banks in China, like Bank of China, Agriculture Bank of China, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and China Construction bank, offer the money exchange service.

At present, 14 foreign currencies can be exchanged at any outlets of Bank of China, including:
- Euro,
- British Pound,
- US Dollar,
- Swiss Franc,
- Singapore Dollar,
- Swedish Krona,
- Danish Krone,
- Norwegian Krone,
- Japanese Yen,
- Canadian Dollar,
- Australian Dollar,
- Philippine Peso,
- Thailand Baht,
- South Korean Won (only available in particular Chinese cities) as well as the HK Dollar, New Taiwan Dollar and Macau Pataca.

When exchanging foreign currency, a valid passport is required. The receipt must be retained to show when the RMB is changed back to your original currency before leaving China.

Each tourist is allowed to bring any quantity of traveler's cheques and credit cards, but only US $5, 000 cash (or other foreign currency cash of equivalent value) or CNY20,000 cash is permitted at a time.

Any excess sum should be declared to China Custom while going through the red channel.

Weather in Beijing
Submitted by M17827 on 2008-04-12
There are four distinct seasons in Beijing. Dust storm, Sweltering, Getting cold, and Stupidly Cold. If you are lucky, and get to choose when you arrive, we suggest you come somewhere between Sweltering and Getting cold, ... view more which would be late August, early September. Luckily, like in Paris, you do not need particularly good weather to have a good time.

If you are a mad Englishman, come in July, August when you can get baked to a lobster shade of purple by the harsh summer sun. However, you can choose to spend your time relaxing under the beer garden umbrellas of Wangfujing and Sanlitun. You can enjoy outdoor eating till the late evening and can also see all the Chinese ladies walking around protecting their delicate pale faces with umbrellas.

The temperature in summer usually ranges from 28 - 39 degrees centigrade. Highest temperature ever recorded was 42 degrees centigrade.

If you like rain and uncertainty, come in June, July where you can guarantee a few thunderous downpours. If you like ominous, yellow, dust-laden skies and wind to blow you off your feet come in March to June. During this period, there is not a dust storm every day, but you can guarantee one or two at the very least. During this period sand is picked up from the Gobi desert and dumped onto the cars, people and buildings of Beijing.

If you like ice skating, on ordinary streets and lakes, then by all means come between November and February when the temperature rarely gets above freezing. It also snows about twice a year in Beijing, usually somewhere in December or January and no more than 5 inches for sure.

The temperature in winter usually ranges from -18 to 5 degrees centigrade, so be sure to pack your ski jacket or you'll have to resort to picking up a fake North Face jacket at the Xiu Shui market. Lowest temperature ever recorded was -27 degrees centigrade.

Shopping in Beijing
Submitted by M17827 on 2008-04-12
Bargaining is the rule here in Beijing. At least, at the many markets and back-street clothes stalls. Bargaining is an art and if you are unfamiliar with it we'd like to offer you some advice. The tips here are ... view more Beijing specific but may help you at any place in the world where bargaining is practiced.

Do Not say how much you want to pay for an item unless its near the end of the process. Always try and drop the seller's offering price as much as possible before opening your mouth with a price. Do throw out really low prices like 10 RMB as long as you have a big smile.

Do keep smiling throughout. The seller is much more likely to continue bargaining with a happy smiling face. Getting angry rarely gets you the price you want.

Be Aware the initial price offered by the seller is usually at least 40% over the general price acceptable. It can be up to 500% over.

Do walk away once you've given them your final price, even before. If you get called back, you know you are close. If you do not get called back, go to a similar stall and try again with a slightly higher price.

The English being spoken by the seller will often consist of "cheaper", "how much you pay", "good quality", "no profit", "highest price". Numbers are tapped out on a giant calculator to avoid confusion.

Your best bet is to keep repeating the phrase "cheaper" to them as much as you can before revealing your price.

Once you've decided the price, you then tell them a figure about 40% of the price you're willing to pay, then go up in 5% increments until they give in.

Fake goods in Beijing
Submitted by M17827 on 2008-04-12
Fake goods are easy obtainable in Beijing although the government is making fair efforts to make it less easy to find. If you went to the original Xiu Shui Market and you could have seen many a famous brand name, like ... view more Tommy, Gucci, Fendi, Prada, Adidas, Reebok, Nike, Rolex, Boliva, Tag Heur, North Face, Jansport, etc. Some of the fakes are obviously just a plain sweat shirt with a Versace logo embroidered across it. Something you know, couldn't possibly have come out of a Versace design house.

Other fakes are very realistic. They have labels, logos, guarantees, washing and care instructions. All the little details are included. Often the fabric or craftsmanship is high quality and the designs are identical to the real thing.

However, we would have to say, that everything you are likely to see in some of the markets around Beijing are likely to be total fakes. Do not be fooled. Don't pay anything like the brand name price.

Of course, the better quality the fake, the higher the price. If you just want any watch with a Rolex logo on it, you can pay around 50 RMB. If you would like one which looks identical to a real Rolex, you can expect to pay around 300 RMB.

Also be warned some countries do not take kindly to you bringing fake goods back into their country and if found in your suitcase during a random baggage check might take them away from you at the airport (although the probability is extremely small, it does happen).

Best quality fake watches can be found in a little lockable case separate from the other watches. Its a good idea to look around good watch stores or magazines to have a good knowledge of what the real thing looks like.

programe Tips for Beijing travel
Submitted by M18501 on 2008-08-05
Hotels in Beijing:
- Regent hotel(excellent), Park Plaza & Crowne Plaza are just around the corner to Wangfujing street.
- Regent is a good choice (room, service etc), easy to move around and have lots of ... view more restaurants' nearby.
- For family travel, Lee Garden Service Apartment (also in Wangfujing locality) is worth considering, since it's apartments comes in several bedrooms' combination.

Tour places in Beijing:
- Tianamen Square, Forbidden City , Bell Tower, Temple of Heaven, Beihai Park, hutongs
Hongqiao Silk market is 5- 10 mins taxi ride away from Wangfujing street.
- The famous tourist spots which take longer to reach is Summer Palace, Great Wall, Fragrant Hills(cable car for an awesome view), Beijing Botanical Garden & Ming Tomb.

Night tours in Beijing:
- Kungfu performance acrobatic show.

Delicious food:
- The famous Quanjude Peking duck restaurants have several outlets, one is in Wangfujing street itself a bit too oily but good ambiance and well presented.

For shopping:
- Jade shop,
- Pearl market,
- Tea culture shop,
- Silk market and cloisonne factory.

Enjoy the trip in China!

safty tips in beijing
Submitted by M18501 on 2008-08-05
Some tips that I can share :
- Pick up a map(English & Mandarin version if possible) at the airport/hotel or worst case, you can buy one for RMB6-8.
- Circle the places that you will be going to, identify by # and ... view more get Hotel Conceige to write it down in Mandarin & label corresponding to the map.
Identify nearby hotels to the tourist locations, so that you can get taxi/help easily
- Once you step in the taxi, make sure that driver uses the meter. If not, then point to him the meter and he will understand. Collect the receipt
before stepping out of the taxi as all information can be traced thru it if you need to file a complaint.
- keep a hotel card ( this is impt as pronunciation of hotel is different in Mandarin and you want to be able to go back to hotel).
- Take only licenced taxi driver, meaning that the " taxi sign" is fixed on top of taxi and not something that is placed on dashboard.
- Ask help from the police & army personnel (plenty walking & monitoring the city) for directions etc. They are very helpful, especially to tourists.

Your chinese friend Lennon

Guilin Shopping Tips
Submitted by M16946 on 2009-08-07
Never Miss in China!

1. What To Buy in Guilin? Shopping is always an exciting part of a Guilin tour. Shopping in Guilin is a little different compared with in big Chinese cities. There are something unique in this ... view more beautiful region and worthwhile to bring home as souvenirs.

2. South Sea Pearls. The South Sea Pearls in China have been well known all around the world for their fine quality and long-lasting luster. Hepu in Guangxi province produces the finest South Sea Pearls in China. Located in the North Guangxi province close to Hepu, Guilin is an ideal place to buy South Sea Pearls if you are not visiting Hepu.

3. Chinese Landscape Ink Paintings. Famed as the "most scenic place under Heaven", Guilin's landscape has been the subject of Chinese artists for thousands of years. In order to capture inspirations and get close to the natural beauty, many ink painting artists and institutions have settled down in Guilin. This makes Guilin an excellent place to buy fine ink painting works at inexpensive prices.

4. Minority Handicrafts. Guilin is rich in minority cultures with 28 ethnic groups living in the area. These ethnic people are still producing their traditional costumes' and handicrafts in the old fashion way. Among them, costumes and headdress of Zhang and Yao ethnic groups are most attractive. Real handmade minority handicrafts are expensive however they are truly valuable souvenirs to bring home.

5. Guilin Local Specialties. The most famous local specialties in Guilin include Dry Sweet Osmanthus Flowers, Sugar Sweet Osmanthus, Dried Longan, Luo-Han-Guo Fruit. They are nutritious and healthy. Locals often use them as sweetener in cooking, or to make healthy drink or desserts.

6. The most famous local fruit is Sha-Tian Grapefruit. It is kind of big fruit with soft, thick, and rough yellow skin matured during autumn. Its meat taste sweet with special fragrance.

Top 5 Things to do and see in and around Beijing
Submitted by M14943 on 2009-08-13
Top 5 things to do and see in and around Beijing:
- The Great Wall of China. One of the oldest manmade buildings on earth, the Great Wall is an absolute must-see when you are in China.
- The Forbidden City. Set in the ... view more heart of Beijing on the northern side of Tian’anmen Square, the Forbidden City dates back to the 14th century when it was created by the Ming Dynasty.
- Shopping. Beijing has some excellent markets and shopping malls where tourists can pick up some great bargains.
- Lama Temple. Beijing's most visited religious site and one of the most important functioning Buddhist temples in Beijing.
- Summer Palace. Situated on the outskirts of Beijing, this is an oasis of tranquility. It is set in beautiful parkland with a vast man-made lake and was built for emperors as a retreat from the busy city and the rigours of imperial life.

Stop being a tourist and become a guest. Don't miss the most interesting places in Beijing. Don't waste time wandering around with 40 other people from your group with different interests and preferences. Only a private guide can show you the places most interesting to you.

Travel according to your own schedule - wake up on your own time, and eat your meals when you want them. It's your vacation! Get out the most of it - a private guide can give you advice on the best places to eat or shop, where to go, and how to get there.

Necessary Travel Documents
Submitted by M16946 on 2009-08-13
A passport, valid for at least 3 month after your visit to China and the necessary visa or permits if you are traveling with our program. The visa should be approved prior to entering China and a permit for Tibet must be ... view more obtained 15 days before entering Tibet. If you only plan to travel and stay in Hong Kong you are exempt from applying for a China visa.

Most people only need to apply for a single–entry visa, which is usually valid for 3 months after the issuing date and will permit you to stay in China for a maximum of 30 days. You need permits to go to Tibet. If you only go to Lhasa, a Tibet permit will be sufficient but, if you want to go further to the "unopened" areas, you also need an Alien's travel permit issued by the PSB of Tibet. If you are to travel to Tibet, you are required to provide a doctor's certificate stating that you are fit to travel and your blood pressure and heart condition are normal in case that the very high altitude have the possible effects on you.

We suggest you take your medical record with you in case that you need it in the event of an emergency, and please also take with you your doctor's name, address and phone number, emergency contact name and phone number, and your insurance company's name, address and phone number.

Safety & Security - Tips
Submitted by M16946 on 2009-08-13
The following are some tips for traveling safely:
- Be sure the photographs on your passport, driver's license and other ID is accurate, and be sure your passport, driver's license and other ID is valid and ... view more not expiring before you return from your trip.
- When you don't need to transfer from one city to another and don't need to bring your passport, driver's license and other ID with you, it's better to leave them in the safety box in the hotel either in the room or at the reception (some five-star hotels may have safety box in the rooms, while all the hotels above 3 star have safety boxes at the reception).
- If you need to carry your passport, driver's license and other ID with you, be sure you put them in a safe place that the others can not reach them, like you can put them in the money belt under your clothes. The same with all your tickets, credit cards and important documents and valuable things.
- Be sure the door of your hotel room and window is closed and locked at all times, especially when you are not in the room.
- The water from the tap in the most hotels is not drinkable, so always drink the boiled water or bottled water.
- Always exchange money at the Bank of China or in the hotel counters, don't try to exchange money in the black market, because it is illegal and sometimes you might be ripped off.
- During your tour, when you have free time, you may want to go somewhere on your own by taxi, it's better have your hotel arrange taxi service for you, take a hotel card with you or ask your tour guide / receptionist to write down the names of the hotels and places you want to go in both English and Chinese before getting in the car. Remember the number of the taxi in case you leave anything in it.

Phone Cards & Long-Distance Calling
Submitted by M16946 on 2009-08-13
Apart from calling IDD from your hotel room, there are various phone cards available in post offices inside hotels or at most newsstands on the street in China. Among them IC card and IP card are the most popular ones.
... view more
Most public telephones you see in booths are IC telephones, which allow you to call home directly. IC card is issued by China Telecom; international calls with IC telephone cards are relatively expensive, usually over 10 RMB/M.

When you buy an IC card and want to call back home, simply just find a telephone booth either in hotel, restaurant, airport or some other places, insert the card into the phone, follow the vocal instructions to dial the number you want.

IP cards are issued by different issuers such as China Telecom, China Unicom, China Netcom and China Jitong, thus the Rates for international calls are different. China Unicom's rate for calls to Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan usually is 1.5 RMB/M, 2.6 RMB/M to America and Canada while 3.6 RMB/M to other countries. The others' rates for international calls are either a little bit higher or lower than that of China Unicom.

Currently, the IP phone service has covered the whole country, providing international service between China and over 200 countries and regions. There will be instruction on each IP card to tell you how to make a call, you can use the hotel phone to call with IP card and the hotel usually will charge some fare as that of city call.

Please note: some of the IC cards or IP cards can be used only in certain provinces or regions, so please check it and also the expired date before you purchase them.

P.S. The following is how to dial international call from China: 00 + country code + region code + phone number

Safety & Security - Mobile Phones
Submitted by M16946 on 2009-08-13
In China, GSM networks operated by China Mobile provide coverage in every major city, while CDMA network run by China Unicom is improving its coverage, so if you have a dual band or tri band mobile phone or use COSMOTE ... view more card, then you can use your mobile phone in China in most big cities, though any calls you make will be considered long-distance.

A cheaper option is to buy GSM SIM card, which is a telephone number. There are mainly two kinds you can choose: Shenzhouxing issued by China Mobile, Ruyitong issued by China Unicom. Usually when you buy SIM card, no document is required but prepaid charge and you need to finish using that amount of prepaid charge before indicated date. You can buy charging card in amount of 50 RMB and 100 RMB to recharge in post offices, stores and newsstands easily.

Safety & Security - Medical care in China
Submitted by M16946 on 2009-08-13
Hotels usually have access to a doctor if you need one. If your condition is serious, you will be taken to hospital. In emergency, our guides or staff at the hotels will help you call the ambulance or at 120 in each ... view more city.

Excellent medical care is readily available in China at hospitals and clinics in major cities. Doctors generally do not have private offices outside the hospitals. Our tour guides are well trained to handle emergencies and will make all necessary arrangements. Medical care in China is not that expensive as in western countries.

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