China Travel Tips
Banks: 09:00 to 16:00/17:00, Monday to Friday
Department Stores and Shops: 09:00 to 20:00, daily
Business Offices: 08:00 to 17:00, Monday to Friday
As punishment for crime is severe, there is little of it that will be evident to tourists. Bag-snatching and pick-pocketing do occur, but instances are rare and usually limited to the night-time and in crowded public places. Generally tourists can feel safe walking around alone, event at night– although it’s always recommended that valuables, cash and credit cards are well-concealed or stored in a hotel safe.
Touts often patrol areas frequented by tourists, offering tour guide services or transportation to some attraction or other. It is good practice to avoid temptation and stay clear of them, as the ride or tour is likely to end up costing you much more than you bargained for.
220V AC, 50Hz. Narrow-pin plugs (two pins) are the most common, but types do vary.
Visitors entering China who have also visited an area affected by yellow fever, within the past year, need to show proof of receiving immunisation against the disease. In addition, it is highly recommended that visitors receive vaccination against cholera and hepatitis A and B. Hygiene standards tend to be high in most Chinese cities, so the risk of contracting an infectious disease is low. If you do need medical treatment during your visit, most of the better tourist hotels have a physician on staff or on call to offer minor treatments.
It’s good to avoid eating undercooked or raw foods, as this can lead to food poisoning. Also, avoid drinking tap water. Carrying anti-diarrheal medication and charcoal tablets is recommended as well, as both can come in handy in dealing with digestive system ailments. Most Chinese cities provide good response to emergencies, but the same is not true in rural areas. It is recommended that you contact a hospital directly in any case.
Beijing United Family Hospital: +86 10 6433 3960/1/2/4/5 (24-hour number)
Emergency services: 120 (Beijing
Standard Mandarin Chinese, known as Putonghua, is the official language, and spoken by more than 70 per cent of the population. There are, in addition, countless numbers of regional dialects. Mandarin is the medium of instruction in the schools. Dialects that you are likely to encounter during your visit include Cantonese and Shanghainese, among others.
The yuan or CNY is the official currency. One Renminbi Yuan (CNY; symbol¥) is equal to 10 jiao, or 100 fen. Banknotes are issued in denominations of¥100, 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1; and 5, 2 and 1 jiao. Coins are found in denominations of¥1; 5 and 1 jiao; and 5, 2 and 1 fen.
Although the yuan is tightly controlled and cannot be exchanged outside of China, it is possible to change currency inside the country. Foreign currency and traveller’s cheques can be exchanged for yuan at Bank of China branches. A record is made of all transfers and you will be required to show a receipt for the initial amount exchanged if you wish to sell back any unused Yuan at the end of your trip. Often, China’s Friendship Stores and many tourist hotels will accept major Western currencies for some purchases. Credit card use is limited to upscale shops, hotels and restaurants in the major cities; and ATMs are found in airports, larger hotels and shopping centres.
Visitors entering China are allowed to bring in 400 cigarettes and two bottles of alcoholic beverages (maximum of 0.75 litres each), duty-free. A reasonable amount of perfume for personal may also be brought in duty-free. Items that cannot be brought into the country include: weapons, ammunition and printed material that is considered offensive for whatever reason. The list also includes fresh produce and radio receivers and transmitters. Import and export restrictions apply to antiques and publications that have been banned in China. It is important to declare all valuables that you have in your possession at time of entry.
The Chinese surname appears first, followed by the given or‘first’ name. Visitors often are listed at their hotels under their first name, unless they have made it clear what their last name is by underlining it when registering. When addressing a Chinese person, the surname and a title should be used.
Handshaking is common in China, but the handshake typically lasts longer than in the West. When carrying on a conversation, it is customary for people to stand quite close together– sometimes a bit closer than Westerners find comfortable. Visitors find that some Chinese seem to be very formal; and at times not as polite in Western terms.
Casual wear that is somewhat conservative is acceptable most everywhere in the country; but clothing that is revealing is not considered appropriate and may cause offence. It is recommended that visitors avoid expressing religious or political opinions, as this may also make people feel uncomfortable.
When invited to dine with a Chinese host, a guest should wait to be seated until their seat is pointed out to them; and should eat only when the host indicates that they should begin. Note that chopsticks should not be positioned upright in the rice bowl when finished, as this position is symbolic of death. Making a toast at the beginning of a meal– and during it– is common. Bringing a gift to the host if the meal in held at the host’s home is customary; and may be a small souvenir from the guest’s country, or fruit or sweets.
Tipping is not generally expected, but the practice is becoming more commonplace, and a gratuity is appropriate for tour guides, tour drivers, servers at the better restaurants and staff at tourist hotels. At most ordinary restaurants and hotels, tipping is not expected; and at some of the larger establishments, a service charge of 10 per cent is normally added to the bill.
Visa and Passports:
All non-Chinese visitors entering China, regardless of nationality, require a tourist or business visa, depending on the purpose of the trip. Although a number of types of visas are issued by Chinese immigration officials, the two most common are single-entry and multi-entry. A single-entry visa is valid for up to three months from the date it is issued and allows a visitor to enter the country only one time; whereas a multiple-entry visa allows for an unlimited number of entries into the country– or travel back and forth between Hong Kong and mainland China– for the period specified on the visa.
Regardless of the type of visa you apply for, all passports must be valid for a minimum of six months from your intended date of visit– and have two full pages left for visa and stamp entries. It is recommended that you carry a few passport-sized photos with you during your visit.