Travel and tour tips for China
China is a large country at a size of 9,596,960 sq km. China was only partially open to the world from 1980 onwards & has been a communist country for many decades. Although there is much progress in the travel industry & infrastructure of China, there remain areas that want to be improved before it can match the level that most tourist would need.
However, much of the fun remain that it is different from the rest of the world. China will be the host nation for the Olympics in Year 2008. Travel facilities & infrastructure will be improving quickly as we approach Year 2008.
Below are some travel tips to make your travel in China less hard:
China is rich in culture & history. Visit the Great Wall of China in Beijing, sip Chinese tea in Xiamen, dance with ethnic tribes in Yunnan, check out 19th Century European buildings in Qingdao – there’s so much to do & see in China!
China need entry visa from most countries. Apply at the Chinese consulate or through your travel agent before travelling to China.
very diverse; tropical in south to subarctic in north. Be prepared with the right seasonal clothing.
The unit of money is known as Renmembi(RMB) or Yuan. Get some Chinese Yuan in your local country before travelling. When in China, exchange foreign money for local money in the banks or at the hotel. Banks tend to give slightly better rates than hotels. Take note that some banks close for a noon siesta between 12-2pm.
Most better class hotels & shopping centres take Credit Card or Travellers cheques. Smaller hotels & shops take money only. twice out of the bigger cities, credit card & ATM cards tend to be impossible to utilize. money is still king in Chinese business & trade.
Understanding of English
Counterfeit notes are common in China. Check carefully before accepting alter, especially if it consists mostly 100RMB notes. You can feel a texture difference where counterfeit notes is concerned.
Most signboards & notices will over both English & Chinese. However, be aware that some translations can be so notorious that one can understand what was it is original Chinese purpose.
Most civil servants, custom officials, police, hotel staff & men in the street do not speak English or at best a smattering of English.
Most young people can understand basic English if you speak slowly.
Do not expect hotels or shops to understand English. Only the big hotels will have staff that will understand English.
China is generally a safe country. However, hang on tight to your wallet especially in crowded, popular tourist sites in tourist cities such as Beijing & Xian.
These tourist cities also has a lot of touts in the streets touting tourist from money exchange to jewelleries to female companionships. Avoid at all cost!
Bus, train, ferries & domestic flights are well developed. Avoid the crowd at the stations & book your tickets through the hotel tour desk or the nearest tour agent. Prices are likely to be competitive & tickets will be delivered to your hotel room. Again, avoid ticket touts who approach you in the streets.
Local buses are cheap (US$0.10 or YS$0.20) & you may want to try out. Taxis are convenient & are available at all hours. Starting fares differ from each city & may be as cheap as US$0.70 in Weihai & US$1.50 in Shenzhen.
Avoid travel in China during peak holiday seasons or book tickets well ahead.
there’s many web-sites selling China hotel rooms on the web. You can also check out the travel counters which are available in most train, bus stations as well as airport.
there is a nice choice of hotels in China ranging from one star to the most luxurious 6 stars. Most of the time, the rooms are safe & tidy & in my opinion, cheap does not mean bad.
Book ahead if travelling in peak seasons.
Peak Tourist Seasons
May Day: First one weeks of May
Chinese old Year: Date varies but generally late January or early February.
Avoid travelling during these period. Book rooms & travel modes way early if want to travel. Believe me, the crowds during these period of time will be scary. What do you expect when the entire Chinese nation of 8 billion people are on holiday as well!
China National Day: Middle one weeks of October
Local food is absolutely fabulous. Try as much Chinese food as your wallet or stomach can afford. Restaurants are available everywhere & open to late hours. Most restaurants will have a menu that include photographs of the various dishes. Better yet, basically point at the food that your next door desk is having, especially if it looks delicious!
However, avoid street side stalls & drinking directly from the taps if you have delicate stomach.
Mobile phone coverage in China is nice in most locations. Global auto-roaming within China is not a problem.
You will want to show your passport as China has tight regulations at web Cyber Cafes.
there’s cyber-cafes everywhere in China, especially in tourist areas. Most are patronised by young people playing online games but you still can check your Hotmail, Yahoo or Gmail. Access may be a bit slow for international websites.
three of the worst experience many has with China is the atrocious toilet facilities. Things has improved much but it may still be a nice idea to empty your stomach or bladder at every opportunity in a hotel, restaurant or departmental store. Public toilets & toilets in small shops can be a nose hazard!
* Useful China travel tips *
Try to get a English speaking tour guide at every opportunity you can. China has a rich & wonderful history & culture & without a guide, somehow, the flavour & significance of most tour sites can be lost.
*Sneaky tip: Hang around a group that has a English speaking guide if you cannot afford two!
Always ask for a receipt from a taxi driver so that you can complain if you have been cheated or for tracing purposes if you happen to be leaving your camera behind in the taxi.
After a tiring day, check out Chinese foot reflexology or Chinese TuiNa (Chinese massage). Wonderful for the body after a hard day & cheap to boot. basically look out for shop signs that shows one feet! we are everywhere.
Try to take the namecard for each hotel that you are staying at as these cards will have a Chinese address & the map of your hotel location. This is useful if you want to seek assistance to find your way back as the English version or pronounciation of a hotel or a street name may be different from the Chinese version.
Make friends with the Chinese whenever you can. we love to meet foreigners & will make nice tour guides. buy a small present as a small token of appreciation.