China travel tips – Useful information
Time difference: During the summertime it’s 7 hours later in China than it is in the UK. During winter time it’s 8 hours later in China.
Best time to travel: The best time to travel is during the months Aprtil through October. However, it’s best to avoid the first week of May and the first week of October. These are Chinese national holidays.
Language: Mandarin Chinese is spoken in most of China. However, countless dialects are also spoken. English is gaining popularity in China, but you still won’t find many people who speak English, especially in rural China. Bring along a Chinese pocket dictionary.
Currency: The official Chinese currency is known as the renminbi (‘peoples money’), RMB for short. The monetary unit is the Yuan. Hong Kong has its own currency – the Hong Kong Dollar. The Hong Kong Dollar is pegged to the American Dollar. It’s accepted in Guangzhou (Canton) and Shenzhen.
Tips: Tipping is customary for guides and drivers. They are generally reliant on tips for a large portion of their salaries. It’s not customary to tip in restaurants.
Visas: You’ll need a Chinese visa in order to travel in China. You’ll have to apply for your own visa at the Chinese Visa Application Service Centre (CVASC). A single entry Chinese visa will cost you around £60. This is made up of a £30 visa fee, and a £30 processing fee.
Telephone calls: Phoning home during your China trip using your mobile usually isn’t a problem, but it can be a very costly affair. Internet Phone (IP) cards are the cheapest way to phone home. You can buy these cards at kiosks and hotels in larger cities. If you want to use your own mobile phone during your trip, it’s best to buy a prepaid sim card at a Chinese phone shop.
Internet: Nearly all parts of China offer Internet access. You’ll find more and more cafés and bars that offer mobile Internet in China.
Photography: The Chinese are usually honoured if you would like to take their picture. Don’t forget to ask their permission first though. Taking pictures or shooting a video at military sites in China is highly illegal. Many museums, palaces and temples also do not allow pictures to be taken or only allow you to take pictures for a fee. It’s best to always be on the look-out for the signs posted regarding photography and to be careful.
Voltage: Electricity in China is 220 Volts, alternating at 50 cycles per second. It’s best to bring along a universal plug adaptor.
Hygiene: Using public bathrooms during your China trip will be quite an experience. The level of hygiene is commonly poor and you’ll have little privacy. Be sure to add toilet paper or tissues, anti-bacterial hand wipes and disinfectant to your China Travel Plan packing list.