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Useful Advice for Tourists Visiting China
This page offers general advice for Tourists Visiting China (September 2008)
The aim of this section is to give those travelling to China for the first time the general information they require to enjoy their stay

China does offer some excellent hotels and apartments, although we are not convinced the Star Rating System is perfect. You may find some 2 Star hotels offer far superior rooms to 4 and 5 Star establishments at a great saving. However, they may not have business services, restaurant, or bar.

Quality Hotels 5*
5 Star and some better 4 Star Hotels will be to International standards, and are normally located near city centres. Some are located near major exhibition centres, or at airports and other central locations. There are also special Golf Hotels and resorts for enthusiasts set in rural locations nearby.

All quality hotels will offer a business centre, travel services, choice of restaurants, bar, and usually an integral shopping mall. Most have conference facilities ranging from large auditoriums to smaller private suites. They will include projectors and sound systems, with computer control via any standard Windows interface. They may not be compatible with the new 'Vista' operating system, as China tends to only do XP and Windows 2000

Restaurants cater for breakfast, lunch and dinner having quite a large time window for each. Snacks are usually available at all other times via Room Service. Breakfast will usually have versions for Full English, Continental and Chinese. These hotels often provide evening entertainment in the form of a live band or other act. Nearby you will usually find Western style Bars and clubs, and some proper Foreign restaurants such as Indian, Italian or French.

Rooms are charged per night, not per person, and usually feature a King Size bed or larger. If you prefer twin beds, then you do need to specify this in advance. They will have internet access as standard, and computer hire will also be available. Suites will have a separate living area with mini bar, kettle and drinks, snacks, and TV with Cable

The Business Centre will offer full support services for photocopying, faxing, and other office services. They will also arrange transportation to Trade Fairs, and free airport transfers (If you are patron for your entire visit). Many hotels also double as inter-city coach and ferry connection centres, with tickets bookable from the Business Centre. You may need to book early morning departures the day before, or just get on the coach and pay the fare directly - but this does not ensure seats for further connections, such as ferry to Hong Kong

Basic Hotels 2*
These are very adequate for most foreigners, and will have a Western style sit on toilet, usually accompanied by a shower. It is unlikely they will have a bar or restaurant facilities, but you can usually find these nearby on local streets. Normal Chinese beds are very hard and standard in basic hotels. However, the cost of a suite can be exceedingly cheap, so you need to balance your requirements carefully

Rooms are always clean, kettle, towels provided, and bedding changed daily. You will also have a TV with Cable, mini bar, and usual bathroom amenities such as toothbrush and paste, soaps etc. Better hotels (Regardless of Star rating) will have rooms with internet connection, and often computer hire per day. Hotels that do not offer restaurant or bar facilities will usually have a supply of snacks, pot noodles and drinks available at extra charge

It is highly unlikely you will stay in a Chinese style cheap hotel - as you would never recognise what it actually is from the outside. These are very cheap and basic, and have a Chinese 'hole in the floor' toilet for squatting over. If all you need is a bed and shower + TV and kettle, then these are clean and great value for money

3 Star Hotels
This is where the Star rating system gets a bit out of sinc. 3 Star and lower 4 Star hotels are deemed so because of the general facilities they offer guests, particularly restaurants or breakfast, bar, evening entertainment, business centre and conference facilities. This does not mean the actual rooms are of a higher standard than a good 2 Star, and many are in fact worse! Some of these offer more convenient locations, especially for business or major sight-seeing attractions.

Short rent Apartments are booked like hotels, and usually located a bit out from the city centre. These are ideal for mixed parties and staff, and come complete with a number of bedrooms, living area, kitchenette with fridge and some cooking facilities etc. These normally have cleaning services and are similar to a basic hotel in most respects. Most cities will have one or two of these complexes. Whilst these are ideal for stays of a few weeks, if you plan on staying for many months you may be better advised to rent a proper apartment from a local Estate Agent

For those on tighter budgets, there are many hostels all over China offering dormitory based accommodation, some with meals or cooking facilities. We cannot be specific, as these depend largely upon your destination, but most National Tourist hot-spots have them. These are mainly Chinese Youth Hostels which mimic their Western equivalents. We know these are available in Xi'an, plus many other cities

Most educational establishments also provide dormitory accommodation for students. Often schools run without full capacity and a dormitory can be rented directly from the Head Master. These will include school meals also. Whilst they may be exceedingly cheap, you may be asked to guest and interact with the children occasionally

Universities are virtually always boarding type establishments, and many offer dormitory type rooms and also special visitors apartments for use by foreign teachers and students. Meals will be included for a set fee, and costs are usually very reasonable. Contact the Principle or the International Office for availability and details

Some hotels may charge a premium at busy periods, such as during the biannual Canton Fair. Otherwise haggle for a discount, which should be immediately forthcoming

We have stayed in numerous hotels all over China, and never once had a problem with petty pilfering or things going missing. If you are at all concerned, then please lock your cases and get a small padlock to secure hand luggage. Virtually all hotels will offer safety deposit services from the main reception desk

Most hotels offer family rooms, with extra beds. These also often have convertible sofa's for extra sleeping arrangements. Better quality hotels will be more reluctant to offer rooms for groups of people or provide convertible bed-settee's. As stays are charged per room, and not per person; there is no problem with additional guests staying overnight occasionally

Check-in and check-out times vary, but the general rule is leave before midday and arrive after midday. They will normally ask for a deposit on arrival, and a credit card is fine for this. They will also need to see your passport, which is returned to you immediately. The hotel will fill in a temporary residency form for you to comply with Chinese law, and you are unlikely to see this = it is done automatically by staff on your behalf.

For a Chinese visa you may need to supply a 'Hotel Booking confirmation', confusingly also called an itinerary. This is a mere formality, and does not even count as a confirmed booking. Confirmed reservations always require a deposit
This information is as supplied by the Chinese Embassy in UK, as dated 20th June 2008, and/or other reliable sources. Please check this information yourself as it may alter without notice, and whilst we try our best to ensure it is correct, please do not hold us responsible for any errors - this is intended as a simple guide only
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