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Tourism in China - General Tourism - Ten Tips
This page offers general advice regarding Tourism in China (September 2008)
Planning a Holiday or Visit to China?
Get the information you need here
  Ten Tips:

1. Arrival
China has implemented international security measures at airports and other major terminals to combat terrorism etc. Please allow for minor delays, baggage checks etc

2. Money.
You can get cash immediately upon arrival from either ATM machines or bona fide Bureau de Change. China accepts all major credit cards for cash withdrawals, but clear use of your card in China before you leave your home Country. Expect your Bank to still refuse use in China, so have their 24-hour contact number handy for your subsequent complaint. Bring some Chinese cash with you, say Y2, 000 at least. Do not bring Travellers Checks - they are a nightmare! Most hotels, supermarkets, and high-class restaurants accept International credit cards. Most other places deal only in cash

3. Cash
You will receive Y100 RMB banknotes. Please break these down into smaller notes whenever the opportunity arises. China is a cash-based society and virtually all currency is notes, although small value coins do exist. Do not confuse Jiao with RMB - these notes are worth fractions of an RMB and are physically about half the size of regular banknotes

4. Taxi's and Transfers
Normally taxi's are very cheap, and always safe and reliable. We recommend you pay the fixed-price meter tariff, which is standard charge. Numbers are clearly visible in English, although a fuel surcharge of Y1 is common, and often waived for regulars. Try to have smaller denomination notes handy, especially at shift changeover times = 7am and 7pm. For longer trips you can always fix the price first - if your language skills are good enough? Often it is cheaper to stick with the meter fare. Taxi's are available 24 hours a day in Cities, and till until about 3am in small towns - starting again about 6am. There are also motorbike taxi's, which should charge about half the car rates - but sometimes try it on a little. Motor tricycles are usually a rip-off, and best avoided unless your language skills are pretty good!

The exceptions are at airports where Taxi's charge horrendous fees - often a decimal place more than normal. Better you pre-arrange a Private Driver (We can assist locally) or use one of the very frequent, modern transfer coaches, which cost very little. Most hotels also offer free airport transfers - confirm before your arrival. Ordinary Chinese people use the frequent and excellent bus and coach services almost exclusively.

Carry your Hotel business card with you at all times (Getting a taxi back yourself) + business cards of other main-street locations you frequent

5. Shopping
It is common practice to haggle in China, especially in local markets: exceptions being fixed price shops such as supermarkets. Do not haggle if the price already seems cheap

6. Chinese People
By nature, most ordinary Chinese people are very friendly, welcoming, and curious about you. Those used to contact with foreigners will speak good English

Most Chinese will know a little English, and like to practice their linguistic skills at every opportunity. It is normal to walk down the street and be greeted - normally the conversation is brief and goes like this: 'Hello', 'Hello, how are you', 'I am fine', 'See you next time'. This is often said by a 4-year old, and please do reply in good nature - it is not a crime to have a brief, public chat in English with a child in modern China - usually you will note a parent or teacher nearby urging them on!

7. Toilets

Virtually all hotels and places used to welcoming Foreigners will provide Western Style toilets you sit upon. Everywhere else will have a version of a local Chinese toilet = a hole in the floor you squat over. Individual cubicles are often for use by either sex, and toilet paper in never provided - so always carry a pack of tissues with you! Ask for "WC" or mine by squatting, only! Virtually all Chinese understand "WC". Rural toilets come in a variety of 'unique' designs!

8. Photographs.

Chinese love photography, and having their pictures taken with a Foreigner is unusually important to them. It is very common for you to be approached and asked if they can take your picture, and be pictured with you. Please note: This is not a con-trick as sometimes perpetrated in the West. This is a genuine request from ordinary people who love pictures

9. Translators.
These are often students looking for additional income. The going rate is around Y100 per day, but they usually ask for Y300 initially. Pay them what you think it is worth to you, and related to their level of English. They may be great for general tourism and local city knowledge - including sight-seeing and evening recreation. However, they may not be so good at complex business negotiations regarding export trade, where the services of a professional translator may be required. If you hire a local translator, you are expected to also provide for their travel and meals, etc

10. General Advice
Come with an open mind and expect a culture very different from your own. Do not pre-judge unfamiliar practices

Your smile is your biggest resource - use it generously!

Downloads for information sheets and sight-seeing guides will be available here shortly - or Contact Us for immediate first-edit copies

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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