CAAC Airlines planes at Beijing Airport, China
Foreigners may travel in places opened to them in China with a valid passport and tourist visa. Foreign tourists are not allowed to enter areas not opened to foreigners; violators will be penalized according to law. Since March 1996, China has opened 1, 220 cities and counties to foreign visitors. Foreigners travelling with their own transport vehicles should apply for approval before they enter China. These include bicycles, motorcycles, cars, boats and aircrafts. Foreign visitors can obtain individual or group visas from Chinese embassies and consulates, or China Travel Service offices in Hong Kong. Visitors should be sure to carry their passports while in China. They are needed to check into hotels, make plane or train reservations, exchange money or establish the holder's identity. A permit is needed for travel to any of the non-open cities. Travel permits can be applied for through the entry and exit office of the local public security bureau. A separate visa is required for persons wishing to visit Tibet. An Airport Fee of 90-yuan will be collected from passengers departing from any international airports in the People's Republic of China.
Public bus transport, China
The climate of China varies considerably depending on the season and region. China lies mainly in the temperate and subtropical zones. Generally, the southern portion of the country is warm, humid, and rainy while in the northern part, it is dry and windy. In spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November), you should have a lined jacket or woollen sweater. In summer (June to August) cotton clothing is best. In winter (December to February) a light coat will keep you warm enough in the south but in the north a heavy woollen coat or down-filled parka is necessary. Late spring and late summer are often rainy especially in the southern part of China, so consider rainwear and an umbrella.
Renminbi is legal tender in China and is issued by the state bank, the People's Bank of China. The standard unit of the Renminbi is yuan, with jiao and fen as the ancillary units. One yuan equals ten jiao and one jiao equals ten fen. Yuan, jiao and fen are issued in both notes and coins. Renminbi features the following denominations: one, two, five, ten, fifty and one hundred yuan; one, two, and five jiao; and one, two and five fen. The abbreviation for Renminbi is RMB.
Exchange services are available in China for the following foreign currencies: US Dollar, British Pound Sterling, French Franc, Deutsche Mark, Japanese Yen, Australian Dollar, Austrian Schilling, Belgian Franc, Canadian Dollar, Hong Kong Dollar, Swiss Franc, Danish Krone, Guilder (or Florin) , Norwegian Krone, Swedish Krone, Singapore Dollar, Malaysian Ringgit, Italian Lira, Macao Pataca, and Finnish Markka. The Chinese bank handles exchange of the above-mentioned foreign currencies into Renminbi or vice versa.
China's law governing foreign exchange bans the circulation of foreign currencies and the settling of accounts with foreign currencies in the People's Republic of China. For the convenience of visitors, the Bank of China and other designated Chinese banks accept traveller's cheques and credit cards. Some hotels, restaurants and stores in China also exchange foreign cash into Renminbi. A visitor may have the remaining amount of Renminbi converted back into foreign cash and brought out of China but in doing so he has to display a foreign currency conversion receipt. So far the following foreign credit cards are acceptable in China: MasterCard, Visa, American Express, JCB, Diners. At present, ATMs that work with foreign currency are hardly found out of Hong Kong, Beijing, and Shanghai.
UTC / GMT (+8) Time is the same throughout China. China follows the daylight saving time system from mid-April to mid-September.
Almost all government offices, institutions, schools, and other official agencies are open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. with a one-hour lunch break. They are closed on Saturday and Sunday. Hospitals, post offices, banks, monuments, and museums are usually open seven days a week from 8:30 or 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Hospital emergency clinics are open even when the rest of the hospital is closed to visitors. Shops normally open from 8:30 or 9:00 a.m. to 8 p.m. everyday, including public holidays. Restaurants and bars close later at night. You will find that these times are approximate and subject to local variations
In towns and cities, IDD service is provided at all hotels and post offices. Phone cards are available in post offices, hotels or in the streets at news stands. Public telephone booths are mostly for local calls. Tourist hotels provide postal services. If you want to send important items such as antiques and cultural relics that are under customs control, you will have to ask for the help of the local branch of the international post office. All the larger hotels in China provide numerous TV channels, including several of the popular international ones. English or Japanese newspapers and magazines, such as International Herald Tribune, The Times, Asian Wall Street Journal and Far Eastern Economic Review, may be obtained at the front desk of some hotels free of charge.
Most major hotels provide convenient Internet service with reasonable fees. If you are at a state-run entity where the telecom equipment is old, you may have problems connecting to a server since phone lines are frequently overburdened. A significant proportion of Chinese users surf at work so evenings tend to be easier than office hours.
Electricity in China is 220 volts. Sockets with adapters are available in the washrooms of many better hotels.
It is an asset in China to know some Mandarin Chinese. Mandarin is the official national language in China. Cantonese is widely spoken in Hong Kong, Guangdong and other southern regions.
Conservative dress is recommended.
China enjoys adequate taxi service. Most taxi drivers do not understand much English. Non-Chinese speaking visitors are advised to have their destinations written down in Chinese for the benefit of the cab driver. China's rail system is quite developed. High-speed trains are available in some domestic areas. Tickets are sold at local rail stations, travel services, hotels and train ticket agencies. There are over 70 national highways and more than 1,600 provincial highways. China's major airline is CAAC, which is divided into seven subsidiaries: the popular ones being Air China, China Eastern Airlines, and China Southern Airlines. Dragonair is a joint venture between Cathay Pacific Airlines and the Chinese government. Buses are a cheap means of travelling but very crowded; minibuses are considered more convenient and still relatively cheap. Subways are another convenient means of transportation for those traveling in the downtown cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Tianjin.
There are even bicycles for rent in some hotels in Beijing and some other tourist cities. Riding in an old-fashioned rickshaw for a tour of Beijing's provides a unique tourist experience.
Comprehensive travel medical insurance is recommended. Many hospitals do not admit foreigners.
Hospitals and Clinics Catering to Foreigners:
International SOS Assistance Address: Building C, BITIC jingyi building #1 north road, xing fu san cun Chaoyang district, Beijing,100027 Clinic Appointments: 8610)64629100 Dental Clinic: 8610)64620333 24 hour Alarm Centre: 8610)64629100 Fax: 8610)64629146
Beijing United Family Clinic-Shunyi Unit # 818 Pinnacle Plaza, Tianzhu Real Estate Development, Shuiyi District
Beijing Vista Clinic B29 Kerry Center, 1 Guanghua Lu, Chaoyang District,
Beijing United Family Hospital Address: 2 Jiangtai Lu Chaoyang District Beijing Tel: 6433 3960
International Medical Center Address: S106 Lufthansa Business Center Tel: 6465 1561
Hong Kong International Clinic Address: 3rd Floor of Swissotel Hong Kong Macao Center Tel: 6501 2288 ext.2346
New World Eaton Medical Center 5F Beijing New World Center, 3 Chongwenmen Wai Dajie,
Two things to remember when going to the hospital: 1. Take a lot of cash with you. You will not receive treatment without it! 2. Take somebody with you who speaks Chinese even if you are fluent in Chinese