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 and has been a communist country for many decades. Although there is much progress in the travel industry and infrastructure of China, there remain areas that need to be improved before it can match the level that most tourist would require.

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 and infrastructure will be improving quickly as we approach Year 2008.

China is rich in culture and 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 are just so much to do and see in China!

Below are some travel tips to make your travel in China easier:

Entry Visa

China require entry visa from most countries. Apply at the Chinese consulate or through your travel agent before travelling to China.

Climate

Extremely diverse; tropical in south to subarctic in north. Be prepared with the right seasonal clothing.

Foreign Exchange

The unit of currency is known as Renmembi(RMB) or Yuan. Get some Chinese Yuan in your local country before travelling. When in China, exchange foreign currency for local currency 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.

Payment facilities

Most better class hotels and shopping centres take Credit Card or Travellers cheques. Smaller hotels and shops take cash only. Once out of the bigger cities, credit card and ATM cards tend to be almost impossible to utilize. Cash is still king in Chinese business and trade.

Counterfeit notes are common in China. Check carefully before accepting change, especially if it consists mostly 100RMB notes. You can feel a texture difference where counterfeit notes is concerned.

Understanding of English

Most civil servants, custom officials, police, hotel staff and men in the street do not speak English or at best a smattering of English.

Most signboards and notices will carry both English and Chinese. However, be aware that some translations can be so notorious that one can hardly understand what was it’s original Chinese intention.

Do not expect hotels or shops to understand English. Only the very big hotels will have staff that will understand English.

Most young people can understand basic English if you speak slowly.

Social Security

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 and Xian.

These tourist cities also has a lot of touts in the streets touting tourist from currency exchange to jewelleries to female companionships. Avoid at all cost!

Domestic Travel

Bus, train, ferries and domestic flights are quite well developed. Avoid the crowd at the stations and book your tickets through the hotel tour desk or the nearest tour agent. Prices are likely to be competitive and 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) and you may want to try out. Taxis are convenient and are available at all hours. Starting fares differ from each city and may be as cheap as US$0.70 in Weihai and US$1.50 in Shenzhen.

Avoid travel in China during peak holiday seasons or book tickets well ahead.

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