According to the Law of the People's Republic of China concerning the Administration of Foreigners Entering and Leaving the Country, foreign tourists must apply for visas at China's foreign affairs offices, consulates or other organizations authorized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Click here for more VISA information.
To locate your nearest PRC embassy or consulate, please click here.
Banks: 0800-1700 Monday - Friday
Shops: 0900-1900 All Days
China is characterized by a continental climate. The latitudes span nearly 50 degrees, its southern part is in the tropical and subtropical zones, and its northern part near the frigid zones. The northern part of Heilongjiang province has long winters but no summers; while Hainan Island has long summers but no winters. The Huaihe River valley is marked by distinctive seasonal changes, but it is spring all year round in the south of the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau. China's high tundra zone is situated in Qinghai-Tibet, where the temperature is low in all four seasons.
Credit is not big in China. The Chinese don't like to be in debt, however short-term that debt may be. Increasing numbers of young people are using credit cards, but numbers remain low compared to the West. Foreign plastic is therefore of limited use, but cards that can be used include Visa, MasterCard, AmEx and JCB. Don't expect to be able to use them everywhere, and always carry enough cash. You should be able to use credit cards at upmarket hotels and restaurants, supermarkets and department stores. Where they are accepted, credit cards often deliver a slightly better exchange rate than in banks.
Money can also be withdrawn at certain ATMs in large cities on credit cards such as Visa, MasterCard and Amex. Credit cards can still not be used to buy train tickets, but Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) offices readily accept international Visa cards for buying air tickets. Certain cards offer insurance and other benefits.
Credit card cash advances have become fairly routine at head branches of the Bank of China, even in places as remote as Lhasa. Bear in mind, however, that a 4% commission is generally deducted. The Bank of China does not charge commission on AmEx cash withdrawals.
The nation of China is not just a country with a long and rich legacy of 'culture', but also a nation which is 'cultured'. Dating back to 5000 years and more, China boasts of one of the richest and the most diverse heritage not just in the Orient, but also the world over. The Culture of China is a consolidated phrase that comprises philosophical, academic, artistic, scientific, craftsmanship and political excellence.
The culture of China encompasses the departments of Arts and Crafts in China, Architecture of China, Music and Dance in China, Chinese Cuisine, Religion in China, Customs and Traditions in China, Fashion in China and also Chinese Etiquette. For such a large nation, the Chinese have proved quite a united race. They have shared the same language, though with different dialects; an almost homogenous cuisine; variations of the same philosophical beliefs; and also a common national cause before which all else is negated. It is from this nation that the world has witnessed the rising of philosophies like Confucianism and Taoism; as has the world coveted the unique and rare ceramic wares crafted in the country. The art of calligraphy is also an important part of the culture of China; and of course, every one across the planet has had a taste of the sumptuous Chinese cuisine.
Chinese money is called Renminbi (RMB) which means "People's Currency". The popular unit of RMB is Yuan. 1 Yuan equals 10 Jiao, and 1 Jiao equals 10 Fen. (There are parts of China where the Yuan is also known as Kuai, and Jiao is known as Mao.) Chinese currency is issued in the following denominations: one, two, five, ten, fifty and a hundred Yuan; one, two and five Jiao; and one, two and five Fen.
Communications in China rests on four foundation pillars, Radio, Television, Telephone and Internet facilities and the Press. In recent years China has started spreading its wings as far as telecast distribution goes, but it is still a little orthodox about its editorial content. This part is still government controlled and follows stringent editorial policies.
Starting with something, which starts the day of the millions, the newspaper! The most important English language Chinese daily is the China Daily. The People's daily and the Worker's daily fall in the category of the national dailies. Without the television and radio, Chinese mass communications would have been very dull. The Chinese Central TV, better known as the CCTV is the state owned national television. The China National Radio and the China Radio International are the state owned radio broadcasters.
As far as telephone and mobile connections as a part of China Communications are concerned, the efficiency will be clear to you with the numbers given below. Before that it's important to know certain aspects. The IDD facility is available in the telephone. If you make a national call then it comes cheaper to you between 2100 hrs to 0700 hrs. For international calls, the IDD rate is either calculated by minute or by every 6 seconds. For the mobile users there are arrangements made for roaming facility.
Internet is mainly accessible in the capital city of Beijing and the other main cites. It is advisable not to visit any religious sites or any blogger's forum because they belong to the No Entry category!
Electrical plugs and wall outlets come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Electrical current is rated at 220V, 50 cycles AC in China. You are advised to bring along adapters and converters for any North American purchased appliances. Clients will usually be able to borrow adapters and converters from Housekeeping at most hotels. Hair dryers and irons are readily available upon contact of hotel housekeeping services.
China is a remarkably healthy country despite its relative poverty and climatic variations. Standards of hygiene varies from place to place so all visitors must be aware of potential hazards and act cautiously. Tap water is not safe; all water consumed must be boiled or filtered unless it is bottled mineral water. Boiled water is available in all Chinese hotels and restaurants. Although food is prepared fresh and cooked or cleaned thoroughly, stomach upsets are possible so it is advisable to take some medicine with you.
Ailments such as sore throats and chest colds are also possible and can occur at any time of year considering China's climatic extremes. The summer months are brutally hot so it is imperative to combat the harmful summer heat with a sufficient supply of liquids to prevent dehydration.
Prior to departing for China, it is recommended that you get accident and medical insurance coverage for any medical expenses that may arise during a trip.
No vaccinations are required for travel to China but it is advisable to check with your doctor for current information. Tetanus and typhoid vaccines are essential for travel anywhere, and rabies and hepatitis vaccinations are recommended. Please note that there is a risk of malaria in remote areas of south China, so take precautionary measures before you go. For Health Regulations please check with your local health unit for required vaccinations and inoculations.
Mandarin is commonly used in the modern China. It is one of the five working languages designated by the United Nations. The majority of the 55 other ethnic groups have their own languages. There are also many dialects around the country. As a written language, Chinese has been used for 6,000 years.
Chinese people enjoy drinking Chinese liquor, and drinking plays an important part in Chinese social events. Some Chinese consider liquor to be as essential to their lives as rice, salt and oil.
Some scholars believe that the technique for making Chinese liquor originated in the Xia Dynasty (2100 BC - 1600 BC). Du Kang is considered to be the founding father of liquor makers. Others believe that the history of making liquor began some 7,000 years ago in the period of Shennong's reign. Shennong, sometimes called Yandi, was a legendary ruler who, it is believed, introduced agriculture and herbal medicine to the Chinese people. This occurred during the time when the ancestors of the Chinese people were giving up their nomadic lifestyle and settling into compact communities in the Yellow River Valley. A stable lifestyle that allowed them to raise various kinds of grain made it possible to make liquor.
Famous liquors include Maotai from Guizhou Fen and Zhuyeqing from Shanxi,Wuliangye, Jiannanchun and Luzhou Laojiao from Sichuan, Gujing tribute liquor from Anhui Yanghe Daqu from Jiangsu and Dong Liquor from Guizhou. Fruit wines include Gold Medal brandy, red grape wine and Weimeisi from Yantai, China Red Grape wine from Beijing, Shacheng White Grape wine from Hebei, Minquan White Grape wine from Henan.
Except for military installations you can photograph almost anything in China. But it is advisable to ask for permission of the subject. It's better to bring your own supply of batteries, flashbulbs, films etc.
China is a relatively safe country. Travelers should be conscious of pick pocketing and bag snatching.
People's Republic of China covers five time zones; however, only Beijing Standard Time is used for the entire country with 8 hours ahead of GMT and 16 hours ahead of Pacific Standard Time (15 hours ahead of PST in daylight saving time). In contrast, people from far western regions in China such as Tibet follow a later work schedule in order to keep pace with the official centralized Beijing Time. For more information, please check World Clock for current regional time.
It is a common practice for visitors to tip the tour guide and driver in recognition of their good service. Hotel bellboy expects your tips as well. It is not customary to leave tips at hotel or local restaurant as the bill usually includes 10-15% service charge.
In towns and cities, IDD service is provided at all hotels and post offices. Phone cards are available in post offices inside hotels or in the streets. Even more conveniently, most newsstands in major cities also carry phone cards. Telephone booths in the streets are mostly for local calls.
Some Useful Numbers
112: Inner-city telephone mishaps
114: Inner-city telephone number inquiries
121: Weather forecasts